• Happy birthday Gail E. Haley (A Story, a Story, The Post Office Cat).
  • It’s the birth date of Sterling North (1906–1974), Rascal.
  • Birthday greetings to librarian and former First Lady Laura Bush, who established Washington D.C.’s annual National Book Festival in 2001.
  • Poet T. S. Eliot wins the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. Read Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats with illustrations by Edward Gorey.
  • In honor of the tomb of Tutankhamun’s discovery in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, it’s King Tut Day.

This week has been designated World Communication Week to remind us that computer access has made worldwide communication possible. Even this blog, read around the globe, and my national and international friendships on Facebook and Twitter would not be possible without all the technological breakthroughs that have sustained the Internet. If Twitter were a country, it would be the twelfth largest in the world!

But when I think of communication, I usually focus on the building blocks upon which it rests—words and punctuation. Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver and Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss and Bonnie Timmons have been the picture-book staples about the use and misuse of punctuation marks. But this year, picture-book Gurus Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld combined forces to give the exclamation point a starring role in its own drama.

In the bare-bones style that makes Rosenthal so special, we meet our hero: “! He stood out from the very beginning.” On paper that has been designed to resemble a child’s notebook, readers are introduced to the difficulties the exclamation mark faces. He always stands out, except when asleep. He tries to be like others, but just isn’t. He even considers running away. But then one day, he makes a fortuitous friend, a question mark—one who, true to its nature, asks questions all the time. Finally, our tortured hero finds his own voice, full of bold statements. As the text tells us, “He broke free from a life sentence.”

Clever and funny, the book, of course, explores a greater truth than the appropriate use of punctuation. For anyone trying to communicate, finding your own voice often does feel like breaking out of jail. The fact that Amy Krouse Rosenthal can make readers interested in such seemingly mundane topics as spoons, chopsticks, and a form of punctuation, attests to the power of her own unique voice.

However you mark World Communication Week—on the computer, on the typewriter, or on a yellow pad—I hope you celebrate your own inner voice. And if you simply want to laugh and enjoy a well-executed picture book, pick up Exclamation Mark.

Here’s a page from Exclamation Mark: 




Originally posted November 4, 2013. Updated for .

Tags: Imagination
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Exclamation Mark


  1. suzi w. says:

    Oh, Anita, I love your “classic” posts, but what a delight to have a new one! I adore Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I will put this book on hold straight away!! (I laugh as I just have used three !!! already.)

    And happy birthday to Laura Bush, a classy librarian and First Lady.

    Happy Communication Week and Picture Book Month! (I chuckle each time I use an exclamation point in this comment…)


  2. G. Perry says:

    I just read this book this morning.

    I love the idea of an exclamation mark relating to you finding out just who you are, and what makes you happy.

    Beautiful art work, text, and high quality book materials, make for a great success.

    Goes on my “Buy” list.

  3. Diane says:

    Thanks once again for a wonderful post on a newer book. As a reading intervention teacher I have used this book with my 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students and they all LOVED it! It it such a great read aloud that reinforces the use of ending punctuation.

  4. Anita says:

    Gordon, Suzi, and Diane. Thanks for the comments. I love posting on new books — they just have to meet my standards!

  5. Julie says:

    I was introduced to this lovely book as a student in your class, Anita, and I love it so!

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