This paper investigates the high-earning children's series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, in relation to the skills young people require to survive and thrive in what Ulrich Beck calls risk society. Children's textual culture has been traditionally informed by assumptions about childhood happiness and the need to reassure young readers that the world is safe. The genre is consequently vexed by adult anxiety about children's exposure to certain kinds of knowledge. This paper discusses the implications of the representation of adversity in the Lemony Snicket series via its subversions of the conventions of children's fiction and metafictional strategies. Its central claim is that the self-consciousness or self-reflexivity of A Series of Unfortunate Events} models one of the forms of reflexivity children need to be resilient in the face of adversity and to empower them to undertake the biographical project risk society requires of them.
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