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The Lump of Coal

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  1,654 ratings  ·  249 reviews
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.
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published September 30th 2008)
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this was a nice little holiday book about a piece of coal in a tuxedo.
Ordinarily the cheery message of "Miracles can happen if you keep on believing" would be enough to set my teeth on edge...HOWEVER...when that message is woven into the tale of a sullen lump of coal who wants to be an artist AND is told by none other than Lemony Snicket - my teeth remain quite happy.

This is a cute, not cutesy, book about a walking, talking lump of coal who really rocks a tux. He dreams artistic little dreams of canvas, galleries and exhibitions, but would settle for life as a bri
Lemony Snicket rules and all but mostly I like the crotchety little lump stomping around in his little tuxedo, glaring at everybody. Glare glare glare.
2008 December 29

This is going to be a perennial holiday read, I think. And every time I read it, I love it more.


2009 December 19


2012 December 17

It does get better, every year. Favorite line: "The story begins with a lump of coal, who for the sake of argument, could think, talk, and move itself around. Like many people who dress in black, the lump of coal was interested in becoming an artist."

Really, I wish Snicket were devoting his time to writing short stories.

2014 December 11

Natasha r
Gregory Baird
Lump of Coal is essentially a picture book, re-teaming the wit and whimsy of Lemony Snicket with the admirable illustrations of Brett Helquist, his collaborator in the Series of Unfortunate Events books. The illustrations, to me, are the main appeal here, but the story isn't without its charm as the titular character goes in search of a purpose in life. It's fluff, not as impactful or lasting as great picture books like Corduroy or Harold and the Purple Crayon, but it is a well executed ...more
If you know me, you know that I am a HUMUNGOUS fan of Lemony Snicket. I won’t say Daniel Handler because his adult books just never grabbed me, but when he’s Lemony Snicket, I go bananas.

I’ve seen that some people aren’t as impressed with The Lump of Coal as they were with The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story, but I don’t know if I entirely agree. I liked this book, though I will admit it seems a little watered-down for a Snicket creation. There is the usual dark humor and us
Great authors often have trouble outdistancing their greatest works. The habits of characterization and rhythm of dialogue becomes less a hallmark of an author's style, and more a fall back position. Instead of developing new skills, an author will remain bound to what had been successful in the past, at the cost of becoming more successful in the future (see: Grafton, Sue).

Lemony Snicket is not that kind of an author. He has completed his Series of Unfortunate Events, and moved on. Though his
Lisa Vegan
Dec 21, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults who are irreverent about Christmas and much else
Recommended to Lisa by: Abigail A.
Oh, I was hoping that this would be my last 2010 holiday book; it would have been fitting seeing as how I don’t consider myself to be somebody who is a fan of holiday books. But, I see that there are two more holiday books that I’m expecting from the library. Ah well.

Perhaps this isn’t worth 5 stars but I laughed, a lot, and I thought the whole thing was clever. Much is made fun of here, not just the holidays. Art and the art world are among the subjects skewered here.

The story is very amusing a
A silly little holiday story about the trials and tribulations of a lump of coal who aspires to make avante-garde art, told in standard Lemony Snicket style; intellectually dry, absurdist, with a dash of morality. This is a short little picture book, so even more so than his other works, the intended audience is ambiguous. Is it really for the kindergarten set? Well, I'm sure many kids would love Helquist's beautiful and narrative illustrations (as usual), but Snicket's verbose, rambling humor e ...more
This is my new favorite Christmas book! It has everything- great illustrations, cleverly written humor, and on top of all that a heartwarming simple message that is insightful and helps put the holidays in perspective. Love it, Love it, Love it! Go and get a copy TODAY!!!
I thought this was classic Lemony Snicket, just a little bit ridiculous and yet deep at the same time. The ending caught me slightly off guard, but it's probably one of my favorite endings to childrens books.
Lemony Snicket's picture book, The Lump of Coal (HarperCollins, 2008), has been released for Christmas. Christmas is a time of miracles, and as Lemony Snicket says, “Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you’d see.” (The book is worth buying for that sentence alone.)

