Grammar was not my subject. In high school English class, we did a unit on grammar every semester. It always seemed to be the same thing to me. The work was either obvious (I could recite “Grammar Rock” with the best of them) or unnecessarily confusing (English is like that). The book we used seemed authoritative, but there just seemed to be more rules and guidelines in there than anyone could possibly know. There wasn’t, it turned out, but it seemed that way.
I might be decades behind the time in my perception of grammar textbooks, but the criteria I would use to judge are the level of detail (less is more), the level of intimidation, and the clarity of the rules listed.
My first impression of Mignon Fogarty’s new student grammar is that it’s very orange. It’s inescapably orange with a cover reminiscent of the old Chicago Manual of Style (now blue) and a matching orange inside for headings, examples and shading. Its title opts for bravado over brevity: “Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students.” It has cartoon drawings, most featuring the familiar Aardvark and Squiggly (a snail) of previous Grammar Girl books. We can give it points for lack of intimidation right away.