5 Questions with Judith Viorst

Judith Viorst

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Judith Viorst, the legendary children’s author who wrote–among many many other books–Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Zoey had the opportunity to sit and chat with Ms. Viorst during her appearance at this year’s National Book Festival in Washington, DC.

She prepared for her interview by voraciously reading (i.e., listening to me read) nearly a dozen of Judith Viorst’s books, each and every one of which she loved. She was already familiar with the Alexander books–particularly the original, since I still have my childhood copy and have read it to her numerous times before.

Alexander Judith Viorst

However, she quickly fell in love with the Lulu books: Lulu and the Brontosaurus, Lulu Walks the Dogs, and Lulu’s Mysterious Mission. If you’re not familiar with these books, do yourself a favor and check them out. They’re written in such a wonderful, playful manner that makes them a joy not only to read but also to read aloud.

Lulu and the Brontosaurus

One of Zoey’s questions references a book being made into a movie. In case you were unaware, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day has been made into a Disney film starring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner. It opens (in the United States) on October 11 and is noteworthy in that it is the first live-action adaptation of the book.


I also feel the need to share the following story. About a week after her interview with Ms. Viorst, Zoey’s cat passed away. She was 16 years old and lived a long, full, healthy life. I’d had her since she was a kitten.

Kili’s passing hit us all pretty hard, but it hit Zoey (and me) especially hard. She felt some consolation by helping me bury Kili beneath a tree in our backyard. And she felt a little better when she held her self-proclaimed “remembering ceremony” and ate popsicles around the grave.

However, it wasn’t until I read her Judith Viorst’s The Tenth Good Thing About Barney at bedtime that she truly started to feel better. She was astounded at the parallels between that story and what just happened to her in real life. Halfway through the book, she stopped me to ask, “Did you tell Judith Viorst about Kili? Because this book is just like us!”

So…never let it be said that the healing power of books is just a cliche. They have the ability to reach through time and space and touch you, no matter who, where, or how old you are. This slim book from 1971 made my 5-year-old in 2014 feel as if the author had written the book specifically for her, to help her feel better during one of the saddest days of her life.

And for that, she (and I) will love Judith Viorst forever.

As always, all questions are Zoey’s. I simply prompt her with “clue words” so she can remember. (Make sure you turn on subtitles if you can’t make out Zoey’s questions.)

Thank you very much to Judith Viorst for taking the time to chat with Zoey and to Siena Koncsol at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for helping to arrange the interview.

Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

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