Although not quite as dire as Lemony Snicket’s best-selling Series of Unfortunate Events (it is Christmas after all), The Lump of Coal bears Lemony’s trademark style.
Drew Graham
Once there was a lump of coal who dreamed of blessing the world with his artistic talents. But his journey of self-discovery was more than a little bumpy along the way.

I had heard about this Lemony Snicket Christmas tale before, but never had a chance to pick it up until now, as I've been going through some ancillary Snicket writings. It's a departure for him (up until this point) in that it has nothing to do with Snicket's travels documenting the woeful tale of the Baudelaire orphans, but it's
Susan Rose
"The Holiday Season is a time for storytelling and whether you are hearing the story of a candelabra staying lit for more than a week, or a baby born in a barn without proper medical supervision, these stories often feature miracles. Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you’d see, and this holiday story features any number of miracles, depending on your point of view."

This is the story of a piece of coal who wants to become an art
Nesa Sivagnanam
You always hear people say that pets are for life and not just for Christmas. Well, stories are for life too and just for a season even if they are set in particular season. And sometimes the smallest books carry the biggest messages.

From the quill of Lemony Snicket comes a tiny tale that has no orphans or insane uncles. It does not even run into 2 volumes, let alone a doomed 13. It’s a tiny book which tells a huge tale and it’s called The Lump of Coal. The book is illustrated by Brett Helquist
I am a complete Lemony Snicket worshiper, without exception. The way he deals with any subject with irreverence hidden by neat turns-of-phrase and humorous observations is unequalled, in my opinion.

The holiday season is a time for storytelling, and whether you are hearing the story of a candelabra staying lit for more than a week, or a baby born in a barn without proper medical supervision, these stories often feature miracles.

The lump of coal's narrator is as despondent, observant and hilariou
La Coccinelle
I'm not a huge Lemony Snicket fan. I tried reading A Series of Unfortunate Events but couldn't get into it (I never even finished the first book). The movie based on those books bored me. So I didn't have super-high expectations when a family member brought this little book home from the library.

It's a cute message wrapped in a well-written little story... but the fun part of this book is really the illustrations. There's just something amusing about a grumpy little piece of coal who sets off to
Now that the holidays are officially here, the craziness has begun and we are all rush, rush, rushing everywhere. This little book is a fun break from the fray.

With his characteristic humor, Mr. Snicket has created a little leftover lump of barbeque charcoal who has been forgotten in someones backyard. Summer is over and the lump is bored, so he goes rolling out into the world. His journey is a reminder to see and appreciate the small miracles that take place every day. An appropriate message at
Eva Leger
The art here is the best aspect of the book I think. I wouldn't mind having a little lump of coal guy to carry around like him. I'd probably put him in a little sweatsuit and sneakers instead of the suit but that's just me.
I haven't read any reviews here on this book but I'm guessing the book is described often, and well, enough. I'll stick to my feelings. Like I've already said, the art is the best. The story isn't missing anything but it wasn't all that fun to read out loud.
Julia liked that
This started as a Christmas gift for my younger cousin and turned into: WHY OH WHY DID I GIVE IT TO HIM?

Really, it's an adorable story. Off-beat, but that's how Lemony Snicket writes. I love the ramblings, the sweet and adorable style (albeit a bit eccentric mostly). But giving it to my two-year-old cousin? Not a bright move.

I do however plan to purchase this for my own little ones one day. While I'd hate to corrupt my cousin with lovely writing like this (if you knew his parents, you'd understa
I forgot to review this one at Christmas, but today my son reminded me that he, "just loves that book", and I remembered to post a review. Funny quote first: "Miracles can happen, even to those who are small, flammable, and dressed all in black." Lemony Snicket has fun with the Christmas lump of coal idea by giving it life and personality. The lump of coal even gets to experience Christmas miracles. Best of all, there's a nice message that the miracles and blessings in our lives do not always co ...more
Someone said their 3-month-old loves the illustrations in this book so we'll see what Hope thinks.


"Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you'd see..."

"'Do you have any use for me?' asked the lump of coal. 'I'm an artist at heart, but I'm very helpful when cooking meat.'

Santa Claus sighed. 'Well,' he said, 'my stepson is a very disobedient boy named Jasper. His mother used to say that he had an artistic temperament, but I
Absolutely charming. Appreciate all the miracles in the day. I didn't like it until I finished the book.
'All these things are miracles. It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season- like all the other seasons is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be gr
This is my favorite Christmas book. It has a great redefinition of miracles (having good friends, getting to spend your day doing things you like to do, etc.) and points out how to find miracles in your everyday life. Not really something you'd except from Lemony Snicket, but definitely not too syrupy like other Christmas stories.

Also, I love how the drug-store Santa gets fired for making comments about a customer's medications (don't worry kiddies! Everyone knows the real Santa is at the mall!)
Mackenzie Cannon
This is a Christmas story about a living lump of coal that falls off of a barbecue and wishes for a miracle to happen to him. He is very artistic and wants to become an artist. He then goes on a search and first finds an art gallery and thinks the art has been done by other lumps of coal, but instead it has been done by humans using coal. He then keeps wander and runs into a man dressed as Santa Claus and tells him is problems. The man then comes up with the idea to put the lump of coal in his b ...more
Lemony Snicket has written another little square book that is a companion (in size and spirit) to The Latke Who Wouldn't Stop Screaming. A lump of coal - miraculously with the ability to walk, talk, think, and read - seeks to fulfill his destiny during the Christmas season. The story has the sort of repetition that kids will like, but parents will enjoy the sweet-tart tone and Brett Helquist's great illustrations of the lumpy, grumpy-looking lump in his 3-piece suit.
This was a cute Christmas children's story by Lemony Snicket. It had all of Snicket's trademark style. Despite it being a children's book, it contained all of the usual excellent adult elements that he always manages to put into his writing (that's what makes him so good). This story was interesting, original, surprising, and rather funny. Yet I think the very last page - the ending - was a bit too cliched and warm for me. It made me knock down the last star.
I have to admit that I quit "A Series of Unfortunate Events" halfway through the series and I totally didn't get "The Latke Who Wouldn't Stop Screaming" so I had real reservations about this one. But I was pleasantly surprised as it was much more coherent than my memory of "The Latke Who Wouldn't Stop Screaming." Probably best for older kids, this book contains all of Snicket's trademark trappings and a surprisingly hopeful and beautiful message at the end.
Written in the style of A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Lump of Coal chronicles the existence of a piece of charcoal with artistic aspirations who ends up being a Christmas miracle. Humorous and intelligent, this is a new holiday favorite of mine. Adorned with the art of Brett Helquist, the book is visually appealing, especially the frumpy looking piece of coal. I don't know how much children will like it, but I certainly did.
Mar 19, 2011 Anne-Marie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone! If you don't celebrate Christmas, it's still hilarious.
Recommended to Anne-Marie by: my mommy :D
This is my favorite Christmas story of all time!!! It's all about a small little lump of coal that leaves the his packaging to become a charcoal artist. He's continually rejected, and then he is discovered by "Santa." "Santa" tells us that he's not really Santa but a guy at the nearby department store selling coupons. Still, he takes the lump of coal and gives it to his nephew, who has been a bad boy that year. :)
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Lemony Snicket had an unusual education and a perplexing youth and now endures a despondent adulthood. His previous published works include the thirteen volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Composer is Dead, and 13 Words. His new series is All The Wrong Questions.

For A Series of Unfortunate Events:

For All The Wrong Questions:
More about Lemony Snicket...
The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1) The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #2) The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3) The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #5) The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #4)

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“Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you'd see.” 204 likes
“It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season - like all the other seasons - is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them, and that's the end of this particular story.” 198 likes
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