Friday, February 25, 2011

Goofy Grammar Greats

1.  Lynne Truss: Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation My first time reading this book, I thought I could read it while my class worked quietly on a project.  Nope, my snorts, snickers, and assorted giggles disrupted my own class.  Sheerest delight!
Eats, Shoots & Leaves

2.  Constance Hale: Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose
This is a more dense and serious grammar book and writing guide, but who wouldn't love such a book with the following subsections: Bones, Flesh, Cardinal Sins, and Carnal Pleasures?  Quite a good and solid guide.
Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose

3.  Karen Elizabeth Gordon: The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed
Featuring strangely delightful example sentences and rather gothic illustrations, this book will enrapture you.  The first sentence?  "The subject is that part of the sentence about which something is divulged; it is what the sentence's other words are gossiping about." 
The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed

4.  William Safire: Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage
A small and easily enjoyed book, this one may be a bit hard to find.  It's worth the search, though, as his memorable rules illustrate the mistake they're trying to prevent.  Here's a list of the rules.  So, why look for the book?  It has quick and amusing explanations for each rule, and is definitely worth the hunt!

Good Beginnings:
5.  Ruth Heller: Fantastic! Wow! And Unreal!: A Book About Interjections and Conjunctions
This series of gorgeously illustrated books both introduce the parts of speech, and tell amusing stories.  I've read these books to teeny ones as a story, and to 4th and 5th graders as a non-threatening introduction. 
Fantastic! Wow! and Unreal!: A Book About Interjections and Conjunctions (Ruth Heller World of Language)    Kites Sail High (Ruth Heller World of Language)  Many Luscious Lollipops (World of Language)

6.  Brian Cleary: Under, Over, By the Clover: What is a Preposition?
Another clever series, also focusing on parts of speech, these books have a fabulous rhythm to them.  He also dives into topics such as synonyms, homonyms, and homophones. 
Under, Over, by the Clover: What Is a Preposition? (Words Are Categorical)  Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective? (Words Are Categorical)  How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear?: What Are Homonyms and Homophones? (Words Are Categorical)

7.  Lynne Truss: Eats, Shoots, & Leaves: Why, Commas Really DO Make a Difference!
Why yes, this is the picture book version of the first book on the list!  It focuses on illustrating the difference that commas can make in a sentence.  To my surprise and delight, she's now written some companion books as well!
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!  Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why, every punctuation mark counts!  The Girl's Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can't Manage without Apostrophes!

For More Serious Souls:
Max Morenberg: Doing Grammar

The second edition of this book is the one we used in my college grammar class. It's based on a linguistic model rather than a more traditional framework, and it teaches phrase tree diagramming. While this was the hardest class I ever took, it also turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and useful.  There's a newer edition out, and I'm honestly tempted to gather it up for myself!
Doing Grammar: Fourth Edition

9.  Diana Hacker: A Writer's Reference
Given the proliferation of information on the internet, I don't know that this book would necessarily be the first place I look for the answer to a technical question.  However, if you click on the author's name, you'll find a wealth of resources.  So, when you're away from a computer, grab the book.  Otherwise, enjoy the link!
A Writer's Reference with 2009 MLA and 2010 APA Updates

10.  Cecile Zorach & Charlotte Melin: English Grammar for Students of German
For those of us who were only exposed to grammar in our foreign language classes, this is a fabulous resource.  It's one of a series.  Find your foreign language, and learn some English grammar today!
English Grammar for Students of German: The Study Guide for Those Learning German (English Grammar Series)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Quirky Picture Books

1.  John Rocco: Wolf! Wolf! The boy who cried, "Wolf!" but from the old arthritic wolf's point of view.  Wildly amusing.
 Wolf! Wolf!

2.  Mo Willems: I Am Going!
Yes, perhaps it's a bit weird to read this one out loud to your husband in the bookstore while giggling uncontrollably, but with a Mo Willems book, it's not uncommon.  (At least in my household!) 
I Am Going! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

3.  Rachel Isadora: Max
Written by a ballerina, this childhood favorite features a boy who loves baseball and learns that his sister's ballet class offers him skills that help him on the field. 
Max (Reading Rainbow Book)

4.  Martha Alexander: Blackboard Bear
Another childhood favorite of mine, this nearly wordless series of books is just delightful. 
And My Mean Old Mother Will Be Sorry, Blackboard Bear

5.  Paul Stickland: Ten Terrible Dinosaurs
The wonderful rhythm, and cheerful nature of this book just make me giggle. 
Ten Terrible Dinosaurs (Picture Puffins)

This may work better with adults -- I've not tried reading it to a child yet -- but I thoroughly enjoyed the wit and the language of the book.
Mr. Maxwell's Mouse

7.  Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes: Library Lion
Friendship, love, books, and a lion who likes to listen during storytime.  This book would be a great basis for discussing when rules should be broken. 
Library Lion (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

8.  Charles Tazewell, ill. Gail Tribble: The Littlest Uninvited One
This is an ideal book for anyone who has lost a dog.  I gave a copy to my church when Ducinea died, as this was the only book that I felt offered me true comfort.
The Littlest Uninvited One 

9.  George & Ira GershwinDuBose & Dorothy Heyward, ill. Mike Wimmer: Summertime: from Porgy & Bess
If you like the song, you'll love this book - simple as that. 
Summertime : From Porgy and Bess

10.  Helen Lester, ill. Lynn Munsinger: Score One for the Sloths

Really?  A picture book that takes aim at the insanity of judging an education by test scores?  Really?  A picture book that could start a discussion of different modes of learning?  YES!  Even better?  It's a snort-embarrasingly-while-snickering wild good read! 
Score One for the Sloths

Focus for this list:
These are some of my favorite picture books, and yet, they're all a bit -- odd.  There's not much of a unifying theme to the list other than that fact.  Enjoy!  Also, because picture books are such a blend of image and word, it seemed a shame not to show you the covers.  Let me know if this is helpful, eh?  Thanks!