The Very Inappropriate Word by Jim Tobin

Very Inappropriateword9780805094749_p0_v1_s260x420The Very Inappropriate Word

Jim Tobin, Author

Dave Coverly, Illustrator

Henry Holt and Company, Fiction, Aug. 20, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Vocabulary, Swearing, School, Communication Skills

Opening“Michael collected words.  He found lots of words on signs and a few on TV.  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.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:  Michael loved collecting words: BIG words like SMITHEREENS, LITTLE words like VAST, and FAST words like DRAGSTER.  Then one day, he picked up a new word.  A BAD word.  An INAPPROPRIATE word.  At least that’s what his sister said.  But Michael kind of liked the word and thought he might try it out.  At school.  Bad idea.

Why I like this book:   Jim Tobin has written a very clever and humorous book that encourages children to learn and use new vocabulary.  This book is a brilliant collaboration between Tobin and illustrator Dave Coverly.  Coverly’s cartoon-like illustrations are engaging, lively and fun.  Although Tobin focuses on helping children recognize and refrain from using inappropriate or bad words, I imagine kids will want to share the bad words they’ve heard.  This is clearly shown in the book as Michael shares the bad word  with the other students and they pass the word along.  This means trouble for Michael, but the punishment is perfect for the indiscretion.  The book is one that parents and teachers can use to discuss inappropriate words that kids hear at school and in public.  Make sure you check out the inside and back pages of the book as they are an entertaining explosion of words and expressive drawings.  This book is very well presented from beginning to end.

Resources:  This is a book that teachers and parents can use to find fun ways to engage children in vocabulary building as well as addressing the subject of using inappropriate words in a non-preachy manner.  The book is a resource in its own and will give teachers many ideas.


Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

43 thoughts on “The Very Inappropriate Word by Jim Tobin

  1. Well NOW you’ve done it, Pat 🙂 I’m dying to know what the word is and what the perfect consequences are! This book sounds like a terrific one – we’ve certainly all had this conversation with our kids! – and it’s a topic that I don’t think has been covered yet for PPBF, so I’m thrilled to be adding it to our list. Thanks for a great review 🙂


    • Couldn’t pass on this one Susanna! There is no specific word, just #@$%. You’ll have to use your imagination. The book is written in a very clever manner. Love the very fun and expressive illustrations. Inapporpriate words have become so much of our culture, with many kids hearing words at home.


  2. This looks like an interesting way to discuss the power of language and why some words are appropriate in some settings and not in others. I love how PPBF brings books like this to our attention!


    • Glad you liked my the book. It’s good to address the subject, but I can just hear kids blurting out the words they’ve heard too. But, another way to address the subject. Brilliant idea for a book!


  3. Great review. Thanks for sharing this title. I hadn’t heard of it. Now I am dying to know the story. On an unrelated note I LOVE the new look for your website, I didn’t even realize it was yours when I first saw it. I really need to give mine a facelift one of these days.


  4. This book looks SO familiar but I am sure with its release just a month ago that I’ve not yet seen or heard about it. Until now. Thank you SO much, Pat, for the lead on this must-have for a counselor. What a tool!


  5. What a great way to talk about words – of all kinds. My kids picked up a VAST collection of @*#$ words on the school bus…. so we simply started a list of what we called “bus words that we don’t use in polite company”. We also discovered that there are at least 12 four-letter words that begin with F-U – exceedingly handy for hangman games on the bus because for some reason, even in 30-degree snowstorms, kids never think of “fuel”.


  6. Hahaha! I’ve read several wonderful books about people or critters who collect words. I even collect words! But I’ve never read a book about collecting bad words! That is a cute video about the book. I’ll have to check this one out! Thanks Ms Tilton!


  7. I, sadly, know 75% (at least) of “bad” words. I like Ms. Heavenrich’s idea. We don’t ride the bus for a similar reason (high school and elementary school kids ride on the same bus). I think I would like this book! I think Cupcake might be in for some “words” though 😉 Here: I’m gonna Comic-Cuss – $#@&%!!! 😉


    • It is incredible that they put elementary kids on the same bus as high schools students. I don’t blame your parents. Sadly, many kids hear inappropriate language at home at a young age. I do think you’d enjoy the book Erik!


  8. True story….had a child who transferred in from public, to our Christian school, who used some colorful metaphors. That night when the parent came to pick him up, and I informed her of the problem – she was aghast. Then as they were leaving (and I was locking the door), she whacked him with her purse and let fly with her own stream of colorful metaphors…. 😦 I wish I would have had this book to use then… I still work with kids – so I will look for this one.


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