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Friday, March 18, 2011

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, And Other Man-Made Catastrophes, written by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Schwartz & Wade, Random House. 2010. $18.99 ages 7 and up

"I was still worried about
lightning striking me, making
me crispy on the outside
and tender on the inside,
when I popped out of bed
the next morning.
But I wasn't worried for
long, on account it took
my clothes 00:05 seconds
to jump on me, according
to Calvin's scientific stopwatch."

I repeat...these books should be read in second and third grade classes everywhere! I guarantee that your students, or children at home, want to meet Alvin and his family. Alvin doesn't talk a lot, especially at school, but his thinking cap is always on and his brain is constantly considering the state of his world. First person narrative can a most effective way of telling a story, when you get it right! Lenore Look gets it right every is as if she lives inside Alvin's head and hears everything that makes its way there:

"My name is Alvin Ho. I was born scared, and I am still scared. I never thought I'd live to see myself in another book, on account I could've very well died camping in that last one."

Alvin is petrified to be taking part in a school field trip. Just imagine what might happen! The tour hosts, dressed as Ralph Waldo Emerson  and Louisa May Alcott scare him, the graveyard terrifies him and just getting to the bathroom is a major challenge in his hyper-charged state. Read chapter one, and you are off on another grand adventure with Alvin in the lead.

Nothing much has changed since we first met. Alvin still totes his PDK (Personal Disaster Kit) with him wherever he goes. He is still making lists that should make his life easier. He still needs help to guide him through the muddy waters of boy/girl relationships. He still looks to his dad for wise counsel when he is struggling with his many issues. Dad is always respectful of Alvin's foibles and helpful when everything looks bleak. Through it all, he remains a character that kids will relate to, and remember for his charm, his vulnerability and his voice.

This is another of those books that have you wanting to share it immediately. If my kids were here, I would be reading lines aloud. I promise more laughter-filled moments and a growing love for the anxious, lovable Alvin Ho. LeUyen Pham's black and white illustrations are placed perfectly and add fun to the telling. I really love that words and art complement each other so seamlessly.

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