The Lump of Coal

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Overview

This is a story about a lump of coal who can think, talk, and move itself around.

Is there a more charming holiday tale to behold? Probably, but Lemony Snicket has not written one.

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Overview

This is a story about a lump of coal who can think, talk, and move itself around.

Is there a more charming holiday tale to behold? Probably, but Lemony Snicket has not written one.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Laura J. Brown
Lemony Snicket, the author of the series, "A Series of Unfortunate Events," has written a surprisingly witty and delightful Christmas story about a lump of coal. A lump of coal, traditionally the dreaded stocking stuffer from Santa Claus to children on the Naughty List, is not such a dreaded gift at all if you are an abstract artist. Lemony Snicket reminds readers that Christmastime is a time of stories and miracles and the greatest miracles of all are pursuing your dreams. This is the cause of the lump of coal, who could walk, talk, dresses in black, and dreams of becoming a great artist. His only problem is he needs a hand to guide him. It is during the holiday season that he began his search for an artist that will draw with him so they can make beautiful art together. He goes to an art gallery, a logical place to go, but is turned down with disdain. Everywhere he goes, he is rejected. This hurts him very much. He knows he does not want to wind up in a barbeque pit and considers burying himself deep in the ground so after many years he will turn into a diamond. He may have been rejected and discouraged, but he decides not to give up on his dream. It is at this time that a miracle happens. If you love Christmas stories, then this one will be a welcomed addition to your collection. It is truly a gift. Reviewer: Laura J. Brown
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

In this tale of Christmas miracles, Snicket chronicles the adventures of an anthropomorphic lump of coal with a dream. The "small, flammable hero" meets his share of naysayers and phonies on his quest to be an artist. He eventually becomes despondent and settles for something that is "better than nothing." It is when he least expects his miracle that it occurs, enabling him to fulfill his destiny. Snicket's trademark arch humor delivers plenty of laugh-out-loud moments en route to the happy ending. Longtime collaborator Helquist brings the characters to life with simplicity and charm. The lump of coal is sufficiently lumpy and elegantly dressed. Those who would stand in his way are ridiculed with appropriately subtle visual barbs. The entire saga is presented in a seven-inch-square volume that is thought-provoking and captivating, and sure to be in demand.-Linda Israelson, Los Angeles Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
One might say that Snicket, author of the wildly successful A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Helquist, the illustrator of same, have diminished their talents with this short, illustrated Christmas story about a talking lump of coal. Suspend judgment here, dear reader, and remember that in the hands of a clever writer almost anything can become a character. This particular lump of coal has artistic aspirations, dresses in a suit and bow tie and not only reads but speaks in complete sentences as well, unlike most lumps of coal. Minor miracles occur when the lump of coal and a teenage boy combine their creative abilities, resulting in artistic works that sell for enormous amounts, leading to travel and business success. A final page speaks gently of the value of all minor miracles, especially at Christmas. The volume's size, as well as the book in general, may strike many as diminutive, which here means small in stature, but make no mistake as to its usefulness, as many a Christmas stocking will accept such an endeavor in lieu of a real lump of coal. (Picture book. 8 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061574252
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/30/2008
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: Library Edition
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket is often despondent, mostly about his published research, which includes A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Composer Is Dead.

Brett Helquist's celebrated art has graced books from the charming Roger, The Jolly Pirate, to the alarming New York Times bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events, to the cozy E. B. White Read-Aloud Award finalist bedtime for bear. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

Biography

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end -- and, in the case of Lemony Snicket, all unfortunate things must come to an end, too. After seven years and thirteen episodes, the much beloved A Series of Unfortunate Events books are drawing to a close. At least, that's what Snicket's "handler" Daniel Handler says.

But before getting to what promises to be "the most unfortunate event of all," it is first necessary to familiarize oneself with the mysterious man who created a mega-selling series of children's novels pivoting on the premise of placing young people in peril. According to his autobiography Lemony Snicket: the Unauthorized Autobiography, Snicket "grew up near the sea and currently lives beneath it. To his horror and dismay, he has no wife or children, only enemies, associates, and the occasional loyal manservant. His trial has been delayed, so he is free to continue researching and recording the tragic tales of the Baudelaire orphans." Hmmm. Perhaps an autobiography purporting that it may or may not be true isn't the best place to begin.

Instead, let us focus on Daniel Handler, the man who might actually be responsible for composing the Series of Unfortunate Events books according to certain skeptics (which include Handler, himself). Daniel Handler has been asked many times why anyone would want to make a career of chronicling the ghastly trials of a trio of ill-fated orphans. "When I was young, my favorite stories were not the sort of children's books that are constantly being thrust at you when you're little," he explained in an audio essay on Barnes & Noble.com. "I didn't like books where people played on a sports team and won a bunch of games, or went to summer camp and had a wonderful time. I really liked a book where a witch might cut a child's head off or a pack of angry dogs might burst through a door and terrorize a family. So, I guess it should not be surprising that when I turned to children's literature I tried to think of all sorts of interesting things to happen to small children, and all of these things were pretty dreadful."

Handler has long made it clear that his wildly popular series would be limited to thirteen installments. The Penultimate Peril: Book the Twelfth finds the much-beleaguered Baudelaire orphans "enjoying" a family vacation at a menacing hotel, and Handler is wrapping up his saga with The End: Book the Thirteenth, which promises to tie up all remaining threads in the story in an undoubtedly exciting manner.

