Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Elbert's Bad Word"

Title: Elbert’s Bad Word
Author: Audrey Wood
Illustrator: Audrey and Don Wood
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers 1988
Genre: Picture Book
Age Range: K-3

Summary: Elbert is attending a party and he overhears a new word being used. He keeps the word with him until his toe is smashed, and he lets the word out. It is a bad word, and his mother makes him wash his mouth out, but the word remains with him. He visits a gardener, who is also a wizard and she bakes him a cake filled with other words. When his toe is again smashed, Elbert is able to use other words, and the bad word finally leaves.

Response: This is the first book I read for my Author Study. It is one of my favorite books that Audrey and Don Wood have done together. My favorite part of the story is the bad word and how it is given life. It looks like an evil dust ball almost, and as the story progresses it gets larger and larger until Elbert finally lets the word out. It stays with him until he meets with the wizard/Gardner. The bad word makes me think of when I was little and heard bad words. After hearing "bad words" they would stay in my head until I said them, which got me into trouble when I was younger. Children can really learn from this story. They learn how to deal with bad words, and that there are a lot of other words they can use instead of the bad ones. I loved how the wizard and Elbert baked a cake that was full of other words Elbert could use. The illustrations were drawn in pencil, then colored with water colors and colored pencils. The colors are almost faded in color; they are not bright or very rich. The pictures in the book are mostly double page spreads; however they do not take up the whole page. There is a lot of white space, which allows for the colored pictures to really pop. Also, you see the white background as clean with a lot of pictures of the dirty bad word. It is a great way to show contrast throughout the book. The pictures of the party show everyone dressed in black and Elbert is dressed in bright blue. This just shows how lively and real he is which is appealing to children. My favorite picture is at the end of the book when the mallet lands on Elbert's toe. His face is scrunched up and red with pain. His hair is flying, and his body is in an awkward position. There is an outline around his body that almost makes him glow. It is just a great emotion picture, and it creates a lot of intensity so readers will turn to the next page and see what he says. The text of the story is written pretty large and very basic. It corresponds directly with what the pictures show, and that makes it easier for children to read the book.

Teaching Ideas: This book is a good book to share with children if a situation arises in the classroom where bad words are being used, or heard. I would really use this with a Kindergarten or First Grade classroom because it is such a simplistic story. This can be a great way to talk about what vocabulary is, and even introduce vocabulary words in the classroom. You could even have students write their own story that is similar to Elbert. They could write about a time they learned a lesson, such as not telling lies. Another fun activity would be taking the kids to Audrey Wood's website. Audrey Wood Here students can join the clubhouse and explore the site for more great books.

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