Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday
by Judith Viorst
illustrated by Ray Cruz
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1978
Do you remember Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? This is the second book in that series. Admittedly, series is a loose concept here, and there is no real benefit to reading the books in a particular order.
Alexander is back, and now he's complaining about not having any money. He had money, a whole dollar, but he spent it on gum, silly bets, and renting a snake for an hour. Among other things. He really streches his dollar. Now he's trying to get more money, but none of his teeth will come out, no one wants to rent his stuff, and all the bottles he finds are non-returnable. Poor Alexander.
This is an okay book, and pretty much what readers expect from an Alexander story. The art is the same, the voice is the same, and the setting is the same... which is perhaps a problem. 1978 was a long time ago, especially in terms of money. Alexander gets a lot for his dollar, and he also uses a lot of vocabulary that you don't see so often these days. If you read this book to a child, you may need to explain what bus tokens are, what a drug store is, what non-returnable bottles are, and, of course, how inflation works, and why they can't buy gum for a nickel.
This book is wordy for a picture book, and assumes that the reader can make simple inferences without being told/shown things directly, which are somewhat uncommon in today's picture books. It also makes reference to Alexander calling his brother a Very Bad Name and later Kicking Something Boys Can Never Kick, No Matter How Mean His Brother Is Being, which may have limited its popularity with parents (or helped it, I don't know). Overall, I consider this pretty much of equal quality to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and I don't know why it, and later books in the series have been comparatively ignored. Of course, these days, from the perspective of a nine-year-old, this is historical fiction, which is perhaps why it is not popular with modern readers.
The other two Alexander books are Alexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move and Alexander, Who's Trying His Best to Be the Best Boy Ever.