Think how hard it is to write one really good book for *any* age group. Lemony Snicket wrote 13 terrific books in a row, and it's accurate to say they're splendid for all ages. (I know I'm getting ahead of myself, since this is only book 10. I've actually read them all already at least once before; but now I have all the recorded versions, so I'm treating myself to a mostly-Tim-Curry-narrated run-through.)
"The Slippery Slope" continues Snicket's ongoing philosophical exploration of, well, slippery slopes. As if they weren't busy enough just managing to survive, the Baudelaires are now troubled by a recurring, critical question: How do you tell the difference between a good guy and a bad guy?
The two older Baudelaire siblings have to rescue their younger sister Sunny from the clutches of Count Olaf and his cohorts. Violet and Klaus eventually find, to their horror, that they've talked themselves into trapping and kidnapping one of those cohorts in order to arrange a hostage exchange. Easy enough to rationalize that they are, after all, trying to rescue a baby, and that the potential hostage in question is thoroughly evil and tried to kill *them* earlier in their adventures. The question won't go away: How can you call yourself a good person when your actions mirror those of your enemy?
Snicket manages to engage readers on this issue without being the least bit ham-handed. He also touches gently and beautifully on the first awakenings of romantic attraction Violet feels -- toward a character whose existence is a delightful surprise to Baudelaires and readers alike.