The first thing you should know about this book is that Alvin Ho, who comes from a long line of Chinese farmer/warriors, has so-so performance anxiety disorder. And yet, once upon a time, before he went to school, he ran around the house dressed as firecracker man screaming at the top of his lungs while banging simultaneously on a garbage can lid. He was “as noisy as a firecracker,” but in school he is “as silent as a side of beef. “ Alvin has prepared his own PDK: personal disaster kit, has a desk mate who has written the “book on Alvin” which delineates the manner in which Alvin communicates with his eyes, and might just turn out to be Alvin’s best friend, except for one problem: “she’s a girl. And girls are weird even if they wear a cool eye patch, drag a cool peg leg and know how to throw a mean uppercut. ” Through the ordeals of making friends with Pinky, the Johnny Astro show & tell misadventure, and taking piano lessons at the Hansel and Gretel witch’s house, the reader is imbued with a sense of appreciation, and near admiration for difference. One learns better ways of taking out aggression. Through Alvin’s eyes we learn that the best way to teach your child one of life’s lessons is to have a heart to heart chat over ice cream. “Take care of your things, and they will take care of you,” Alvin’s dad likes to say. One could posit that this simple yet elegant statement about humanity is author Lenore Look’s underscoring point, but I don’t really know, I can’t remember (this is a secret code hint—read the book!)
Look also writes about Ruby Lu.
Just as good, but within the Intermediate reading range which is 3rd to 5th grade, Ruby Lu is more 3rd grade than 4th or 5th.