Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!

( 134 )

Overview

Illuminating the comical confusion the lowly comma can cause, this new edition of Eats, Shoots & Leaves uses lively, subversive illustrations to show how misplacing or leaving out a comma can change the meaning of a sentence completely.

This picture book is sure to elicit gales of laughter—and better punctuation—from all who read it.

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Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

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Overview

Illuminating the comical confusion the lowly comma can cause, this new edition of Eats, Shoots & Leaves uses lively, subversive illustrations to show how misplacing or leaving out a comma can change the meaning of a sentence completely.

This picture book is sure to elicit gales of laughter—and better punctuation—from all who read it.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this pithy adaptation of her bestselling adult book of the same title, Truss wryly demonstrates the truth of her subtitle-sans comma. As she explains in her brief introduction, commas "can create havoc when they are left out or are put in the wrong spot, and the results of misuse can be hilarious." With the help of Timmons's energetic, often comically exaggerated cartoons, Truss shows just how hilarious. The opening scene sets the humorous yet instructive tone: a panda walks into a library, eats a sandwich, then draws his bow and shoots two arrows. When the librarian asks why he has done that, the animal points to a book's definition of panda, which reads, in part, "Eats, shoots and leaves," apparently describing the species' diet rather than behavior. Several of the examples of comma commotion are common, such as the difference between the meanings of "Slow, children crossing" and "Slow children crossing"; or "Eat here, and get gas" and "Eat here and get gas" (the latter picturing a woman airborne due to bodily gas). Yet most of the scenarios presented take an original approach, among them side-by-side depictions of a classroom in which first a child ("The student, said the teacher, is crazy") and then his teacher ("The student said the teacher is crazy") indulge in inane antics. A final spread explains the grammatical reason for the varying meanings of each pair of sentences. Why, this will encourage kids to think twice about using, or not, a comma. Ages 4-8. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
This nonfiction text demonstrates the impact of the comma, identified by Truss as the most used and misused punctuation mark. When a panda goes into a library, he eats a sandwich, shoots two arrows, and walks out. When questioned, he points to the dictionary description of a panda's existence: instead of eating shoots and leaves, the panda takes three actions: he eats, shoots and leaves. Truss then lines up sentences made up of identical words with only commas to differentiate them. Timmons' humorous illustrations demonstrate the difference between such things as a "huge, hot dog" and a "huge hot dog," as well as an establishment that boasts either "eat here, and get gas" or "eat here and get gas." The illustrations make the meaning clear, and the back matter provides a simple, straightforward discussion of the grammar rule behind the difference. Probably more helpful for older readers, who will have a better understanding of the rules of language and ways to apply the demonstrations to their own work.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Truss's picture-book version of her adult bestseller tackles the topic of commas and what can go wrong when they are misused. The title is derived from an old joke in which a panda misunderstands correct panda behavior after reading a poorly punctuated wildlife guide. Versions of two identically worded sentences are presented side by side, demonstrating the difference in meaning achieved when a comma is added or subtracted. Timmons's humorous watercolor cartoons bring the point home. In one spread, the sentence on the left ("Look at that huge hot dog!") is illustrated with a gigantic sausage, while that on the right ("Look at that huge, hot dog!") shows a tall, sweltering canine. The author cleverly selects examples with the potential for comical (and grammatically correct) revisions. Endnotes elaborate on comma usage in more technical terms. While a title on grammar may need hand selling, both read-aloud audiences and independent readers will discover the potent possibilities of punctuation. More specific than Robin Pulver's Punctuation Takes a Vacation (Holiday House, 2003), Truss's work is sure to spark creative assignments in elementary composition curriculums.-Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The title of this clever, creative commentary on commas is the same as the author's bestselling grammatical guide for adults, but the concept here is quite different. The first two pages introduce the titular panda who eats (a sandwich), shoots (two arrows from his bow) and then leaves the scene, followed by an author's note on the importance of the comma in written communication. In the following pages, each spread offers a pair of sentences differing by just one or two commas. For example, on one page, a school crossing guard and students illustrate "Slow, children crossing." The facing page shows dawdling children on a bridge with the text, "Slow children crossing." The witty sentences increase in complexity (and hilarity), augmented by sophisticated watercolor-and-ink illustrations with New Yorker flair. A final spread reprises the entire text with miniature illustrations and specific grammatical explanations. Elementary-school teachers will love this lighthearted but instructive effort, as will their students, who will never look at a comma again in quite the same way. (Nonfiction. 5-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399244919
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/25/2006
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 124,427
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.76 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynne Truss is a writer and journalist who started out as a literary editor with a blue pencil and then got sidetracked. The author of three novels and numerous radio comedy dramas, she spent six years as the television critic of The Times of London, followed by four (rather peculiar) years as a sports columnist for the same newspaper. She won Columnist of the Year for her work for Women’s Journal. Lynne Truss also hosted Cutting a Dash, a popular BBC Radio 4 series about punctuation. She now reviews books for the Sunday Times of London and is a familiar voice on BBC Radio 4. She lives in Brighton, England.
BONNIE TIMMONS is best known for inspiring and creating images for the television show Caroline in the City and illustrating numerous national ad campaigns.

