cover image Exclamation Mark

Exclamation Mark

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-0-545-43679-3

Rosenthal and Lichtenheld (the team behind Duck! Rabbit! and other titles) give punctuation personalities in this witty calligraphic jaunt. Against a background of lined penmanship paper, an exclamation mark realizes he differs from his neighbors, a neat row of periods. Like them, he consists of a smiley face drawn in swooshes of expressive black ink, but above his head stands a resolute vertical dash. He twists and curls his topper to no avail, until—“Hello? Who are you?”—an inquisitive question mark appears. Bothered by the newcomer’s incessant queries (“When’s your birthday? Know any good jokes?”), the hero bellows a spread-shaking “Stop!” and discovers his talent for assertions, from “Hi!” to “Wow!” and “Look what I can do!” Thanks to savvy design, the exclamation mark’s announcements are printed in different sizes and colors to subtly indicate emphasis and tone, yet the mark never meets others like himself and therefore never suffers from overuse. With a restraint that’s more declaratory than exclamatory, Rosenthal and Lichtenheld cleverly raise awareness of the ways punctuation conveys mood. Ages 4–8. Agent: Amy Rennert, the Amy Rennert Agency, (Mar.)