Poison for Breakfast


Publication Date: 31 Aug. 2021
Format: Hardback

ISBN 9780861542611

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    "This morning you had poison for breakfast."

    One day, Lemony Snicket finds a puzzling note pushed under his door and is forced to follow a winding trail of clues to solve the mystery of his imminent death.

    But this is so much more than just a mystery. Along the way, he tackles some of the key questions about life. Who was Korla Pandit what did he do and what was his real name? What are the three absolute rules for writing a book? Why should you never judge a goat by the way it looks? And why does being clumsy have its benefits?

    For over twenty years, Lemony Snicket has led millions of young readers through a world of bewildering questions and strange, unfortunate events. In this, his latest book, a love letter to the young and the young at heart, he takes us on a thought-provoking tour of his own predilections.

    Long-time fans and new readers (Who are you? Where have you been?) will fall in love with this "true" story, told in a way that only Lemony could tell it. You might even learn some important life-lessons like how DO you cook the perfect egg?

    Information

    Book Type: Junior Chapter
    Age Group: 10 to 14 years
    Traffic Lights: Amber
    Class Novel: No
    Good Reads Rating: 4/5
    Literary Rating: 4/5

    Review

    This intriguing story opens with author Lemony Snicket finding a note that states: "You Had Poison for Breakfast'. Snicket sets out to discover how his breakfast--tea with honey, a piece of toast with cheese, one sliced pear, and an egg perfectly prepared--was poisoned. He decides to trace the origins of each ingredient to catch the poisoner.

    Snicket visits the tea shop, Incomparable Tea, which keeps "daringly eccentric hours.' Finding it closed, he moves on to the local beekeeper who sells jars of honey labelled A Syrup of the Bees. She suggests he investigate another ingredient in his breakfast that he hasn't considered--the water in his tea.

    He ponders this by swimming in the nearest body of water, the sea. He then turns his attention to the supermarket where he bought the bread, noting there's always been something "sinister' about the supermarket: "there is something so distrustful about a place so eager to please" (p. 86). He decides it would be un-literary for the most suspicious place to be villainous, and so goes to the least suspicious: the park.

    Lemony trips in the park and realises he doesn't feel poisoned. He talks to a translator of literature who points out that his note, "You Had Poison for Breakfast', follows the rule of writing a book: to be surprising.

    Snicket ruminates on the "chicken or the egg' philosophical problem. He realises that he wrote himself the note as the idea for a story, which then turned into this book.

    Though completely unconnected to Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, fans of the series will find comfort in the familiar voice and quirky metatextual style. The "mystery' promised by the novella is secondary to the purpose of the book as a musing on philosophy, life and writing. It may go over the heads of younger readers and will not suit those that require pacy, plot driven books, but is generally a quick and thoughtful read. Each chapter is accompanied by a charming line illustration.

    Favourite quote: It is a description which I admire very much, because it is so startling that you know no one else has thought of it before the author did, and yet so perfectly clear that you wonder why you never thought of it yourself...It's why a favorite book feels like an old friend and a new acquaintance at the same time. (p. 3)

    Themes

    storytelling, philosophy, death, literature, food, libraries, plot twist

    Content Notes

    1. A "murder mystery' that discusses death but nobody dies in the course of the story (p. 7). Tells story of a girl's kidnapping (p. 17). 2. Story featuring a woman called "eccentric', which Snicket explains as "so unshakable that people thought she was a "witch'. She seemingly puts a curse on all the doors and windows (p. 34). Story featuring a poltergeist (p. 57). Snicket talks about the idea of reincarnation (p. 59). Story featuring a king who is also "sort of a sorcerer' (p. 98). Questions the existence of God. 3. Explains lovers as "people who are kissing' (p. 100). Snicket imagines what two people across the park might say to each other, the woman asking the man to kiss her while he is bemused by Snicket's peculiar look (p. 102-3). Snicket talks about different kinds of kissing, including kissing a child on top of the head or kissing a precious object. He touches on romantic kissing and explains it as a "kind of communication" (p. 150).

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