Pack your bags and prepare to fly.

ALVIN HO

ALLERGIC TO THE GREAT WALL, THE FORBIDDEN PLANET, AND OTHER TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

From the Alvin Ho series , Vol. 6

Alvin Ho is at it again. Allergic to everything and all things girly, this 7-1/2-year-old worrywart hops a continent to visit relatives in Beijing. Is China ready for Alvin?

The hilarious family vacation kicks off with an airport-security bang. Only Alvin can manage to set off alarms both on and off the plane, with his family of six in tow, including his baby sister (amusingly referred to in fish terms). Once in Beijing, Alvin meets his aunt Aiyi, uncle Jonathan (who looks “plain,” not “Chinese at all”), and cousins Katie and Bean Sprout. The family zips off to such sights as the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, where dragons, “Peeking” duck and an encounter with a pit toilet go hand in hand. Amid his navigation of culture shock, Alvin becomes consumed with guilt over his dad’s lost passport and his rejection of an orphan’s wish for a friend. The way Look channels this adorable fraidy-cat continues to delight in this sixth Alvin book. Her lightning-quick dialogue sets the ideal tone and pace for reluctant travelers. Rendered in ink, Pham’s illustrations convey the family’s emotions, from anxiety to bliss, with simple, lively expressions. And around all the mayhem, there lies a story full of heart as big as China, where friendships (even with a girl) reach far beyond great walls.

Pack your bags and prepare to fly. (glossary) (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-36972-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Celebrate a truly accepting multicultural character.

LOLA LEVINE IS NOT MEAN!

From the Lola Levine series , Vol. 1

Brown introduces a smart, young protagonist with a multicultural background in this series opener for chapter-book readers.

Second-grader Lola Levine is half-Peruvian and half-Jewish; she is a skilled soccer player, a persuasive writer, and aspires to own a cat in the near future should her parents concede. During a friendly recess soccer match, Lola, playing goalie, defends an incoming ball by coming out of her box and accidentally fouls a classmate. And so Lola acquires the rhyming nickname Mean Lola Levine. Through Lola’s first-person narration, readers see clearly how her savvy and creativity come from her family: Dad, who paints, Mom, who writes, and a fireball younger brother. She also wears her bicultural identity easily. In her narration, her letters to her friends, and dialogue, Lola easily inserts such words as diario, tía, bubbe, and shalom. For dinner, the family eats matzo ball soup, Peruvian chicken, and flan. Interspersed throughout the story are references to all-star soccer athletes, from Brazilian master Pelé to Mia Hamm, Briana Scurry, and David Beckham. Dominguez’s black-and-white illustrations are cheery and appealing, depicting a long-haired Caucasian father and dark-skinned, black-haired mother. Typefaces that emulate penmanship appropriately differ from character to character: Lola’s is small and clean, her mother’s is tall and slanted, while Juan’s, the injured classmate, is sloppy and lacks finesse.

Celebrate a truly accepting multicultural character. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-25836-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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