Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

7 Feb

Every day cannot always be a great day! As adults that statement holds true, but some children may find it challenging in coping with this life lesson. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst captures the essence of a bad day through a child’s eyes. Excerpt from book:

“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair…I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”

This book illustrates with humor and mild sarcasm that having a bad day is not forever and despite nothing ever going right for Alexander he gets through the day. The  pen and ink drawings enhance the story by depicting key events throughout the story and also embody Alexander’s emotions. This story is a welcome addition to any primary library collection.

Book Cover

Insight:

This story makes me think of my 2.5 year old daughter. My husband and I joke that she can go from the happiest girl in the world to the meanest, stubbornest little thing in milliseconds. Alexander, poor kid is having a bad day. No matter what he does, he just can’t seem to catch a break. This book makes bad days seem almost comical—at least in a book. The illustrations capture the emotions Alexander is feeling and I can almost feel his bad day.

Suggested activity:

Use this book to discuss feelings. People are not always happy, and we need to have outlets to express our sadness, anger and hurt. Have students make a list of ways  to cope with a bad day. How can they make themselves feel better? Is it a good book? A walk outside? Or time spent with Mom, Dad or a special person?

Bibliographic Citation:

Viorst, J. (1972). Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. New York: Atheneum.

Additional Book Review:

It’s been more than 30 years, and the luck of the put-upon young protagonist in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day hasn’t changed one bit. Judith Viorst’s ever-popular picture book, originally published in 1972, still holds plenty of appeal for children.

Atheneum has issued a special limited edition of this title, with a new preface for young readers penned by Viorst (aka, “Alexander’s mom”) and illustrator Ray Cruz. In addition to a snazzy dark-red cover, the interior artwork, originally rendered in finely detailed pen and ink, has been digitally colorized to highlight Alexander—and only Alexander—in each illustration, wonderfully emphasizing his frustration and sense of isolation as he encounters one rotten experience after another, from waking up with gum in his hair to lima beans for dinner.


Fleishhacker, J. (2009, October 12). Fresh approaches: Noteworthy new editions and reissues. [ Review of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day]. School Library Journal online. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6701679.html

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