Kirkus Starred Review - Oct 1, 1988
"In a spoof as lighthearted as the Wood's King Bidgood's in the Bathtub (Caldecott Honor, 1986), a small boy at a stuffy garden party encounters a truly reprehensible word. When Elbert hears the new word and then sees it float by ("ugly and covered with dark, bristly hairs"), he puts it in his pocket. When the soprano sings, it climbs out and into his mouth - and after a neat series of slapstick mishaps concludes with a croquet mallet whacking Elbert's toe, he uses the word to horrendous effect. Elbert's mother then washes out his mouth, while the word sits on his shoulder and snickers.
But the gardener (a magician) makes him a cake of fine, strong words - which later prove both effective and acceptable after another mishap with the mallet. The story is made funnier by it's quiet understatement. ...well designed, satirical (the crowd of adult guests all wear black and supercilious, complacent expressions), and full of action. The bad word waxes and wanes, a wonderfully comic manifestation. A delightfully imaginative book."