Module 7: Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

Module 7: Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

Look, L. (2009). Alvin Ho: Allergic to girls, school and other scary things. New York: Yearling.


The story of an Asian American second grader who is scared at school but not so much at home. He is scared of many, many things and is so shy at school that he never even says a word. The book details his second grade life as he deals with his fears and learns to overcome them.

What Did I Think?

I enjoyed the way Alvin’s Asian heritage is integrated into the story. It helps to create an unforgettable character in second grader Alvin Ho. It also discusses relevant topics such as dealing with a bully and facing fears in life.


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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Horn Book (July/August, 2008)

Fearful second-grader Alvin Ho has never, not once, said a single word in school. His voice works at home, in the car, on the school bus. “But as soon as I get to school…I am as silent as a side of beef.” Like the author’s Ruby Lu chapter books (Ruby Lu, Brave and True; Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything, rev. 5/06), this one acknowledges kids’ troubles while lightening them in a funny yet respectful way. For instance, Alvin plays cards with the psychotherapist he sees for his anxiety. When he realizes she’s letting him win, he says his first words to her — swear words he’s learned from his dad. But they’re Shakespearean swear words (“Sit thee on a spit, then eat my sneakers, thou droning beef-witted nut hook”), so she’s impressed. There’s no miracle cure for Alvin’s missing voice, and the book nicely focuses more on his need for friends. At the end, he’s still afraid of school, scary movies, etc., but he’s made a friend — and it’s (yikes!) a girl. Generously illustrated short chapters include laugh-out-loud descriptions of Alvin’s attempt to grow taller (his siblings leave him hanging from a tree branch where he remains forgotten until his mother spots his empty seat at dinner), his fateful decision to bring his dad’s beloved childhood Johnny Astro toy for show-and-tell, and his brief membership in a not-so-tough neighborhood gang. Readers will hope Alvin has enough fears to fill yet another small but hugely amusing chapter book.

Library Lesson
This book could be a great book to use in a book club for boys as a way to get them interested in reading. The book is not too challenging and can help reluctant readers find a character to connect with.

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