…for so universal an experience, a child's discovery of curse words is the topic of surprisingly few picture booksJim Tobin and Dave Coverly's amusing
The Very Inappropriate Word being one of very few recent examples. In Little Bird's Bad Word, Jacob Grant…offers a comical and gently didactic contribution aimed at an even younger child, with the tale of a little bird who stumbles into the charged realm of curse words thanks to his dad…the book offers a practical solution and the reminder that a few curse words aren't the end of the world, or of a friendship, especially when the bad word was intended to impress, not insult. Grant wisely acknowledges the funny-horrifying duality of his subject.
The New York Times Book Review - Maria Russo
Grant (Scaredy Kate) drolly addresses the delicate matter of cursing in this forest tale. Readers first see red-feathered Little Bird flying alongside his brown-feathered father, who is carrying an earthworm. “Lunch is extra wriggly today!” chirps Papa Bird, who accidentally drops the worm and blurts out, “Blark!” Despite his father’s protests (“That’s not a word for little birds”), Little Bird shouts the expletive to an unamused frog, moose, fish, and ladybug. After he startles his friend Turtle, Little Bird overhears his father explaining, “He’s learning that words can be hurtful.” Little Bird apologizes. On the closing page—after avoiding the birds for several pages—the recaptured worm gets the last word: “Blark.” Grant’s cuddly woodland creatures have expressive eyes whose pinpoint pupils convey shock and widen to convey warmth. Were this real life, one of them (maybe even Papa Bird) would find “blark” hilarious, and Grant himself plays it for shock and humor alike. Beneath the finger-wagging, he leaves the impression that there may be a time, place, and appropriate age for “big bird” words. Ages 4–7. Agent: Steven Chudney, Chudney Agency. (July)
A charming, tender and ever pertinent life lesson.”
Kirkus Reviews " In Little Bird’s Bad Word, Jacob Grant (“Scaredy Kate”) offers a comical and gently didactic contribution aimed at an even younger child, with the tale of a little bird who stumbles into the charged realm of curse words thanks to his dad." The New York Times Book Review
PreS-K—After accidentally dropping his wiggling lunch (a worm), Papa Bird expresses his frustration with the expletive "Blark!" Little Bird, who is always eager to learn new words, begins to shout his new word at all of his friends but is surprised to learn that they do not like it. "Could this new word be…bad?" In simple text and complementary illustrations, this is a gentle, albeit somewhat oversimplified lesson in how using language can sometimes be hurtful to others. In the end, Papa Bird also teaches Little Bird another word by example: "Sorry!" The author sneaks in a small humorous twist on the final page that will more than likely amuse adults. The digitally colored charcoal artwork on white or solid-hued backgrounds is fresh and energetic. The cartoon style and bright colors keep the tone light and engaging, and creative typography is used to good effect. VERDICT A suitable choice for parents wishing to address inappropriate language and discuss the power of words.—Jessica Marie, Salem Public Library, OR
Little Bird loves to learn new words, especially when they are "big bird" words. When his papa drops a juicy worm with a loud "Blark," Little Bird is thrilled to try out the new word. Papa tells him that the word is not suitable for little birds, but of course, this makes Little Bird want to show it off to all his friends. Their reactions are not what he expected. Frog is startled, Moose is rendered speechless, Fish and Ladybug are very unhappy, and poor, shocked Turtle just retreats deep in his shell. Little Bird realizes that something about that word is just plain wrong. Papa helps him make amends, and he knows the right word for that. In an amusing touch, it's the newly recaptured worm that uses the word next—and last. Grant employs a gentle touch with what could have been a heavy-handed morality tale, carefully avoiding a descent into didacticism or saccharine sentiment. Little Bird is innocent and well-meaning, and his Papa is nonjudgmental and patient. Although upset at first, his friends accept his apology, knowing that he never meant to hurt them. The text stands out in bold print in large white spaces. Little readers receive strong visual clues to augment the text via bright, large-scale charcoal and digitally colored illustrations depicting the characters' emotional responses to the events. A charming, tender, and ever pertinent life lesson. (Picture book. 4-7)