Holt Elements of Literature
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Author Biography

Judith Viorst

(1931–    )

When her three sons were young, Judith Viorst often tried to help them with their problems—from a bad day to a dead pet—by writing books about people facing the same issues. Her books for children, such as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (1972) and The Tenth Good Thing About Barney (1971) deal with real-life problems children face and suggest ways to look for humor and hope in these situations.

Judith Viorst (pronounced VEE awrst) grew up in New Jersey, where she went to Rutgers University. She says that her first writing attempt was a poem to her dead mother and father—who were both actually alive and not pleased with their poetic fate. Later, Viorst worked on science books for teenagers. Her first published book was Projects: Space (1962), a book on NASA’s space program. She began submitting poems to magazines and then went on to write books for children, young adults, and adults.

Viorst’s work for older children includes books of humorous verse. Many of her poems in If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries (1981) and Sad Underwear and Other Complications (1995) demonstrate how to view life’s small difficulties and worries with a sense of humor. The books also include funny retellings of familiar fairy tales.

Recently, Viorst has continued writing, both for children and adults. Her work ranges from another Alexander story, Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move (1998); to The Good-Bye Book (1999), the story of a young child unhappy about being left with a baby sitter; to books for adults, such as Suddenly Sixty and Other Shocks of Later Life (2000) and Grown-up Marriage: What We Know, Wish We Had Known, and Still Need to Know About Being Married (2003).