ALVIN HO IS an Asian American second grader who is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.
From the author of the ALA Notable Ruby Lu series comes a funny and touching chapter book—perfect for both beginning and reluctant readers— that introduces a truly unforgettable character.
From the Hardcover edition.
About Lenore Look
I first began making picture books in kindergarten because my other career option at the time was stealing. But a life of crime requires practice and patience, neither of which I had, so I settled into industry, making what I coveted but what my parents could not afford to buy: beautiful books like the ones my teacher read to us in school.
Publishing was no problem in those days, not like it is now. By first-grade, I was my own publisher, making multiple copies of my books by hand. As for fame and fortune, I took care of that, too–I taught my brothers and the neighborhood kids how to wait in line for autographed copies, and I charged them 25 cents a book (an enviable paperback royalty today!), but also accepted candy.
By third grade, I had abandoned the literary scene. My parents had bought an old piano and signed me up for lessons and, thus, I began dreaming of becoming a world-famous concert pianist.
Then I came across a book on Maria Tallchief, and became a ballerina, just like that. I weighed only 40 pounds and could leap and pirouette all day without stopping. It was a lot easier than becoming a pianist.
Then I read a book about a surgeon, and one about a veterinarian, and another about a great tennis player . . . and I found myself wanting to become whatever I’d last read.
Eventually I grew up and became a newspaper reporter. It was the perfect job for me. I got paid to do the two things I loved most: writing and being curious. Working as a reporter taught me how to talk to people, how to find the story behind the story, and how to tell a story in a way that keeps a reader reading. I learned to listen to the way people talk. I learned to be precise and concise in my own choice of words. Best of all, the more I wrote, the more I was filled with a sense of wonder. I loved writing not only about what happens to people, but also about what happens inside of them, which is what writing for children is all about, but I didn’t yet know it.
It wasn’t until I became a mother and began reading children’s books again that I felt what the Chinese call yun fuen, a continuing of work begun in past lives. I had long forgotten my early foray into picture books, the thread I’d dropped in kindergarten, a thin rig, like the one a spider would use in rising. I had journeyed nearly 30 years down through space by then, unaware of my silken strand. Then one afternoon, with my two young children clamoring for something to do, I showed them how to fold paper into a book . . . picked up some crayons and a pen, and then . . . felt myself rising . . . returning to that place where I began, that brief age in which I had so many talents, and leapt and pirouetted into the sun, and could not stop.
About LeUyen Pham
LeUyen Pham has illustrated numerous award-winning books for children, including Big Sister, Little Sister; Sing-Along Song and Piggies in a Polka. She lives in San Francisco, California.
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2008:
“A witty glossary and Pham’s simple yet expressive line drawings perfectly complement this appealing story about the refreshingly original, endearing Alvin.”
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, July 7, 2008:
"Look's . . . intuitive grasp of children's emotions is rivaled only by her flair for comic exaggeration."
From the Hardcover edition.
WINNER 2008 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award
WINNER 2008 Kirkus Reviews Best ChildrenÂ’s Books
NOMINEE 2011 Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's Book Award
WINNER 2010 Rhode Island Children's Book Award
NOMINEE 2011 California Young Reader Medal
NOMINEE 2010 Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award
NOMINEE 2010 Indiana Young Hoosier Award
NOMINEE 2009 Texas Bluebonnet Master List
WINNER 2011 Virginia Young Readers Program Award
NOMINEE 2012 Washington Sasquatch Reading Program
WINNER Virginia Young Readers Program Award
WINNER Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices
WINNER Chicago Public LibraryÂ’s Best of the Best books
NOMINEE Rhode Island Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award