Customer Reviews: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
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on October 9, 2004
The reviewers who criticize the main character's negative tone or run-on sentences, or the lack of a cutesy, make-it-all-better ending, are missing the point of this story. The "voice" of the book is precisely why we love it so much.

Alexander is a real boy--warts and all. When real kids are upset, they pour it all out in a rapid stream of words (and to heck with grammar!)--and of course, everything feels like the end of the world to them at that moment. Judith Viorst captures that very well.

We can relate because Alexander's life is like real life--lots of seemingly minor stressors can add up to one really rotten day; and because it isn't just one problem, there isn't a neat, tidy resolution at the end. In fact, in and of themselves, none of these things are really "problems"--just stuff you have to put up with sometimes. But when it all hits at once, it feels awful.

I think we've all had days like Alexander's: the alarm doesn't go off so you run out of the house late and with "bad hair," you spill coffee on your white blouse (or new tie) just before the big meeting with the boss, you snag your nylons (or lose a button), the pop machine in the breakroom eats your money, you end up having to work overtime, so when you get out to the car you find a parking ticket because you forgot to feed the meter, and then at home, dinner burns on the stove and the kids are fighting! So at the end of it all you collapse in a heap and momentarily consider running away--FAR away. Maybe even Australia! And (adding insult to injury) nobody else seems to care or empathize, because all of these things are just little petty annoyances. It's easy to forget that when one little thing hits you (like a pebble), it's nothing; but when a LOT of things (or pebbles) hit you, it's an avalanche!

On those days, there isn't much you can do but fall into bed and pray that tomorrow will be better--and that you'll laugh about it all later, too.

When an adult reads Alexander's story to a child, the adult can point out that none of the things happening to Alexander are really all that bad--things could definitely be worse; the child can suggest ways that Alexander might have been able to turn his day around; and, most of all, it's good to point out that, despite how grumpy he feels, Alexander still follows the rules and obeys directions (he puts on the jammies even though he hates them, etc.) and doesn't have a "meltdown" or a temper tantrum over it all (though he DOES get a little sour-faced and moody, and that can be talked about as well.)

When one of my kids is having a bad day, I'll often be able to lighten his mood by saying, "Are you having a terrible . . . HORRIBLE . . . . NOGOODVERYBADDAY??" (At my house, you have to start out slow and then get louder and faster--it always gets a laugh.) It also cheers up my sons to compare their plight to Alexander's--and find they are grateful that at least they didn't have to wear ugly jammies or eat lima beans for dinner that day.

There are other books we love more on good days--like "Where the Wild Things Are," or "Green Eggs & Ham." But on a NO-GOOD-VERY-BAD-DAY, this is the one we read--and it always makes us smile.
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on January 30, 2000
Though I wouldn't necessarily admit this to anyone over about 3 feet tall, I must say this is my all time favorite book bar none. I read it as a child and found myself instantly relating to Alexander and distinctly remember feeling pleased that someone...anyone...else had the capacity to blow a day full of minor irratations out of proportion so dramatically. Now, as a preschool teacher I love it yet more because not only do the children have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, but when they do, so too do I. I find myself reading the book out loud with so much drama and emphasis that it is emensely cathartic for all of us! I adore this book and firmly believe that every human on the planet would benefit from dramatic readings of it from time to time.
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on May 11, 2005
I first had this book read to me as a child, and it stuck with me throughout life. I would always remember that anyone can have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (even in Australia). In fact, sometimes I still tell people that I am having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and it someone flickers with recognition, then all is well in the world!

Contrary to what some reviewers say, this is not a depressing book. It's one to keep on the shelf and re-read any day things aren't going right. It has a wonderful message and is beautifully illustrated.

This is a timeless classic. Adults and children will enjoy the experience.
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on August 22, 2002
Ever have a day when absolutely nothing went right? Haven't we all? That's probably why so many children fall in love with this book; we've all been there, even the very young ones, so they can relate just like we grownups can. From the first mishap in the early morning when he wakes up with last night's chewed gum stuck in his hair, to the final indignity of being rejected by the cat (who wants to sleep with his brother Anthony, not with him), with umpteen mishaps and misfortunes in between (lima beans for supper? Yuck. Kissing on TV? Double-yuck!), Alexander's day just gets worse and worse. If you had a day like that, wouldn't you want to hop the first jet to Australia? Judith Viorst has an uncanny knack for being able to put herself in a five-year-old's shoes, and her book lets kids know that their feelings are valid and normal. And at the book's end, Alexander -- and the youngsters -- realize that days like that are bound to happen, even in Australia.

This is a great read-aloud book; the kids usually end up chanting (or shouting) along with the reader "It was a TERRIBLE!! HORRIBLE!! NO!! GOOD!! VERY!! BAD!! DAY!!" and Ray Cruz's pen and ink drawings are a delight and add to the fun. I've read this book to several first-graders and each one of them clamored for a repeat. This is one book that belongs on every child's bookshelf and will probably be treasured for years to come.

