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The Lump of Coal Hardcover – September 30, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1350L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061574287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061574283
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Just in time for the full-on onslaught of holiday sentimentality, Lemony Snicket comes to the rescue, offering up an acerbic miniature picture book that hides a droll sweetness beneath a biting sardonic wit. It’s December again, and our hero, a lump of coal with an identity crisis (inexplicably wearing a tuxedo) is off in search of a miracle that will give meaning to his life. He tries an art gallery; perhaps he could smudge himself across a canvas masterpiece. No go. He tries a Korean barbecue; maybe he can fuel the fire that roasts eggplant and warms holiday hearts. Nope. At last, a drug-store Santa claims him as the perfect addition to his disobedient stepson’s stocking, and the coal lump finds his place in the world. The tongue-in-cheek narrative receives able support from Helquist’s full-color illustrations, which nicely extend the humor. This Snicket title is extra-wry, but the bracing tone cuts through the honeyed happy ending for a Christmas cocktail that’s just right. Grades 1-3. --Thom Barthelmess

More About the Author

Lemony Snicket claims he was nowhere near the scene of the crime. He is the author of several other unpleasant stories, including those in the bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Lump of Coal.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 32 customer reviews
Good plot twists and great language for a kids book.
Jennifer Silva
The drawings are wonderful and the story is great with a beautiful moral at the end.
D. C. Marek
I knew this book would be amazing due to Lemony Snicket's talent.
Susan R M Walburn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Boni Ashburn on October 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book made me laugh until I cried. It really did. Yes, I'm a children's book author too. No, gosh no, I don't know Mr. Lemony Snicket. And I've never even read any of his other books! But I sure am going to read every one of them now.

This isn't a book for the youngest picture book crowd- they just won't get the humor. It might even be a stretch for the older picture book crowd. But 9 to 12-year-olds who, believe it or not, should still be read to, will likely find this as funny as I did. Read this book to them and find out! Sharing great books is what it's all about :)

If you like your humor on the darkly deadpan side, this is a terrific, unique addition to your holiday book collection.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. BAKER on December 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book about miracles and perspective. 'You don't always get what you want, but you get what you need,' a wise songwriter once wrote. This book is the perfect gift for anyone who feels that things NEVER turn out right for them. Like me. I bought this book for myself because I love Lemony Snicket. I've already read it several times and I laugh in exactly the same spots every time. I had a horrible day today -- NOTHING went right -- and I came home and read this book. Perspective changed. Mood improved. Try it. You'll love it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Phyllis A. Karr on December 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What I have sampled of Snicket's "Unfortunate Events" series inclines me negatively toward wanting more. But, recognizing the old tradition about lumps of coal at Yuletide, when I saw this small book on the bookstore's holiday shelf, my curiosity at the title overcame my negative response to the byline. I took, I read, I was conquered, I purchased. That was last year, and I remain glad.
Let us for the sake of argument not quibble over such minor technicalities as the apparent confusion about char- vs. bituminous or even anthracite coal; why, when the author speaks of the small hero "rolling" from place to place the illustrator depicts it walking on delightful little anthropomorphic legs; or how (perhaps the greatest if unspelled-out miracle of the story) it can cook all day and mark paper all evening without being consumed. Despite such quirks, the fun adds up to a sort of Hans Christian Andersen meets Ambrose Bierce dish, seasoned with a dash of holiday morality of the lightly cynical variety, and served up with illustrations of color and verve.
I still don't plan on reading the Unfortunate Events until I find nothing else to read, but I look forward to perusing THE LUMP OF COAL every December, maybe oftener.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Howard on January 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved this book, and I laughed out loud all the way through! I have read all of the other Lemony Snicket books and I may actually like this one the best because it has all the best elements (humor, pathos, vocabulary education) in a nice, concise form. And, it actually has a happy ending! Plus, I'm always on the lookout for Christmas stories that are just a little "off-kilter" and this is one. Being an artist (graphic-type) by trade I particularly loved the line "Like many people who dress in black, the lump of coal was interested in becoming an artist."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Booked for life on January 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is the perfect gift for anyone who ever slightly doubted that Christmas was the bestest bestest time of the year and that all we needed was to celebrate the holiday starting in mid-October! Anyone whoever re-gifted a few office-mates. Anyone who slipped out of the office party after the boss noticed they had shown up. Anyone whose Christmas card list is: blank. Anyone whose idea of a good Christmas present is a gift card at Amazon.com. Thank you all very much. We really enjoyed this book at the Library when it came in . . . after Christmas?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Silva on November 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I love this book - it's very clever and very funny, yet still heartwarming with a very positive message. I thought the Lemony Snicket books were dark, and while this has a little darkness in it, it's much more optimistic then I expected. This isn't for very young children (it's bit verbose for my 3 year old), but it's now my 5 year old's favorite. Good plot twists and great language for a kids book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JudyMoody on November 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I agree with Boni Ashburn in her review of this hysterical book.......I picked it up at a display in our local Borders and by the end of the book I was in stitches. I used my coupon and bought the book that instant. Our family appreciates this type of off the wall humor and kooky illustrations. I must say I have not read the 'Latke' book, nor have I enjoyed the Lemony Snicket 'Unfortunate' series, but this book will be a favored holiday treat for many years to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jason M. Mitchell on September 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Snicket has done it again. He wove a beautiful tale that was complemented by Mr. Helquist's artwork. The style that made the Series of Unfortunate Events so wonderful is captured in this short holiday story.
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