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

We’ve all had bad days, and one of the worst parts about them is the feeling that nothing is ever going to go right again. Perhaps we should all just move to Australia…where a bad day might get turned upside down and into a good day? Wouldn’t that be nice…but author Judith Viorst understands that sometimes moving to the other side of the world just isn’t possible, so she brings another great comfort. Alexander. And he can relate to us readers having a bad day-because he’s had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day himself.

alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

What Happens?

Alexander wakes up one morning for school with gum in his hair. Than he trips over his skateboard, and drops his sweater into the sink with the water still running. It’s not a good way to start the day. From there things just keep on going downhill for Alexander, even when things seem like they can’t get any worse, they somehow do. His brothers find cool prizes in their cereal, Alexander finds cereal. He gets smoshed into the car without getting a window seat on the way to school, and his best friend Phil has decided that really Alexander is only his third best friend, not his first. His teacher doesn’t like his invisible castle drawing, he can’t get the sneakers he wants because they’re all out, he finds out he has a cavity…overall Alexander is having a monster of a bad day. Will he turn it around?

alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day by judith viorst


There are some people who strongly dislike this book. They feel it sends a negative message to children, as Alexander complains about his bad day and never really switches around his attitude. I happen to like that. Kids are not so fragile that you have to shelter them from the reality of a bad day, sure changing attitude can help, but sometimes days are just so terrible not even that will do. I find that young readers enjoy reading about Alexander’s plight because it’s not only something they can relate to, but it doesn’t coddle them in the sense that the main character magically changes his tune and ends up having a great day-instead it remains pretty bad. In reality, some days are just like that. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days happen, even in Australia.

alexander and the terrible day illustrations


Ray Cruz does the illustrations for this book. They’re detailed and black and white, with the exception of the limited edition that just came out. In the limited edition, Alexander is in color while everything else remains black and white. The facial expressions in particular are quite wonderful…even without color it’s easy to tell by his face that Alexander is not having a good day.

Not Terrible Or Horrible

This is an equally entertaining read for adults and children alike. It’s nice, especially for young ones who might not realize as much, to know that horrible days happen to everyone, everywhere in the world. Give this book a try, it’s defiantly a fun one…well …fun for us, maybe not so much for Alexander.

What do you think? Is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day a good book?


3 Responses to “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”

  1. Simon Cohen says:

    I’m sorry but i am one of the people referred to in the article who detests this book. It is all black cloud and no silver lining. Essentially a miserable book about a bad day. Each page is filled with miserable events happening to this boy and there is no redeming feature at all except to assure him that bad days even happen in Australia too. I realise that children have to understand that bad days happen but ther is no lift here, no chance to see your way through or past a bad day. Try the Blue Day Book – at least it injects some positivity into it.

  2. Whitney says:

    I remember reading this book as a kid. In fact, I lost it behind my desk for a good 6 months and had to pay the library for it. Totally worth it though!

    Sure, the book is all grumpy, but we have days like that, as the writer says. It’s nice to know you’re not alone, and when I read this book to my kids, they have a real giggle over all the bad things that happen to him.

  3. Jacobmc says:

    I love this book. It shows you have to get through days when you have bad ones. I remember also reading it as a kid it always made me laugh. It gets people to realize that not ever one is perfect and life has up and downs

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