Review - Lemony Snicket's 13 Words Children's Book with Artwork from Maira Kalman

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13 Words by Lemony SnicketReading to our children everyday and helping them develop a love of the written word is one of the many important duties of parenting.  All too often though, I am not very happy with the selection of children's books I come across.  Either the story is very weak and is not well written, or the book just doesn't seem to capture my daughter's imagination and attention.

Recently, I had the opportunity to review the newest children's book from Lemony Snicket entitled, "13 Words".  I love when an author and illustrator take the time to incorporate something for everyone, including the parents, in their children's story, and 13 Words definitely fit the bill.  Keep reading to learn much more about this unique and charming children's book!

I reviewed the children's book, 13 Words by Lemony Snicket (Author) and Maira Kalman (Illustrator), which retails for $16.99, but is currently on sale for $11.55 with FREE SHIPPING.

13 Words was my first introduction to the children's author, Lemony Snicket.  I have to say that I thought his writing style and quirky, semi-sarcastic humor was a breath of fresh air to a rather stale batch of children's stories I have come across since reading with Riley.

Mr. Snicket was definitely right to team up with the illustrator, Maira Kalman, on this one for the illustrations couldn't have been more perfect.  I thought that the story was a vocabulary adventure that twisted and turned in so many unexpected places, you didn't know where you were going to end up next.

13 Words by Lemony Snicket

My daughter liked the illustrations, but be warned that this book is a little advanced and would probably be thoroughly enjoyed by children ages 4 and up.  If you think that the 13 words are the only new vocabulary your child might soak up, you couldn't be more wrong.  There are beautifully interesting words sprinkled throughout this story, like verve, glamorous, spiffy, swell and arias.

Even Riley thought the words spiffy and swell, were...well, swell!  :)  (It seems that Mr. Snicket's sense of humor is rubbing off on me as I write this review!)

At this point, you are probably wondering just what exactly ARE the 13 Words?  Well, here they are:

  • Bird
  • Despondent
  • Cake
  • Dog
  • Busy
  • Convertible
  • Goat
  • Hat
  • Haberdashery
  • Scarlet
  • Baby
  • Panache
  • Mezzo-Soprano

I just LOVED the fact that out of all of the words in the English dictionary, Lemony Snicket managed to include TWO of my absolute favorites in this story...haberdashery and panache.  As a matter of fact, I toyed for months with the idea of naming Riley Panache instead of Riley, but my husband wasn't going for it!  (Just joking...I only considered that name for a few hours.)

13 Words by Lemony Snicket

Perhaps my favorite feature of the 13 Words book, is how they managed to incorporate so many adult references into the story.  This is accomplished primarily in the form of Kalman's illustrations, such as the Franz Kafka novel sitting on the bird's table and the Pedro Berruguete painting on the wall in the bird's home.  I can remember when I was young, how my father would laugh and laugh at the cartoon, "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle", and I just never seemed to get it.

I really liked the cartoon and all, but I never seemed to laugh in the same places as my dad.  This book reminded me of that.  As soon as Riley is older, I know that she will be wild about 13 Words, but for completely different reasons than I am.  In my opinion, this just demonstrates the ability of 13 Words to appeal to people of all ages and how this story can grow right along with your child.

13 Words by Lemony Snicket

I am so happy that there is a children's book like 13 Words,which takes the entertainment and education of our children so seriously and does it so WELL!  The tongue-in-cheek humor and gloriously colorful and poignant illustrations make this a story that you could read over and over again and discover something new each time.

This, in my opinion, is exactly what children's literature should be.  And since I am a huge fan of Albert Einstein, I really enjoyed the end quote written in an open book lying on a table next to a bust of Julius Caesar, "The only reason for time is so everything doesn't happen at once."  Now, THAT's panache and I am no longer despondent about the state of children's literature!  :)

Product Review 4 Stars
Disclosure:  I received the children's book, 13 Words, by Lemony Snicket and Maira Kalman in order to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received. This product review is based on my own personal experiences with this item and is completely honest and objective.


I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!

Melissa @ Mommy Living the Life of Riley!
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