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VOYA -Hamilton does an admirable job with Hands-On English. She discusses grammar (parts of speech, sentences), mechanics (capitalization, punctuation, spelling), diction (language), the writing process, plus "tips for success in school." The book's use of simple line drawings, large amounts of white space, and frequent bold headings make an often-feared subject seem less intimidating. Overall, Hamilton's explanations are very clear, and she uses ample examples. I particularly liked the section on vocabulary, which lists morphemes ("the smallest unit of meaning in a word") and examples of words in which they appear. The section on MLA documentation is short but very clear and up to the minute with the latest form for Internet citations.
The segment on conjunctions was a bit confusing; the author discusses parallelism early in that section without identifying it as such or clearly defining it, but she corrects that later in the discussion (although this reviewer still does not see the connection between conjunctions and parallelism). The book is well written for its intended audience, and could be used starting with junior high until one graduates from high school. Hands-On English is clearly a reference book-Hamilton gives a few suggestion for application, but there are no exercises on which to practice. Nonetheless, Hamilton answers just about any question a student could have about grammar or writing, and she does so in an easy-to-use format. Index. Illus. Appendix.
1998, Portico Books, 160p., Ages 12 up, $9.95. Reviewer: Melissa Thacker