Caroline Dotson: ‘The Lump of Coal’ is a gem |

Caroline Dotson: ‘The Lump of Coal’ is a gem

Caroline Dotson

Lemony Snicket is the author of the “Series of Unfortunate Events” books for young adults. This year, he wrote a holiday book, “The Lump of Coal.”

“The Lump of Coal” starts in the usual Snicket way: filled with sarcasm. “Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you’d see :”

This lump of coal could talk, walk, and enjoyed the color black.

He had big dreams of becoming “black lines on a canvas” and “participating in a barbecue.”

The lump sets out on a journey, rolling himself downtown and finds an art gallery. The snooty owner rudely sends him away; clearly this was not the miracle the lump of coal was looking for.

He rolls himself further down the street to a Korean barbecue. One of the great illustrations in the book is of the lump of coal peeking his head in the window of Mr. Wong’s Korean Barbecue Palace and Secretarial School. Again, the owner, who doesn’t look Korean and who is using Oregano, sends him away bluntly saying, “do not get smudges on the Korean floor.”

Just as the lump of coal begins to wonder whether miracles only happened to humans, he meets a man in a red suit; not the real Santa but a drugstore Santa. The drugstore Santa decides the lump of coal is just what his stepson, Jasper, deserves for Christmas.

Warm and cozy, waiting in the stocking, the lump of coal anticipates a miracle.

Jasper was happy to see the lump of coal that he could use in artwork, and Jasper was thrilled that the lump of coal could talk.

The two made many “remarkable objets d’art” that sold for an enormous fortune. Then the two bought the Korean barbecue restaurant and cooked real Korean food that they learned to cook in Korea.

The lump of coal got everything he ever wanted. That is a miracle.

Snicket reminds us that it is a miracle if we have enough friends, enough to eat, and get to do the things we love to do. This holiday season should remind us of the many miracles surrounding us every day and remember that miracles should not be taken for granted.

Caroline Dotson, of Downtown Books, reviews books for the Craig Daily Press. She can be reached at