“Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire were intelligent children, and they were charming, and resourceful, and had pleasant facial features, but they were extremely unlucky, and most everything that happened to them was rife with misfortune, misery, and despair”– A Bad Beginning
One would be hard pressed to find a man less interested in happily-ever-afters than Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket). Even when he was a child, his father claimed that, “if a book had a syrupy ending, he’d toss it aside—it drove him crazy!” His disdain for “syrupy” travelled from his reading into his writing, where any syrup you find is at the very least ineffective cough syrup, but is more likely poisonous.
Handler’s books are full of imagination and out of this world circumstances, and yet they strike a chord of realism in young readers that many more “syrupy” books may not. Handler put a lot of emphasis on subverting the idea fed to children that people get what they deserve—that the world is just.
In an interview with bwog, Handler explains how children that read his books are just beginning to become aware of injustice. He gives the example of when perhaps for the first time a teacher says to a child, “I don’t care who started it! You’re both in trouble!” This is injustice that’s happening, and the child will realize it. Handler states, “I think that you start to be aware of that when you’re young. And the books reflect this, so in some ways seem less fantastic than books that say, ‘And if you work hard you’ll be rewarded.’”