The Very Inappropriate Word

Jim Tobin, illus. by Dave Coverly. Holt/Ottaviano, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9474-9
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.)
Reviewed on: 06/03/2013
Release date: 08/20/2013
Genre: Children's
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