The Case of the Incapacitated Capitals

2012. 32p. 978-0-82342-402-3. 16.95.
Gr 1-3–Pulver and Reed add to their children’s grammar franchise by teaching the rules of capitalization. Mr. Wright’s students have stopped using uppercase letters (he alludes to texting as a possible cause), and so they have become weakened through underuse–“incapacitated.” In the course of correcting a letter they have written to the principal, the students (and readers) learn all the ways that capital letters are used in properly written English. Reed’s childlike gouache, acrylic, and collage illustrations are charming and feature speech bubbles of running commentary–always a hit with children, but a challenge for a read-aloud. Every capital letter in the text and speech bubbles is prominently featured in colored font. There are a couple of instances in which the author has chosen to use ellipses instead of starting a new sentence (so as to avoid an uppercase letter) and this could confuse readers. An addendum gives a history of capital letters, notes on correspondence, and a list of capitalization rules. An additional purchase for those libraries that circulate the series.–Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick’s Catholic School, Charlotte, NC
Pulver (Punctuation Takes a Vacation, et al.) is back with another lively, colorful story. This time the capital letters are struggling. Texting has made Mr. Wright's students lazy; the capital letters have become weakened through neglect. Droll commentary from the letters keeps the book from becoming simply a grammar tract. Childlike acrylic illustrations, with eyeballs on each letter, keep the tone light.
Pulver (Punctuation Takes a Vacation, rev. 5/03; et al.) is back with another lively, colorful story of punctuation and grammar. This time it’s the capital letters that are struggling. Mr. Wright’s students seem to have forgotten about using them, and the capital letters have become weakened through neglect. (In their own speech-bubble words, they are “out of oomph! Zapped! Goners! Incapacitated!”) The students’ texting has made them lazy; even in a letter to the principal, they don’t use capital letters. It takes a while for the students to see their teacher’s point, but, once they do, they re-energize the uppercase letters and all is Wright (er, right) with the world and the classroom. Pulver manages to insert the rules of capitalization into the story a number of times, making this an especially useful book for teachers whose children have become lax in their writing. Droll commentary from the letters themselves (the letter M quips, “Without me, May wouldn’t be a month”) keeps the book from becoming simply a grammar tract. Childlike acrylic illustrations, with eyeballs on each letter (which resemble the magnetic ones kids stick onto refrigerators), keep the tone light and airy, and an informative author’s note about why capital letters are also called uppercase letters will certainly be a surprise to the average elementary school student. A capital idea! robin l. smith

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing