Sunday, August 24, 2014

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

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun look at bad days
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Bad day just gets worse
Told in entertaining way
So we can enjoy

Fun Look at Bad Days – Even in Australia

While it was never a staple in our house growing up, I know we read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at some point.  Seeing an ad for the movie coming out in a couple of months reminded of the book, so I decided to check it out from the library.  It’s just as fun now and I remember it being.

Alexander just knows it will be a bad day when he wakes up with gum in his hair and trips over his skateboard.  And sure enough, his teacher doesn’t like his picture, his best friend demotes him from best friend to third best friend, and he gets in trouble for fighting when he was only responding to someone else’s taunts.  Will his day ever get better?

It’s hard to describe just what makes this book fun.  After all, we are seeing bad thing after bad thing happen to Alexander.  I think part of it is the attitude that comes through in his narration.  While you immediately sympathize with him, you also can’t help but laugh at his attitude and just how truly rotten his day is.

I really appreciate the fact that his bad day is partially just bad luck (no prize in his cereal box) and partially because of his bad attitude and actions (getting in trouble for fighting).  While the book is written from Alexander’s first person point of view, it does allow parents to talk about how life is unfair and yet how our attitude can affect our day.  Both are important lessons to learn at any age.  (I know I still need them at times.)  Neither of this is preached from the book, yet it is easy to discuss them as the bad events unfold.

One thing that helps lighten the mood is the repetition of the title in the book as well as Alexander’s stated desire to move to Australia.  We never do learn why he thinks that place is better than his home, but it does create some fun that keeps the book from just being a list of bad things that happen to Alexander.

And the illustrations by Ray Cruz are outstanding.  They are simple pen and ink, but they capture poor Alexander and the events of the day with warmth.

It’s easy to see why Judith Viorst’s book has become such a classic.  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is fun to read on good days and bad days no matter how old you are.

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