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Elbert's Bad Word
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Elbert's Bad Word

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  499 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
With humor and insight, Audrey Wood tells a tale certain to tickle anyone shocked to hear a child utter a bad word; and Elbert’s cure provides an ingenious solution. The vivid, hilarious illustrations rendered by Audrey and Don Wood together offer fans a new dimension to their previous collaborations.
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 10th 1988 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1988)
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Caroline Bennett I read this as a child and from what I remember, no bad word is actually written in the book. I think it's shown visually, like black smoke coming out…moreI read this as a child and from what I remember, no bad word is actually written in the book. I think it's shown visually, like black smoke coming out of his mouth and all the adults at the party are shocked.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Apr 22, 2010 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was so much fun--and with a good message, too! I really, really enjoyed it. I think it's such a fanciful portrayal of how children pick up bad words and somehow manage to utter them in the most awkward of times--without really even premeditating it, they just slip out. I thought it was really fun how the "bad word" was like a little demon creature just waiting for someone new to strike. While I was not really a fan of the little boy being made to wash his mouth out with soap ...more
Jan 18, 2010 Ronyell rated it it was amazing
“Elbert’s Bad Word” is one of the first books where both Audrey Wood and Don Wood illustrated the characters. This book is a cute story about how a young boy accidentally picks up a bad word while at an elegant dinner party and gets in big trouble for it and will surely amuse both the old and young audience for many years.

Both Audrey Wood and Don Wood made a great team together by creating a highly creative story about how a young boy catches a bad word, literally. Audrey Wood’s stunning writin
Jun 14, 2010 Eastofoz rated it liked it
Recommended to Eastofoz by: GR Children's Group
Shelves: children-3-to-6r
My children couldn't wait to have this story about a boy who says a bad word read to them (lol!). They were mesmerized by the concept of a bad word being represented as a dirty rat-like creature that gets bigger and bigger until it explodes out of you, as well as how you can get angry and still saw strong words (that sound funny) that aren't considered rude (and get you into big trouble) so that was a good part of the story. It was interesting to have the "bad word" appear as something small (li ...more
Eva Leger
Mar 09, 2011 Eva Leger rated it really liked it
Shelves: julias-books
3.5 - I'll admit that when I saw this in the library I'd have taken it out for myself regardless of how Julia felt. I just wanted to know, I was curious as to how the author would ride this out.
I wish the illustrations would have fit more with the story. I use "so-so" a lot to describe illustrations - if they don't stand out for me usually - and this is what happened here. It really took away from the story for me.
Julia really, really liked this. She really got a kick out of the boy having to
Lisa Vegan
The illustrations are really great. I liked some of the story details, such as musical performances by characters playing instruments that would be seen at a symphony. Parts of the story were clever, such as how some (very funny) alternative words to the “bad word” (which is never revealed) got in Elbert’s mouth, and came out of his mouth.

I really, really didn’t like the washing Elbert’s mouth out with soap when he said the “bad word” and overall didn’t find the story all that interesting.; it
Oct 11, 2011 Dolly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
We found a Netflix treat: we just watched Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories, which features animated adaptations of children's storybooks with celebrity narrators. This story was narrated by Ringo Starr and we just loved the format. It reminded us of the Tumblebooks animations that we occasionally watch online. As the book is narrated, we followed along with a slightly animated version of the illustrations. It was very entertaining and we really enjoyed watching all of the episodes on the DVD.

Danielle Witter
Dec 02, 2012 Danielle Witter rated it liked it
This book was okay, kind of funny, but not what I expected.

Summary: This book is about a little boy named Elbert, who was at a party and was hearing a lot of bad words. Being as young as he was he repeated everything he heard. So, when something fell on his foot, he expressed his feelings the only way that he knew how and that was by saying bad words. His mother took him to the bathroom and explained to him that he shouldn’t say those kinds of words. Elbert was sad, so he walked through the wood
Mar 17, 2015 Stacie rated it really liked it
Author: Audrey Wood
Illustrators: Audrey and Don Wood
Title: Elbert's Bad Word

Plot: Elbert learns a bad word. He also learns the negative, soapy consequences of using the bad word. How will he learn to use better words in the future? Luckily there is a wonderful garden wizard to help him!

