By: Brian P. Cleary
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Publication Date: August 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: October 2010
If you’re a classroom teacher or a homeschooler, you are probably always looking for ways to make grammar easy and fun to learn. As soon as you take a look at the zany CATegorical cats and the way they present the concept of contractions and other English grammar rules, lessons will never be the same again. A few sessions with these cats and even your most reluctant student will be able to tell you all about contractions and how to use them. Each contraction in this book can be easily spotted as they are highlighted in color. A very prim looking CATegorical cat teacher in the front of the book points to an easel that defines a contraction as “Two (or sometimes three) words combined into one word, using an apostrophe.”
The cats show us the magical properties of the apostrophe. “As punctuation goes, contractions always feature these: / They take the place of letters / and they’re called apostrophes.” You’ll learn that certain phrases such as “does not” or “was not” can easily be shortened to “doesn’t” and “wasn’t.” Apostrophes have the job of connecting words and always “replace at least one letter.” The CATegorical cats will teach you that they can connect another word like “not,” can shorten words such as “are,” “is,” or “am,” and can even shorten three words. I’d’ve thought that would be a fairly tricky thing to do. You’ll also learn how the word “would” can be contracted, how the word “will” “can come in handy as a future-tense contraction,” and how the words “have” and “had” can be contracted.
This CATegorical book on how to make and properly use contractions is a marvelously fun way to learn English grammar. I’ve read several of the CATegorical books from those that teach easy ways to learn language concepts to the math books. I haven’t run up against any that I’ve felt are less than stellar and didn’t expect anything less from this one. The humorous, madcap illustrations mesh perfectly with the rhyming sequence of the “lessons,” something that makes this book into a perfect teaching tool. This is a series that children gravitate toward and in conjunction with fun homeschool or classroom activities will make this book into an excellent language learning resource. If you haven’t had the privilege of meeting any of the CATegorical cats, you just might want to take a look at the Words Are CATegorical series, a series you won’t regret buying!
Quill says: If you are a homeschooler or classroom teacher this is one of many titles in the Words Are Categorical series that can prove to be an invaluable resource and can transform those boring English grammar lessons into something fun and exciting!