A grammar handbook and a magnificent children’s book written by a global hero couldn’t be more different, but those two books were two I read over the holidays.
Thomas Parrish’s The Grumpy Grammarian was laugh-out-loud funny. It’s subtitle is “A How-Not-To-Guide to the 47Most Common Mistakes in English Made by Journalists, Broadcasters, and Others Who Should Know Better.” The author, Parrish pretends to have an older friend who has saved clippings full of errors from writers who “should know better.” Some of these come from prestigious newspapers and magazines (The New Yorker, Newsweek, USA Today, Washington Post to name a few) Some of the errors that make the grammarian friend grumps are “picky”; some are outdated, but others are just W-R-O-N-G. The malapropisms and dangling modifiers often make the reader chuckle . It is not a book for all, but it was a delight to this grumpy grammarian. I gave it to two grammarian friends, father and son, who are anything BUT grumpy and decided to let them enjoy it as I did.
A children’s book by Malala Yousafzai,the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, which is beautifully illustrated by the husband and wife team who go by the pseudonym KERASCOET was another fascinating reading “experience” I had this holiday season. It begins:
“When Malala was a child in Pakistan, she wished for a magic pencil. She would use it to…
‘…draw a lock on her door to keep her brothers out.
…stop time so she could sleep an extra hour every morning.
…erase the smell of the trash dump near her house.’ ”
It tells how Malala, more than anything wanted to attend school, but in Pakistan this was forbidden because she was a girl. The book tells and shows in pictures how Malala found a pencil and wrote about the challenges she faced as a girl/young woman in Pakistan, a war-torn region. Worldwide, people read her writing. The horrible attack she suffered is handled in a sensitive way (It is a child’s book, after all.) and points out that she saw the “magic of hope” through it all. As the cover states, this spectacular book is “The true story of one girl’s wish for a better world.” It would be the perfect birthday book for a child or grandchild. I was thoroughly enchanted by the illustrations and intrigued by the story.