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Read an Excerpt

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!


By Lynne Truss Putnam Publishing Group

Copyright © 2006 Lynne Truss
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780399244919


Introduction

The Seventh Sense Either this will ring bells for you, or it won't. A printed banner has appeared on the concourse of a petrol station near to where I live. "Come inside," it says, "for CD's, VIDEO's, DVD's, and BOOK's."

If this satanic sprinkling of redundant apostrophes causes no little gasp of horror or quickening of the pulse, you should probably put down this book at once. By all means congratulate yourself that you are not a pedant or even a stickler; that you are happily equipped to live in a world of plummeting punctuation standards; but just don't bother to go any further. For any true stickler, you see, the sight of the plural word "Book's" with an apostrophe in it will trigger a ghastly private emotional process similar to the stages of bereavement, though greatly accelerated. First there is shock. Within seconds, shock gives way to disbelief, disbelief to pain, and pain to anger. Finally (and this is where the analogy breaks down), anger gives way to a righteous urge to perpetrate an act of criminal damage with the aid of a permanent marker.

It's tough being a stickler for punctuation these days. One almost dare not get up in the mornings. True, one occasionally hears a marvellous punctuation-fan joke about a panda who "eats, shootsand leaves", but in general the stickler's exquisite sensibilities are assaulted from all sides, causing feelings of panic and isolation. A sign at a health club will announce, "I'ts party time, on Saturday 24th May we are have a disco/party night for free, it will be a ticket only evening." Advertisements offer decorative services to "wall's - ceiling's - door's ect". Meanwhile a newspaper placard announces "FAN'S FURY AT STADIUM INQUIRY", which sounds quite interesting until you look inside the paper and discover that the story concerns a quite large mob of fans, actually - not just the lone hopping-mad fan so promisingly indicated by the punctuation.

Everywhere one looks, there are signs of ignorance and indifference. What about that film Two Weeks Notice? Guaranteed to give sticklers a very nasty turn, that was - its posters slung along the sides of buses in letters four feet tall, with no apostrophe in sight. I remember, at the start of the Two Weeks Notice publicity campaign in the spring of 2003, emerging cheerfully from Victoria Station (was I whistling?) and stopping dead in my tracks with my fingers in my mouth. Where was the apostrophe? Surely there should be an apostrophe on that bus? If it were "one month's notice" there would be an apostrophe (I reasoned); yes, and if it were "one week's notice" there would be an apostrophe. Therefore "two weeks' notice" requires an apostrophe! Buses that I should have caught (the 73; two 38s) sailed off up Buckingham Palace Road while I communed thus at length with my inner stickler, unable to move or, indeed, regain any sense of perspective.

