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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in the Night. Written by Lenore Look with pictures by LeUyen Pham. Schwartz & Wade, Random House. 2013. $18.99 ages 6 and up

"This is how you know you are on the express train to Trouble. You can't hear your lessons. You ask for the bathroom pass. You can't see your lessons. You ask for the bathroom pass. You can't taste your emergency mochi cakes. You ask for the bathroom pass. "Alvin," says Miss P. "Don't you think that's enough going to the bathroom for now?"

If you are an Alvin Ho fan, as I am, you will already know that this book is finally here! You know Alvin, and he's hasn't changed. He remains fearful, mute at school, an astute observer of the world he lives in and uproariously funny to boot.

I get such a kick out of reading his take on all things ordinary. This time, the fact is that his mother is pregnant and it is causing extraordinary stress and concern for our young protagonist. He's so concerned that he diagnoses himself with a 'simply pathetic pregnancy', aka sympathetic pregnancy. His brother Calvin does some research and comes up with a pregnancy test to determine Alvin's peculiar state:

"...I heard Mom say that taking the test is the only way to know for sure whether you're pregnant."
"Do you have to pee all the time?" Calvin asked.
"Yup, he sure does," Anibelly answered before I could. She smiled. "He always makes it in time too!"
Oh brother.
"Do you have gas?"
"Not the kind you put in the car," Calvin said.
"Sometimes," I said.
"Have you gained weight?" Calvin asked. But he knew that I knew that he didn't have to ask."

You can see where we are going!

It's not just the baby that is a cause for concern. Alvin is also worried about an alarming number of burglaries in the neighborhood in recent days. Flea, his best friend, provides the much needed and appreciated Pregnancy Disaster Kit (PDK). Calvin creates an impressive burglar trap. Alvin provides the commotion.

This is a wonderfully entertaining series for developing readers. There is enough repetitive language that they will find success in reading it independently. The dialogue is filled with fun, and angst, and silliness. LeUyen Pham's artistic renderings of the Ho family and friends add to the zaniness.

Alvin Ho's Simply Pathetic Glossary which follows his story is worthy of attention and includes:

"Lost Report Card Disorder - A fatal condition usually caused by mysterious circumstances that can never be explained. Symptoms include no report card, no sign of a report card, no memory of a report card, no hint that a report card was coming home, and sometimes the worst symptom of all: no clue whatsoever as to what a report card is, as in "A report card? Is that Chinese?"

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