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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alvin--Ho, ho ho!
I purchased this book for a local elementary school library because it showed up on a list of top 20 read aloud books. I am now reading it to a class of second graders who find it, "hilarious." It is a chapter book so an advanced read but it has captured their attention and imagination. The author, Lenore Look, has managed to weave the roots of our country's history as...
Published on February 14, 2010 by Suzan Lawrence

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What we liked: his fears were funny Reading level
What we liked: his fears were funny
Reading level: a bit too easy for a strong second grade reader
I would recommend it to someone who likes Ramona Qumiby and Junie B. Books.
Published 4 months ago by Niklas Bacher


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alvin--Ho, ho ho!, February 14, 2010
By 
Suzan Lawrence (Brentwood, CA, US) - See all my reviews
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I purchased this book for a local elementary school library because it showed up on a list of top 20 read aloud books. I am now reading it to a class of second graders who find it, "hilarious." It is a chapter book so an advanced read but it has captured their attention and imagination. The author, Lenore Look, has managed to weave the roots of our country's history as well as art, music, literature and famous historical figures into her very funny story line. Each week that I read, I use the first five or ten minutes to introduce what is new to the children. We have read some Shakespeare (Alvin is allowed to curse in Shakespearean dialogue as long as he doesn't hurt anyone as he is a "gentleman in training.") I have played short snippets of Brahms, Beethoven, and even a song from the Music Man as well as shown works by Frieda Kahlo, Gauguin, and Van Gough. The children had never heard of the Minutemen and the Redcoats and now play the same game on their California playground as Alvin does on his playground in Concord, Massachusetts.

Henry David Thoreau is Alvin's personal hero and we have discussed Thoreau at first because of his strong pro environmental stance in the 1800's. During the week of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, I read from King's autobiography where he credits Thoreau's essay on "Civil Disobedience," for inspiring his method of passive resistance during the Civil Rights Movement.

The students are so taken with the book that they have been to the school library to find out when it was published, one child has already read the sequel--imagine a 7 year old reading a 166 page chapter book! They want to know when the next Alvin Ho book is coming out and have suggested the author create a Christmas special for TV and call it, "Alvin--Ho, ho, ho."
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alviiiiiin!, July 27, 2008
Some people follow sports teams. Others follow the rise and fall of various celebrities. Children's librarians, in contrast, are fans of children's book authors and illustrators. If trading cards were acceptable amongst grown adults I'm sure we'd be swapping Louis Sachars and Linda Sue Parks for a rare Beatrix Potter or A.A. Milne. Part of this particular branch of fandom concerns itself with the pairing of various authors with illustrators. This is where editors come in useful. It takes a smart publishing house to create just the right magic found in a Scieszka/Lane team, for example. Credit where credit is due then to Schwartz & Wade. When I heard that Lenore Look, author extraordinaire who introduced the world to Ruby Lu, had been paired with LeUyen Pham my little heart danced a tarantella. I've been fighting for more Pham appreciation for years. To see her complementing Look's particular brand of smart humor in, best of all, an early chapter book is like Christmas coming early. Together I am certain that these two women are going to create books that remain memorable long after their contemporaries have faded from the popular memory.

What do you do with a kid who doesn't talk in school? Well, if you are that kid and your name is Alvin Ho then there are a number of things you can do. You can prepare for the second grade a PDK (or Personal Disaster Kit) in the event of an emergency. You can ask your older brother how to make friends, only not with that weird girl with the cool eye patch. You can visit a therapist to try to talk out your fears (but only if you talk). But Alvin's got more on his mind than whether or not he's able to say something in class. Between "borrowing" his father's favorite toy, joining a relatively benign gang, and finding a new friend there's a lot to that kid Alvin Ho. He's an original, no doubt about it.

This is going to sound a little odd, I know, but early chapter books starring boys are not quite as common as they might be. Sure, you've got your Marvin Redpost, Martin Bridge, Horrible Harry, and Julian but for every one of those blokes there are two Clementines, three Junie B. Jones, and a couple Ivy and Beans for good measure. And boys of any ethnicity other than white? There's the aforementioned Julian and maybe the kid from The Toothpaste Millionaire, and that's about it. Of course, if Lenore Look were dancing about singing, "Look! A boy of Asian descent!" that wouldn't be her style at all. Just as she did with "Ruby Lu", Look just writes great kids. Case closed.

