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Book Review: Exclamation Mark By Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

In a world of periods, exclamation mark really stood out.

And he didn’t like it one bit. He felt confused and befuddled. He didn’t fit in and he wasn’t sure how he could. Then one day he found the answers he sought from a new friend – question mark. She helped him find his purpose in life and he was free to express himself with gusto!

With sparse text and simple black and white line art (so simple I’m guessing at the gender of exclamation mark and question mark), Amy and Tom deliver a clever story of the universal need to fit in. The characters in this story (exclamation mark, question mark and a supporting cast of periods) act out their story against a background of double lined composition paper.

The layout is instantly recognizable to all K-2 students. The emotions and message of the story; however, have a far broader appeal. The feelings of loneliness, self-doubt and confusion are cleverly conveyed by exclamation mark’s withered and contorted “stem.” The exuberance he feels at discovering himself are conveyed by a strong, bold “stem” and changes in the text’s size and color.

But the key to the story is how he moves from self-pity to self-awareness. Question mark is the perfect metaphor for making this transition in our lives. Sometimes all we really need to find the answer is the right question, and perhaps a friendly push in the right direction. With Exclamation Mark, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Licthenheld prove they truly have a flair for the grammatic!

Read more book reviews by Brian Rock, a children’s writer and award winning songwriter.