Alexander, Who's Trying His Best to Be the Best Boy Ever

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
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Classic character Alexander returns in funny sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Alexander, Who's Trying His Best to Be the Best Boy Ever can serve as a spur to discussions about behavior. And, as with all books that are kid friendly and funny, it can help develop literacy.

Positive Messages

Try to control your impulses, do things that are helpful to others, and don't make others upset.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alexander is extremely human. All kids have impulses to do things they "shouldn't," and kids will recognize themselves and their own struggles in Alexander's story.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alexander, Who's Trying His Best to Be the Best Boy Ever is a sequel to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good,Very Bad Day, which was an instant classic when it came out in 1972. Author Judith Viorst hit the zeitgeist, and the book remains immensely popular. This is the third sequel and is illustrated by Isidre Monés in the style of the original. The books get their appeal by depicting a very real boy with refreshingly honest feelings, who tells his first-person story in a funny, rambling, kid-like voice. In this book, after getting both a bellyache and "consequences" for scarfing down an entire box of jelly doughnuts, Alexander resolves to be "the best boy ever for the complete and entire rest of my life" -- and manages to do so (mostly) for a full week. Alexander's in elementary school, and this book has more text than most books for preschoolers.

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What's the story?

In ALEXANDER, WHO'S TRYING HIS BEST TO BE THE BEST BOY EVER, Judith Viorst's beloved character Alexander resolves to be "the best boy ever" after eating a whole box of jelly doughnuts and getting both a killer bellyache and "consequences." His two older brothers are skeptical: "Yeah, right, lots of luck with that plan." It isn't easy for the famously irrepressible Alexander to tamp down his exuberant behavior. But Alexander tries. He doesn't play guitar when everyone's sleeping. He raises his hand in class even when he doesn't know the answer. And he even stops himself from retaliating when his brothers taunt, "Look at that little angel." Alexander manages to control his impulses for a full week but ends up having a bigger bellyache than before, and he's shown on the last page gleefully gobbling up more doughnuts.

Is it any good?

The book has plenty of trademark Viorst humor, along with very recognizable kid characters, and can serve as a spur toward family discussions about behavior. Because Viorst allows Alexander to tell his own story in a credible kid's voice, the Alexander stories have more text than many picture books. This one's longer than the original and isn't punctuated by any shorter, rhythmic, repeated refrains. It does have a helpful, humanistic message for kids: People aren't perfect, and if you try to be, you'll make yourself miserable.

But is either/or the only solution? Is it helpful to think of doing something difficult for the entire rest of one's life? A kid might think so, and that can be funny.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about behaviors that are hard for kids. What behavior do you find hard to do? Have you ever tried to change your behavior? Did it work? 

  • How does this installment in the Alexander series compare with the previous two books? Do you like it as much? 

  • How do you feel when you get "consequences" at home or at school? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture book and funny stories

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