Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters (Book 2), Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-Made Catastrophes (Book 3), Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals, and Other Fatal Circumstances (Book 4), Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in the Night (Book 5) by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Alvin Ho 2-4

As part of appreciating the versatile art of LeUyen Pham – who with her hubby Alex Puvilland imbued Friday’s post, Templar, with such swashbuckling energy – I thought I should keep a good thing going by adding a few more Pham-tabulously illustrated titles this bright new Monday. [Truth be told, I wouldn't mind channeling some of that swashbuckling energy myself, ahem!]

Welcome back to Concord, Massachusetts, the literary birthplace for many – including darling Alvin Ho, introduced in Book 1: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things. In spite of … or because of … the many challenges this brave young man faces – most especially he seems unable to speak out loud in school, not to mention being afraid of just about everything – Alvin is one imaginative hero. Armed with his PDK (Personal Disaster Kit), and well supported (whether he wants back-up or not!) by his family (little sister Anibelly is beyond delightful) and friends (Flea with her self-described “‘irregular arms or legs’” is the ultimate example of total girl power!), Alvin is getting through second grade with courage he sometimes forgets he has!

In Book 2, Alvin and Anibelly discover the many joys of camping, even if their only weekend catch is their shocked (upside-down) father. In Book 3, Alvin realizes just in time that getting the ‘right’ birthday invitation doesn’t always mean that’s the ‘right’ party to attend. In Book 4, Alvin’s inability to speak in school causes a life-and-death misunderstanding as he worries about how he will bring himself to attend his grandfather’s friend’s funeral. And, in the latest Book 5 (out this spring), Alvin needs to transform his usual PDK into a Pregnancy Disaster Kit as he just might be in the family way along with his baby-full mother!

Author Lenore Look manages to balance the neverending humor with well-woven moments of reality. As we giggle and laugh with Alvin, Look gently reminds us that children can have serious issues; Alvin sees a counselor regularly to face his fears (and hopefully find his voice). She carefully adds glimpses of the world beyond Alvin’s limited comfort zone by including a bit of history in each installment – from the American Revolution to Native Americans to even the tragic 2010 Haiti earthquake. And, of course, in every volume, LeUyen Pham whimsically gives Alvin his joy, his shock, his worry, his frustrations, his adoration, his appreciation … his reactions are perpetually wondrous under Pham’s pen. Here’s selfishly hoping that this unique fear factor continues for many seasons to come …!!

Readers: Middle Grade

Published: 2009-2013

5 Comments

Filed under ..Middle Grade Readers, .Fiction, Chinese American, Vietnamese American

5 responses to “Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters (Book 2), Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-Made Catastrophes (Book 3), Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals, and Other Fatal Circumstances (Book 4), Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in the Night (Book 5) by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

  1. You’ve nailed what’s exemplary about the Alvin Ho stories. He’s the middle kid, filled with phobias and wonky inner voice, book-ended by super-siblings (Anibelly 4ever!), and fun parents. I’m especially fond of Pham’s drawing —pitch-perfect for the frentic Alvin!

    • Have you discovered Ruby Lu? I think that series is a bit more somber … maybe it’s the rainy seasons in Seattle, where she’s based, hee hee ho ho? Book 3 of that series will be posting at some point (soonish?), in which her father loses his job — and he’s not alone among the unemployed and financially challenged of Ruby’s friends’ parents! Might also feel that much less jovial because am missing Pham’s drawings!

      Thanks, as always, for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Reblogged this on a globby bloogie by lenore look and commented:
    Many thanks to the Smithsonian BookDragon for giving my Alvin books a plug! Hooray!!!

  3. Yes, I enjoyed the Ruby Lu stories too. I hadn’t thought about the rainy aspect of Seattle (hahaha). I remember thinking what a nice change, having the spotlight on that Chinese-populated area! Loved that adoring baby brother too. She’s very girly besides!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s