An overview of the basics of English grammar, written at a level appropriate for both adults and children.
In this introduction to the fundamentals of grammar, Blumberg (Avram’s Gift, 2010, etc.) leads the reader through the proper usage of nouns, verbs, adjectives and punctuation. Each part of speech occupies a separate chapter, with each chapter’s examples and pictures centered on a theme. The chapter on verbs, for instance, is sports-themed, with tidbits about Arthur Ashe and figure skating mixed into explanations of tense and agreement; elsewhere, moments from classic movies and television provide structure to the chapter on capitalization. Blumberg’s explanations of proper usage are generally easy to understand, although the book’s reliance on colored and bold text can sometimes overwhelm rather than clarify. The book’s approach to grammar tends more toward prescriptivism, although it does allow for split infinitives and sentences that end in prepositions; some grammarians, however, might object to the book’s ban on “their” as a singular preposition. The book’s greatest strength is its abundance of examples for each principle Blumberg addresses, which are often easier to learn from than, say, a simple explanation of how parallel structure works. Though anyone looking for a refresher course will be satisfied, the book’s simple language and frequent pictures suggest that its target audience is young readers still learning the complexities of English. On the whole, Blumberg has done an effective job of writing on a level children can easily comprehend, although her attempts to avoid linguistic jargon occasionally have awkward results: “Affect (a psychological term) is pronounced a [as in cat] fekt.” Quizzes at the end of each section test readers’ mastery of the topics covered, and the book includes both endnotes and citations, as well as links to Web-based resources for further information on some of the informational asides, such as a biography of Emma Lazarus that accompanies photos of the Statue of Liberty.
A thorough and useful adjunct to English textbooks and an effective reference tool.