24 September 2008

Hey, Kids! What Day Is It?

It's National Punctuation Day! And in observance I'm bringing back Oz and Ends's PUNCTUATION WEEK, at least for a few days.

To start with, here's a reminder of how the little matter of punctuation still matters to important and right-thinking people. Author Gail Gauthier brought this recent posting from Kirkus Reviews to my attention. Editor Vicky Smith warns authors and publishers that poor copyediting might cost one of their books big.

Consider the case of one of the best young-adult books of the year. It caught both the reviewer and me up with its compelling plot, world-building and character development, but the galley was so riddled with errors that, in the end, I could not read past them. I contacted the publisher in the hopes that these had been corrected in the finished book and discovered that, alas, many--too many--had not. They were errors of the most basic sort, the kind that we all learned about (and then many of us forgot) in eighth-grade grammar. . . .

After consultation, the reviewer and I agreed that although we both felt the story deserved a starred review, it should not receive one; we felt we had to look at the book as a whole, and the whole included too many grammatical faults to ignore. The publisher has assured me that the errors will be corrected in the second printing.
The publisher could have tried to bull through the criticism as the McCain-Palin campaign has been doing, claiming that what look like mistakes were correct all along. But the fact that the publisher plans to correct those items shows that they weren't part of the narrative voice, or reflections of an alternative style sheet. They were errors.

As for which book that was, Monica Edinger reported that most children's-lit people were guessing The Hunger Games, published by Scholastic.

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