Joel Schnoor, who lives in Apex, sent me a copy of his book, "I Laid an Egg on Aunt Ruth's Head." (Author House, 2009) Here is how he describes the book:
"The book contains 43 short stories featuring a tough, lovable Aunt Ruth character who struggles with proper English usage. Her nauseating nephew helps her get on the right track. Some stories are heavy on the grammar and some are light, but they all are intended to be funny and to leave the audience chuckling."
Indeed, the stories are humorous in a gentle and G-rated way, and they do teach grammar and usage. The title comes from the first story, which introduces Aunt Ruth and her nephew and deals with lay and lie. The other titles give clues to the grammar and usage principles covered: "As Aunt Ruth Likes It," "Aunt Ruth Comprises Surprises," "The Old Lady is All Right."
Schnoor has made his book helpful and easy to use. He includes a handy appendix titled "Common Rough Spots in English" with the title and the number of the story that deals with the rough spot. The book also has an index of the grammar points handled in each of the stories. So if you have a preteen who doesn't understand "its" and "it's," you can zero in on the story you need to show him or her the difference.
I am not a fan of cute grammar books that seem designed to put down those who make common mistakes. Schnoor's book is definitely not that. He is a kind, considerate, funny teacher who wants only for his students to improve, not to feel bad because of all they don't know.
This book would entertain children and adults, as Schnoor pointed out in his message to me. His news release says the book is for middle school to adult. I think some of the stories would work with smart children as young as 8, and that the book probably works best with children up to age 13 or so. That is a very valuable audience to capture. If we can teach them while they're young, we won't see as many college freshmen who have to go to remedial grammar classes.
Schnoor has a companion Web site, www.AuntRuthGrammar.com, which has Aunt Ruth Grammar Drills and Exercises. That should make the book even more useful, as he hopes.