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13 Words

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,698 ratings  ·  396 reviews
13 Words:

1. Bird
2. Despondent
3. Cake
4. Dog
5. Busy
6. Convertible
7. Goat
8. Hat
9. Haberdashery
10. Scarlet
11. Baby
12. Panache
13. Mezzo-Soprano
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by HarperCollins Canada / Other
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Popular Answered Questions
Siskiyou-Suzy No. There is no real counting. Each word, as it is mentioned, is numbered, but not in a way that brings any attention to the numbers.

Community Reviews

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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,698 ratings  ·  396 reviews

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Hannah Garden
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Dear Mr. Snicket,

Well. It would appear that during the time elapsed between my having finished The Dark and my having finished 13 Words--a generous, languorous period of at least 15 minutes--you did not have time to email me with an offer of employment. I find this galling in especial due to the fact that I would have *particularly* well enjoyed sitting in your studio eating a jam biscuit while you read this story to Maira Kalman, a genius.

The only thing a sane person could deduce from this over
Destiny Dawn Long
I borrowed this book mostly because I love Lemony Snicket, and sometimes get a little tired of all the accessible literature that I read to my toddler. I didn't expect that she would like it, because she's not even two and the story is a bit surreal.

Imagine my surprise when she started talking about it all day and insisting that we read it over and over again. She loves to say "panache" and "haberdashery" and "mezzo-soprano"... and why wouldn't she? They're fun words with fun sounds and differe
Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books

Lemony Snicket’s 13 Words is a fun, quirky, strange little read. Bright colors, unusual characters, and words that just bounce around your mouth! I have a thing for words though. The way some words sound or get stuck on my tongue make me smile and mutter to myself all the time. Haha…

For some reason, I did not connect with Mr. Snicket here though. The tone came off a bit snotty for my taste. Still had fun with the words, but something prevented me from going all in. Loved the ending though! The m
Contains exactly the strangeness, sadness, and delight you'd expect from the combination of Lemony Snicket and Maira Kalman (her book The principles of uncertainty is one of my all-time favorites). I especially liked the inclusion of "panache" (defined by Snicket as "not just feathers...a sense of style and excitement, a kind of verve or swagger"). I've remembered this word since seeing a movie adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac in French class...Cyrano's last words: "... yet there is something st ...more
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I admit it. I'm just not artsy enough for this. Judging by others' reviews, I'm one of the few, though, so I won't slam it. However, my son, who is kinda artsy, agrees with me that it's bizarre (but not in a good way).

I do like the vocabulary (yes, I know it's not a vocabulary book, but still) and maybe child-me would have given it another star for that. (I was weirder as a child than I am now, I think.)

I think it'd be a fun mentor text. Grab random words from a magnetic poetry kit or a SAT test
Lisa Vegan
Nov 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults & (older?) kids who like silly books & counting/new words books & cake & animals &&&
Oh, I loved this admittedly weird book. The last page is priceless, as is much of the book. I turned the book at times to see everything and 2 of the titles/text of the books shown are very cute.

The story is a silly cumulative tale that can work as a counting book, a vocabulary building book, a sort of philosophy book, and mostly just a for a good laugh book. It has both silliness and seriousness. I laughed (or at least grinned) a couple of times, but there was much sadness in it too.

And I don’t
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Let's be clear right now, because I don't want you confused by the charming blue bird on the cover into thinking that this is a beginning vocabulary book. No, this is a Lemony Snicket book. That means that after "teaching" us the word bird, we are confronted with the second word: Despondent. The bird is despondent. Too much, too soon? Okay, Snicket backs off and gives us cake and dog. However, the reader would be wise to listen to the little voice telling them that words like haberdashery and pa ...more
Vicky N.
Oct 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Lemony Snicket brings out the extravagant side of writing into picture books. 13 words opens a world of new words for kids with a "despondent" bird, a dog and a goat.
13 words is not the usual picture-book, but definitely reflects how they should be. A challenging read for kids, but definitely a fun ride and a great learning device as well.
Jennifer Lavonier
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Maira Kalman has an illustration style unlike any other. Her art is immediately recognizable. She has illustrated several books, for adults as well as children, and has been featured on the cover of The New Yorker multiple times. She paints odd-looking people and animals that look somewhat human which, in 13 Words, are set against surreal landscapes. Her palette is best described as edible (with the hues of ribbon candy) and her art is playful.