Part of one's despair, of course, is that the world cares nothing for the little shocks endured by the sensitive stickler. While we look in horror at a badly punctuated sign, the world carries on around us, blind to our plight. We are like the little boy in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people, except that we can see dead punctuation. Whisper it in petrified little-boy tones: dead punctuation is invisible to everyone else - yet we see it all the time. No one understands us seventh-sense people. They regard us as freaks. When we point out illiterate mistakes we are often aggressively instructed to "get a life" by people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves. Naturally we become timid about making our insights known, in such inhospitable conditions. Being burned as a witch is not safely enough off the agenda. A sign has gone up in a local charity-shop window which says, baldly, "Can you spare any old records" (no question mark) and I dither daily outside on the pavement. Should I go in and mention it? It does matter that there's no question mark on a direct question. It is appalling ignorance. But what will I do if the elderly charity-shop lady gives me the usual disbelieving stare and then tells me to bugger off, get a life and mind my own business?

On the other hand, I'm well aware there is little profit in asking for sympathy for sticklers. We are not the easiest people to feel sorry for. We refuse to patronise any shop with checkouts for "eight items or less" (because it should be "fewer"), and we got very worked up after 9/11 not because of Osama bin-Laden but because people on the radio kept saying "enormity" when they meant "magnitude", and we really hate that. When we hear the construction "Mr Blair was stood" (instead of "standing") we suck our teeth with annoyance, and when words such as "phenomena", "media" or "cherubim" are treated as singular ("The media says it was quite a phenomena looking at those cherubims"), some of us cannot suppress actual screams. Sticklers never read a book without a pencil at hand, to correct the typographical errors. In short, we are unattractive know-all obsessives who get things out of proportion and are in continual peril of being disowned by our exasperated families.

I know precisely when my own damned stickler personality started to get the better of me. In the autumn of 2002, I was making a series of programmes about punctuation for Radio 4 called Cutting a Dash. My producer invited John Richards of the Apostrophe Protection Society to come and talk to us. At that time, I was quite tickled by the idea of an Apostrophe Protection Society, on whose website could be found photographic examples of ungrammatical signs such as "The judges decision is final" and "No dog's". We took Mr Richards on a trip down Berwick Street Market to record his reaction to some greengrocers' punctuation ("Potatoe's" and so on), and then sat down for a chat about how exactly one goes about protecting a conventional printer's mark that, through no fault of its own, seems to be terminally flailing in a welter of confusion.

What the APS does is write courteous letters, he said. A typical letter would explain the correct use of the apostrophe, and express the gentle wish that, should the offending "BOB,S PETS" sign (with a comma) be replaced one day, this well-meant guidance might be borne in mind. It was at this point that I felt a profound and unignorable stirring. It was the awakening of my Inner Stickler. "But that's not enough!" I said. Suddenly I was a-buzz with ideas. What about issuing stickers printed with the words "This apostrophe is not necessary"? What about telling people to shin up ladders at dead of night with an apostrophe-shaped stencil and a tin of paint? Why did the Apostrophe Protection Society not have a militant wing? Could I start one? Where do you get balaclavas?

* * *

Punctuation has been defined many ways. Some grammarians use the analogy of stitching: punctuation as the basting that holds the fabric of language in shape. Another writer tells us that punctuation marks are the traffic signals of language: they tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour, and stop. I have even seen a rather fanciful reference to the full stop and comma as "the invisible servants in fairy tales - the ones who bring glasses of water and pillows, not storms of weather or love". But best of all, I think, is the simple advice given by the style book of a national newspaper: that punctuation is "a courtesy designed to help readers to understand a story without stumbling".

Isn't the analogy with good manners perfect? Truly good manners are invisible: they ease the way for others, without drawing attention to themselves. It is no accident that the word "punctilious" ("attentive to formality or etiquette") comes from the same original root word as punctuation. As we shall see, the practice of "pointing" our writing has always been offered in a spirit of helpfulness, to underline meaning and prevent awkward misunderstandings between writer and reader. In 1644 a schoolmaster from Southwark, Richard Hodges, wrote in his The English Primrose that "great care ought to be had in writing, for the due observing of points: for, the neglect thereof will pervert the sense", and he quoted as an example, "My Son, if sinners intise [entice] thee consent thou, not refraining thy foot from their way." Imagine the difference to the sense, he says, if you place the comma after the word "not": "My Son, if sinners intise thee consent thou not, refraining thy foot from their way." This was the 1644 equivalent of Ronnie Barker in Porridge, reading the sign-off from a fellow lag's letter from home, "Now I must go and get on my lover", and then pretending to notice a comma, so hastily changing it to, "Now I must go and get on, my lover."

