Robin Pulver, , illus. by Lynn Rowe Reed. . Holiday, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1687-5

This entertaining tale-cum-grammar lesson begins when, after days of teaching about commas, periods and question marks, Mr. Wright suggests to his class, "Let's give punctuation a vacation." While the students run cheering to the playground, the punctuation marks left on the blackboard take his words literally and head off for a holiday. Reed paints with a funky, naïf style using zippy oranges, teals, purples and cobalt blues. Facial features as elemental as jack-o-lanterns and bodies as rubbery as Gumby heighten the fun as the quotation marks sunbathe side by side, the apostrophe waterskis and the exclamation point goes tubing. Each of the comical postcards they mail back to the class offers a clue as to its sender: "Do you miss us? How much? Why couldn't we take a vacation sooner? Guess who?" The mayhem left in the vacationers' absence is just as funny. When Mr. Wright begins to read from a book, he observes: "This is weird the punctuation is missing uh oh where could it be yikes." While spinning this amusing tale, Pulver (Mrs. Toggle's Class Picture Day) manages to teach a good deal about punctuation (a list of clearly explained usage rules appears at the end). Little will children realize how much they are learning, between the verbal shenanigans and the eye-popping illustrations. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)