Daniel Handler, author of Printz Honor recipient Why We Broke Up and perhaps best known by his pseudonym, Lemony Snicket, and his Series of Unfortunate Events, visited the St. Louis County Library on Friday, February 13, to promote his newest novel for adults, We Are Pirates.

Daniel Handler

A few of us at Booksource gathered to watch him read excerpts from his new book, take questions from the audience and sign our books.

With the new book in hand Handler stepped up to the podium to give the audience its first glimpse into the characters and story of We Are Pirates. He read the scene where an Alzheimer’s patient named Errol meets the book’s main character, 14-year-old Gwen, who’s been forced to volunteer at the senior center as Errol’s companion. They become fast friends as they grumble about the center’s management while picking the raisins out of Errol’s cereal.

And of course, Handler read the scene where the two commandeer their own vessel and plunder their first ship. Naturally.

For fans of his Series of Unfortunate Events, this juxtaposition of humor and brute force is old hat. According to Handler, “the only thing more interesting than terrible things happening to children over and over again is 13 volumes of terrible things happening to children over and over again.”

And, judging by the droves of fans who gathered together at the public library on a Friday night to get copies of their favorite Series books signed, it seems he was probably right.

Daniel Handler Signing

As the night progressed, Handler shared with us a letter that one of his fans wrote to him years ago, one that he memorized and continues to think of every day:


Dear Mr. Snicket,

I read all of your books. Why do I like them so much? I’m always curious when something happens.


These three sentences sum up the experience many of us have while reading “Mr. Snicket’s” Series of Unfortunate Events because the three Baudelaire siblings, dogged by the evil Count Olaf, are constantly put into situations where they need to use their intellects and intuition to escape his clutches. It’s their curiosity that saves them, and it’s the reader’s curiosity that makes these books so hard to put down.

A Series of Unfortunate Events and its companion series All the Wrong Questions urge readers to observe the world around them with this same curiosity. And, of course, there’s only one place where anybody can do this. It’s a place Handler prominently features in every volume of both series, and it’s where we gathered to meet him.

I’m speaking, of course, about the library.

Daniel Handler

Handler closed the night by giving some advice to aspiring authors in the audience, including tips for getting over writer’s block, editing your work and building a solid narrative structure.

His advice to aspiring pirates, however?

“Do something else.”

At each of his readings, Handler features a local poet. This night, the audience was introduced to one of his favorite poets and a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Mary Jo Bang, who read a few poems from her upcoming collection The Last Two Seconds.


Want to get some Daniel Handler or Lemony Snicket titles into your classroom library? Here’s where to find them at Booksource!


A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket All the Wrong Questions by Lemony Snicket Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
The Dark - Booksource Book Recommendations 13 Words by Lemony Snicket The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy by Lemony Snicket