Punctuation with pizzazz.
How does an exclamation mark learn his purpose? Pre-readers and readers alike will giggle and cheer to see the process. The setting is a warm yellowish beige background with a faint pulpy pattern and repeating horizontal lines with dotted lines halfway between them—penmanship paper. Each bold, black punctuation mark has a minimalist yet expressive face inside its circular dot. “He stood out,” explains the first page, as the titular protagonist looks on doubtfully. He tries hanging around with periods, but squishing his extension down into a spring doesn’t really work; even prostrate, “he just wasn’t like everyone else. Period.” (Hee! Rosenthal gleefully puns instead of naming any punctuation.) Mournful, “confused, flummoxed, and deflated,” the exclamation mark’s line tangles and flops. Then someone unexpected arrives. “Hello? Who are you?” queries the newbie, jovially pummeling the exclamation mark with 17 manic inquiries at once. “Stop!” screams the exclamation mark in enormous, bumpy-edged letters—and there’s his identity! The outburst’s anxious vibe dissipates immediately (and the question mark is undaunted by being yelled at). Finally, the protagonist has “[broken] free from a life sentence.” Snapping up usages that match his newfound personality, he zooms back to show the other punctuation marks. The zippy relationship between exclamation mark and question mark continues beyond the acknowledgements page.
Funny and spirited (and secretly educational, but nobody will notice). (Picture book. 4-8)