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Elbert's Bad Word
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About the Author

Audrey Wood is the author of many beloved books for children, including the bestselling classic The Napping House, its companion The Full Moon at the Napping House, Caldecott Honor Book King Bidgood's in the Bathtub, Heckedy Peg, Piggies, and Piggy Pie Po, all of which were illustrated by her husband, Don Wood. The Woods divide their time between California and Hawaii. Don Wood is the illustrator of many beloved books for children, including the bestselling classic The Napping House, its companion The Full Moon at the Napping House, Caldecott Honor Book King Bidgood's in the Bathtub, Heckedy Peg, Piggies, and Piggy Pie Po, all of which were written by his wife, Audrey Wood. The Woods divide their time between California and Hawaii.

Reviews

Gr 1-4 A bad word, spoken by a small boy at a fashionable garden party, creates havoc, and the child, Elbert, gets his mouth scrubbed out with soap. The bad word, in the shape of a long-tailed furry monster, will not go away until a wizard-gardener cooks up some really delicious, super-long words that everyone at the party applauds. This single-idea cautionary tale has lively, absurdist pictures of tiara-crowned, formally dressed adults recoiling in horror or cavorting with glee when Elbert, the only child at the party, speaks a word. The transformation of a word into a visible, furry creature, makes its point clearly, but the long words offered as replacement (MY STARS! . . .RATS AND BLUE BLAZES! . . .ZOUNDS AND GADZOOKS!) are as alien to a modern child as the adult garden party with its butler and titled guests. The book may offer a way for adults to tackle the thorny problem of bad language, but good-boy Elbert, with his bow tie and soaped mouth, is unlikely to be a child's favorite story character. Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, N.J.

As the only child at an elegant party, Elbert hears a strange word. ``The word floated by like a small storm cloud. It was ugly and covered with dark, bristly hairs. With a swift flick of his wrist, Elbert snatched the word from the air and stuffed it into his back pocket.'' Soon the word flies into his mouth ``like a little gnat.'' When Elbert is upset a moment later, out comes the word. ``Everyone at the party was shocked. They couldn't believe their ears.'' Enter a friendly wizard gardener, who shows Elbert how other words, uttered with enthusiasm, are more satisfying than the little monster. The next time he needs to let off some steam, Elbert emits Thunder and Lightning! and Blistering Hoptoads! and the act brings him cheers from fellow party-goers. The slapstick events of the party will engage readers from the start; the image of the word as a little monster frees the story from didacticism while making clear that bad words are not necessary, given a few creative substitutions. A comic but sensible book on the topic. Ages 4-8. (October)

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