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Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog by Kitty…

Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog (2006)

by Kitty Burns Florey

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Don't expect to learn how to diagram sentences. A quick (very), fun, engaging book. Well worth the couple of hours it will take you to read it. ( )
  mkunruh | Nov 13, 2016 |
I've never liked writing, but in high school I discovered that I could enjoy grammar and have fun with diagramming sentences. I haven't been asked to diagram a sentence since high school, and the practice receded from my memory until I came across this book. The author reminisces about the nun who taught her to diagram sentences, provides a history of the origin and eventual decline of sentence diagramming, and comments on diagrams of sentences taken from the works of well known authors like Gertrude Stein, Henry James, Ernest Hemingway, James Fenimore Cooper, Marcel Proust, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Eudora Welty. Some of these authors would have been taught to diagram sentences during their school days. Florey considers whether sentence diagramming made them better writers or imposed boundaries that they had to escape in order to succeed. Despite her professed love for sentence diagramming, the author is doubtful about its effectiveness as a teaching method. I was disappointed to learn from the acknowledgments at the end of the book that another person had created the complex diagrams that illustrate the book. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jun 6, 2016 |
My (then 13 yo) son loved this even more than I did! Great fun. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
I owe this thoroughly delightful read to a review another LTer and it was the perfect accompaniment to waiting for my car at the shop: a quick, easy read that nonetheless had some meat to it. Not only did I enjoy revisiting the process of diagramming sentences, but I also appreciated Florey's entertaining examples (largely from literature) and her comments about other, more or less related, topics. She is an engaging writer and seems like a person I would like to know. This book was a lot of fun
  rebeccanyc | Jun 5, 2013 |
How embarrassing is that? I loved diagramming sentences when I was in grade school, and I often thought my college students would have constructed much better sentences if they had learned to do so. I mean I REALLY loved diagramming sentences! When this book was mentioned and I knew I had not read any books in that category of the Dewey Decimal system, I grabbed it. I had a lot of fun reading it - just took a couple of hours, and learned some interesting things. There was a little bit about the history of grammar and the development of grammatical rules along with some discussion of the necessity of those rules. Opinions about both sides of that issue were presented mentioning things I had not thought about as it is a topic I am ambivalent about.

I especially loved the chapter about famous authors. Florey determined if those authors were likely to have learned diagramming at the time and place they were educated, then examines their writing to decide if they benefitted or not. It was just plain fun and I learned still more about writing and styles.

There was also a bit about grammar and social class, always interesting topic to me.

I had fun reading this book, and recommend it to those who are interested in sentence diagramming. I would think that would be a pretty specific audience. ( )
2 vote mkboylan | May 24, 2013 |
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Diagramming sentences is one of those lost skills, like darning socks or playing the sackbut, that no one seems to miss.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156034433, Paperback)

In its heyday, sentence diagramming was wildly popular in grammar schools across the country. Kitty Burns Florey learned the method in sixth grade from Sister Bernadette: "It was a bit like art, a bit like mathematics. It was a picture of language. I was hooked." Now, in this offbeat history, Florey explores the sentence-diagramming phenomenon, including its humble roots at the Brooklyn Polytechnic, its "balloon diagram" predecessor, and what diagrams of famous writers’ sentences reveal about them. Along the way Florey offers up her own commonsense approach to learning and using good grammar. Charming, fun, and instructive, Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog will be treasured by all kinds of readers, from grumpy grammarians and crossword-puzzle aficionados to students of literature and lovers of language.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:21 -0400)

A study of the origins and evolution of the sentence-diagramming phenomenon examines what diagrams of famed writers' sentences reveal about them and their works and offers the author's personal approach to learning and using good grammar.

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Kitty Burns Florey is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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