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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

The Charming Alvin Ho

I just read (in a couple of hours, if that) Lenore Look’s Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary  Things.  And I loved it.  I know, I know, whether or not I loved it is not relevant, but I just wanted to point it out.  It’s another "funny book" and it’s slight, a sort of moving up book, with illustrations interspersed (by LeUyen Pham).  But it has such amazingly charming and well developed characters that are unique and fun.  There is growth in the main character (Alvin Ho) throughout the book, and it is well-written.

Again I come back to the same challenge of how exactly to compare a book like Alvin Ho to something like Chains.  The Newbery covers so many genres and such a wide age range, it is such a unique challenge to choose THE most distinguished book of any particular year.  Even just in a Mock Newbery.

Did anyone else love Alvin Ho?  Have thoughts about the book as a potential contender? 

Sharon McKellar About Sharon McKellar

Sharon McKellar is the Supervising Librarian for Teen Services at the Oakland Public Library in California. She has served on the Rainbow List Committee, the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee, The Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Committee, and the 2015 Caldecott Committee. You can reach her at


  1. KieraParrott says:

    Alvin Ho is definitely my favorite this year. I’m all about the bringing the funny back to the Newberys! Plus- it’s got great reluctant reader appeal.

  2. I liked Alvin Ho as much as I enjoyed Clementine’s Letter (which is to say a lot!) but I find it difficult to reconcile my enjoyment of the stories, characters and writing with the newbery award’s inscription ”

  3. I liked Alvin Ho a lot but haven’t figured out which kids might like it. ( I Know that is not a point to be considered here:-) It seemed to be written for an older audience than it was intended for, if that makes sense. I haven’t found its audience of kids yet. But I am working n it. I can see it having reluctant reader appeal but Alvin is lots younger than the kids who would be reading it.

  4. Krissy Neddo says:

    I just read it aloud to a second grade class and they loved it. We were enriching them with new ideas through humor and characters they could relate to. The glossary was fun to use too. I joked that I had to keep looking back to pronounce the fish’s name, etc. Just as we finished the book one boy said, “Don’t pull a Pinky.” They were getting ready to take a Friday spelling test. Reads aloud well, child centered, and something new to discuss each day we read. What can be better?!

  5. I just read this and thought it was very good–much funnier than most books I’ve read that were written for this level lately–but I didn’t think it was distinguished enough. Characters, awesome, setting, awesome, writing for the most part very good

  6. (cont) Characters, awesome, setting, awesome, writing for the most part very good; but the plot was definitely lacking for me. I didn’t think the more action-oriented parts with the other boys and with Flea were nearly as effective as the scenes with the family, and Alvin’s own thoughts.

  7. i didn’t finish the book but it was cool

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