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Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things Hardcover – July 8, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Alvin Ho Series

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Realistic fiction for tweens
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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Series: Alvin Ho
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Schwartz & Wade; First Edition edition (July 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375839143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375839146
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Suzan Lawrence on February 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: 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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Alvin Ho, his family, and friends provide a sympathetic and humorous look at real kids. No one is perfect in this book, and the characters have depth. Even though Alvin is a second grader, I've read this book to middle-school students. They love it. As an adult, I have read the entire series on my own -- it's that good.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My 6 year old son loves this book so far. I saw as a recommendation on another website and found it here for less. It is funny, he is a 1st grader, advanced reader but we can read this together at night.
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By T. Smith on December 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My son and I chose this book for his book report. He's in the second grade and enjoyed reading the book. There were parts where he plain laughed out loud and literally rolled on the floor. We will be purchasing the others in the series.
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This book is great! There is tons of action and it is really funny! If you read it, I bet you will love it! It's a feel good book because Alvin conquers his fears and makes new friends! This book is great for 3rd and 4th graders.
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