From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6–As Marciano is descended from Ludwig Bemelmans, so might Alexander Baddenfield be descended from Madeline's nemesis-turned-friend Pepito “The Bad Hat.” Alexander, however, never sees the error of his ways. He is thoroughly bad for his entire nine lives–a circumstance he engineers by arranging for the transplantation of eight lives from his cat to himself. The rashness of youth combines with the recklessness of a person with many lives to lose as Alexander experiments wildly with the third rail of the subway system, the murky waters and treacherous currents of the Hudson River, an Icarus-style flight launched from the Empire State Building, an extremely brief stint as a matador, and more. When Alexander nears his final demise, he becomes overly cautious, immuring himself in his castle and avoiding any possible brushes with mortality. Naturally, that doesn't work, and the world is left a better place. The amusing, if macabre, premise is abetted by Blackall's slightly creepy gray and black-toned illustrations, in which hourglasses, the Grim Reaper, and funeral ribbons are recurring motifs. It's great to see Marciano enlarging his scope and good fun to see him partnered with Blackall.–Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In a departure from the Madeline series created by his grandfather, Marciano explores the good-natured fun of bad children. Alexander lives in a castle in Manhattan and is the last of a long line of Baddenfields. Because the Baddenfields are cursed with dying in “grisly and poetically justified ways,” Alexander dreams of dramatic ways to cheat death. He employs a Dr. Moreau–like surgeon to remove nine lives from a cat and surgically implant them inside of him. Reminiscent of Lemony Snicket, with occasional big words meant to joyfully obfuscate, the slim story bounces after Alexander as he pushes his lives to the limit, flying like Icarus, playing with a python, and bullfighting as a matador, until he has only one life left. Winterbottom, from a long line of Winterbottoms who have served Baddenfields, adds to the droll suspense as he encourages Alexander to use his last chance at life to become good. But who is he kidding? Blackall’s black-and-white sketches, with nods to Edward Gorey, heighten the gothic humor. Deliciously wicked. Grades 4-7. --Angela Leeper