Alvin Ho Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary ThingsTitle: Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
Author: Lenore Look
ISBN: 9780375839146
Pages: 172 pages
Publisher/Date: Schwartz & Wade Books, c2008

“The fifth thing you should know about me is that once upon a time, before I went to school, I was a superhero. … Being a superhero is hard work. You have to save the world. But going to school is even harder. You have to save yourself. Most days I can hardly even make it to the school bus. And when I arrive at school, I can’t think. I can’t read. I can’t smile. I can’t sing. I can’t scream.
I can’t even talk.
The sixth thing you should know about me is that I have never spoken a word in school.” (4-5)

Second grader Alvin Ho is allergic to elevators, tunnels, thunder, substitute teachers, scary movies, heights, and school, among other things. He’s afraid of the ghosts that live in the houses of famous people down his street in Concord, Massachusetts (which is hard to spell). He’s so afraid of school that he can’t talk, which encourages a girl with an eye patch and a “peg leg” named Flea to adopt Alvin in school and speak for him. Alvin is trying really hard to make friends who aren’t girls, especially by using the rules his older brother Calvin gave him. These rules include saying hello and trading baseball cards, two things that are difficult for him to do. When a stolen show and tell item leads to problems for Alvin, he really finds his voice in an unexpected way.

Read this book just for Alvin’s version of swearing. He learns how to curse like William Shakespeare from his father. He also is learning how to be a gentleman from his father too, which is almost as difficult for him as talking in school. The fish who swims during commercials is also a highlight of this book, and I’m glad he made an appearance. Alvin is a quirky, unique character, and his adventures need to be documented further. His experiences are classic second-grader misunderstanding about friendship and the rules of life.