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Punctuation Takes a Vacation Paperback – March 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 1–3—Robin Pulver's clever picture book (Holiday House, 2003), illustrated with Lynn Rowe Reed's vibrant, child-like acrylic paintings, shows youngsters exactly what would happen if there were no punctuation marks. Mr. Wright's class discovers the value of punctuation and just how difficult life can be without the little fellows. Feeling distinctly unappreciated, the commas, question marks, periods, and apostrophes take a well-deserved vacation to Take-a-Break Lake, leaving the school in big trouble. Mr. Wright and his charges find that "Nothing makes sense without punctuation." The punctuation marks finally return, and the book ends with a list of punctuation rules. John Beach narrates in a gleeful, ebullient tone. Chris Kubie composed the sprightly music. This is that rare audiobook that truly makes the print version come alive. The sound effects alone are priceless, with homage to Grammy Award-winner Bobby McFerrin. If you've ever wondered what punctuation marks sound like, Beach provides hilarious voices and sound effects for each one. A masterful, creative, amusing, must-have production that simplifies the rules of punctuation.—Lonna Pierce, MacArthur Elementary School, Binghamton, NY END --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 1-3. On the hottest day Mr. Wright's class has ever seen, the teacher gives punctuation a vacation! Insulted, the punctuation marks take off, and a few days later postcards arrive from Take-a-Break Lake. The kids want to write back, but they can't without any punctuation. Borrowing the unruly marks from the class next door, they write a letter begging the marks to return, a letter filled with usage errors that effectively makes their case. Childlike acrylic paintings on canvas "punctuate" the zaniness by turning the marks into characters whose banter exemplifies the marks' use. The messages on the postcards further typify usage (e.g., "Do you miss us? How much? Why couldn't we take a vacation sooner? Guess who?"). A straightforward list of punctuation rules rounds out this inventive and entertaining device for getting kids to understand usage, which proves that nothing makes sense without punctuation. Right? Right! Julie Cummins
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 and up
  • Grade Level: 1 and up
  • Paperback: 28 pages
  • Publisher: Holiday House; Reprint edition (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823418200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823418206
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 10 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on June 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Day after day, the punctuation marks showed up in Mr. Wright's classroom. Day after day, they did their jobs. They put up with being erased and replaced and corrected and ignored and moved around. Then on the hottest, stickiest day the class had ever seen, right in the middle of a lesson about commas, Mr Wright mopped his forehead and said, "Let's give punctuation a vacation..." Those cruel kids cheered and ran out to the playground. The punctuation marks looked at each other in disbelief and grew angry, very angry. If the kids could take a break, well they could too. And with that, they rushed out the door and left school on a little vacation of their own. When Mr. Wright's class returned, they discovered a big problem. They couldn't read or write or learn. In fact, nothing made any sense at all without punctuation. A few days later, some rather unusual postcards began to arrive from Take-a-Break Lake..... Author, Robin Pulver's zany and engaging story is a lesson in disguise, filled with droll humor, clever wordplay, silly sound effects, and lively punctuation fun. Lynn Rowe Reed's bold, bright, and busy childlike illustrations are playful and entertaining. Together, word and art offer a delightful, manic romp that's perfect for story time, or as a help reinforcing grammar lessons. With a straightforward list of rules at the end to complete this manic, fun-filled treasure, Punctuation Takes A Vacation is a delightful crowd pleaser, and kids 6-10 may find that punctuation lessons will never be boring again.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By ardnam VINE VOICE on March 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great tool for showing children the importance of punctuation in a fun format. In this book a teacher decides to give punctuation a vacation. Postcards arrive and the reader has to guess which form of punctuation wrote it to the class. Children are able to make connections to the chaos of not having punctuation and how it impacts understanding. Fortunately, punctuation returns and classroom life is much improved. I recommend this book.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Judy Freeman on February 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've been using this book with teachers, librarians, parents, and, best of all, children, over the past year now, and it is a delight. Complex, wildly original, humorous, and meaty, too, this is one glorious read-aloud.

Lynn Truss is still on the Best Seller lists for her Eats Shoots and Leaves, for the grownup set, and Pulver's contribution to the genre is every bit as memorable. As you can see everywhere you read, people have trouble with the dreaded comma and apostrophe. Pulver has taken the sting out of punctuation and made those little marks our pals. When one becomes friends with periods, commas, and exclamation points, one tends to be much less careless about treating them in a cavalier fashion.

As for the hoo ha and hubbub about racial stereotyping in the book, debated on this site, this is an unfortunate distraction and an unwarranted criticism. Two male teachers in an elementary school! Wow! We should be cheering. Of all the many folks with whom I've shared this book, I haven't seen any reaction except laughter and sustained affection. OK, so maybe Mr. Wrongo is a left-brained guy who likes math better than language. So punctuation runs wild in his room. When I read this with several classes of second graders, they had a blast trying to correct the wacky letter Mr. Wright's class concocts.

We've made punctuation puppets, written giant sentence banners that kids punctuated with their puppets, and devised sound effects and hand signs for each punctuation mark. Every classroom teacher from grades 1-5, and then some, will find a memorable way to use this book. One tenth grade English teacher told me she read it aloud to her classes and they loved it. And one mom told me her kindergarten daughter insisted it be read to her, night after night, at bedtime. Just think what her dreams must have been like.

Pulver's warm and humorous writing will lead you to her other titles as well. I can't wait to see what she writes next.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Westerman on August 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a high school teacher and I read this book to my class for fun before starting a grammar unit on punctuation. They loved it! It's a fun break from the "drill and kill" of grammar that they are so used to. I recommend it for any classroom!
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was dismayed and saddened to see the customer review saying that this book is racist. That comment reveals more about the "politically correct" sensibilities of the reader, I suspect, than about the spirit of the book as a whole. We will truly be a healthy society when people of all colors and sexes can be depicted in all their humanity, both good and bad. It would have been all right, I suppose, for Mr. Rongo to be white and Mr. Wright to be darker-skinned. What are we to make of the fact that the punctuation marks themselves have yellow, pink, green, and blue faces? Is there an insidious message there, as well? I wish we could all relax a little, enjoy a sweet and clever book, and and stop being so ready to find offense.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Starry Eyes on September 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. It makes the usually boring task of teaching punctuation fun and exciting. It teaches the importance of proper punctuation and how necessary it is to convey ourselves well.

My apologies, but I too feel compelled to comment on the review left by Sheila L.

Being in a racially mixed marriage and the mother of four beautiful, racially mixed children, whom I also happen to homeschool this review upset me more than a little.

My children and I did not pick up on the "subtle" racial inference. And had Mr. Wright been of a darker ethnicity and Mr. Rongo been Caucasian (yes, that's how it's spelled) I'm sure that you would have had no problems with that. The real promoters of racism in our culture are people like you who think that everything and everyone is out to get them. People who love thinking that they are being held down by "the man". Get over yourself. America is a melting pot of beautiful and culturally rich individuals, every one. And to the author of this lovely book I would like to say, "Well done!" Thank you for loving children and giving parents and teachers and wonderful tool to help us make learning fun!
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