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on June 19, 2003
"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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VINE VOICEon March 7, 2004
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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on February 26, 2005
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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on August 24, 2005
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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on June 15, 2004
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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on September 11, 2004
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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on October 25, 2004
As a third grade teacher in Houston (and previously Atlanta and New York City), I have found this book to be an extremely effective and entertaining source for teaching my students the importance of punctuation.

Having always taught in a culturally diverse environment, and being Latin myself, I am astounded by Sheila L's comments regarding underlying racism in this book. I would like to invite her to my class in order to see racial harmony in action, and perhaps she could learn how to differentiate between "there" and "their", as most of my third graders have already learned.
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on July 27, 2005
I have a six year old who has just learned to write in kindergarten and this book has truly given him a broader understanding of why punctuation exists and is necessary. This book uses humor and vivid illustrations to make punctuation easy to understand (for example quotation marks are called the "yackity yacks")and fun to absorb. It has become one of my son's favorite books and I would recommmend it to anyone with a beginning writer/reader in the house.
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on January 18, 2006
We just bought this book, and it's not as helpful as I expected. In "Punctuation Takes A Vacation", semi-colons are on a permanent vacation; they're not even mentioned. Colons are described only as time-tellers (e.g. "10:00"). They can be used in other ways: to expand on a prior thought, provide examples, etc.

In fact, the usage of punctuation marks isn't simply or clearly explained until the last page, after the story has ended. However, the book is cute and colorful. Perhaps as a reinforcement for a child who already knows about punctuation, this book is a good choice. But those children may be too old for a picture book. So, as I said, I'm ambivalent.
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on September 3, 2004
Teaching old dogs new tricks with the original angle of personifying punctuation. "Why do we have to study this?" can be addressed in a refreshing manner. With respect to the racial overtones--give me a break. Why use "subtle" when your inferences (as misguided as they are) are anything but subtle. The author takes a refreshing approach to a subject that has the effects of an antisthetic, keeping the audience's attention, rather than inducing sleep and someone in the audience, groping blindly for a mask of self righteousness, shouts "racist!" Because of "subtle" innuendos? Avoid dragging personal issues to the reviews. Great Book
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