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Review: The Cozy Punctuation Course

November/December 2003 Edition

Sporting the bumper sticker “Punctuation Rules!” on the back of her car, retired English teacher/instructor Marie Rackham tools around natural settings on Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada, pointing out noteworthy sites while sharing insights into the finer points of punctuation. Divided into 15 lessons, Rackham’s survey looks at the proper use of periods, commas, exclamation marks, quotation marks, apostrophes, colons, semicolons, hyphens, dashes, parentheses, brackets, slashes, and the “interrobang” (a combination question-exclamation mark that is not yet in common usage, nor found on computer keyboards).

Shot on digital video with colorful onscreen text examples used to illustrate each grammatical principle (in fact, nearly all of the script is transcribed onscreen), this excellent primer (featuring a pleasant classical piano background performed by Rackham) serves equally well as an introduction or refresher course in giving students and/or adult audiences a good grounding in the rules of punctuation. Unfortunately, the workbook (for which permission to reproduce has been granted) is referred to at the end of each lesson, and does have some fill-in-the-blank sections,  making the course somewhat problematic for public libraries (although the instruction can stand alone without it, since the workbook only contains practice exercises). In addition, I have to say that Rackham’s slow-paced set-ups and perambulations would drive some people bonkers in a New York minute.

Still, the instruction is both comprehensive and superb, and punctuation courses on video and DVD are rare, making this one highly recommended.

Audience: High Schools, Colleges and Universities, Public Libraries.

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