Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September Book Club: Alvin Ho...

Our Ashburn Kids Book Club is off to a good start! We met on September 13 to discuss our first book pick of the school year: "Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things" by Lenore Look. This book is one of the nominations for the 2010-2011 Virginia's Readers Choice Award. It is a fine example of a transitional or early chapter book.
Alvin is a young Chinese-American boy just starting second grade. He is fearful of many things--elevators, scary movies, his piano teacher, the dark, and most of all, school. In fact, he is so fearful of school that he is completely unable to talk while at school. He can talk at home and on the school bus but once inside the classroom, he is completely mute. He handles his fears in quirky ways. For example, he carries a PDK--a Personal Disaster Kit--filled with equipment to help him survive whatever random bad stuff might arise.

Fortunately for Alvin, he has a loving and sympathetic (usually) family. Alvin's father is a particularly warm and real character in the book. He is patient and non-judgemental with Alvin and truly wants to help him overcome his fears and anxieties. Another great character is Alvin's grandfather who likes to sew (he makes all their Halloween costumes) and teaches the kids how to pitch a baseball.

Alvin's adventures at home, school, and in the neighborhood are handled with matter-of-fact humor and much fun. I think this book would be especially effective as a read-aloud. There are two more books in the Alvin Ho series, both with cartoon-like illustrations by LeUyen Pham.