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by Dan Gutman ; illustrated by Jim Paillot

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: June 25th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-209107-9
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Practical advice on writing from a best-selling author.

Hoping to counter the texting culture with an upbeat volume on how to write well and why to care about good grammar and clear writing, Gutman draws on his own career in writing, especially his My Weird School series. Though disingenuous at times and too self-consciously fun, the little guide does impart important advice in a straightforward manner. Short chapters and cartoonish illustrations keep the lessons light, covering such essentials as the importance of paragraphing, cutting unnecessary adjectives, using a dictionary, proofreading and structuring longer pieces. To students who think being illiterate is cool and that spelling, grammar and punctuation are boring—that sentences like “The girls’s lined up in sise order” are just fine—Gutman says, “Sounding like a dumbhead isn’t cool.” This junior version of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style may just help young writers “trim the fat” and learn to care about even small issues such as “Who or Whom?” and “Me or I?” The handy guide concludes with the one tip that will improve students’ writing more than any other: “If you want to be a better writer, read everything you can get your hands on. Read like crazy!”

A user-friendly guide to writing that just might make a difference. (Nonfiction. 8-12)