Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things December 28, 2008


“If there were no school, my troubles would blast away, just like that. I would dig holes all day. I would play catch with my gunggung. I would watch cooking shows. I would keep an eye on things. It would be fantastic!” 

                                                     back book cover Alvin Ho 

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham is a fantastic book. I picked it up this fall at Cover to Cover and it had been slid to the middle section of my TBR (To Be Read) stack before NCTE. A couple of recent blog posts reminded me I had the book and was once again drawn in by the cover illustrations and title. I went and dug it up right away. 

It is a fast and easy read. I loved it and could think of so many students that this would have been (and will be) the perfect book for. The illustration style and storyline will appeal to those who are stuck in a Wimpy Kid rut.  Boys finally have a voice. I love the main character of Alvin and how the book is narrated from his point of view.  I love that there is book for those transitional/reluctant MALE readers that has an engaging and sympathetic character similar to Clementine and Ivy and Bean.

My six year old son saw me reading this book and was also drawn in by the illustrations on the cover. He thought the title was very funny. He begged me to read it to him while we waited for my daughter’s basketball game to start. He liked it so much, he was pretty sure I could keep reading it to him even after the game had started.

Alvin’s “desk buddy” Sophie (aka. Flea) is also a very likable character. Her eye patch and longer leg are treated as badges of honor, not something to make fun of.  She sticks up for Alvin and through her loyalty, he is able to learn an important lesson about himself and about friendship. 

His Performance Anxiety Disorder which turns his voice completely silent as soon as he gets off the bus, his costume as Firecracker Man, his swearing in “Shakespearean” at his therapist, his loss of his father’s childhood toy, all these things and more make Alvin Ho one of the most likable characters for the second to fifth grade crowd I have seen in a long time. 

I can hardly wait to get my hands on the second installment, Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters (due out June 23, 2009) will go back and read the Ruby Lu books that I am not familiar with yet.


Series for inbetween (tween) female readers November 10, 2008

Filed under: books,reluctant readers,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:07 pm
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Here are a couple of newer books that have come out that are great for that transitional girl reader. (Transitional can mean many things-here I am talking about the move from being “primary” to “intermediate”)  She has grown out of Magic Tree House, wants a thicker chapter book and maybe still needs to have the support of some pictures. My daughter fell into this category. Starting in first grade, it was difficult for her to be able to identify what was a “Just-right” book for herself. She would inevitably pick a book that was too hard! It might even be a great book-just not for her! She would start, but very soon get frustrated and abandon the book, and then pick another one-also too hard!

This went on until just recently and she would not listen to  any book recommendations I would give her, much less reason! It drove her crazy that we would be at the public library and a student or parent would come up to me and ask for help finding a book. It would drive her even crazier that I would stop and do it.

I can’t help myself-I am a book-pusher! If I can match a kid with THE book that will help them fall in love with reading, I am going to do it-no matter the time or place (within reason of course). 

On the other hand, it drove me crazy that I could help kids all week find books they would love and my daughter would treat my suggestions like something the dog did in the yard. I would occasionally have luck getting her to listen to a book on CD as a way of introducing new authors or characters, but even that was iffy sometimes.  She wanted to prove she could read and in her mind that meant thick chapter books-Harry Potter size books, not skinny book like Poppleton, Henry and Mudge, or Mercy Watson?

How about Ramona?   “Nope”

How about the nice Scholastic fairy series? “Not interested”

How about Magic Tree House? “MOM!”

How about…You fill in the blank, I suggested it. Somehow we have moved past that stage (thank goodness!) and Maggie’s teacher this year is surprised to find she was so reluctant in the past. The other day I caught her walking the hallway from one class to the other reading a book while walking. She didn’t even notice me standing by her classroom door. I wanted to do a jig seeing her so engrossed in reading her book, but I just smiled to myself, and moved on. Oh Happy Day!