Penny and the Punctuation Bee
by Moira Rose Donohue
illustrated by Jenny Law
Albert Whitman & Company, 2008
review copy compliments of the publisher
You might pass this book up if you're not careful. The illustrations don't look very sophisticated and you might think the book will be a preachy diatribe about using correct punctuation.
Give it a chance. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
Meet friends Penny the period who is on safety patrol (she's good at stopping), Connie the comma, and Quentin the question. The three sign up for the Punctuation Bee in Mr. Dash's room. Elsie, the bouncy enthusiastic cheerleader (an exclamation point) also signs up, and the three friends get busy practicing for the bee so they can beat Elsie. Each Punctuation Bee participant is given a word that he/she must use in a sentence that is correctly punctuated with his/her punctuation mark. The competition is close -- it's won on a technicality -- and you're going to have to read the book to find out who wins!
Read carefully so that you don't miss any of the puns: the hyphen that dashes by, the asterisk named Stella, and more.
Donohue is smart: she doesn't overdo the characterization of the marks by trying to be clever with them all. She focuses on the period, comma, question mark and exclamation point. That means her story doesn't get away from her (or from the reader). And the illustrations? They grow on you. Give this book a chance. I'm betting you wind up adding it to your collection.