Snicket, Lemony. The Lump of Coal. Brett Helquist, Illustrator. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.
Here is another book from my holiday collection. I was wandering through a bookstore several years ago and this little volume leapt off the shelf into my hands. What can you say to a book that has a scowling lump of coal dressed in a rumpled black suit on the front cover? How could a person resist the teaser on the back cover, “Miracles can happen even to those who are small, flammable, and dressed all in black.”
This book, of course takes place near Christmas. A lump of coal is blown out of a sack of charcoal on a blustery winter day. Mr. Snicket must live where it is cold, because there is a lament, a word used here to mean “an expression of sorrow or grief,” that “barbeques, sadly, are for summer.” He doesn’t live in Texas, a land where we barbecue all year! This would have been a very short story, if the lump of coal had lived in Texas. However, in this story, with no barbeques for the lump of coal to ignite, he rolls off to find something interesting.
In the course of his perambulations, a word used here to mean “to walk or to travel about,” he has several near miracles. It is interesting to find out what happens when he is given as a punishment to a boy, who is considered a “brat”. The lump of coal is sad and despondent as he waits in the boy’s stocking, but he considers it better than nothing. Do things get to be much better than nothing when the lump and boy meet? Read this book and discover what happens. There are miracles and they may or may not surprise you.
Mr. Snicket uses this book to remind us about the miracles in our lives. Here is how this wonderful, little book ends.
All these things are miracles. It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough 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 the 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.