Biography of Judith Viorst
an American author, newspaper journalist, and psychoanalysis researcher. She is perhaps best known for her children's literature, such as The Tenth Good Thing About Barney (about the death of a pet) and the Alexander series of short picture books.
Viorst is a 1952 graduate of the Newark College of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. In 1968, Viorst signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War. In the latter part of the 1970s, after two decades of writing for children and adults, she turned to the study of Freudian psychology. In 1981, and after six years of study at Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, she became a research graduate there.
Viorst lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, political writer Milton Viorst. They have three grown sons: Anthony Jacob Viorst, an attorney practicing in the Denver, Colorado area; Nicholas Nathan "Nick" Viorst, an Assistant District Attorney for New York County, and Alexander Noah Viorst.
She received the Foremother Award for lifetime achievements from the National Research Center for Women & Families in 2011.
Writing for Children
Among Viorst's books for children is the "Alexander" series (including Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), whose narrator is a 5-year-old boy who lives with his parents and two brothers, Anthony and Nick named for Viorst's own three sons.
Viorst's book 'Sad Underwear' is a collection of poems that examines a wide variety of feelings and experiences from a child's point of view.
Writing for Adults
Viorst's books for adults include nonfiction psychology books such as "Grown-up Marriage", Imperfect Control, Necessary Losses, and People and other Aggravations. Viorst is also a newspaper columnist and has written frequently for The New York Times and The Washington Post, and has been a contributing editor to Redbook magazine.
She also penned the musical Love & Shrimp with Shelly Markam. The Ensemble Theater of Cincinnati hosted a performance of Love & Shrimp, starring Deb Girdler, Pamela Myers and Shelley Bamberger, in the spring of 1999.
Judith Viorst's Works:
Children's Literature and Poetry
I'll Fix Anthony, illustrated by Arnold Lobel (1969) New York: Harper & Row.
Try It Again, Sam: Safety When You Walk, illustrated by Paul Galdone (1970)
My Mama Says there Aren't any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, or Things, illustrated by Kay Chorao (1973)
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, illustrated by Erik Blegvad (1987)
The Good-bye Book, illustrated by Kay Chorao (1988)
Super-Completely and Totally the Messiest, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (2001)
Lulu and the Brontosaurus, illustrated by Lane Smith (2010) New York: Atheneum.
Poems for Children and Their Parents Series
If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries: Poems for Children and their Parents, illustrated by Lynne Cherry (1984)
Sad Underwear and Other Complications: More Poems for Children and Their Parents, illustrated by Richard Hull (1995)
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day illustrated by Ray Cruz (1972). New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0-689-70428-3
Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday illustrated by Ray Cruz (1977). New York: Atheneum.
Alexander, Who Is Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser "in the style of Ray Cruz" (1995) New York: Atheneum.
Alexander Related Titles
Absolutely, Positively Alexander: The Complete Stories, collects the three books in the series in one volume
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: A Musical
Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous, Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days: An Almost Completely Honest Account of What Happened to Our Family When Our Youngest came to Live with Us for Three Months, (an adult memoir of Judith Viorst and her real son, Alexander) (2007)
Adult Literature, Memoirs, Advice Books, and Poetry
People and Other Aggravations (1971)
Yes, Married: A Saga of Love and Complaint (1972)
A Visit from St. Nicholas to a Liberated Household illustrated by Norman Green (1977)
Love and Guilt and the Meaning of Life, Etc. illustrated by John Alcorn (1979)
Necessary Losses: The Loves, Illusions, Dependencies, and Impossible Expectations That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Grow (1987)
Murdering Mr. Monti: A Merry Little Tale of Sex and Violence (1994)
Imperfect Control: Our Lifelong Struggles With Power and Surrender (1998)
You're Officially a Grown-up: The Graduate's Guide to Freedom, Responsibility, Happiness, and Personal Hygiene (1999)
Grown-Up Marriage: What We Know, Wish We Had Known, and Still Need to Know About Being Married (2003)
The Age-related Poetry Series
It's Hard to Be Hip Over 30 & Other Tragedies of Married Life (1968) (Reprinted in 1999 by Persephone Books)
How Did I Get to Be 40 & Other Atrocities illustrated by John Alcorn (1976)
When Did I Stop Being 20 & Other Injustices: Selected Poems from Single to Mid-Life, illustrated by John Alcorn (1987)
Forever 50 & Other Negotiations, illustrated by John Alcorn (1989)
Suddenly 60 & Other Shocks of Later Life, illustrated by Laurie Rosewald (2000)
I'm Too Young to Be 70 & Other Delusions, illustrated by Laura Gibson (2005)
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Judith Viorst Poems
If I Were In Charge of the World
If I were in charge of the world I'd cancel oatmeal, Monday mornings, Allergy shots, and also Sara Steinberg.
It is true love because I put on eyeliner and a concerto and make pungent observations about the great issues of the day Even when there's no one here but him, And because
Since Hanna Moved Away
The tires on my bike are flat. The sky is grouchy gray. At least it sure feels like that Since Hanna moved away.
Mother Doesn't Want a Dog
Mother doesn't want a dog. Mother says they smell, And never sit when you say sit, Or even when you yell.
Fifteen, Maybe Sixteen Things to Worry A...
My pants could maybe fall down when I dive off the diving board. My nose could maybe keep growing and never quit. Miss Brearly could ask me to spell words like stomach and special. (Stumick and speshul?)
Happiness Is a clean bill of health from the doctor, And the kids shouldn't move back home for more than a year,
Some Things Don't Make Any Sense at All
My mom says I'm her sugarplum. My mom says I'm her lamb. My mom says I'm completely perfect Just the way I am.
I wanted small pierced earrings (gold). You gave me slippers (gray). My mother said that she would scold Unless I wrote to say
I'm learning to say thank you. And I'm learning to say please. And I'm learning to use Kleenex, Not my sweater, when I sneeze.
The Pleasures of Ordinary Life
I've had my share of necessary losses, Of dreams I know no longer can come true. I'm done now with the whys and the becauses. It's time to make things good, not just make do.
I'd planned to be Heathcliff's Cathy, Lady Brett, Nicole or Dominique or Scarlett O'Hara. I hadn't planned to be folding up the laundry In uncombed hair and last night's smudged mascara,
Some Advice from a Mother to Her Married...
The answer to do you love me isn't, I married you, didn't I? Or, Can't we discuss this after the ballgame is through? It isn't, Well that all depends on what you mean by 'love'. Or even, Come to bed and I'll prove that I do.
Three (O'clock) in the Morning
At three in the morning I used to be sleeping an untroubled sleep in my bed. But lately at three in the morning I'm tossing and turning, Awakened by hypochondria, and gas, and nameless dread,
The Honeymoon Is Over
The honeymoon is over And he has left for work Whistling something obvious from La Boheme And carrying a brown calfskin attache case
I wanted small pierced earrings (gold).
You gave me slippers (gray).
My mother said that she would scold
Unless I wrote to say
How much I liked them.