13 Words by Lemony Snicket

13 Words
Lemony Snicket
HarperCollins Children’s Books (2010)
ISBN 9780061664656
Reviewed by Madison (age 4) and Hailey (age2) Schlarman and Mom for Reader Views (11/10)


“13 Words” takes its reader on a journey through many different things, teaching the reader a new word with each page. The book starts with a bird, word number 1, that is despondent, word number two and concludes with a panache, word 12, and Mezzo-Soprano, word 13. Each word connects to the next making a story about a dog who tries to cheer up the despondent bird before their Mezzo-Soprano human comes home. It ends in a lyrical recap of all the events to help remind the reader of each new word learned.

Madison’s thoughts/summary: “The bird is sad. The bird needed to be cheered up. There was a cake under the table all wrapped up in a box. There were lots of cakes in the box to eat. There was hot and cold water to wash the dishes. The bird painted ladders. The dog went to buy the bird a pretty hat. The bird was still painting. There were a lot of hats, even one with a box and there was a baby. He tried on so many hats! I love the red tall one. They drove back home. ‘Wa-lah’ says the dog when he came back home, my flying
bird feathered friend. The end.”

Hailey’s thoughts: “The bird sits on the table!? That’s weird. I don’t like that cake {poppy seed}. I like that one! {Chocolate with flowers}. It’s great. They were eating and eating the birdie was eating.”

Mom’s thoughts:

If my daughters’ thoughts confuse you let me assure you I am confused also. The book is very random. It seems to be more of a silly title that teaches some rather large and not widely used words to children through a very odd and weirdly connected story. I had a slight headache by the time we were done reviewing this book. While it was colorful and had interesting illustrations, the storyline didn’t catch us. Quite often the girls were not paying attention. We had to read this book more than I hoped too so that they could review it adequately enough. If you cannot tell my younger daughter likes food and cake. She didn’t care about any other part of the book aside from the cake page and the bird. My oldest daughter, who loves to read, never asked for this book. She didn’t want to sit and read it with me. She would ask about some of the large words but didn’t really follow the story. I can’t say I blame them. I wasn’t following the story either.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to friends. If you have or know a child who likes very offbeat books, “13 Words” would probably work for them. I felt the words themselves did not make much sense. They were either easy or already known by my daughters or large and rarely used by most adults, never mind, children.

I appreciated parts of this book but as a whole I wouldn’t pay $16.99 for it. I think there are many other books that have a better storyline or teach my children better than this one did. I would have quickly put it back on the shelf of the book store and chose another book or two. The book seems to be aimed at children
ages 4-8 years of age.

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