I want to tell you about Nuri Mass's The Little Grammar People, and yet when there is only one copy available on Abebooks, and it is priced at $375.00, I am equally aware that most of you are not going to be able to use my recommendation even if you wanted to.
I tell you though, because in my humble opinion this is absolutely totally the best book for introducing grammar to children and if you spend enough time haunting second-hand book stores then you just might get lucky as I did. My copy, shown below, is not in the best of conditions, and it cost $30.00, so it wasn't cheap, but a new grammar text book can cost this much, and won't be nearly as good. Keep an eye out.
In a very similar vein to M L Nesbitt's Grammar-Land, The Little Grammar People is the parts of speech explained in a story. The Foreword says it better than I can:
Here is something entirely new in juvenile literature, a strikingly original play book that, while telling a charming fairy story, gives small children a grasp of English grammar that would take years of dull lessons to teach.The Little Grammar People is intended for a younger audience than is Grammar-Land, and it is proving perfect for Jemimah with two terms of Simply Grammar under her belt.
The story tells of the adventures of Linda and Barry among the quaint little people who lie at the roots of our language. Among the fairy folk there are Sir Pronoun, obliging stand-in for busy little Miss Noun; critical Madam Adjective of infinitely changing moods; Master Verb, for ever being hauled over the coals in the Grammar court on the charge of irregularity; small boy Preposition, enlisting Miss Noun's help in the forming of adverbial and adjectival phrases when Lady Adverb and Madam Adjective are too busy or too lazy to appear in person; Wee Baby Conjunction, King Speech's favourite little handmaiden, who holds his hand and guides him smoothly over all the rocky places. The climax comes when Linda and Barry find themselves in the palace of King Speech and his exquisite Queen Poetry and are told by the gracious king of the life of "lifeless" things.
THe delicacy and imagination that distinguished Nuri Mass's Australian Wild Flower Fairies makes The Little Grammar People a book for all children who have fairies in their hearts; and teachers will find it invaluable in helping young pupils to understand and respect their own language. Celeste Mass's illustrations, individual and finely drawn, are the book's perfect accompaniment.
We use the book very simply, reading a chapter covering one of the parts of speech each week. After Jemimah narrates she tries to think of examples of each of the different types she's been learning about, for example personal, demonstrative, relative and interrogative pronouns or common, proper, collective and abstract nouns. Before each week's lesson we review the one before. So far I have been delighted with what we've covered, and what has been retained. I think we have learned more in the first four weeks of this term than in the previous two terms added together.
We will finish this book by the end of the year. Next year we will continue on working at a sedate pace through our Simply Grammar text and possibly zip through Grammar-Land in third term for a bit of a refreshing break.
If you are able to find a copy of this book, I really do think you will love it. If you can't though, Grammar-Land is pretty good as well. And at less than $10.00 a copy it is way more affordable.
Personally, I think the bookseller selling The Little Grammar People on Abe is off on his own journey to Fairy Land if he thinks anyone is going to pay $375.00 for a book. Maybe he might meet up with Miss Noun while he's there? One of the visitors to the Grammar Kingdom is a school friend of Barry's named Phil. His desire is 'a silly goose'. Don't say I said so, but I think maybe the bookseller's might be as well!!