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Lemony Snicket says ‘stay indoors and read’

Daniel Handler spoke in support of Barnes & Noble’s reading program
/ Source: The Associated Press

Lemony Snicket has a suggestion for your summer plans.

“Mr. Snicket believes that summertime is such a dangerous season, what with sunburn and melted ice cream and the possibility of summer camp, that it’s best to stay indoors and read,” said Snicket’s “representative,” Daniel Handler, who still denies the overwhelming evidence that he is in fact the author of the million-selling Snicket books, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

Handler spoke by phone with The Associated Press on Monday in support of Barnes & Noble’s 10th annual Summer Reading Program, which begins Tuesday and promotes literacy for young people. Mr. Snicket will likely enjoy a literate and prosperous summer, as Barnes & Noble will be handing out Snicket-related “activity kits and journals, each containing four student activities, to educators nationwide,” according to a statement.

“Students who read any eight books of their own choosing, list them, and record their favorite part of the book in their ‘A Summer of Unfortunate Events’ journal, can receive a Barnes & Noble coupon for a free book from a list of best-selling paperback titles,” the superstore chain said.

Kim Brown, vice president of merchandising for Barnes & Noble Inc., said children will be able to choose from 30 books, most of them fiction. Asked by the AP why only best sellers were being offered, Brown said, “We want to make sure we have all the books in stock that we promote.” And if a child wants a book not on the list? “We try to make everyone happy,” Brown said.

Handler said that Mr. Snicket has his own reading suggestions, including books by Beverly Cleary, Adele Griffin and John Blair. Handler was asked if Mr. Snicket, a known supporter of independent booksellers, was worried about his affiliation with Barnes & Noble.

“Absolutely, he’s concerned,” Handler said. “But one of the nice things about the Summer Reading Program is that Barnes & Noble is giving away books for free. You can read books from a library or an independent store and then they’ll give you a book.

“So, in fact, they’re reversing the capitalist scheme of which they’re often accused,” he said.

The 13th and final book in the spooky Snicket series will be published Oct. 13, a Friday, of course. Children who participate in the Summer Reading Program will be eligible for an autographed copy.