You should know that Alvin Ho is afraid of a lot of things: elevators, tunnels, bridges, airplanes, thunder, substitute teachers, kimchi, wasabi, the dark, heights, scary movies, scary dreams, shots, and school, to name just a few. However, he loves explosions, his dog Lucy, Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern, Aquaman, King V, and all the superheroes in the world. In fact, before he started school, Alvin Ho was a superhero; he was Firecracker Man! But now he can be Firecracker Man only on weekends and holidays because he’s about to start second grade. And going back to school is a problem because of the other thing you should know about Alvin: he never says a single word at school. He can’t. “Maybe if you didn’t use up all your words at home, you’d have some to use at school,” says Alvin’s older brother Calvin.
But Alvin doesn’t think so. He thinks he needs an emergency plan for making friends, one that doesn’t involve talking at school. And he also needs his PDK: Personal Disaster Kit.
The kit and the character, Alvin Ho, are both wacky, weird, and wonderful. Alvin’s adventures are things that could happen to any seven year old with so-so performance anxiety disorder:
He gets stuck hanging in a tree upside down like a duck hanging in a Chinatown window.
He ends up being desk buddies with Flea, a girl, even though he’s allergic to girls.
He finds the perfect way to avoid school, at least for a while.
He loses some of the pieces to his dad’s favorite toy.
He’s bewitched by his piano teacher.
He curses his therapist in Shakespearean English.
And he joins Pinky’s gang, which leads to another whole set of problems and adventures.
I love Alvin. I want Alvin and Clementine to grow up and marry each other. I want to meet their children and see them pay for their raising. I want to be some combination of Alvin’s and Clementine’s parents who seem to be the wisest, most patient and loving parents in the universe. Or as Alvin says, “My dad is not only a gentleman, but he is da man, which is a lot like being da dad, which means he can handle quite a lot.” I do wish I were da mom, or something like that.
I think every second grader in the United States should get a copy of either Clementine’s Letters (or the first Clementine book) or Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things for Christmas. Do your part for the nearest and dearest second grader you know.
More fans of Alvin Ho aka Firecracker Man:
At Mary Voors’ ACPL Mock Newbery blog, Lisa said: “I am thrilled to see that this is the first in a new series. Alvin Ho Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters is set for a June release, according to Amazon. With honest emotions, tons of humor and great illustrations this one is sure to have kid appeal.”
Abby the Librarian: “I loved Lenore Look’s Ruby Lu books and I enjoyed this one as well. I was chuckling the whole way through and I love the illustrations done by LeUyen Pham.”
Jen at Talk About It More: “While Alvin doesn’t have a particularly savory child’s view of either piano teachers or psychotherapists, we are still enjoying the book enormously around here. It is truly laugh-out-loud funny, has liberal, fabulous illustrations, and gives us a chance to talk about things that do (and don’t) give us pause in our own lives.”