Posted by: jedwardswright | June 24, 2010

“A Very Bad Day”

Alexander bookIf you were depressed as a child, I know a book that you will love.

Heck, even if you weren’t, you will probably identify with it now.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a picture book by Judith Viorst that captures that everything- is-crap-and I-want-to-escape feeling better than just about any so-called adult book out there. It is not a new release – actually it was first published in 1972, but aside from the vintage cars in the illustrations, it has a timeless quality.

Actually, although it is about a boy who is approximately seven or eight years old, it is almost ageless as well. I have heard of Alexander being read to a class of Grade 7-8 kids with great success. That is why I didn’t refer to it as a children’s picture book.

So who is Alexander? He is a child who just can’t get a break, at least not in the day described. He trips, drops things, misses out on treats, can’t please his teacher, loses his best friend, and gets in trouble for just about everything he does or doesn’t do. He is you and me and anybody who has ever had  impossible day.

If you are like me, you have had an awful lot of those days.

Judith Viorst’s brilliance is that not only has she created a character who is universal, she manages to make his struggles just funny enough to make you chuckle without ever, ever compromising the reality of Alexander’s frustration and misery over a day gone bad.

If you have kids or grandkids,  this would be a great book to buy for your little darlings. Even if you don’t, check it out at the library (most will have it) or a local bookstore.

The book in the photo above is the one that my children had, then it was in my classroom, and now it is on my “Grandma Shelf” of favorites. I have kept it all this time for a very good reason. We all have days like that sometimes, and some of us have more than most. It’s comforting to know that Alexander has them too.


  1. I love this book, my children loved this book. It was often used as a reference when someone in the family was having an off day…. we were having a very bad, no good, horrible, awful day. Our son used it with his stepson when he was out of control over not getting way and it was a very successful calm down.

    • Dear CarolJean,
      Alexander’s trials and tribulations became a touchstone for my family as well. Besides the title, we used to say, “Some days are like that, even in Australia” from time to time.
      It is easy to identify with Alexander, because we all have days like that, and people with depression even more so.

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