Favorite Picture Book and Other Matters of Aesthetics
One of my all-time favorite books is a complete masterpiece by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz. The duo of Viorst writer and Cruz illustrator in, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, has always been a favorite of mine. The team of writer and illustrator were able to really find common ground in the storytelling and creating very convincing imagery. The book and its text and illustrations work hand in hand to express a very entertaining and engaging story.
This incredible story details a disheartening day of a young boy name, Alexander. His day is an account of hi one problem and disappointment after another. It has always been a fun read for me as a child and adult alike. I found as a child, I was able to identify how the little things that happened in the day would pile up and make the whole day seem bad. As an adult I can identify with the “When it rains it pours” complex we get into as people and love the expressions that the illustrator has created for Alexander. Ray Cruz must have had many children he referenced as he was working on this piece, as his illustrations are spot on.
The book not only is very accurate in the perspective of a young boy may have, the illustrations are very expressive as well. The illustrator has chose to work in a black pen and use hatching and some pointillism to create detail and shadow in the imagery. While some might find the lack of color disappointing, I think it is another element to push the dynamic of the book as each vignette has rich detail of texture, and adds to the dramatic expressions of the character. The images are incredibly detailed and show very accurate gestures and expressions that go hand in hand with the storyline.
In my opinion one of the best lines from the book is toward the end where Alexander comments on dinner then the kissing he saw on TV. The simple phrasing any young boy can identify with, and every parent has heard. Then the complement of the illustration is priceless. The wild hair created for the character adds to the overall look and characterization of Alexander. Both the text and illustration work hand in hand to say a big “YUCK” with out spelling the word out.
While some might say the book is overall a little negative, I find it to an extreme that makes it humorous. I believe this is the overall idea that the author had in mind. They wanted to show a child having a bad day and show us how to laugh at these little things that might bug us. The closing of the story wraps up the concept with “My mom says some days are like that” and gives the story grounding that we all have bad days (Viorst, 1987). Together the team of Viorst and Cruz address this issue of a bad day and create fun and entertaining book that we can all relate to.
AIO Classroom, Children's Literature | ENG4010 P01. Week 1-4, Web. 28 November 2011.Viorst, Judith, and Ray Cruz. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. New York: Aladdin