The Lump of Coal is a Christmas themed short story written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated byBrett Helquist. It was originally published in the December 2004 edition of USA Weekend magazine, and in 2008 was re-released as a stand-alone book.
It is Christmastime. A living lump of coal falls off a barbecue grill. He wishes for a miracle to happen. The lump of coal is artistic and wants to be an artist. He goes in search of something. First, he finds an art gallery that, he believes, shows art by lumps of coal. But when he comes in, he sadly discovers the art is by humans who use lumps of coal. He then finds a Korean restaurant called Mr. Wong's Korean Restaurant and Secretarial School, but he goes in and discovers that all things used must be 100% Korean (although the owner does not use a Korean name or proper Korean spices). The lump of coal continues down the street and runs into a man dressed like Santa Claus. The lump of coal tells the man about his problem, and the man gets an idea. He suggests he put the lump of coal in Jasper (his bratty son)'s stocking. The son finds it and is ecstatic; he has wanted to make art with coal. So he makes portraits and he and the lump of coal become rich. They move to Korea and open an actual genuine Korean restaurant and have a gallery of their art.