This is a very inventive children's book. Three siblings lose their parents and home in a fire and have to move in with an abusive man who wants to claim their inheritance. It tells of the adventures they have and the story is continued in a series.
I read this as an adult who loved Harry (and teen fiction in general). I was surprised at how popular they are among adults but how low-level they are written. I think they'd be good for kids, but we teen-fiction-loving adults are out of luck.
After already having seen the movie, I decided to invest in reading the books. Bk #1, THE BAD BEGINNING, only took me an hour to finish, and it was an enjoyable--if dark--read.
The Baudelaire children--Violet, Klaus, and Sunny--are left orphaned after a mysterious fire destroys their home and kills their parents. Taken into custody by Mr. Poe, the executor of their parent's estate, they learn that their parent's will states that they must be cared for by a relative. The closest relative, unbeknownest to the children, is Count Olaf, an actor and leader of a theatre troupe who lives in a dilapitated house on the other side of town.
Things, of course, only go from bad to worse after the children move into Count Olaf's home, which is strangely covered inside and out with drawings and representations of a strange-looking eye. Count Olaf even has a tattoo of the same image on his ankle. As the Count hatches a scheme to gain control of the Baudelaire fortune, which the children are not privy to until Violet comes of age, the children are alternately scared of their new "parent" and determined to find a way out of their dreadful situation.
I enjoyed this walk on the dark side, and plan on reading Book #2 in the series later today. That said, however, I think it depends on your child and his or her maturity as to whether this would be a good read for them or not. Although the reading material is suitable for around 8 years old and up, the book IS dark-natured, and might scare some children. If they've already seen the movie, they might be prepared for its darkness--if the movie depiction scared them, then hold off on the book for awhile.