Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
Look, Lenore. 2008. ALVIN HO: ALLERGIC TO GIRLS, SCHOOL, AND OTHER SCARY THINGS. Ill. by LeUyen Pham. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375839146 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
Who would think that a book about a character that is afraid of everything could be so laugh out loud funny? This hilarious read aloud introduces Alvin, a second grader in Concord Massachusetts, “which is hard to spell” (an aside repeated after this place name wherever Alvin mentions it.) Although Alvin loves superheroes – he is one himself, Firecracker Man – digging with sticks, mayhem and madness, and his father’s favorite toy Johnny Astro, he is not able to speak at school. He badly wants to make friends with the boys in his class, to become an accepted member of the gang. However, in any frightening situation, Alvin goes mute. He has no problem speaking at home where we meet Alvin’s older brother, Calvin, his tough, little sister Anibelly who “puts her hokey pokey foot out” whenever she is calling someone’s bluff, his father who loves superheroes and uttering Shakespearean curses, and his mom who forgets about him until she sees his empty place at the dinner table.
The simple ink drawings by Pham fit the tone and mood of the book: slightly quirky and humorous. Read ALVIN HO aloud and your audience will laugh as they empathize with this Chinese American neurotic, hopefully the first of many Alvin stories.
Review how his brother advises Alvin to make friends. Ask children how they would tweak the list of things to do to work for them. Discuss examples of Pinky’s bullying. Does his bullying affect Alvin?
Other books written by Lenore Look:
RUBY LU, BRAVE AND TRUE. ISBN 9780689849077
UNCLE PETER’S AMAZING CHINESE WEDDING. ISBN 978068944584
By Cay Geisler