Duck Duck Book

26 – elements of style
11.22.2005, 12:03 am
Filed under: literature

The elements of style / by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White ; illustrated by Maira Kalman.
New York : Penguin Press, 2005.
[MCL call number: 808.042 S927ei 2005; 21 copies, one hold]

Here is the classic manual of style, written for use in the United States. No doubt most of you have not only heard of this book but have used it, and perhaps you’re wondering why I think it’s urgent to inform you of its importance. The Elements of Style is a classic, it’s true, and among people who enjoy writing or who have been made to learn to write it needs no introduction.

But this particular edition is gracefully enhanced with paintings by the talented children’s book author and illustrator Maira Kalman. Kalman’s paintings bring Strunk & White’s usage examples to life in unexpected ways. For example: “Overly, muchly, thusly” (page 110, an ostentatious lighthouse) “Bread and butter was all she served” (page 20, a nurse and two children sitting down to a meal, with some lovely modern paintings in the background), “None of us is perfect” (page 19, a room full of people).

If you still need convincing that this is a great idea, take a peek at some of Kalman’s earlier triumphs — these include Stay Up Late, with words (from the song) by David Byrne (New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Viking Kestrel, 1987) and Chicken Soup, Boots (New York, N.Y. : Penguin Books, c1993), a fanciful exploration of the world of the jobs that adults have. You can look at illustrations from many of Kalman’s books at her website.


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