Lemony Snicket, author of the highly popular A Serie
Aug 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
To me this book is a hilarious parody of a standard "vocabulary building" picture book: 13 words for you to know. But then the list of words includes bird, despondent, goat, convertible... I mean, what reader is the target audience? Which is part of what makes it so funny to me.
After I read it aloud (it's a great book for reading aloud if you use that slightly sugared up "let's all learn together" tone), I realized it could, actually, but used as a book to read with a reluctant reader, or one wh
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children, 2017
I love Lemony Snicket so much!
تماضر المهدي
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amy Forrester
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
The ever clever Lemony Snicket, author of The Series of Unfortunate Events, has created a surreal and humorous story out of 13 seemingly unrelated words. The story begins with a bird (word #1) who is despondent (word #2) so he eats some cake (word #3) with his friend, a dog (word #4). The dog decides to cheer the bird up by getting him a hat (word #8) from the haberdashery (word #9). The bird likes her hat very much and then a mezzo-soprano (word #13) walks in with more cake and sings about the ...more
Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Here'a a droll picture book for parents who yearn for less accessible, less banal story time fare. Why bore your children (and yourselves) with simple words when you can instead introduce zesty vocabulary like "panache," and take a drive through a landscape of culture, art and ideas? In this picture book, the main character, Bird, isn't challenged to clean her room, or mind mama, or go to school--she is not even a child. She is a working artist, and in a funk.
Illustrator Maira Kalman's signature
Jun 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
On the inside flap of the dust jacket 13 words are listed. There are words you might expect in a picturebook, like bird, dog, hat, and baby, and some absolutely splendiferous words like despondent, haberdashery, panache, and mezzo-soprano. And here's the thing, children love large interesting words, especially when they sound a little funny. Snicket's humor is, as always, spot on. As I read this at my desk I was giggling so much a coworker decided to come investigate. I ended up reading the book ...more
Eva Leger
Jun 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: julias-books
I feel bad giving this one star so I'm giving it two. That's my reason. Because this is not a three star, four star, or five star book. The book makes no sense and it's not even good.
Listen, use uncommon words or common words. Don't try to mix them and have it seem 'extraordinary". It's not working.
Some words, (as if I need to put it out there):
Okay, all good.
'haberdashery'. Right. Because kids use that word all the time. And quite frankly, I don't want my kid to walk around
Britteny Gilge
I was not a fan of this book at first and then I started seeing all the connections through the pictures and the words. There were thirteen words that were focused on in this story and as each word was presented it was tied back to the previous words that had been talked about. This would be a great story to teach vocabulary. The book does a great job showing and telling what each words means. The pages were vibrant and active and depicted the essences of the word being talked about. If the auth ...more
Karyn The Pirate
Nov 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
Bird - Despondent - Cake. These are words Lemony Snicket uses in his new picture book 13 Words.
Okay - enough said about the book's premise. I did not like this book. Mainly I do not think it should be a picture book. At least that is where our cataloger chose to place it. The book actually gave me the creeps. The bird is despondent. It reminds me of the Raven of Poe fame. The pictures are colorful but remind me of an Edvard Munch painting. (Think The Scream.) I don't believe children will apprec
Nov 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, children-s
Oh, how I misjudged our beloved Lemony Snicket. Given 13 words, I thought I knew what was going to happen. As usual, there is no predicting a Snicket story. From cake to haberdashery to panache, the reader is taken on colourful journey as dog attempts to cheer up despondent bird.

This is all accompanied by illustrations that hint at Chagall in colour and dream-like quality. They are charming and very interesting to look at - and you’ll have fun playing continuity finder from page to page.

Mar 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Fix the illustrations!

I am so sad to give a bad rating to a book by two people whose work I love, Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman, but did you guys interact when working on this? Here are some examples of text/picture mismatches:

-TEXT: "The bird sits on the table."
-PICTURE: (a bird is STANDING on a table)

-TEXT: (refers to a strawberry shortcake)
-PICTURE: (shows a CHOCOLATE cake with vanilla icing)

Get it together! Coordinate! Am I supposed to use this book to teach things to my child? "Cakes don'
Sep 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
13 Words by Lemony Snicket and Maira Kalman 9/15/2010, $16.99 Some years back I read an article that proposed that children didn't like to read because contemporary publishing trends had dumbed-down the language making books boring. Certainly a child should learn and could understand words like dog and frog, but where... were the words that enlivened the story and stretched the imagination? Leave it to Lemony Snicket to create a children's picture book that celebrates not only dog and cake and g ...more
No surprise that Lemony Snicket's new book is odd. Higlighting 13 words--some ordinary (baby) and some fanciful (despondent)-- Snicket shares the simple story of a sad bird and her friends attempts to cheer her.
Dec 17, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up only because it was Lemony Snicket but I was really disappointed. The story is nonsensical. Not in a childlike way. I think that children would be more confused than adults would be reading this. I also didn't like the art style either, but that's just a personal preference.
Edward Sullivan
I love the words Snicket uses and Kalman's illustrations, but the point of it all is a mystery to me.
Maggie Needham
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: little-kid-books
I freaking love Lemony Snicket and all the words he writes. So clever, so funny, so smart, so unexpected.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This is a bizarre but beautiful picture book featuring a plot loosely strung together by 13 individual words. It was one of my son's favorite books from about 3-5 years of age, and I ended up making a song for the ending poem that we still sing together.

It's weird and arguably dark, but not too dark and not too weird, and oh just read the book to your kids because there's nothing cuter than a 3-year-old who talks about "panache."

This is probably my favorite picture book ever because the artwor
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-book, 2018, ebook
Reading this reminds me of chapters in ASUE . Lemony Snicket explained some phrase and new vocabulary to the reader. One of my favorite part from the series. In this colorful picture book, he did it briefly. Now I know what Despondent, Convertible, Haberdashery, Panache are. I wish he wrote it like he did in ASUE.
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There's everybody they knew. And... there was a doggy, and a bird, and he was despondent, but he was okay, and there was cake: Tra la tra la, they sing the song. And then the goat drives in the convertible to the hat store and they all have [spoiler alert] cake at the end, but she was still a little despondent. More and more and more.
Jorge Rosas
Exclusive for very young readers this book was fun to read but there’s not much an grown up can find here.
Dec 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I wish I was read this book when i was a child. I would have found it even more delightful than I did as a grown 25 year old! Three out of Five very panache filled stars from me!
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Lemony Snicket had an unusual education and a perplexing youth and now endures a despondent adulthood. His previous published works include the thirteen volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Composer is Dead, and 13 Words. His new series is All The Wrong Questions.

For A Series of Unfortunate Events:

For All The Wrong Questions:
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