Now you'll know where that little apostrophe needs to go

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 February, 2008, 12:00am

The Girl's Like Spaghetti

By Lynne Truss

Published by Profile Books

ISBN 978 186197 168 5

My new neighbour's daughter is really tall and very thin. Guess what she reminds me of? A strand of spaghetti. The girl's like spaghetti!

Mandy is going out for dinner with the girls from the office tomorrow. They're going to an Italian restaurant. They adore all sorts of pasta but they have a favourite: the girls like spaghetti.

It's fun to eat spaghetti - the girls like spaghetti - and splash all the tomato sauce down your front. And if you look like a strand of spaghetti, you could work as a model - the girl's like spaghetti.

By now, you should have noticed that apostrophes matter a lot when we write something down. Put the apostrophe in the wrong place, or miss it out altogether, and we could very well be saying something we really don't mean.

But fear not! Lynne Truss, the Queen of Fun Grammar, is on hand again to make sure we don't fall into terrible apostrophe traps and make fools of ourselves.

Truss' Eats, Shoots & Leaves, an entertaining look at why grammar and punctuation are so important, sold more than 3 million copies all over the world. Someone other than English teachers and language lovers must agree with Truss about the value of getting our English grammar correct.

The junior version of Eats, Shoots & Leaves was a follow-up best-seller, showing children how confusing the world can be without that important little squiggle, the comma.

After focusing on the comma, grammar guru Truss and top illustrator Bonnie Timmons take on the apostrophe in The Girl's Like Spaghetti. Who says getting our punctuation correct can't be fun? Certainly not the crack team of Truss and Timmons.

Their latest co-operation is a treasure chest of amusing and well-illustrated punctuation disasters that will help anyone - not just children - laugh their way to a better understanding of how the apostrophe works and a determination never to put it in the wrong place again.

Truss genuinely loves punctuation, the power that little things like the full stop, the comma and the apostrophe have over the meaning of language.

In the introduction, she reminds us punctuation was invented because it was needed, and how foolish people can appear when they get it wrong.

The Girl's Like Spaghetti tells the adventures of the industrious apostrophe, a tireless worker whose job is to make sure what we write is what we mean. This book is a highly entertaining read as well as a useful language tool.

To make sure the cartoons make their point, there is a useful explanation at the end.

This book would be of help to the managing director of a supermarket chain in Britain. Then he can tell his sign-writers why they don't need an apostrophe in 'magazine's'.

Happy punctuating!

John Millen can be contacted at