To be fair, many people who couldn't punctuate their way out of a paper bag are still interested in the way punctuation can alter the sense of a string of words. It is the basis of all "I'm sorry, I'll read that again" jokes. Instead of "What would you with the king?" you can have someone say in Marlowe's Edward II, "What? Would you? With the king?" The consequences of mispunctuation (and re-punctuation) have appealed to both great and little minds, and in the age of the fancy-that email a popular example is the comparison of two sentences:

A woman, without her man, is nothing. A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Which, I don't know, really makes you think, doesn't it? Here is a popular "Dear Jack" letter that works in much the same fundamentally pointless way: Dear Jack,

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy - will you let me be yours?

Jill Dear Jack,

I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

Yours,

Jill But just to show there is nothing very original about all this, five hundred years before email a similarly tiresome puzzle was going round:

Every Lady in this Land Hath 20 Nails on each Hand; Five & twenty on Hands and Feet; And this is true, without deceit.

(Every lady in this land has twenty nails. On each hand, five; and twenty on hands and feet.)

So all this is quite amusing, but it is noticeable that no one emails the far more interesting example of the fateful mispunctuated telegram that precipitated the Jameson Raid on the Transvaal in 1896 - I suppose that's a reflection of modern education for you. Do you know of the Jameson Raid, described as a "fiasco"? Marvellous punctuation story. Throw another log on that fire. The Transvaal was a Boer republic at the time, and it was believed that the British and other settlers around Johannesburg (who were denied civil rights) would rise up if Jameson invaded. But unfortunately, when the settlers sent their telegraphic invitation to Jameson, it included a tragic ambiguity:

It is under these circumstances that we feel constrained to call upon you to come to our aid should a disturbance arise here the circumstances are so extreme that we cannot but believe that you and the men under you will not fail to come to the rescue of people who are so situated.

As Eric Partridge points out in his Usage and Abusage, if you place a full stop after the word "aid" in this passage, the message is unequivocal. It says, "Come at once!" If you put it after "here", however, it says something more like, "We might need you at some later date depending on what happens here, but in the meantime - don't call us, Jameson, old boy; we'll call you." Of course, the message turned up at The Times with a full stop after "aid" (no one knows who put it there) and poor old Jameson just sprang to the saddle, without anybody wanting or expecting him to.

All of which substantiates Partridge's own metaphor for punctuation, which is that it's "the line along which the train (composition, style, writing) must travel if it isn't to run away with its driver". In other words, punctuation keeps sense on the rails. Of course people will always argue over levels of punctuation, accusing texts of having too much or too little. There is an enjoyable episode in Peter Hall's Diaries when, in advance of directing Albert Finney in Hamlet, he "fillets" the text of "practically all its punctuation except what is essential to sense" and then finds he has to live with the consequences. On August 21, 1975, he notes, "Shakespeare's text is always absurdly over-punctuated; generations of scholars have tried to turn him into a good grammarian." All of which sounds sensible enough, until we find the entry for the first rehearsal on September 22, which he describes as "good" but also admits was "a rough and ready, stumbling reading, with people falling over words or misplaced emphases".

spell the words "grammar" and "sentence", let alone use them in any well-informed way.



Continues...


