Semicolons, Cupcakes, and Cucumbers: A Picture Book That Introduces Basic Punctuation in a Fun Way


Language arts is another one of those subjects that is such a joy to teach in my home. My preschooler loves everything that has to do with it. As he gets older, he'll begin to learn the fundamentals of writing, including the use of proper punctuation. Teaching children about punctuation can be quite uneventful without a little creativity. I have some ideas up my sleeve and then of course there are fun picture books like Semicolons, Cupcakes, and Cucumbers to really enhance those tidbits of learning.

Four friends are excited to play together, but each one has a different idea of what they should do. Period (the serious one) believes they should go to the library. Question Mark (the confused one) wonders whether they can chase butterflies…or was it whether butter flies? Comma (the hungry one) just runs on and on about food. Exclamation Point (the crazy one) wants to go on lots of extreme adventures! That are dangerous! And exciting! With everyone only thinking about themselves, their friendship almost comes to a full stop, until a strange and unexpected newcomer shows them how much more fun life can be when everyone works together.

Steve Newberry is a maker of things. As an artist, he exhibited his eclectic mixed media and sculptural artwork in Canada and Japan. As an animator, he founded the website and popular YouTube channel Scratch Garden as a home for fun, educational videos for kids (and people who used to be kids). He lives in Hamilton, Ontario with his wife and two kids. Semicolons, Cupcakes, and Cucumbers is his first book.

The story opens up with four friends, Period, Question Mark, Exclamation Point, and Comma. Each friend has a different personality that sort of parallels the punctuation symbol that they stand for. Period is very simple and enjoys books. Question Mark enjoys butterflies and trying to figure out what day it is. Exclamation Point, to no surprise, enjoys things that are exciting and loud, while Comma likes anything that has to do with food. As the four friends try to plan out the day, their differing personalities make it awfully difficult to decide on what to do. Things only get worse, when they eventually get lost in the woods. They start getting frustrated with each other and then the bickering begins. Suddenly, out of the blue they meet a new friend, Semicolon, that just may be able to help them figure out a solution that will make everyone happy. 

The storyline as simple and straightforward as it is, is just brilliant! What a fantastic way to get kids interested in learning about punctuation. As your child reads the story, they'll begin to notice the differences between each symbol, thanks to the subtle hints throughout the text. The semicolon is one of those symbols that can often be quite tricky, so I love that this is also included in the story. To add to the helpfulness of this book, the back also contains several additional pages of tips and pointers for children to remember when it comes to which form of punctuation they should use. Examples are even provided, so they can see how each one is used in a sentence. Again, truly brilliant!


Semicolons, Cupcakes, and Cucumbers has already made an impact and we've only owned it for a short period of time. The overall theme of the story, makes it especially appealing to very young children, all while teaching them a lesson in punctuation. Of course, I can't forget to mention how humorous the story is. Comma was our personal favorite, since he had a borderline obsession with food, which proved to be quite comical. This is definitely a fun book for the kiddos to read with an educational twist!

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