Miss Q and Fancy Fullstop: Learning Punctuation through Pictures

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REVIEW

Miss Q and Fancy Fullstop: Learning Punctuation through Pictures

By : Deeptha Vivekanand  /  2017

Miss Q and Fancy Fullstop: Learning Punctuation through Pictures

Miss Q and Fancy Fullstop Learning Punctuation through Pictures.jpg
Miss Q and Fancy Fullstop: Learning Punctuation through Pictures
Author:
Maria Denjongpa
Illustrator:
Anna Buckner
32 pages
English
Rs 195.00
ISBN: 978-8184778007
Scholastic, 
2016
Tags : 
Activities,
Family,
Fullstop,
Punctuation,
Question Mark,
Overall Rating : 
10
Story/Content : 
4
Illustration : 
5
Language : 
5
Design : 
5

My first reaction when I pulled the book out of its envelope and examined the cover was, “What fun this looks like!” And my power of assumption was further strengthened when I finished the book. Sometimes you can and should judge a book by its cover. The quirky and playful water-colour images of punctuation marks with human faces and bodies lures you into flipping through the pages immediately. If it’s a picture book, I usually look at all the images first before I get down to reading the story, and with this one, I found myself spending a lot of time simply taking in the details of the artwork. I’m sure children will enjoy seeing funny images of a curvy question mark with a woman’s face, a spectacled full stop and a colon with a head and body detached! Whether it’s the facial features of the characters or the tiny details on a teacup, illustrator Anna Buckner’s love for Sikkim – after graduating with a BFA, Anna moved to the northeastern state, where she completed an apprenticeship in Buddhist Thangka painting – shines right through the book.

And now step two: the story. Miss Q and Fancy Fullstop is a guide to common punctuation marks and how to use them, explained to children through a narrative. I believe it would also work for many adults who use commas only to break the monotony of their own thinking translated into words or generously sprinkle unwanted apostrophes on plurals and pronouns. Is it all that difficult to comprehend the difference between ‘it’s’ and ‘its’, I ask? Much like how Indian food is almost always photographed with lashings of green coriander floating on top making you want to bring those forceps out, I always picture myself removing those unnecessary apostrophes!

Maria Denjongpa, an English teacher and one of the founder-members of the Taktse International School in Sikkim, has written this book using witty language that’s peppered with puns and clever wordplay. The storyline follows the lives of two central characters – Ms. Q, who true to her nature, is the perennial questioner of all things and Mr. Fancy Fullstop, whose noble family is known to “put their feet down when sentences get out of control.” The two become friends, fall in love – opposites attract and all that – and decide to get married against their families’ wishes. Ms. Q finds a job with the Sikkim Sun, the local newspaper where she meets the other characters: Ms. Comma, who makes endless lists, Mr. and Mrs. Exclamation, who, yes, you guessed right, exclaim at everything, Major Colon, who always predicts what comes next, Madame Apostrophe, who behaves like she owns everything, and Mr. Marks, a gossip who repeats what other people say. Ms. Q and Fancy Fullstop soon become parents of twins, whom they name Brack and Kitz. The birth of the grandchildren becomes the right occasion for the families to reunite and happiness abounds.

While the simple storyline holds a powerful lesson on punctuation marks for our young readers, I wonder whether the author has overemphasised the marriage-childbirth drill, considering the readers’ profile. Though Q and Fullstop fearlessly exercise their right to marry the person they wish to – which to me is a high-point – there is a part in the story where Q contemplates about whom her twins will wed, while they are still babies! Now, in 2017, do we really need to suggest to impressionable minds that they cannot escape the cycle of marriage and childbirth? Or that a man and a woman cannot remain friends without being married? The author, however, makes an attempt to redeem the story by bringing in a comment about the need to question everything and everyone’s uniqueness in this world.

As an extension to the story, the last few pages contain definitions, fun exercises, and activities for parents and teachers to try out with their children. Doing these should definitely cement the understanding of punctuation marks for life – both for a child and an adult.

To conclude, I have never been more careful with my own punctuation as I have been while writing this review! E.&O.E.

Deeptha Vivekanand is a professional storyteller and educator. She runs a venture called Ever After through which she does storytelling performances and workshops to promote the use of stories in teaching and learning, for children and adults.

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