Excerpted from Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss Copyright © 2006 by Lynne Truss. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 134 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(71)

4 Star

(33)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(13)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 134 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Funny and Informative

    This book is not a grammar or style guide. This is rather a book by someone who is passionate about language, in general, and punctuation, in particular. If you see a signboard of a shop advertising "CD's, Video's, DVD's, and Book's", and if you see another one declaring "No Dogs Please" and both of them trouble you immensely, then this book is for you. <BR/><BR/>Such grammatical errors have troubled me all my life, and I found this book not only immensely entertaining but I identified with the author's feelings very deeply. Yes, I do punctuate my text messages; yes, I do use proper capitalizations and punctuations in my e-mails; and the author declares that sadly most of the people do not bother about such niceties. <BR/><BR/>Funny, informative, and full of humourous anecdotes, Truss's book is an ode to an endangered species: the punctuation. I enjoyed every page of it.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2008

    Response to 'Concerned Parent'

    It is clear that this person mistakenly read 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation' (this book is definitely intended to be read by adults) and not the milder children version 'Eats, Shoots& Leaves: Why, Commas really do make a difference!' which was intended as required reading for students. The book intended to instruct children on the importance of commas in writing is a worthwhile and well-written text.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Malcolms Review of Eat's, schoots', and Leave,s

    I picked up this book with the intention of boning up a bit on my punctuation (I am an English major after all). Instead of finding it an entertaining book about how to use commas, dashes and the like properly I found it an unfocused rant by a vicious grammar bully. While I understand that grammar education is not in the state it should be, Truss' argument for proper grammar is killed by her abrasive rhetoric, overt priggishness, and generally unsavory attitude. Instead of accomplishing her (apparent) goal to galvanize those who have punctual tendencies she pushes away anyone with social awareness. I, for one, plan to put apostrophes in the wrong places just to spite her.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2011

    Read my review

    Let's eat grandma ........ or Let's eat, Grandma .... get the joke!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2008

    Punctuation is fun!

    Lynne Truss makes punctuation fun! I couldn't put this book down, nor could I stop laughing out loud! If you already love punctuation, you'll love this book. If you're trying to brush up on punctuation, this book makes it fun to learn. Read it!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Punctuation Power!

    Lynne Truss' book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, offers a comical and delightful approach to the importance of proper punctuation and grammar. This book gives readers laugh-out-loud examples of improper sentence punctuation as well as other examples of improper punctuation that may lead to the misunderstanding of an intended message. *Funny and educational.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2008

    Appropriate for ages six to eight?

    This book is required reading for my daughter's sixth-grade class. I have recommended that it be pulled from the reading list. Discussions of involuntary ejaculations, and references such as 'dog's cock', 'raw sex' and the most unsavory African American ethnic slur are not acceptable reading for children of a young age. I am only sorry I was not exposed to this pitiful attempt at humotous education earlier. I am embarrassed for us all.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2008

    I could not have been more wrong

    Yes, that's right, 5 Stars for a book about proper punctuation. I fully expected to get through this book only for my 2008 Challenges. In my mind's eye I saw myself reading a page or two and then falling sound asleep from boredom. I could not have been more wrong. Not only does Lynne Truss make punctuation interesting, she makes it funny. She knows just were little punctuation puns fit. Who knew there were 17 proper uses for the apostrophe?! There was, at onetime, a movement to have a special mark to indicate a rhetorical question. As is stated on the front flap, 'Through sloppy usage and low standards on the Internet, in e-mail, and now 'txt msgs', we have made proper punctuation an endangered species.' [not to mention proper spelling] I've given this book 5 Stars not only because I enjoyed it, but because I think all of us who have been out of the classroom for 10 years or more could use a refresher.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2008

    Changed my life, this one

    It did just that. I was always good at grammar and understood it and such, but never has a book impacted me so much 'maybe Harry Potter but even that didn't stick after Deathly Hallows came out' as Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. My middle school Language Arts suggested it, and I read her copy and LOVED it. I recently went out and bought my own to refer back to. Definately read it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2007

    Funny

    Definitely worth the couple hours to read. Entertaining and informative. All middle school students should read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    the book was a revelation

    Seriously, when was the last time you read a book where you could literally say, "This book has changed my life." Eat, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss is one such book.

