My initial introduction to Alexander happened in chapel during my sophomore year of college. Chuck Swindoll introduced us. I have no idea what chapel was about that day. I was so enamored with Alexander that I couldn’t concentrate on much else.
Alexander is the title character in a number of books by Judith Viorst. The most famous of these books is probably Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It’s an excellent book; it’s the one where I met Alexander. If you’ve somehow missed this book, you need to fix that. Get to a library. Get to a bookstore. Go to Amazon.com. Find the book. It shouldn’t be difficult, and it will be worthwhile.
Over the years I’ve remained Alexander’s fan. I’ve read other books about him–like Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday. It was fine, but it didn’t live up to the whole moving to Australia thing. It wasn’t until I read Alexander Who’s NOT (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move that I knew I had a favorite that at least ties, if not supplants the original. The illustrator, Robin Preiss Glasser, captures the essence of Ray Cruz (the illustrator from Alexander and the THNGVB Day) so well you wouldn’t suspect the two books were done by two different artists. There’s so much detail that while it’s an easy book to listen to, missing the pictures would be a crime.
Viorst beautifully captures the world from Alexander’s perspective. We learn who is important to this engaging and insistent little boy. We learn about his sense of history in the place he knows as home. We learn what he will miss.
One of the most pleasant surprises of the whole book, is that Alexander builds a RAFT in order to leave well. I have no idea if Ms. Viorst knows about the RAFT–the way to leave well so you can enter your new place well. If she didn’t know about it when she wrote the book, she has an innate sense of what it takes to leave well. While Alexander doesn’t go through each stage in order, it’s easy to help children identify where he needed Reconciliation and what he did to get it. Affirmation and Farewells are also easy for children to recognize in the book. As for Thinking about where he’s going? Alexander does a great job of that, too.
I can’t think of a better book for any highly mobile child to have in his highly mobile library. It’s slim and light and would travel easily. I encourage the families I work with to get a copy and to use it as part of their moving traditions. See how Alexander builds his RAFT, and then discuss how your family needs to build its own. You’ll laugh with Alexander. You’ll be sad with him. Best of all, you can move with him. He’s so portable, he’ll easy fit into a highly mobile life. You won’t be sorry you brought him along.