From School Library Journal
Gr 3-6–With the help of his characters Arlo, Emily, and Andrea, Gutman makes grammar entertaining. However, his introduction is immediately off-putting as he states that anyone who regularly uses bad grammar sounds like a “dumbhead.” In a school environment where students juggle two or more languages, along with the other aches and pains of growing up, calling someone a “dumbhead” for not using proper grammar is unacceptable. Gutman fills the book with helpful information, including how to start writing a short story, how to organize research for nonfiction writing, and how to master confusing words like “their, they're, there.” The book is readable, with kid-friendly language and valid suggestions and tricks. Perhaps teachers could use excerpts, rather than handing students the book itself.–Sarah Knutson, American Canyon Middle School, CAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
It would be hard to find a funnier children’s guide to writing and grammar than this one—or a writer with greater credibility on the topic than Gutman, whose My Weird School and Baseball Card Adventures series have persuaded many young readers that they can handle chapter books and, even better, enjoy them. Always entertaining and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, this guidebook leads off with an introduction, entitled “Don’t Be a Dumbhead,” explaining why readers should care about the topic. The first half of the book deals with writing and revision, while the second half presents grammar, complete with confessional comments (“Lie or Lay? I get this one wrong all the time”); spelling tricks; and amusing sample sentences. Cartoon-style drawings add to the fun. A broad range of readers will find the book helpful. Insecure students will benefit from the disarming presentation, while motivated ones will appreciate the short list of websites that publish student writing. A comical yet practical introduction to writing. Grades 3-6. --Carolyn Phelan