    At first I thought a zero tolerance approach to punctuation sounded a bit extreme. That is until Truss mentioned one of my favorite movies ("Two Weeks Notice"), pointing out that the title should be "Two Weeks' Notice". I was shocked. I had always assumed an apostrophe was there. Then I started listening to The Plain White T's, a band whose name makes no sense with an apostrophe, and I knew things were getting serious.

    Nonetheless I will admit that it was a challenge reading the chapters about the apostrophe and the comma (although I have learned a few knew tricks for commas). Then I came to a chapter entitled "Airs and Graces." From there onward, the book was a revelation.

    I learned my punctuation from my mom and copious reading. I still have a hard time explaining dependent clauses and why it is appropriate to use "well" instead of "good" even though I can tell when a sentence is complete/written correctly if I can read it. I am sharing this background so that when I say Truss explains all of the punctuation rules presented in her book you will know I mean really clear.

    Truss has illustrated that there is a time and place for the dash and double-dash in all good literature. She has also shown that, to avoid over-using the dash, a colon can easily replace a dash in certain situations. I never knew that!

    What's nice about Eats, Shoots and Leaves is that it's not a dry read. Yes, Truss is talking about punctuation. Yes, she is deadly serious about it. But she maintains a sense of humor throughout: including witty examples and poking fun at punctuation (and punctuation sticklers) as much as she explains it. In addition, Truss includes abundant historical information about the punctuation marks she discusses ranging from the first names for parentheses to the first appearance of an apostrophe in printed documents.

    I would recommend this book highly to anyone with an interest in writing. Even if you know the basics, Truss has a few tricks up her sleeve that are sure to give your writing a little extra flair.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is a great book.

    I never thought a book like this would be good. But, it is a book you can't put down. And, I really enjoyed this. You have to go and read this one. Just for the fun of it if nothing else.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    A must have for every child!!

    A teacher recommended this book. My kids love it. It makes learning fun. MUST HAVE!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2009

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    Review of Eats, Shoots & Leaves

    Grammarians all over the world, unite! Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss is a book everyone with a pulse should own. If you love the written word as I do, you most likely have a passion for punctuation as well. Truss weaves humor into a beautifully written English lesson, and if you can get past her obvious disgust for American English (okay, let¿s face it, you just need to get past it already), you¿ll find the true gem that¿s cleverly hidden amongst the satire.<BR/><BR/>With chapters titled ¿The Seventh Sense¿, ¿That¿ll Do, Comma¿ and ¿Cutting a Dash¿ (which is also the name of a BBC Radio 4 series), Truss turns learning about the proper use of punctuation into lively reading. The fast passed energetic vocabulary literally jumps off the page and engages you right from the start.<BR/><BR/>Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a highly recommended read for scholars and professors alike; and for anyone named Tom, Dick or Harry. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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  • Posted January 18, 2009

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    I am not a pickled herring salesman!

    Lynn Truss, a proud, self-proclaimed snobbish pedant, makes no bones about the fact that her short book, "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" is really an extended essay on pedantry - a style book, a prescriptive grammar, a manifesto, a rant and, perhaps saddest of all, a eulogy - bemoaning the demise of the correct use of punctuation in the written English word today. <BR/><BR/>As a reader, writer and speaker who, frankly, takes pride in an extensive vocabulary and takes pains to use our magnificent language correctly, I found myself nodding vigorously in agreement as Truss eloquently spoke about the purpose of correct punctuation. She helps us to understand that commas, apostrophes, colons and the other denizens of our pantheon of punctuation marks are aids and signs on a road map for communication without misunderstanding. They are an invaluable assistance to reading out loud with the proper interpretation, lilt and intonation that an author intended in the same fashion as a well annotated musical score enables a musician to interpret music as a composer meant it to be played. <BR/><BR/>"Eats, Shoots and Leaves" also provides us with snippets of the history of punctuation. I wager that few of us were aware that the apostrophe first appeared as early as the 16th century. <BR/><BR/>If history and a pedantic rant delivered with a school marm attitude, a baleful glare and a wrathful wagging finger were all we got from a reading of "Eats, Shoots and Leaves", I'm sure most of us would have yawned in complete boredom and Lynn Truss's novel would not likely have reached the list of best sellers. But, thankfully, "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" is also liberally sprinkled with a very healthy dose of dry as dust British wit, humour and sarcasm that hit my funny bone with a full-sized mallet. One of my favourites was the story of a community group who had built an enormous playground for the children of their neighbourhood and advertised it with the sign "GIANT KID'S PLAYGROUND". To the amazement of the group that had built the facility, it was hardly ever used. Lynn Truss, with tongue in cheek, suggested it was probably because everyone was terrified of meeting the giant kid. <BR/><BR/>By the way, the much maligned salesman of this review's title is actually a complete tee-totaller. He is, however, a very exceptional pickled-herring salesman! (If you'll forgive my mixed metaphors, a very different kettle of fish, indeed). This witty little example shows how the poor, lowly, and much misunderstood dash can eliminate any possibility of misunderstanding the sentence. <BR/><BR/>Highly recommended. <BR/><BR/>Paul Weiss

