The Austere Academy Review

ASOUE_5The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 5) by Lemony Snicket; Illustrations by Bret Helquist

HarperCollins, 2000. 978-0064408639

Synopsis: Unable to find another guardian, Mr. Poe sends Violet, Klaus, and Sunny to the dreary Prufrock Preparatory School. At the school, they encounter such unpleasantries as a vice principal who cannot play the violin (but insists upon doing so anyway), Carmelita Spats (who is a nasty, dirty, and unpleasant little girl), and a gym teacher with a turban who makes them run laps (who is really Count Olaf in disguise. But for all their misery, the Baudelaires finally have a stroke of luck when they meet the Quagmire Triplets and begin to unravel the mystery behind Count Olaf’s dastardly schemes.

Why I picked it up: I’ve become invested in learning about the fates of the Baudeleaires.

Why I finished it: I am noticing as the series goes on, Snicket is incorporating a rather lot of interesting vocabulary into the stories. It is not to say that I didn’t notice it before – knowing the meanings of long, complicated words is one of Klaus’s interests – but the vocabulary lesson seems to be building upon itself. I also had to have a bit of a laugh at some of the historical references: the Quagmire triplets are named for a famous Spanish actress (Isadora Duncan), the vice principal is named for a former Roman emperor (Nero), and Olaf’s chosen character is Ghengis (as in, Ghengis Khan, conqueror of Asia). Interesting for me as an older reader, and perhaps an astute reader who cares to look up some of the words and names. I am also perhaps disillusioned by the hope of new friends for the Baudelaires, whose friends’ parents and brother met a similar fate as the Baudelaire parents. And maybe I am a little too hopeful that the orphans will be able to uncover the origins of the secret organization of which Count Olaf is a member. And maybe I am a little too hopeful that they will be able to get away from him once and for all, but alas, there would not be more books in the series if that was indeed the case. For all I know, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny will continue to gather more questions than answers, but I also know that the siblings will manage to make it out of things alive and together.

Other related materials: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 3) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 4) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 6) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 7) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 8) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 9) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 10) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 11) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 12) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 13) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Brett Helquist; Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Lemony Snicket; All The Wrong Questions series by Lemony Snicket; The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Caron Ellis, music by Nathaniel Stookey; The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart, illustrated by Carson Ellis

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