From the beginning, Barrie Gauthier sets forward that his new book, The Black Cat Guide to Grammar Through Light Verse, is intended to provide entertainment as well as education. Many of his verses in its pages do bring out a smile. From the first poem, a straightforward lesson on articles in English, Gauthier leads the reader through a variety of grammar specific lessons and examples in quick verses. Some of his verses have vocabulary and usage lessons. Others interact and play with language from known writers. His poetry playfully challenges the creation of Stephen Foster’s Swanee River and the language of Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender. It professes particular grammatical rules and then twists a few of the rules back in on themselves. A quartet of the verses match different definitions of two words, obtuse and acute, in two contexts, mathematics and personality, to illuminate the similarity and differences in the usages. All of the poetic verse in The Black Cat Guide to Grammar Through Light Verse uses language to play on the diversity of language usage.
Most of the verses are short and use a variety of rhythms and rhyme schemes which is part of what makes them fun. Although the whimsical nature of the book makes for easy reading, some of the vocabulary does not. Some terms, like nomophobia and quoin, are not easily determined from the poem itself. These leave the reader confused or confounded and looking for a dictionary, which may interfere with the enjoyment of the book for some readers.
It is clear throughout the book that Barrie Gauthier enjoys humorous light verse writing. All in all, he has written a book particularly for people who share his understanding of and fixation on the English language. The Black Cat Guide to Grammar Through Light Verse is educational with a large dose of humor.
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