review by Meghan Conrad
Punctuation Celebration by Elsa Knight Bruno is a book aimed at kindergartners though second graders, and it's all about--who guessed already?--punctuation.
Which, I realize, sounds fairly dull, especially for those of us who have children who are maybe not as enthusiastic about reading as we'd like them to be. (Isn't that every parent?) And it's probably true that if your kid won't read a book about monsters or fairies or talking trucks or crime-fighting ducklings or whatever it is that kids these days read books about, you're going to have a hard sell getting them to read a book about punctuation.
For those of us who are lucky enough to have children who will at least deign to look at books that we present to them, though, Punctuation Celebration is a series of cute, breezy poems that give kids a basic overview of the primary forms of punctuation: periods, question marks, exclamation points, commas, apostrophes, quotation marks, colons, semicolons, parentheses, ellipses, dashes and hyphens.
The information sticks to the basics--a comma, for example, "does not say 'Stop.' It simply says 'Slow.'" Given the number of adults who struggle with sometimes-complex punctuation rules, I thought the author did a good job in covering the primary uses of each mark without getting bogged down in possible nuances of their use.
The poems range from five to fifteen lines, and each poem talks about what the mark does and offers an example or two. Each page is illustrated with colorful artwork depicting the example from the poem.
My only complaint about the book, and it's a minor one, is that the rhyme scheme sometimes gives rise to a slightly tortured rhyme or reference that's a bit too mature for the target age group. The poem for exclamation marks says that exclamation marks have clout and make you want to shout, and I can honestly say that I'd never before thought of an exclamation mark having clout, nor can I imagine a bunch of first-graders thinking that it did. Similarly, in the poem on quotation marks, the author uses "fourscore and seven years ago" as an example--what the heck kind of seven-year-old knows what fourscore means?
Overall, though, Punctuation Celebration is a charming little book, and one that's worth buying for any budding grammarian.