Home >Mint-lounge >Features >Book Review: Squiggle Gets Stuck

My use of the English language is instinctive. Ask me to break down my sentences into nouns, proper nouns, conjunctions and prepositions, and you’ll find me rushing towards my Wren & Martin.

P.C. Wren and H. Martin, those two dowdy fellows (as I imagine them), would, if alive, probably never be caught taking a leaf out of Natasha Sharma’s book. For this author explains the parts of speech with the help of—gaah!—a doodle (the scribbled by-product of an inattentive mind).

The doodle named Squiggle, who, in an earlier book, Squiggle Takes A Walk: All About Punctuation, had sifted through punctuation marks to clarify her identity, has now got lost in the enormous Oxford English Dictionary. She pales when she discovers Doodle Dude, he of the inventive tongue where grammar doth not matter, who “same-same like you is. Stuck! Here long time".

Old boy Oxford offers them a way out: through the slope of a perfect sentence that they must create together—he thus also hopes to finally rid his hallowed space of Doodle Dude’s polluting speech. Well, I hardly need to sound the spoiler alert, the sentence does get made, and clever Squiggle gets to go home.

But as the sentence progresses, both Oxford and Doodle Dude become increasingly aware of their fondness for each other. Oxford turns out to be not such a stuck-up, inflexible character. And Doodle Dude’s senseless words are not to be sniffed at either.

The book ends with exercises to reinforce in readers their new-found love for grammar. The only exercise I miss here is one encouraging readers to loosen their tongue in the manner of Doodle Dude. Language, after all, is never at a standstill.

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