Look's style is wrapped up entirely in her ability to keep the sentences coming. For "Alvin Ho" she's opted to go all first person on us. So not only has she written about a boy but she has also inserted herself into the kid's very brain. It works, though. In some unfathomable way Look gets the subtlety of being a second grade boy. The seemingly incongruent combination of loving explosions and cooking shows is what makes Alvin so real to the reader. Somehow Look has tapped into the boy brain and gone deeper into their insecurities, hopes, and fears than most other authors for this age range. Mind you, there is the "Ruby Lu drives a car" moment in this book that will set some parental teeth on edge. At one point Alvin is left hanging from a tree while his family bakes some cookies. He's only missed when his mother notices his empty plate at dinner. It's vaguely traumatic, but not all that unbelievable within the context of the tale.

I can also see some people getting a little squirrely when it comes to Alvin's dialogue, though. You could make the argument that no boy in the history of the world would say, "My dad is not superhero material," or "The fourth thing you should know about me is that I love Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern, Concrete Man, Aquaman, King Henry V and all the superheroes in the world." You could SAY that but can I point out that Alvin never actually speaks these sentences? They're just explaining his state of mind. And if a sentence says, "The scary thing about girls is that they are not boys" then can't you argue that the author is clarifying what Alvin is feeling even if he wouldn't use those exact words at that exact time? In a sense, Look is translating Alvin's thoughts and emotions into coherent, remarkable little sentences that every second grader feels but is incapable of putting into words. There's the acknowledgment that "crying is really great" alongside the almost poignant "I am not good at anything ever since I started school." Alvin isn't precocious. He just happens to have an author capable of bringing him into crisp, clear relief.

And for that matter the book itself is just a well-done little number. I liked that when Alvin's older brother gave advice it still sounded like it was advice coming from a kid. I liked that Alvin's seatmate Flea is taking a kind of kickboxing and karate class called "Aggression for Girls". I like that every time Alvin mentions Massachusetts he says it's hard to spell (though that might just be the author showing her hand too). I like that there's a character named Jules and that Alvin is unclear on Jules's gender. I know kids like that. I like that Alvin's father's car only turns to the right now, that Alvin's baseball has a Daisuke Matsuzaka autograph, that the glossary credits Tenzing Norgay as the first to climb to the top of Mount Everest, and that by the end of the book there are still issues and problems to be resolved. Look could have wrapped Alvin's life up in a neat little bow, but of all his problems the only one she solves here is his need for a friend. And frankly, kids are probably going to understand that need better than Alvin's ability to speak in school.

All right. Enough praise of Ms. Look. Let's take a gander at Ms. LeUyen Pham's pictures now. Ms. Pham has a range of different styles she employs at strategic moments, but her most recognizable is cute kids. Big heads, teeny tiny hands and feet, that kind of thing. I say "cute" but I don't mean Bambi cute or "Love Is" cute. I mean that she has an ability to capture the joy and dread of humanity in miniature. Alvin, for example, is rendered perfectly here. Whether he's cowering in dread or bursting onto the scene as a superhero, this protagonist is impossible to imagine as anything but as Ms. Pham's version. I particularly enjoyed the picture of the boys in Alvin's class discovering that they've all gotten chicken pox as he smiles out at the reader, his happiness undulating off of him invisibly.

As I read this book do you know what title it kept reminded me of? I can't really explain why but I kept thinking about The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Maybe that's not as odd as it sounds, though. Both books have that early chapter book style. Both mix in a brand of humor particular to their respective authors. And both, I am convinced, will remain firmly implanted in the brains of their readers for years and years to come. I'd love to wave a magic wand, bonk "Alvin Ho" over the head, and declare this book a contemporary classic. If I'm any judge, however, I figure this is just the first in many "Alvin Ho" books to come. Though it stands entirely on its own, Look has left plenty of room for future installments in the series. Alvin Ho turns out to be a guy definitely worth knowing. Help a kid to meet him.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Kids @ Teens Read Too, August 26, 2008
There are several things you should know about Alvin Ho. The first is that he is afraid of everything. He fears elevators, the dark, heights, scary movies, and, most of all, school. The second thing is that Alvin is so afraid of school that he can't even talk when he's there. He can talk fine everywhere else, but school is too much.

