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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Alexander, Who's Trying His Best to Be the Best Boy Ever, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Isidre Mones (in the style of Ray Cruz). Atheneum Books for Children, Simon & Schuster, 2014. $21.99 ages 4 and up

"My mom says that my consequences are staying all day in my room with no video games or watching stuff on TV, even though I'm thinking that video games and watching TV might help make my bellyache ..."

Oh, Alexander! It's so good to see you again. We have missed you. Judith Viorst and her wonderful family of 'characters' entertained us time and again when our kids were young. We read, then read again and again her books about Alexander and his family ... then, every other book she had written at the time. I have continued to read anything new even after my own kids were grown and gone. I read them to my students, to schoolchildren visiting the library, and to myself. So, it was with eager anticipation  I opened this new book about one of my all-time favorite boys. Not much has changed.

Somehow, Alexander has managed to devour a whole box of doughnuts. The consequences don't end with the bellyache he gets. No one is impressed. It's Saturday, so staying home from school is no big deal. His mother is threatening consequences after finding the empty box, his brothers are gloating ... and then, his mother follows through on her threat.

Alexander is more concerned about what he might have to do to avoid detection the next time. As his bellyache subsides, he gets to thinking about the consequences he is enduring:

"I'm thinking how good it feels when I'm
eating doughnuts. And I'm thinking how
yucky it feels when I'm throwing up. And
 I'm thinking how much I love eating jelly
doughnuts. And I'm thinking how much
I hate having consequences. And I'm
thinking I hate those consequences much,
much, much more than I love doughnuts."

It marks a huge change for Alexander, who determines that he is going to be the best boy ever ... from now on! It's a tough row to hoe for a young boy who is more familiar with mischief than with manners. Every day is now full of thoughtful consideration of other family members, his teachers and fellow students, his soccer team, even his seat mate on the bus ride to school. Always in his head is what he might be doing rather than 'trying his best to be the best boy ever'.

One night, when he and his brothers are bouncing on Alexander's bed and get caught, Alexander has second thoughts about his new life course. He has an epiphany about what the 'rest of his life' might look like; it doesn't warm his heart. In fact, the bellyache that comes from that realization may be worse than the one he had in the first place. Oh, what to do???

It is sooo good to have you back, Alexander!


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