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*Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters* by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham- beginning readers book review
Also illustrated by LeUyen Pham:

A Piece of Cake

The Best Birthday Party Ever


All Fall Down

Bedtime for Mommy

Freckleface Strawberry

Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully

Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever

Akimbo and the Crocodile Man

Stinky Stern Forever: A Jackson Friends Book
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters
by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Grades 2-4 176 pages Schwartz & Wade June 2009 Hardcover    

Second-grader Alvin Ho has a long list of things that he is scared of: long words (which means that he has ďhippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobiaĒ), small spaces, the dark, punctuation (although he does love exclamations), and the great outdoors. Especially the great outdoors. Everyone who has watched TV knows about all the bad things that can happen to you in the woods - things like mudslides, tornadoes, earthquakes, and blizzards. Alvin is determined to avoid all of these at any cost.

During an unfortunate incident involving a straitjacket fashioned by his brother, Calvin, and a cardboard box in which Alvin is sealed shut (like Houdini) by his four-year-old sister, Anibelly, Alvin finds himself traveling back in time (the cardboard box doubles as a time machine). There he encounters his hero - Henry David Thoreau - as a young boy. Together, Alvin and Henry David try unsuccessfully to hatch a birdís egg, an experiment that ends with Alvinís backside covered in runny egg.

Luckily, Alvinís dad finally rescues Alvin from the box. When Alvin tells him all about his meeting with Henry David, his father declares that Alvin needs to be exposed to the woods. After all, Henry David Thoreauís father helped him learn his way around the woods too. Alvin tries to no avail to persuade his father that the last thing he wants to do is to go camping in scary woods, but his dad will not be deterred.

On the way home from school, all the kids on the bus warn Alvin of what is in store for him: he will grow a beard and live like an animal; heíll freeze to death if he doesnít start a campfire and burn to death if he does; thereíll be no electricity, TV, or video games; he will have to use a pit toilet; and when itís all over, thatís when the Angel of Death comes for you.

Alvin decides to arm himself for the dreaded camping trip with survival gear ordered online (with his fatherís credit card, of course): a generator, night-vision goggles, and the most powerful flashlight ever made. He packs toilet paper tooÖ lots and lots of it. He culls camping tips from all and sundry - he learns how to set traps and that dryer lint makes a great starter for fires.

Needless to say, nothing on the camping trip goes exactly as Alvin (or his dad!) plans. But when Alvin does find himself out in the woods, he discovers his inner hero and saves the day using a smidgen of ingenuity and a dash of bravery.

This is a fun, lighthearted book aimed at six to ten year olds. It will especially resonate with kids whoíve dreaded their own first camping trips. The artwork scattered throughout the margins is laugh-out-loud funny, a perfect complement to a quirky and charming book.
Beginning readers book reviews for developing, emerging and fluent readers

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  Usha Reynolds/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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