Posted in Book Reviews, Reading, Words

Book Review: The Know-Nonsense Guide to Grammar by Heidi Fiedler

The Know-Nonsense Guide to Grammar is an entertaining and informative expository-nonfiction book. It is concise and easy to understand. However, some of the example sentences are not very accurate.

Image from Amazon

Ages: 8+
63 pages

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Description

This book covers (in order) nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions, capitalization, collective nouns, sequence of adjectives, punctuation, commas, cliches, point of view, similes, analogies, metaphors, alliteration, onomatopoeia, puns, idioms, irony, juxtaposition, hyperbole, and finally, anthropomorphism. They are separated into three parts: parts of speech, grammar, and literary devices. Each part of speech, grammar rule, and literary device has one page with a blurb describing it and explaining how it works. On the opposite page, there is a picture corresponding to the example sentence, which is displayed in larger text at the bottom of the page with writing.

The Illustrations

I feel the need to mention the illustrator, Brendan Kearney. I really like this book’s pictures. I absolutely love the color of the girl’s umbrella on the cover (it looks way more vibrant in person), as well as the red cat at the bottom left (which also looks better when you see it physically). The art is simple and cute.

Writing

I think the illustrations go perfectly with the book, partly because I would describe the writing in a similar way — simple, clear, and fun. I am struggling to not overuse the word concise, but it is the best way to describe it. Fiedler did really well in this part, and her style is easy to read for ages 8 and older. I’d say the age group who’d probably like it most (obviously, it depends more on interest than age, though) is ages 8-14. But really, people of all ages will either learn from it or have a nice review.

Format

The fun format makes for an entertaining read. It is nicely decorated and (again) there’s a picture that goes along with each section, as well as an example sentence.

Speaking of which… the negatives

I don’t like the example sentence for irony. I understand that it’s hard to really explain irony well and come up with a good example, but theirs was “The sumo wrestler liked to sing opera.” Although it technically fits the criteria of the third definition below, it isn’t that good of an example, in my opinion, because it is more unusual than ironic.

Irony


The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

A literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.

Oxford Languages

So, classic irony could be, for instance, let’s say two characters in a story are siblings separated at birth, Person A and Person B. They don’t know this yet, but the readers/viewers do. At some point in the story, Person A says to Person C, a different supporting character, “I don’t know, I just feel this strong connection to her (Person B)! Like we are meant to be together.” This has a different meaning to the readers/viewers, because they know that Person A and Person B are actually siblings.

Nowadays, irony can be (a) sarcasm or (b) sort of like an interesting coincidence. Oxford said it better than I can: “A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.” For example, a fire house burning down, or a post on Facebook complaining about how useless Facebook is. These two examples are from Your Dictionary, where you can find more ironic situations.

Conclusion

I rate this book three and a half out of five stars, and I recommend it for ages 8 and up. It goes over parts of speech, some grammar, and some literary devices. The style of the illustrations, format, and writing are all fun and simple. However, I’m not a fan of the example sentence for irony. What do you think of it, and what other examples of irony can you come up with?

Author:

A teenager obsessed with words of all kinds. When I’m not reading or writing, I like musical theater, drawing, and painting. (she/her)

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Know-Nonsense Guide to Grammar by Heidi Fiedler

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