Have you ever heard of Snicket's book series A Series of Unforutnate Events?
I heard about it from fellow homeschoolers.
The premise is that three children are on their own in life, following a fire and the presumed death of their parents. The series consists of 13 books. I bought them all; I read them, and enjoyed doing so.
1. The Bad Beginning
2. The Reptile Room
3. The Wide Window
4. The Miserable Mill
5. The Austere Academy
6. The Ersatz Elevator
7. The Vile Village
8. The Hostile Hospital
9. The Carnivorous Carnival
10. The Slippery Slope
11. The Grim Grotto
12. The Penultimate Peril
13. The End
Snicket tells the reader, right up front, not to expect a happy ending; as he puts it, it's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" after all. I'll admit it. I held out hope. Hope is ever-present in this series; the kids in the story always hold onto hope. I like that. Even if I didn't like that it ended without the happiness I really had built a hope for. They are still good books and a lot of fun in an odd sort of way.
One really great thing about the books is the quirky way that Snicket writes. He's very funny, but also educates along the way. He uses big words and manages to define those words for the reader in a way that garners a smile and not a frown at a bit of education being thrown in.
Here is a site with some quotes from the books: Lemony Snicket quotes
There may be better quotes to be found, as I am sure there are, but a peak at the page above won't ruin the story-line for you and may whet your appetite.
A film was also inspired by the book. It was okay. I didn't love it but I also didn't hate it. The film definitely felt darker than the tone of the books.
I think some kids who are good readers could be as young as 7 or 8 and be allowed to read these books. The film is a tougher call; a parent might want to watch it first or read a review such as this one: PluggedInOnline
Oh!! Before I forget...I also own the first three books on audio CD with TIM CURRY as the reader! He's fantastic! If you begin the books and like them, get your hands on these particular CDs. I own some of the other books with Snicket reading, but Curry is priceless!