The Very Inappropriate Word

( 1 )

Overview

Michael loves interesting words (hard words like ELASTIC, little words like VAST, and big words like SMITHEREENS) and is always on the lookout for words to collect. Then one day, he picks up a new word. A bad word. An inappropriate word. At least, that’s what his friend says. But Michael kind of likes the word. He thinks he might try it out.

At school.

Bad idea.

 

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Overview

Michael loves interesting words (hard words like ELASTIC, little words like VAST, and big words like SMITHEREENS) and is always on the lookout for words to collect. Then one day, he picks up a new word. A bad word. An inappropriate word. At least, that’s what his friend says. But Michael kind of likes the word. He thinks he might try it out.

At school.

Bad idea.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Michael is a budding logophile: “He picked up new words at practice and downtown and even in school, where Mrs. Dixon gave the kids one new spelling word every day.” But when Michael picks up an “inappropriate” word (albeit one that grownups use with impunity) on the school bus, he can’t resist helping it go viral (“Michael could see there was something kind of bad about it. But there was also something about it that he kind of liked”). This is Tobin and Coverly’s second collaboration, after Sue MacDonald Had a Book, and they prove once again that a low-key reportorial style and perpetually surprised–looking characters are a great combination. Readers (and teachers) will especially like Coverly’s portrayal of the words as cleverly literal word balloons that Michael stashes under his bed (a “smithereens” bubble crumbles; “fling” resembles a Frisbee) or, in the case of the noxious green grawlix-filled bubble, surreptitiously shares under the playground slide. Best of all, Mrs. Dixon doesn’t quash Michael’s interest in vocabulary, instead subtly encouraging him to look past “bad” words to far more interesting ones. Ages 5–9. Agent: Melissa Chinchillo, Fletcher & Company. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
A New York Times Editor's Choice

"Tobin's story celebrates language, whether the words are good, bad or just plain fun." —The New York Times

"Exaggerated cartoony fun on a mostly untouched topic—it’s pretty @#*! good." — BCCB

"The only problem with this book will be in trying to keep children from sharing their own inappropriate words." — School Library Journal

"[Tobin and Coverly] prove once again that a low-key reportorial style and perpetually surprised–looking characters are a great combination."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Praise for Sue MacDonald Had a Book:

“The ink-and-watercolor pictures will hook kids with the adventure scenarios, the warm feelings, and the simple, chanting text, which includes a question-answer refrain. An obvious choice for classroom sharing, this will make an energetic read-aloud in any setting.” —Booklist

“The cartoony illustrations and smart verse make for an engaging read-aloud—or sing-along.” —Publishers Weekly

“This lively grammar-related adventure is a sing-along. . . . Done in vivid colors, the ink-and-watercolor illustrations feature high-energy cartoon figures. . . . This educational romp . . . is a strong choice for classroom and library collections.” —School Library Journal

