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)