Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

"When Did You See Her Last?"

Fall 2013 Fiction
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Lemony Snicket
ISBN: 9780316123051
Hardcover Price: $16.00

Fans of Lemony Snicket's previous work will not be disappointed by "When Did You See Her Last?", the second installment in his new series, All the Wrong Questions.

In this series, a prequel to Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, a boy detective with the same name as the author's finds himself in Stain'd by the Sea, a bleak town once known for its booming ink industry. The ink, mined from octopi, has nearly dried by the time Snicket arrives, leaving a landscape of twisted trees, drained water bodies, and abandoned businesses. He is not there to mine ink, however, but as an apprentice to the bumbling detective S. Theodora Markson. Having finished his "unusual education" in preparation for such work, Snicket arrives with plenty of questions in the first book, "Who Could It Be at This Hour?", and has even more in the second.

"When Did You See Her Last?" teems with bizarre settings, including a coffee shop run entirely by machines, and mysterious characters, like the dastardly villain Hangfire. Expect a precocious narrator with an extensive vocabulary, and some tense and scary scenes as Snicket tries to determine what happened to Miss Cleo Knight, a recently disappeared town resident. As his should-be mentor Theodora concludes that the case is closed, Snicket realizes that it's only just been opened. For starters, two different eye witnesses place Miss Knight in two places at the same time. What gives?

Children can play along and ask their own questions about the mystery. Why did Miss Knight disappear, but leave her brand new car by the roadside? Who is the doctor treating Miss Knight's parents, and why are they so sleepy all of the time? And are there any connections between what Snicket's sister, who he misses dearly, is doing off in London and what is happening in Stain'd by the Sea?

In "When Did You See Her Last?", the kids always catch on faster than the adult characters. Snicket runs with a group of savvy kids like young reporter Moxie and the ever-disappearing Ellington Feint, all of whom run circles around Theodora and the town's easily confused husband-and-wife cop team. Even so, the book offers no easy conclusions at its end, leaving readers eager for the next book in the series.

Parents' Choice   ©2013 Parents' Choice

Look for this product at:
Little Brown Books for Young Readers

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