Review of Dreyer's English: Good Advice for Good Writing (Adapted for Young Readers)

Dreyer’s English: Good Advice for Good Writing (Adapted for Young Readers)
by Benjamin Dreyer
Intermediate, Middle School, High School    Delacorte    288 pp.    g
2/21    978-0-593-17680-1    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-593-17681-8    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-17682-5    $10.99

This adaptation of Dreyer’s adult style guide of the same name is as useful and amusing as the original. Dreyer, copy chief at Random House, tackles the hazards of grammar, punctuation, usage, and spelling with clarity, wit, and kindly firmness. To welcome the younger reader, he trims the original text; fifty-five rather than sixty-seven “Assorted Things to Do (and Not to Do) with Punctuation,” for example. More importantly, he substitutes plentiful examples from young ­people’s literature for the original ­references. Thus Edith Wharton, ­Theodore Dreiser, and William Faulkner make way for Louis Sachar, Rebecca Stead, and Lois Lowry. Dreyer can get technical, as on the somewhat arcane topic of en dashes, but the whole thing is kept light with chatty, sardonic footnotes; colloquial terms; and buoyant enthusiasm: The Haunting of Hill House’s final comma is “my favorite piece of punctuation in all of literature.” He tackles head-on the legendary crankiness of grammarians and helpfully corrals all their grumpiness into one chapter called “Pet Peeves.” To those who might protest that grammatical correctness is a tool of the oppressor, he is brisk and practical. The rules are yours to break, but if you want that college placement or job, don’t confuse its and it’s on your application. An excellent resource for students and likely even more useful to those who teach them.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.