Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad Day

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1972.

Viorst respects the child’s world; her protagonist wakes up grumpy, gum in his hair, and as the day continues everything else seems to go so wrong the boy wants to move to Australia. Rather than trivialize the child’s struggles with a happy ending, Viorst simply closes with, “Some days are like that. Even in Australia.”

The examples of upsetting events are realistic and varied and the line drawings compliment the text. Their black and white simplicity at first struck me as boring, but as I read I realized how the lack of color draws attention to the details in each piece of artwork—facial expressions, textures. This was a childhood favorite, and it still draws me in, after all these years.