Monday, November 5, 2012

The Case of the Incapacitated Capitals

Booklist starred (October 1, 2012 (Vol. 109, No. 3))

Preschool-Grade 3. Mr. Wright’s students write a letter to cheer up their despondent teacher, but the idea backfires when they use no capital letters. “You’ve forgotten something important,” he prods them, noting that letter writing is different from texting. After a couple of lame guesses and an off-topic discussion of Mr. Wright’s childhood nickname, the now-fuming teacher informs them that certain words need to be capitalized. When the classroom’s capitals are found to be incapacitated (paramedics diagnose “a case of serious neglect”), the children learn their lesson, use the capitals properly, and earn a hilarious prize. Three appended pages explain why capital letters are called “uppercase,” show why each capital is used within a color-coded letter, and list some “useful rules” for capitalization. In the funniest picture book yet from Pulver and Reed’s Language Arts Library series, the students are well meaning, easily distracted, and not without cunning. Childlike acrylic paintings combine with digital elements to make the artwork vivid and colorful. From the conversations between uppercase and lowercase letters to the comedy within class discussions, it’s hard to read the story aloud without laughing, and the humor makes the lesson more likely to stick. A madcap grammar book for kids to enjoy.

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