cover image Alexander, Who’s Trying His Best to Be the Best Boy Ever

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

Judith Viorst, illus. by Isidre Monés. S&S/Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-2353-3

After the consequences of eating an entire box of jelly doughnuts hit home, Viorst’s iconic redheaded hero makes a big decision: “Starting this very minute,” he tells his family, “I am being the best boy ever for the complete and entire rest of my life.” In the week that follows, Saint Augustine has nothing on Alexander, who must refrain from bouncing his basketball indoors or dumping spaghetti on his brothers when they taunt him. What’s more, he astutely observes, the world isn’t exactly brimming with positive reinforcement: “Ms. Klimpt says I’m wearing her out and that she’ll give me extra credit if only I would please stop raising my hand.” Eventually, Alexander opts for the dark side, because, “the complete and entire rest of my life, I’m all of sudden thinking, is a long time.” Working in the style of Ray Cruz, Monés falls a little short of his expressiveness and comic range, and Alexander looks almost prepubescent in many pages. But Viorst’s Runyonesque ruminations on the nature of good and evil in a kid’s world are as funny as ever. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)