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Alfie the Apostrophe
by Moira Rose Donohue and JoAnn Adinolfi

It's time for tryouts for the punctuation talent show, and little Alfie the Apostrophe doesn't think he can beat the "more exciting" marks with his simple magic show (making letters disappear).  On the day of the auditions, the exclamation points cheer, the question marks tell jokes, and the periods and dashes do a Morse code routine, but in the end, it's Alfie that steals the show!

This book teaches about all the main punctuation marks, not just the apostrophe. Donohue's choices for punctuation mark character traits are quite clever and do make sense. They can help students better understand the roles each punctuation mark makes, but students may need a little help seeing the connections.

"The eye-catching mixed-media illustrations feature bright, bold shapes and demonstrate a certain verve reminiscent of children's own artwork. Teachers will be quick to see classroom potential in this picture book, with its uncommon subject and energetic presentation." (Booklist)

School Library Journal gave this book a positive review, but made a valid point on using this book for teaching punctuation: "children may miss some of the laughs, and, indeed, the point of the grammar lesson, if they haven't already been introduced to punctuation marks."  We agree. To remedy this, teachers should :
(1) not read this book as an introduction to punctuation marks, but after kids have some familiarity with the marks covered. That way they will "get" the jokes and walk away with a deeper understanding of the role of each mark.
(2) stop at logical points and ask questions to help students 'get it'. (ie: "Why are exclamation points cheerleaders? Why not the question marks?")

Alfie the Apostrophe Reading Level

     Interest Level:  Grade 1-3
     DRA Level:  30
     Guided Reading Level:  N
     Lexile Measure:  AD540L

Below are sample spreads from inside the book. It's a fairly wordy story, but not too much to prevent our recommendation. In the first spread, little Alfie is worried about his chances in the upcoming punctuation talent show. His parents try to reassure him that his contractions and possessives magic show is going to be a hit, but he is still worried. 

In the second sample spread, Alfie follows his father's advice and looks up the word contraction to read about its 'noble tradition'. He finds out that contraction "came from the Greek word meaning 'turning away.' As in 'turning away' letters to make contractions..."

Where to now?

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