“A fun-filled way to introduce and emphasize vowel sounds, this is particularly well-suited for use in the classroom or for a parent/child sing-along.” —Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
Michael collects words. He finds words written on signs, coming over TV, spoken during baseball practice, and even in school. He likes big words for little things and little words for big things; he likes easy words for hard things and hard words for soft things. Michael keeps all his words in a box under his bed. Then one morning he hears a new word on the school bus. The reader knows this is an unmentionable word because it appears in the speech bubble in the symbols traditionally used for swear words. When Michael repeats the word to his sister, she tells him this is a very inappropriate word. His friend tells him that inappropriate means bad, so Michael hides the word in his pocket. But now he hears the word used frequently—by an adult baseball player, by his mom, and on the radio. Michael decides he sort of likes the word and says it loudly on the school playground. Soon everybody is repeating the word. Michael’s teacher deals with the problem in a creative way. She asks him to go to the library and dig up some new spelling words. Michael is delighted. He finds all sorts of new words and in the process forgets the very inappropriate word. The actual word does not appear in print, so readers will likely fill in their own guesses. The cartoonlike illustrations are active and busy with many images vying for attention on each page. Michael’s collected words are shown in cartoon speech bubbles. A fun book for individual reading or sharing with an adult. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.; Ages 5 to 8.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Michael collects words. He enjoys finding new ones on signs, on TV, at baseball practice, and at school. The humorous ink and watercolor cartoon illustrations represent the words graphically-"sudsy" appears in a soap bubble, "slugger" on a baseball, etc., and help to illuminate their meanings. Michael happily collects the words until the day he hears a new one on the school bus. It is depicted as an angry-looking scribbled mess with symbols instead of letters. Michael picks up the word to add it to his collection. His older sister, however, says, "Michael! That is a very inappropriate word!" Unsure, he asks his friend what "inappropriate" means. When "Bad!" is the answer, Michael hides the word in his pocket. Suddenly aware, he hears it in more places. He cannot resist showing it to his friends at school. His kind teacher redirects him to the library and gives him the job of finding different new words. Using stacks of books with well-known titles, Michael happily gathers fascinating words such as "vibrato," "shenanigans," and "nimbus." His collection grows so large, he eventually loses track of the very inappropriate term. The only problem with this book will be in trying to keep children from sharing their own inappropriate words. For a fun storytime, pair this title with Audrey Wood's Elbert's Bad Word (Harcourt, 1988).—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Michael's love of words is celebrated in speech bubbles and comedic situations. Michael notices words everywhere, from signs on the highway to commercials on the television. At school, his teacher, Mrs. Dixon, gives the class a new spelling word every day. He saves his words in a box under his bed. Everything is fine until one day, on the school bus, he hears a new word that is "very inappropriate." Though he knows the word is bad, there is something Michael likes about the word, and he continues to share it. Soon, all the kids at school are using it. When wise Mrs. Dixon gets wind of the situation, she comes up with her own way to replace this word with something more appropriate. It's nice to see a boy (and a boy of color, no less) be so interested in words. Comic-book elements work well with Coverly's droll cartoon style, especially the frequent use of shaped speech bubbles, which give his word collection delightful physicality. Michael's eyes bulge and his ears flap, making him easy to find on the energetic pages. (His father's eyes bulge too, but in a distracting way that makes it look like he has an extra eye, something children are sure to notice.) Teachers will enjoy this amusing celebration of vocabulary and will find many ways to spur their students' imaginations into creating speech bubbles of their own. Young word lovers will have lots to peruse here. (Picture book. 4-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805094749
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 8/20/2013
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 149,295
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.42 (w) x 11.18 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

JIM TOBIN is an award-winning biographer and the author of Ernie Pyle’s War and To Conquer the Air. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

DAVE COVERLY is a nationally syndicated cartoonist whose Speed Bump cartoons appear in more than 200 newspapers, including The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and Parade magazine. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 8, 2014

    Michael loves words.  "He picked up new words at practice a

    Michael loves words.  "He picked up new words at practice and downtown and even in school. where Mrs. Dixon gave the kids one new spelling word every day."  He collects them, savours them and digests them.  He is a true word-freak.  (and I say that in the kindest sense of the word.)  One day Michael bumps into a word that is "inappropriate', and "Michael could see there was something kind of bad about it.  But there was also something about it that he kind of liked." He takes the word, tucks it in his brain and decides to pull it out and use it at school of all places to test the waters of its impact.  All words have power and this one certainly packed a punch.  Mrs. Dixon, true to her teacher  training and skills uses this as a teachable moment and encourages Michael in his vocabulary building by substituting inappropriate words for ones more interesting and acceptable to those around him.  




    The illustrations are cartoon -like and full of detail and expression. Michael's favourite words are encased in literal replicas of the true meaning of the words themselves.  For example the word "fling" resembles a Frisbee and the word "squid" is written on a card the shape of a squid.  This makes the words fun to pronounce and easier to identify if the word is an unknown.  I really liked that concept.




    Rather than be shocked at the very idea of an inappropriate word escaping from our child's lips may we all be like dear Mrs. Dixon who is full of wisdom and diplomacy. May we rise to occasion of making this a teachable moment when we recognize and acknowledge that such words do indeed exist but that we as responsible and respectful human beings must resist the temptation of pulling those words out of our vocabulary arsenal and instead substitute those improper words with others of a much more noble and dignified meaning making the world a much more enjoyable place to live.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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