We all know the basics of punctuation. Or do we? A look at most neighborhood signage tells a different story. Through sloppy usage and low standards on the internet, in email, and now text messages, we have made proper punctuation an endangered species. In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Lynne Truss dares to say, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset when it is mishandled. From the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, this lively history makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with.
In this pithy adaptation of her bestselling adult book of the same title, Truss wryly demonstrates the truth of her subtitle sans comma. As she explains in her brief introduction, commas "can create havoc when they are left out or are put in the wrong spot, and the results of misuse can be hilarious." With the help of Timmons's energetic, often comically exaggerated cartoons, Truss shows just how hilarious. The opening scene sets the humorous yet instructive tone: a panda walks into a library, eats a sandwich, then draws his bow and shoots two arrows. When the librarian asks why he has done that, the animal points to a book's definition of panda, which reads, in part, "Eats, shoots and leaves," apparently describing the species' diet rather than behavior. Several of the examples of comma commotion are common, such as the difference between the meanings of "Slow, children crossing" and "Slow children crossing"; or "Eat here, and get gas" and "Eat here and get gas" (the latter picturing a woman airborne due to bodily gas). Yet most of the scenarios presented take an original approach, among them side-by-side depictions of a classroom in which first a child ("The student, said the teacher, is crazy") and then his teacher ("The student said the teacher is crazy") indulge in inane antics. A final spread explains the grammatical reason for the varying meanings of each pair of sentences. Why, this will encourage kids to think twice about using, or not, a comma. Ages 4-8.
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Great book! Elucidates punctuation's nuances, history, and arguments and gives logical explanations of usage through practical examples. I also like that she differentiates between the UK's and American modalities. Uses a lot of elegant humor to drive home her points. I was delighted to find that the author created a workbook. I definitely could use it.