I recall checking this book series out so often from my school library when I was in 5th and 6th grade, that the librarian had to stop me and tell me that others might want to read it too.
I remember reading this to my sister, who was 5 years younger than me, and I remember being totally in love with the illustrations that seemed to freak everyone else out.
It might not surprise you to know that these three novels are on the Banned Books list – which (and I wish the people who make this ridiculous list understood this) only makes kids want them more. Even though the series had a re-issue on it's 30th anniversary, the original art work by Stephan Gammall was removed and replaced by art work from Bret Helquist, who you might recall did all the Series Of Unfortunate Events drawings. Nothing against Helquist, his images are wonderful – but I just really hate when people mess with my childhood memories – no matter how dark and demented they might seem.
If you've never cracked open one of the original books from the 1981-1991, let me give you a taste of what is there:
Did you ever read the originals? Did you survive the illustrations?