To help him survive, Alvin carries a PDK - a Personal Disaster Kit - which is full of equipment. The most important part of the PDK, though, are the emergency plans, which include plans for meeting your teacher, getting through show-and-tell, and how to make friends.

Alvin spends the start of his second grade year trying to survive, figuring out ways to get out of school, and learning how to make friends, all with humorous and sometimes disastrous results.

Perfect for readers making the jump to chapter books, this is a fun, laugh-out-loud read. Author Lenore Look and Illustrator LeUyen Pham make a great team. The illustrations add to the emotion of the story and help bring Alvin to life.

If you're looking for a younger version of DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, look no further than ALVIN HO: ALLERGIC TO GIRLS, SCHOOL, AND OTHER SCARY THINGS. A great read for all ages, I hope there's more to come about Alvin Ho!

Reviewed by: Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alvin, who is afraid of everything, September 7, 2008
Lenore Look's ALVIN HO: ALLERGIC TO GIRLS, SCHOOL, AND OTHER SCARY THINGS tells of one Alvin, who is afraid of everything: trains, bridges, teachers, girls and even school. But he loves superheroes and dreams he's actually Firecracker man in disguise. Elementary to early middle school grade readers will find Alvin Ho's adventures compelling in this involving story.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books ever!, February 9, 2011
I borrowed this book from our library in response to it being on a top 20 list I downloaded. In a world that seemingly favors girls (clothes, books...), this was such a refreshing change! My 7 yr old son and I took turns reading chapters and it made us laugh, cry, made us pensive, instigated a lot of questions, made us laugh out loud again...so much that we had to really focus on our reading after a funny part.... kinda the giggles you get in church. For my son, it spoke to him in a kid-to-kid way....(similar style to Diary of a Whimpy Kid). The things this kid notices is completely what my son would notice (and I, as an adult, wouldn't). He would also definitely notice the (only) 3 fingers of his music teacher right off the bat, instead of the music sheets in front of him and that in turn would launch all kinds of imaginary visions in his little head. As someone with a noticeable physical attribute myself, it made me crack up because that happens to me all the time but my parents gave me the tools to deal with it and keep a sense of humor and it works like a charm! Sometimes his father would take the high road and instead of admonishing him for cursing in Shakespearean at his 'psycho'therapist would share his own fears and sneak a 'lesson' into the conversation. I learned a LOT as a parent. This book is so well written, neither of us can wait to get another. Love it! Love it! Love it! I briefly read some of the other reviews and completely disagree with it being trite or not in good taste. But that's my opinion. In our home we have differences, challenges, insecurities and we learn to be honest about them, to realize this is the real-world, learn to find tools to deal with them, laugh at ourselves while at the same time being considerate to others. This book fits right in with that culture. Kudos!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great character to identify with, December 11, 2011
By 
Bea Levy (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things (Paperback)
My 8-year-old son is a selective mute, like Alvin Ho, and it has been terrific for him to be able to identify with and see himself in this character, even if he doesn't quite share all of Alvin's fears and "allergies". We're now on the third book in the series for bedtime reading together, and we both look forward to getting back to Alvin every evening. My middle schooler has taken to eavesdropping on our read-alouds and also finds these books thoroughly funny and charming. This is one of those books that I can feel really making a difference in how my kid sees himself and the world around him. Props on the illustrations, too, which support the text perfectly!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What we liked: his fears were funny Reading level, July 12, 2014
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What we liked: his fears were funny
Reading level: a bit too easy for a strong second grade reader
I would recommend it to someone who likes Ramona Qumiby and Junie B. Books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My boys kinda liked it, January 3, 2014
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They thought it was going to be different. Its just ok, not their favorite. Boys are 11 & 13 years old.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the characters, May 14, 2014
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I purchased this book for a student who would only read the Wimpy Kid books, and he enjoyed reading so much I ended getting the rest of the series. He said he thought the author really understood kids.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, February 28, 2014
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Kindle book purchase, very easy and convenient to find age and topic appropriate books, instant delivery, easy one click purchasing available
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Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look (Paperback - May 12, 2009)
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