Judy Lind
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on September 9, 1999
This book was recently read to my kindergarten sunday school class. While I was listening along with the children, I just had to crack a smile. I've had plenty of days just like Alexander. As a college student, days like this are normal occurances, but it wasn't until I read this book that I realized how much I can blow things out of perspective. Just like in the story, my bad days often begin with my bad attitude while getting out of bed. I truly believe that this book is absolutely essential for everyone to read. If you're not having a bad day, then great...but if you are, it'll definitely put a smile on your face and help put things back in proportion. Just a reminder that good advice for everyone can come from anywhere, even a children's story book.
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As I child I was one of those kids who only enjoy happy joyful oh-isn't-life-one-big-carousel-ride picture books. I shied away from stories that told it like it is. No reality for me, thank you very much. I saw the books, in which the main characters suffered, as objects that could (when read) make me miserable too. I wasn't much for identifying, as a kid. Yet there was one book out there that I not only recognized as chock full o' misery, but grudgingly had to accept as good. There are millions of kids out there for whom, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" is a kind of balm. A book that understands what they have to go through sometimes and how some days you just shouldn't get out of bed (especially if you wake up with gum in your hair). Judith Viorst's 1972 classic is one of those rare stories that hasn't aged one tiny jot. The problems faced by Alexander are still faced by children worldwide. Even in Australia.

Alexander has had better day. The book details every bad, awkward, and annoying thing that happens to him after he wakes up one horrid morning. You might not think that a litany of negative occurrences would be very interesting to read. In this book, they're consistently fascinating. After waking up and proceeding to trip, slip, and slide through his morning, Alexander has to face problems varying from a teacher's disapproval to being told that he's his best friend's third best friend. His mom forgot to pack his dessert, his trip to the dentist reveals a cavity that needs to be filled, he falls into mud, gets bad shoes, and has to eat lima beans. All the while Alexander repeats how he'll probably move to Australia. Finally, when he goes to bed (and this is the kicker) the cat decides to sleep with his brother and not him. Alexander's mom assures him that everyone has bad days sometimes. That goes for the land down under too.

I loved the consistency of this story. There isn't that magical moment where Alexander makes a new friend and everything starts looking up. He isn't taught a preachy lesson about being kind to your siblings and how that kindness will come back to you in the end. No, this is just the ultimate story about those awful days we all have sometimes. Each of us has been through them at some point. They're those days where nothing you can do comes out right (though I suspect the repeated phrase of adults is less, "I think I'll move to Australia" and more "I think I'll move to Canada"). So Judith Viorst really hit on something good when she wrote this book. Illustrator Ray Cruz matches her dead on writing point for point. His Alexander is grouchy, miserable, but ultimately someone a kid can identify with. He has older siblings that tease him and parents that sometimes don't understand. Reading this book as an adult, I noticed for the first time that Alexander's father also seems to be having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day of his own. The black and white pen and ink drawings in this story are fabulous as well. And how did Cruz manage to draw kids that aren't dated? Their hair and clothing could be from 1972, 82, 92, or even 2002 for that matter.

I don't think all kids will like this book, but I do think that all kids will understand it on some level. It may not be their favorite story, but Alexander is a perfect recipient for all the awful stuff that happens to him. Reading this book, kids can feel comforted that at least it's Alexander who's dealing with all these problems and not them. This book is as fresh and fabulous as the day it was thought up. I don't think any child's education is complete without having skimmed it at least once in their travels. It's one of those books that everyone should know.
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on August 7, 2004
I remember this one from my own childhood, and I recall even then commiserating with Alexander as he has to deal with one of those days in which everything seems to go wrong. Waking up with gum in his hair, dropping his sweater in the sink and eating dry breakfast cereal sets the tone for the rest of the story; weirdly enough, it's not negative energy that gets built up, but humor. Who can't relate, I ask you?

I thought that a big part of this story's charm was the run on sentences that narrated in Alexander's first person voice. Example: "On the way downstairs the elevator door closed on my foot and while we were waiting for my mom to go get the car Anthony made me fall where it was muddy and then I started crying because of the mud and Nick said I was a crybaby and...". It's great because that's how kids his age really speak when they are bursting with information and emotion at the same time. I think it is a sign of an incredibly stuffy mindset to pick apart such a well-loved, time-tested winner of a book because it "teaches kids poor grammar". Phooey. What it really teaches is that we all have "those" days, and that we can get over them as Alexander did.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day will appeal to kids of all ages, especially boys. Better yet, it will crack a smile or two out of the reading adult.

-Andrea, aka Merribelle
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on January 9, 1997
I adore this book not only because it's an excellent children's book, but because it appeals to the child in all of us. When I'm having a bad day, I simply pick this book off of my shelf, read it, and find myself laughing my troubles away. It's easy to forget that we shouldn't sweat the small stuff, and this is an important lesson for children as well as for "bigger" children. Alexander helps me keep in tune with my own child's moods and days- I've learned to accept a few more messes here and there. Buy a copy for your office today! It will put a smile on your face
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on April 25, 2005
I stumbled across this book years ago when one of my daughters felt life was totally unfair to her.

The book enabled her to see another child having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Humorously written, it reflects a boy having a day that was even worse than her day. It opened up channels of communication. After that we read the book regulary, and cited the title whenever things were difficult.

This book has been enjoyed and loved by my children, grandchildren, and friends children. Recently, I sent it to a Danish relative. She found it easy to translate the story line to her son. He loves it!

Buy it. Enjoy it with a child you love.
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on November 19, 1997
When I was 16 yrs old I worked in daycare, one day I found this book and read it to my class...It was so great, every child soon knew every word and I was ask to read almost everyday. That was 14 yrs ago, I now have my own 6 yr old son, and this is his favorite book, we read it all the time. Even my mother who is near 70 yrs old laughs each time she reads it. It is a wonderful book for all ages. Everyone can relate to having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!
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