Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! by Lynne Truss

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Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! by Lynne Truss

Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Perfect for the home educator, the parent whose child struggles with punctuation or anyone's Christmas stocking, this little book about the importance of the comma is both educational and funny. More pages and the inclusion of some lessons about the apostrophe would have given a little bit more value.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 2006
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
ISBN: 1861978162

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Commas are important. One comma can change the meaning of a sentence completely. Lynne Truss knows it and thanks to Lynne Truss, over three million more of us know it. Her book, "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" was a surprise best seller a couple of years back. Now she's turned her attention to children with a junior version of the book, devoted to commas. Truss has an uphill struggle. Punctuation has never been top on a child's list of priorities. I've seen the text messages my son sends to his friends. They don't contain full stops, let alone commas. I pulled him up just the other day for sending an email that said there instead of their. "I know it's wrong," he said, "But it's the fashion." I wept into my cup of tea and made it all salty.

This junior version of Eats, Shoots & Leaves might, just might, change all that. Each double page shows a sentence punctuated differently and each meaning is illustrated with a cartoon. The sentences are simple. The jokes are silly and very funny. Nobody at Bookbag Towers felt the bonk, bonk, bonk of a pious educational hammer tapping on their heads. My junior test subjects finished looking at the sentences with their interest sufficiently piqued to spend some more time looking at the last two pages, which give a grammatical explanation of the function of the commas. Nobody sloped off in the direction of the Playstation. I couldn't quite believe it.

Bonnie Simmons' signature squiggly illustrations are lively, energetic and have a wonderfully subversive element. The favourite cartoon in these 'ere parts was the illustration for...

The student, said the teacher, is crazy. The student said the teacher is crazy.

The crazy student got a laugh but the crazy teacher got a much bigger one!

Anyone within the growing band of home educators should buy this little book immediately. Anyone whose child is struggling with punctuation at school should put it straight on their list. Every school library should have a dozen copies on its shelves. It would make an ideal Christmas stocking filler for all primary school children. It's certainly funny enough to avoid the tag of "boring present". Away from struggling learners and the festive season, Eats, Shoots & Leaves is perhaps a little light for a general purchase and better kept for a library ticket. I would like to see a few more pages and the apostrophe included for my £9 if I'm completely honest. However, children aren't worried about price tags. I showed Eats, Shoots & Leaves to an entire Under 10s football team and they chortled to a man. They even argued over who got to hold it next. Believe me, that's not bad going.

This book was kindly sent to Bookbag by the publisher, Profile Books.

Oxford School Dictionary of Word Origins (2009) by John Ayto is also worth a look.

Booklists.jpg Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! by Lynne Truss is in the Top Ten Books About Language.
Buy Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! by Lynne Truss at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! by Lynne Truss at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! by Lynne Truss at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! by Lynne Truss at Amazon.com.


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Yartek said:

I think it was Terry Pratchett who said on Ned Sherrin's Loose Ends: "People are starting to forget that dyslexia is a disability and not a fashion statement."

He said that several years before text messaging took off, so one can only imagine he'd phrase it a little more forcefully now...

Although my teaching days are now blissfully far behind me, it sounds like an excellent resource for children and, let's be honest, quite a few older people.