Friday, 13 February 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Slippery Slope, Chapter 9

As it’s Friday the 13th, a somewhat suitable date for a book series about three very unlucky children, here’s another Chapter-by-Chapter review post. This time we’re onto Chapter Nine of The Slippery Slope.

What Happens?

The children see the smoke from up at the top of Mount Fraught and we get a glimpse of how Sunny managed to set the signal. We also hear Olaf talking about going to burn down the ‘last safe place’. Meanwhile Violet starts inventing something to climb the waterfall and Klaus carries out some research in the remains of the library. They discover something called Verbal Fridge Dialogue which Klaus will be left to investigate further, while Violet and Quigley attempt to scale the waterfall.

Thoughts as I read:

We’ve got another tall picture which takes up a third of the page at this chapter opening. It shows the frozen waterfall coming down from Mount Fraught. If you remember, at the end of the last chapter the children spotted green smoke coming from the top of this mountain. Well, this picture shows it. Except it’s a black and white picture, so you’ll just have to imagine the colour, okay?

We pick up immediately where we left off, with all three children gazing up at the smoke from the top of the flat top of Mount Fraught. Quigley confirms what we’re all thinking, it’s a ‘Verdant Flammable Device’. This could be one of two things, either a volunteer who survived and is signalling to see if there are any more survivors around, or it’s a trap trying get someone to go up there so they can do mean things to them.

Ironically at this moment Klaus mentions that this must be how it feels for Sunny when no one understands her. A comment which obviously makes everyone sad as they miss their missing family members. Then they decide to try signalling back using their own Verdant Flammable Devices, but they can’t light them as Bruce pinched Quigley’s matches (because children aren’t supposed to play with those). Luckily they’ve got Violet with them. She’s invented grappling hooks and welding rods, something to start a fire should be no problem.

We then flick back to Sunny, who when we last saw her was saying ‘Lox’ in response to the question of what she was going to prepare for them to eat. It also creates a lot of smoke, therefore allowing breakfast to act as a signal to anyone in the area. She managed to use one of the Verdant Flammable Devices to create a lot of smoke, while cooking the fish in the casserole dish she slept in the previous night.

Once again the white-faced woman is sort of nice to Sunny. She compliments Sunny on the food while the hook-handed man tries to remember what that sort of preparation is called. Sunny tells him, but as usual no one listens to her.

Plus Olaf comes out to freak out about the smoke because that could act like a great big signal to show anyone in the area where they are. The man with a beard but no hair starts questioning Sunny but she decides now would be a good time to play dumb, she says ‘Goo goo’ which means ‘I’m going to pretend I’m a helpless baby, instead of answering your questions.’ It fools them all. She’s obviously a good actress.

Because Sunny is just a helpless baby, they’re perfectly happy to discuss their schemes in front of her. And so they do. The new plan is to find the ‘last safe place’ where the volunteers might gather. Then they’re going to burn it down. Easy. Olaf’s not so sure that Sunny is innocent though, he doesn’t want to say exactly where it is in front of her, so she’s despatched to clear away all the crumbs in the car by blowing on them. She replies with ‘Futil’ meaning ‘That is an absolutely impossible chore.’ But she does it anyway.

While she’s over at the car she spots a plume of smoke from the bottom of Mount Fraught. She knows exactly who that is down there. And so we flick back to the bottom of the mountain to rejoin the aforementioned siblings (and Quigley).

We’re also filled in on how Violet was able to light the Verdant Flammable Device, by refracting light from the frozen waterfall with the hand mirror she salvaged from the caravan. I bet you’d already figured that out already. The only problem they have now is that they don’t actually know what they’re supposed to do in order to sent a signal. Should they extinguish the Verdant Flammable Device now? Climb straight up to the summit of Mount Fraught?

And if they are going to climb up there they’ll have to go back down to the scouts and hike up with them. At least, that’s what Quigley thinks. Violet’s got another idea. We’re not told immediately what her idea is, but it involves a ukulele and a candelabra. While she gets on with that Klaus goes to investigate the remains of the library and Quigley makes him a gift of a commonplace notebook all of his very own. I love all things stationery so anyone who gives me a nice notebook is a good person as far as I’m concerned.

Also, I think Quigley might be flirting with Violet a little. He’s complimenting her inventions and making her blush at least. They love each other. Aw, they both deserve to be happy.

Snicket then goes on to tell us about someone called C. M. Kornbluth who was a mechanical instructor at the V.F.D. headquarters and laments the fact that Violet never got to meet him. It really serves as an excuse to get to the point where he can tell us:

So when I think of Violet Baudelaire standing in the wreckage of the V.F.D. headquarters, carefully taking the strings off the ukulele and bending some of the forks in half, I can imagine Mr. Kornbluth, even though he and his pistachios are long gone, turning from the window, smiling at the Baudelaire inventor, and saying, “Beatrice, come over here! Look at what this girl is making!”

So yeah, just an excuse to throw in another Beatrice mention.

As Violet mentions that Sunny’s teeth would come in handy here, Quigley pulls out a false nail he liberated from Dr. Orwell’s office. This does the trick and they settle down to work and discuss some of the mysteries which surround them both. Specifically, they talk about Jacques Snicket and the person with him and their parents in the picture from page thirteen of the file. Quigley suspects that the man is Jacques’s brother.

Then Violet reveals her invention; she attaches bent forks to their shoes, they’ll hold a pair of forks to drive them into the ice and the candelabra is to be used as an ice tester, to make sure it’s all frozen. Then Klaus shows up with the remains of code book, but it’s hard to make out what it says exactly because bits of the page are burned away:
“‘In the e        flagration resulting in the destruction of a sanc    ,” Klaus read, “‘     teers should avail themselves of Verbal Fri      Dialogue, which is concealed accordingly.’”
Yay! Another mystery to solve!

They manage to figure out what the missing bits of the words probably are, apart from the F word of the V.F.D. bit. It doesn’t delay them for long. It’s Fridge! Conveniently there’s a fridge in the kitchen which has survived the fire, so they take a look inside. There’s a whole host of random fridge stuff in there, but the thing they’re looking for seems to be ‘Very Fresh Dill’ which is hidden in the crisper.

We don’t know what these means, but it’s another V.F.D. thing. Violet’s a little bit frustrated by this. I can see what she means here. So many mysteries and just not enough questions! This descends into a discussion about whether or not their parents would be proud of them, if they ever intended for them to know about any of this, or if it was all meant to be one great big secret. We’ll probably never know.

Now they’re deciding to separate in order to rescue Sunny. Klaus will stay and continue his research with the help of Quigley’s commonplace book, while the latter and Violet head up the waterfall to save Sunny. And then Violet holds Quigley’s hand.

Aww, see, told you they were meant to be together.

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