However, the conclusion of his series is no indication that Handler plans on bringing his writing career to an end. He has also written adult-targeted titles under his own name, including his latest, Adverbs: A Novel. This exploration of love, which Publishers Weekly deemed "lovely" and "lilting," may forgo the trademark Lemony Snicket wry morbidity, but Handler ensures readers that the book isn't without its own unfortunate events. "It's a fairly miserable story, as any story about love will be," he says. "People try to find love -- some of them find it, some of them don't, some of them have an unhappy time even if they do find it -- but it is considerably more cheerful than any of my so-called children's books."

Good To Know

Daniel Handler has a potentially embarrassing confession to make: he is an avowed accordion player. Handler says that when he told his parents about his decidedly uncool musical pursuits, they reacted "as if I had taken up heroin."

His interest in music does not end with the accordion. Close friend and leader of indie-rock band The Magnetic Fields Steven Merritt has written an original song for each audio book version of the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Merritt and Handler will be releasing a CD of all 13 "dreadful" songs when the final installment of the series is published in late 2006. Handler also lent his accordion-laying talents to The Magnetic Fields' critically acclaimed album 69 Love Songs.

Handler's persistence may rival that of the never-say-die Baudelaire orphans. His first novel, The Basic Eight, was rejected 37 times before it was finally published.

He enjoys the work of novelist Haruki Murakami so much that Handler devoted an entire essay to the subject in the plainly and guilelessly entitled Village Voice review, "I Love Murakami."

According to a former high school classmate writing in the local paper, Handler was "voted not only Class Clown, but also Best Actor, Chatterbox, and Teacher's Pet."

A few fun facts from our interview with Handler:

"I can cook anything."

"I know one very good card trick."

"I auditioned for an enormous role in the film Gigli."

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    1. Also Known As:
      In some parts, people get to know him through his handler, Daniel Handler.
    2. Hometown:
      Snicket is something of a nomad. Handler lives in San Francisco, California.
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 28, 1970
    2. Place of Birth:
      Handler was born in San Francisco in 1970, and says Snicket's family has roots in a land that's now underwater.
    1. Education:
      Handler is a 1992 graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

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(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 25, 2010

    my review of the lump of coal!!!!

    I think this book will be great for kids that like to think whats going to happen next!!! This book is a unforgettable story; you will cry at the ending cause then he knows where he belongs and he's very happy!!!so you should remember that this book is not something you would want to read by yourself!! So have a great time with your family reading this book!!!ENJOY!!!!

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 23, 2010

    Lemony does it again!

    I liked and bought the screaming latke book a few years back and thought that would be the only holiday offering from the always-amusing Mr. Snicket. So I was delighted to find The Lump of Coal, which is even better. And I had a great excuse to buy it-a stocking stuffer for my husband. (Which means, of course, that I get to read and enjoy it, yet I look generous by giving it away.) It's a win/win. I eagerly await something soon for either Ramadan or New Year's. Maybe then he will branch out to holidays outside of December. The Blue Valentine, perhaps? Or The Freakishly Five-leaf Clover for St. Patty's? The possiblities abound!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This story ROCKS!!!!Get it!!!!

    This book is so awesome and your children and you will enjoy this book!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Masterful Story

    Lemony Snicket is such an interesting author. He has written this original story about a lump of coal, and what an interesting story to add to your Christmas collection! Most kids are afraid of getting a lump of coal for Christmas, but this "Lump of Coal" story adds a twist to the typical naughty kid gift. My kids also have another fun book about a little boy who is afraid to get a lump of coal "Jake the Snake and the Stupid Time-Out Chair." These two books would make a wonderful duo for the Christmas season!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2009

    A story about a lump of coal.

    Lemony Snicket and Brett Helquist have done it again. This is a very
    unusual holiday tale. For so many years of being the threatened gift
    for bad children, we have a tale about a erudite lump of coal wearing
    a very nice black suit and tie. A lump of coal who exceeds beyond his
    wildest dreams. This story turns dear Charles Dickens on his brillant
    head.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Lump of Coal

    I bought this book for my little sister who loves Lemony Snicket, and my whole family ended up reading it. Its a great book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Another Great Children's Tale by Lemony Snicket

    As only Lemony Snicket can do, he has written another quirky tale that you will want for your bookshelf. I picked up the book when I saw the name Lemony Snicket, but I read it cover to cover because the story is great.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Inspires Holiday Good Behavior

    My child and I enjoyed reading this. Lemony Snicket definately has an odd sense of humor. His old fashioned style drawings set a special nostalgic mood. The irony may prompt good discussions of what is proper in prayer and speaking.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    ?..............

    IS IT A PICTURE BOOK OR A NOVEL? I REALLY NEERLD TO KNOW

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012

    Ummm

    How long is it

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2010

    great

    great book even when it is not the holidays

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2009

    A charming Holiday book!

    It is a delightful but thoughtful Holiday book aimed at young children, but special for children of all ages ( Adults too)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 1, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted January 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted December 13, 2008

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    Posted November 7, 2008

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    Posted December 7, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted March 24, 2009

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    Posted November 4, 2008

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