Saturday, February 03, 2007

Review: Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Why, Commas Really DO Make a Difference!

Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Why, Commas Really DO Make a Difference! by Lynne Truss illustrated by Bonnie Timmons
2006, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 32 pages, hardcover

This is a really nifty little picture book that illustrates the importance of commas through the use of simple sentences with humorous illustrations contrasted with the same sentence (on the opposite side of the page) differently punctuated. The results are entertaining and quite educational.

Here is one example:

On the left-hand page is the sentence: "Slow, children crossing." The cartoon-like picture shows a crossing guard signalling for cars to stop while some school children cross the road.

On the right-hand page is the sentence: "Slow children crossing." The picture is of a bunch of children holding up traffic by very slowly walking across a bridge weighed down with a dog that won't move, a large pile of books, etc. A car impatiently honks while waiting for his turn to cross the bridge.

My children and I found this very engaging. My 9 year old immediately disappeared, book-in-hand, to pour over it again on her own.

A two-page appendix shows thumbnails of each picture along with their corresponding sentences and a brief explanation of the grammatical rule involved. Here are the explanations given for the examples used above:

Slow, children crossing.
The comma separates two independent phrases Slow and children crossing.

Slow children crossing.
Without the comma, slow is an adjective that modifies children.

There are thirteen sets of sentences in all.

Reviewed by Alicia Van Hecke (2-3-07)
Available from your local library or bookstore.


Karen E. said...

My kids took off and started coming up with their own examples. It's a really fun little book.

margot said...

I find the title interesting. Shouldn't there be a comma after the word "shoots"? Do they leave it out on purpose? Seems to defeat the purpose. Is the comma after the word "Why" to show that putting one there (or not) changes the meaning of the sentence. Is "why" an intejection,(Why, commas Do make a difference) or is it an adverb? (Why commas do make a difference)