Punctuation is a killer!

Book Week is fast approaching!

Yesterday, I was discussing some of the CBCA shortlisted books with Stage 2 classes, and we turned our attention to “Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie letter” (Black Dog Books), which is edited by Carole Wilkinson.

Now, the Stage 3 students became very aware of the Kelly Gang last term, thanks to their “Gold!” unit in HSIE, and our library focus on bushrangers. I wasn’t expecting Stage 2 students to have much of an awareness about Ned.

A student in one class was asked what he knew about Ned Kelly the bushranger. I was fully expecting something to do with metal helmets, or robbing people, or maybe a connection to the late Heath Ledger (whose “Ned Kelly” movie was mentioned in recent obituaries for the Australian actor.)

“Ned Kelly had a lot of headaches. I saw him on the Nurofen ads on TV.” (Sure enough, I saw the commercial myself last night! Nurofen is a prominent pain medication.)

I read Carole Wilkinson’s introduction to “Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie letter” to another class and we discussed her mention of Ned’s rambling style as he narrated the long letter to gang member, Joe Byrne, and how Wilkinson had to correct Byrne’s spelling errors and missing punctuation.

“What is wrong with having no punctuation?” I asked.

“Full stops tell you when to take a breath,” someone suggested.

“Is that how Ned Kelly killed people?” another student piped up.


“Is that how he killed people? By making people read all those sentences without taking a breath?