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The Cheeky Possum Grammar Notes

This Publisher’s Grammar Notes and References for Punctuation and Capitalization

Grammar: Punctuation and Capitalization
Grammar: Punctuation and Capitalization

In text editing for grammar we aim to be both consistent and only to change the author’s text where it seems necessary to avoid a glaring error.  In consequence, we keep as close as possible to the author’s work.  The Cheeky Possum text rhymes, so we have looked for grammar practices acceptable in poetry, which offer greater latitude than prose.

We hope these notes are useful to encourage the exploration of writing style and rules. Text editing … ugh!

Run-on Sentences, Comma Faults, …

Arguments can be mounted that the opening sentence of The Cheeky Possum should be multiple sentences, but we find it a great introduction to Peter and only when he’s given us his substance, do we stop and digest it.  Before coming to this conclusion, a number of articles published on the web were considered:

Capitalization in Poetry and ‘ise’ or ‘ize’

On capitalization of the first word of a line in poetry, as exhibited in The Cheeky Possum, we cite Alberto Rios writing on the subject.  Further, on our spelling of the word ‘capitalization’ in British and Australian English, we cite The Conversation article on the use of ‘ise’ and ‘ize’.

Should there be a Comma before a Quote?

Should there always be a comma before quotes? Not necessarily according to the Sesquiotica blog.  Apart from stand-alone, speech quoted sentences in The Cheeky Possum, all other speech can be viewed as anecdotal, broad-view description.

Capital Letter for a Quote in a Sentence?

The Grammar Monster says, “There is a lot of leniency on the use of capital letters for quotations embedded in sentences.  So we’ve allowed: He said ”hey now, this is proof, there’s hippos landing on my head!”.  The rendering on the page gives the utterance a dreamy quality as of someone suddenly awoken.

Said but not Spoken, No Quotation Marks?

There is an example of something described as, said, that is without quotation marks, that we have allowed.  Its usage is immediate and climatic, and is the thought that Bridgette has, namely: look up there; it’s a possum on a wire. This we take not to be an utterance, but her reaction to the situation.  To support this contention, we note that quoted dialogue follows this reaction.

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She’s a very tidy teenager

We’re nearing the end of The Cheeky Possum and it’s time to reflect on what we’ve seen and heard. Of course, within the story, the characters too are reflecting and drawing their own conclusions. Here we’re touching on an aspect of the magic of reading to your children. We are nurturing their intellectual development in many ways.

So we have the story, the reader and the listeners. With a picture book the listeners may also be looking and thinking about the illustrations. One looker and thinker, Aria says, of the illustration of Bridgette tucked up inside her bed, “She’s a very tidy teenager!”.

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Avery and Aria spot the kangaroo

Kangaroo in the moonlight
Kangaroo in the moonlight

It’s storytime and the lights are low.  We’re reading a pre-publication mockup of The Cheeky Possum, a real favourite with Avery.  We’re in cheeky possum world, so most of the illustrations are moonlit.  This is Peter, the cheeky possum’s favourite playground. A world of shadow and revelation, where the girls notice for the first time there is, in the picture, a kangaroo hopping.  Thank you to Derek Dadswell for the wonderful mood and graphic presentation of these illustrations.