Thursday, November 4, 2010

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

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, ill. by Ray Cruz
            Picture Book—
            Realistic Fiction
            Grades PreK-3
            Rating: 5 Stars!!
            Summary: Alexander experiences a day where everything seems to go wrong until he is ready to give up and move to Australia. At the end of the day, his mom reassures him by saying that everybody has bad days, even in Australia.

            Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was one of my favorites as a kid! I can remember listening to my mom read it and chanting along with the refrain of “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!” each time that line came up. What makes this story so charming is that everybody can relate to the day that Alexander experiences. We all have our ups and downs, and I can remember feeling the same way when I had a day full of seemingly unfair circumstances and situations that were not to my liking. It is also easy to relate because the things that frustrate Alexander are so real—being squished in the back seat of a car, finding out you have a cavity, and feeling left out at school. Peterson and Eeds point out that this ability to identify with characters is one element that helps to create a quality story, and I certainly agree that this is the case with this book (2007, p. 40). Lastly, each time that Alexander says that he wants to move to Australia, I just crack up. If only it were that easy!
            Alexander’s story is an obvious choice for discussing similar emotions that students may feel. As an adult, I relate to Alexander, and so there is no doubt that students will naturally see themselves in his character and in the situations that he deals with. As a teacher, I think it will be important to bring up the fact that everyone has bad days, and use this book as a jumping-off point to discuss how we can cope with the emotions that come with those days. Perhaps it is unrealistic to decide that we will move to Australia, but children might agree with Alexander on this point and so we could talk about how to confront feelings rather than escaping them. I think it is important to have these conversations when kids are young and teaching them coping skills for dealing with tough times. Overall, as their teacher,  I would hope to foster a safe environment for this type of discussion to take place and make sure students know that I am always available for them to talk to if they are having a bad day.

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