From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—Second-grader Alvin Ho is determined to make friends, even though he is afraid of any number of things and can't talk—at all—in school. Episodic chapters feature events at home, at school, and in his Concord, MA, neighborhood. Everyday adventures include being left stranded by his siblings during stretching exercises that leave him upside down in a tree, being sent alone to the scary piano teacher's house, and deciding whether or not to hang out with the classroom bully. Although Look resists providing a tidy ending, readers will be sure that Alvin is on the right road when he surprises even himself by suddenly speaking to his psychotherapist. And they won't have to understand the Shakespearean curses that come out of his mouth to know that this time he has a good reason to be afraid. Whether they are fearful or brave, kids will smile at Alvin's scrapes and empathize with his concerns. Aspects of his Chinese-American background are seamlessly integrated into the story and add richness. The book is chock-full of well-placed illustrations. Martin Bridge, make room for Alvin Ho.—Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL
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In the chapter-book universe of Judy Moody and Junie B. Jones it’s hard to know what’s more surprising about Alvin Ho: his Y chromosome, or his Chinese American heritage. In this book, Look, who has made a career of portraying Chinese American family life in picture books and chapter books, focuses less on cultural commonalities than on the idiosyncracies of Alvin’s family (a dad fond of Shakespearean insults, a grandfather who sews), filling in the Chinese American backdrop exclusively through a small amount of Cantonese vocabulary and some food references. The book’s lighthearted treatment of Alvin’s unusual problem (mutism that kicks in only at school) doesn’t seem entirely apt. Still, many children will sympathize with fearful Alvin, who hates his therapist and marvels at his descent from “farmer-warriors who haven’t had a scaredy bone in their bodies since 714 AD.” They’ll also hope that the book’s concluding, unexpected friendship will reap psychological benefits in a sequel. Pham’s thickly brushed artwork matches the quirky characterizations stroke for stroke. Grades 2-4. --Jennifer Mattson