Setting: Elbert's House and the Garden

Characters: Elbert, Garden Wizard, Mother

POV: 3rd

Theme: Bad Words, Consequences

Style: Picture Book

Copyright: 1988

Notes: This was very nicely done. I liked the visualization of
Elbert seems to be right at home at the elegant party...everyone's nose is in the air...snottiness abounds. Then a bad word appears and hops onto Elbert's shoulder, waiting for the right moment. A string of silly accidents result in a mallet landing squarely on Elbert's toe...and the bad word appears in all its glory, horrifying the guests to no end...Elbert's mouth is washed out with soap, but that doesn't really help Elbert find a new word for extreme circumstances....lucky for him, the garden ...more
Aug 17, 2010 Judy rated it it was amazing
Stumbled across this book in a discount sale and what a fantastic find! A unique approach to helping children understand how to deal with the existence of "bad words" and how to find alternate ways to express their feelings. Takes a visual approach by making the "bad word" a snickering little cloud that shrinks away when the boy learns how to express frustration in words without using the bad words he's heard. The only potential downside is that the little boy in the story is clearly from a weal ...more
Nov 12, 2008 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents who want to teach children not to use bad words.
Shelves: picture-books
This book deals with the effect on a small child who hears a bad word. Instead of being forgotten it lurks beneath the surface of his mind until it finally comes out his mouth. This book shows how a bad word overheard at a mostly adult garden party creeps inside the mind of a small boy, and later, to everyone's horror, escapes from his mouth when a mallet lands on his big toe later during that same party. And it shows how the chastened boy finds a solution to make sure the bad word has no more p ...more
Elizabeth Littleton
Apr 14, 2013 Elizabeth Littleton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: language-arts
Elbert's Bad Word by Audrey Wood is a book about Elbert who hears a bad word at a party, puts it in his pocket but eventually blurts it out for everyone to hear. This would be a great mentor text to use for teaching descriptive writing. After reading the book, you could show pictures from the book and have students come up with words to describe them. As an extension you could have the students bring in a picture from home or that they find on the internet and write a paragraph to describe it us ...more
Today we team up with Associate Professor Vivian Vasquez’s Critical Literacy In Practice (CLIP) Podcast to bring you two distinct discussions of “Elbert’s Bad Word”. Click below to hear our Just One More Book discussion, pop over to Vivian’s site to hear the story unpacked from the critical literacy perspective, and then share your thoughts on the subject by posting comments on either of our sites.

Listen to our chat about this book on our Children's Book Podcast:

Jan 15, 2008 Monica marked it as read-to-nephew
Charissa, Please don't mind if I add all your 5 star kids books. My nephew is going to have an an awakening when he goes to kindergarten in the fall. He says his father says he can say things the teacher won't appreciate. I remember him barely 2 behind me in his car seat as I was trying to take a cat nap repeating, "Damit, damit, damit" while we were waiting for his mom in the Walmart parking lot.
Jun 30, 2013 Betsy rated it really liked it
A very fun story that gives us parents a good message: when our darlings utter those bad words they hear someone else say, instead of merely punishing the offense, it's a better use of our time and a better service to our kids to give them some BETTER words to say :-).

Kids and parents both will enjoy this one.
May 02, 2009 Amanda rated it really liked it
Recommended to Amanda by: Loretta
This was pretty cute. It really made Caleb chuckle to hear Elbert's strong words. We were just talking about bad word's a couple of days ago, so this was well timed. I like how she calls it "catching a bad word." I know a lot of the kids I working with are catching bad words from the kids in their neighborhood.
Dec 05, 2011 Alissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Has your child ever 'caught' a bad word? That's just what happens to Elbert one day. He heard a new word, and forgot about it until his big toe got hurt and that bad word sprang out of his mouth! Elbert went to visit the Gardener to help him with his problem. Later, Elbert is faced with the same situation and has to put his knowledge from the Gardener to the test.
Jul 20, 2008 Kris rated it it was amazing
My children have all loved this book. I had just barely bought it for my then 4 year old first born, when a babysitter had a cooking accident in my kitchen and let loose a string of eye opening explicatives. When we got home that night, Nate said, "I think I need to read Elbert's bad word tonight. I learned lots of new ones."
Feb 02, 2016 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: f-picture-books
This story reminds me of when a bad word leapt out of my mouth when I was eight years old, having spilled soda all over my lap. The fun I had reading this book and picturing that word hiding in my mouth "like a little gnat" back then.
Mar 15, 2012 Linda rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A novel way to consider how to deal with 'bad words'. Children will pick up any number of bad words from the adults (& big kids) around them, but helping them to keep a stock of alternatives tucked away is a strategy worth considering. & this is a fun way to introduce the topic.
Dec 19, 2008 Tara rated it it was amazing
This is a child's book, can I put it on my list?
We need a children's book section. There probably is one and I just don't realize it. But this book is so
cute, I'm adding it to my list. Great illustrations, a fun way to begin speaking with your children about making good expressive choices!
Megan B
Sep 04, 2010 Megan B rated it really liked it
This is a really good book. If I didn't suspect that reading this book had my kids mentally reviewing naughty words that they may have been exposed to by their mother, I probably would have given it 5 stars... I just had this weird feeling that they were judging me...
Tom Franklin
Feb 21, 2011 Tom Franklin rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books to read aloud to kids. For some reason I felt it required a very posh British accent, which always threw the kids a bit.
Dec 31, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it
52 months - a well written humorous tale with an important moral and O totally got it. Done... Thank you Audrey Wood. :)
Starr Elementary
Feb 16, 2012 Starr Elementary rated it it was amazing
What a cute book! Short and to the point.
Dec 10, 2008 Kerri rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
Man, I wish my parents read me this book instead of washing my mouth out with soap when I said "S**T". My brother still makes fun of me for it! AND I STILL CURSE!
Sep 19, 2015 Robynn rated it really liked it
From the husband and wife team. A book based on a family event. A clever way to deal with a common problem.
Dec 12, 2011 Marilyn rated it really liked it
Very clever and funny tale about how one boy replaced a bad word with mild ones. MY STARS!!!! THUNDER AND LIGHTNING!!!

Apr 12, 2008 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
A great way to teach children the consequences of using bad words. Its funny and cute!
Sep 04, 2008 Lyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
Hilarious! We love this book!
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Audrey Wood studied art and drama at the Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. She has owned an operated a book and import store, taught chldren's drama and art, and traveled throughout Mexico and Guatemala studying Indian folk art. She now lives in Hawaii with her talented family (husband Don and son Bruce, who have both collaborated with Audrey by illustrating some of her books).
More about Audrey Wood...

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