- Age Range: 4 - 8 years
- Grade Level: 3 and up
- Lexile Measure: NC1350L (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 (54 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lump of Coal Hardcover – September 30, 2008
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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
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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
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Top Customer Reviews
The story begins as any other folktale or myth that has lasted for ages. But the unique element about The Lump of Coal, one may not even consider that there is a lesson to be learned or any significance to an object that tends to be associated with a form of unworthiness. But Snicket cleverly retells the story of the lump of coal that happened to be an artist and the many encounters of setbacks that it experienced due to the undesirable factors that have been linked with a lump of coal. Creatively, Snicket turns the inanimate object to something worthy of believing in and a voice to prove it after it meets a corner street Santa Claus that has a disobedient stepson Jasper and seeks the lump coal to teach Jasper a lesson; the lump of coal finds himself in the hands of Jasper and something miraculous happens.
Although, uniquely told in a somewhat similar vein as an Aesop's fable, The Lump Coal offers an interesting lesson for all readers that misconceptions may arise when misunderstandings are present. It is only through patience and understanding and the chance for things such as a lump of coal to show that out of the bad, the good prevails under fortunate circumstances.
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.
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.
This book is a true Christmas miracle, a holiday story without any type of preachy message. It’s a book about fitting in where you can, and like all of Lemony Snicket’s other books the author has a way of building rapport with the reader. Children who pick up this book will not be talked down to, but rather taken along on a short but special holiday journey.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Keep reading!