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Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day



Last updated Friday, June 24, 2011

Author: Judith Viorst
Illustrator: Ray Cruz
Date of Publication: 1972
ISBN: 1416985956
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jul. 2011

Synopsis: Amazon.com Review
"I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake 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."

So begin the trials and tribulations of the irascible Alexander, who has been earning the sympathy of readers since 1972. People of all ages have terrible, horrible days, and Alexander offers us the cranky commiseration we crave as well as a reminder that things may not be all that bad. As Alexander's day progresses, he faces a barrage of bummers worthy of a country- western song: getting smushed in the middle seat of the car, a dessertless lunch sack, a cavity at the dentist's office, stripeless sneakers, witnessing kissing on television, and being forced to sleep in railroad-train pajamas. He resolves several times to move to Australia.

Judith Viorst flawlessly and humorously captures a child's testy temperament, rendering Alexander sympathetic rather than whiny. Our hero's gum-styled hair and peevish countenance are artfully depicted by Ray Cruz's illustrations

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you had a bad day?
•  What do you think is going to happen to him?
•  What is the difference between a good day from a bad day?

Vocabulary
•  Australia – a continent in the Southern Pacific ocean a long way from here.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What do you do when you have a bad day?
•  How can you turn a bad day into a good day?
•  What would you tell Alexander to make his day better?
•  What did you do on your favorite day?
•  Can you go somewhere where you don’t have a bad day?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a picture with one half as a bad day and the other as a good day. The bad day could be in black & white and the good day could be in color.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!