I was reading Heavy Medal
back issues about last year's Mock Newbery, and I was captured by their review of Alvin Ho:
Funny. Multiculturalism/diversity doesn't stick out, it's just there. Funny. Episodic chapters--each one a complete narrative arc--serve a young audience that's still learning to read novels. Funny. Each chapter builds, realisitically if only slightly, on the theme of overcoming fears. Funny. Funny. Funny. Funny. Funny. Funny.
These are books I've been pooh-poohing for months now, on the grounds that middle grade readers don't want to read about a kid who's 2-4 years younger than them. Junie B. notwithstanding, this is something that is simply not done by 8-10 year olds. And yet, here I sit reading review after review of how great these books are. So I sigh, and put the audiobook on hold. Maybe it'll be worth a look.
Good thing I wasn't taking any sips of water on my way to work this morning, or I suspect they would have been spewed all over my dashboard. A students'-eye-view of me on my way into the building would have seen me literally falling all over myself laughing. How often do I do this? Hardly ever. (For example, I was listening to Homer Price last night, and that merited scarcely a weak smile.) Lenore Look presents Alvin's day at school and at home in these flighty little vignettes that left me shaking my head and giggling all morning.
I don't think book two is quite as creative and wonderful as the first, but I'm kinda feeling it as a continuation of book one, so perhaps it doesn't matter. I was definitely looking forward to more.
Lenore Look, you have another convert! I will never again discount a book because of the age of its main character.
Awesomeness: 8 - big kudos for a fabulous task accomplished - put on your to-read pile soon
Wordsmithing: 8 - quirky and funny
Personages: 8 - wow, a 2nd grader with a missing eye and a limp! Awesome
Mesmerizitude: 8 - I could listen to Everette Plen chirp all day
Labels: audiobook, books for boys, middle grade