Friday, August 17, 2007

The Girl's Like Spaghetti

Last year, Lynne Truss followed up her popular book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation with a children's version, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! Just last month, The Girl's Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can't Manage Without Apostrophes!, Truss's latest offering for children, was published. Both of the children's books follow a similar format: a brief introduction of the punctuation mark the book focuses on is followed by a number of examples, and the book ends with further explanations of those examples. In The Girl's Like Spaghetti, Truss explains the two uses of the apostrophe: to show where letters have been left out of contractions and to indicate possession. Then fun, colorful illustrations by Bonnie Timmons demonstrate how apostrophes can change a sentence. One illustration, of boys dumping trash on each other, is accompanied by the sentence "Those smelly things are my brothers," while on the next page is a picture of dirty shoes that is captioned "Those smelly things are my brother's." Two different pictures show children's clothing stores. One picture, of Lil' Tess's Tots' Wear, is labeled "The shop sells boys' and girls' clothing." The other picture, labeled "The shop sells boys and girl's clothing," shows Lil' Tess's Tots 'n' Wear, which has girls' clothing and little boys in the shop window! After all the illustrations is an additional explanation of each sentence; for example, Truss explains that "The apostrophes make boys' and girls' plural nouns that are possessives" and that "Without an apostrophe, boys is a plural noun."

While the average child probably wouldn't seek this book out on his own, it could be a useful tool for teachers or parents who want to work with their children on punctuation. It is very well done and quite entertaining (I laughed out loud at some of the illustrations) and I highly recommend it for work with elementary school children. It might also provide a helpful review for older children--or even adults--who won't be put off by the simplicity or playful illustrations.


Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the pages headed "Lil' Tess's Tots' Wear" and "Lil' Tess's Tots 'n' Wear" share an error, i.e. "Lil'" should be "Li'l". What do YOU think?!

Anonymous said...

Interesting point! "Lil" seems to be the commonly accepted spelling... but it is an odd word choice for a book on punctuation. Truss probably would have been better off just using the whole word.

Jody said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Liz. Just get rid of Li'l! I personally HATE the word/contraction/whatever. I also hate the word "tots" but that is a different matter altogether.