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Comment: The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text is not obscured or unreadable.
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Elbert's Bad Word Hardcover – September 10, 1988

4.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Hardcover, September 10, 1988
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 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.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; 1 edition (September 10, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152253203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152253202
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,047,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My kids borrowed this book at the library and enjoyed it so much I am purchasing it. My four-year-old enjoys saying and creating his own expressive words - words that "sparkle and crackle." My two-year-old recognizes bad words and is learning acceptable replacements. He reads the book daily. They both tell everyone they meet about bad words. Again, the illustration of the bad word is excellent - much better than having used a word.
Course I will never be able to wash out my kids' mouths because they now know that won't get rid of the word. Replacing it with more appropriate words is what they have learned from this book.
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Format: Paperback
If your child has ever "caught" a bad word, as a character in this book phrases it, then Audrey and Don Wood's "Elbert's Bad Word" is the cure you're seeking. Rather than being one of those pseudo-psychological books of the values and feelings genre, this is a lively, witty, sophisticated story that delivers its message with subtlety and humor. Even adults will love how the Woods have depicted the bad word; it's creative and clever to say the least. It also, and this children and adults will likely find enjoyable, satirizes adults' parties, poking fun at adult party foods, clothes and entertainments. Very enjoyable--and useful for the parent dealing with a case of the "bad word."
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Format: School & Library Binding Verified Purchase
Don and Audrey Wood are gold in the children's book world. I wasn't sure about this book, but after we got it (used & in library binding) I have never regretted the choice in it. I love that it addresses an issue so many of us parents face, our child hearing some 'no-no' word and repeating it in public (notice I didn't say they hear it from us parents...LOL). The book has some British type setting influence and is just illustrated and written so beautifully. I really really recommend this book, even for the younger kiddo's. My son is 2 and he picks this book frequently. We have a large Don and Audrey Wood collection so it's hard to choose sometimes, but reading three a night gets us through them :0)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Laughed at and loved this book as a grandmother. But Mom asked me if she could take the book home with her and I agreed. Soap is also used when those slippery bad words fly out of my grandson's mouth, but actually it should be used on all us adults who wrongly use these words in the first place. None of these words are necessary, but the book is terrific. Love the Wood's books - every one!
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Format: Paperback
I have two young boys (ages 6 and 4) so I'm always on the lookout for a book that reinforces good manners and behaviors to mix into our bedtime reading rotation.

Elbert's Bad Word tackles bad language, one of the less common behavior topics addressed in children's books. Author Audrey Wood brings the bad word to life first as "a small storm cloud...ugly and covered with dark, bristly hairs" that Elbert overhears at a garden party and stuffs into his back pocket (because he hasn't heard it before). A croquet mallet falls on Elbert's foot and he shouts out the word, which transforms into a large monster that shocks the party guests.

As punishment, his mother makes him scrub his tongue with soap.

Elbert searches out help from the family's gardener (his family is wealthy) who also happens to be a practicing wizard. The gardener introduces new words and bakes them into a cupcake that Elbert consumes before heading back to the garden party. Another croquet mallet falls on Elbert's foot and he shouts the gardner's words instead:

My stars! Thunder and Lightning! Rats and blue blazes! Suffering cats! Blistering Hop Toads! Zounds and gadzooks!

While I appreciate the author's intent the book is not without flaws. Few children will relate to the decadent garden party where "Chives the butler tripped on Madame Friatta's feathered boa." And the only standout character is the wizard gardener, who sadly is left unnamed.

In summary, Elbert lacks the charm necessary to connect with readers. However, this book manages to put a face, appropriately a monster's face, on bad language that children will find interesting. That achievement alone makes this book a useful resource for parents. Rating: Four stars.
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Format: Paperback
This is such a cute story for explaining bad words. We love the setting of a stuffy cocktail party. The pictures are great!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of my favorites. It is a lively, imaginative book that is fun to read aloud. I just read it today in fact to a group of second graders and they loved it so much they all clapped at the end. You will captivate your audience and have opportunities to discuss a wonderful alternative to profanity that is logical. As one other reviewer said, this book does lend itself well to a follow up discussion or activity where children can come up with their own strong words. While I don't always appreciate Audrey and Don Wood's illustrative style as as much as others might, it is fun to look through how very elaborate and imaginative they are. You will likely notice new details several times after the first time you read it due to this aspect of the illustrations.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Replacing the bad word with some other powerful words is a good idea in general, and this book deals with what is a very normal developmental thing for small kids in a generous way--much more likely to get results. Hilarious antics and illustrations.
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