Here’s a series that was mentioned in a recent Books for Boys webinar from Booklist.
Alvin Ho Collection Books 1 & 2: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things. Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters. by Lenore Look. Read by Everette Plen. These are fairly short early chapter books of the funny but realistic kids type. Alvin Ho is a second-grade Chinese-American boy, interested in many things (like superheroes and baseball) and afraid of many more, like girls and school. On weekends, Alvin is a gentleman-in-training and Firecracker Man, a fearless superhero, while during the week, he’s too scared even to talk at school. The books are two-disc affairs (two books to a set), mostly episodic adventures around things like Alvin trying to make friends at school, going camping, and what happens when he lets loose on his psychotherapist the Shakespearean cursing that his father loves to use when upset. Alvin is sometimes joined in his adventures by his older brother Calvin, and more often by his five-year-old sister Anibelly. There is a lot to like about these books. There are not so many books with Chinese-American protagonists, and Alvin definitely doesn’t fit the stereotype of the Asian teacher’s pet. Alvin believes that crying makes you feel better, and bursts into tears at times of real or potential stress. And Alvin’s family relationships are loving and believable. I might have enjoyed the books more if they had been read by someone else. Everette Plen (and Mr. & Mrs. Plen, what’s with spelling your son’s name with the feminine ending?) is a child actor who read with decent expression but uniform full-speed-ahead pacing. I wanted to love them more than I did, but they are fine examples of realistic early fiction to appeal to both boys and girls, and the boy and I enjoyed them.