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2008

    RULES OF PUNCTUATION: AN ENDANGERED SYSTEM

    This is a great piece of humour and yet with a serious aim, this little book has become a runaway bestseller overnight. As Lynne Truss has explained, there are many people who have little idea of the basics of punctuation. This does not surprise me in the slightest. As an examiner, I have found scant regard paid to full stops, commas and question marks. However, by far the number one serial offender is the missing apostrophe. The story of the Panda who eats in a restaurant, then shoots the restaurant up and departs is an amusing story with an important message. The placing of punctuation in the wrong place can completely alter the message being conveyed¿at some cost. REVOLUTION IN PUNCTUATION. The book is dedicated to the memory of the striking Bolshevik printers in St Petersburg who, in 1905, demanded to be paid the same rate for punctuation marks as for letters, and thereby directly precipitated the first Russian Revolution. We have come a long way in nearly 100 years and the main casualty has been the written word. The `shorthand¿ I have encountered in the last six years using the Internet is enough to convince me that this book should be compulsory reading in schools. Besides, it is a good read and very funny in places. To sell 50,000 copies in just over a week on release is a great achievement. LEARNED OPINIONS. It is true to say that the book makes a powerful case for the preservation of the system of what is interestingly described as `printing conventions¿. However, this is not a book for pedants but for everyone, including members of the Bar who write lengthy Opinions. It has never surprised me how cross the Judiciary become when they see sloppy legal paperwork. I expect it from solicitors but we must maintain a very high standard at the Bar, even with the infernal Internet and toxic text messages. Well done, Ms Truss for reminding us of our legal roots¿ `sticklers unite¿ she says, `you have nothing to lose but your sense of proportion ¿ and arguably you didn¿t have much of that to begin with¿. Do look at the end of the book for a fine bibliography ¿ all the usual suspects are there including one B Bryson and `Troublesome Words¿, and the excellent Philip Howard¿s `The State of the Language: English observed.¿ Phillip Taylor MBE. Abbey & Richmond Chambers.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    Having only recently come to live in Britain from Jamaica I thought we were poor on our use of the English Language. Well now I know that a whole lot of people here, including professionals, badly need to read this book and take notes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2007

    Astounding!

    This book is hilarious and informative - anyone who says differently must be an incredibly boring person. Truss didn't write it to be used as a textbook (she even said that!), but as an entertaining work. I feel sorry for anyone that scoffed at it, nose in the air. Try to enjoy life a little more!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2006

    It was fantastic!

    It is the perfect book to sit and read if you need a laugh. Lynn Truss was brilliant. Even though I am from the U.S.A and it was written about British grammar, I enjoyed it all the same. I'd like to take her advice and protest against incorrect grammer with an apostrophe on a stick. Sticklers unite!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2005

    Love this book

    I finally found someone as obsessed with grammar and punctuation as I am! I now want to take Lynne Truss' advice and walk around with a giant black marker to put apostrophes in the words that are missing them on public signs.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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