Monday, December 1, 2008

The Lump of Coal

THE LUMP OF COAL; Lemony Snicket and Brett Helquist; New York: HarperCollins, 2008; unpaged. Juvenile Fiction.

Lemony Snicket's tale of a lump of coal who wants to become an artist or a barbeque briquet is a tiny little Christmas book best suited for older children and grownups. Some of the conventions of the Series of Unfortunate Events are here (I refer, of course, to parenthetical definitions), but the one big different is that The Lump of Coal has a happy ending. Snicket's lump of coal is spurned by the snooty art gallery guy and the owner of the bogus Korean restaurant, but eventually finds a place for himself in a "bad" young man's stocking, the boy being an artist interested in working with black on white drawings and a Korean gourmet. Small (both the book and the lump of coal), but immensely charming.

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