Alvin Ho
Ruby Lu
Other Books


Here’s the sixth book in the beloved and hilarious Alvin Ho chapter book series, which has been compared to Diary of a Wimpy Kid and is perfect for both beginning and reluctant readers.

Alvin, an Asian American second grader who’s afraid of everything, is taking his fears to a whole new level—or should we say, continent. On a trip to introduce brand-new baby Ho to relatives in China, Alvin’s anxiety is at fever pitch. First there’s the harrowing 16-hour plane ride; then there’s a whole slew of cultural differences to contend with: eating lunch food for breakfast, kung fu lessons, and acupuncture treatment (yikes!). Not to mention the crowds that make it easy for a small boy to get lost.

From Lenore Look and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham comes a drop-dead-funny and touching series with a truly unforgettable character.


Readers will herald the return of their favorite phobic boy in this, the fifth book in the beloved Alvin Ho series. Alvin’s mother has been getting bigger . . . and bigger. Alvin’s sure it’s all the mochi cakes she’s been eating, but it turns out she’s pregnant! There are lots of scary things about babies, as everybody knows—there’s learning CPR for the newborn and changing diapers (no way)—but the scariest thing of all is the fact that the baby could be a GIRL. As a result of the stress, Alvin develops a sympathetic pregnancy and hilarity definitely ensues. Once again, Lenore Look and LeUyen Pham deliver a story that’s funny and touching in equal measures.


Everyone’s favorite neurotic second grader is back, in the most touching Alvin Ho book to date. In this fourth book in the Alvin Ho series, Alvin is facing something truly scary: the idea that someone he loves might die. When Alvin’s GungGung loses his best friend, Alvin (gulp) volunteers to go with him to the funeral. Lenore Look and LeUyen Pham touch on a more serious subject in this Alvin book, but it’s still filled with the same humor and wild antics fans have come to expect from the series.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, January 1, 2012: “Alvin proves the ideal companion to walk a child through the valley of the shadow… Alvin just keeps getting better and better.”

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2011: 
”A fresh entry in what is overall an exceedingly enjoyable series; readers will cheer this latest.”

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, January 1, 2012: “Alvin just keeps getting better and better.”

Horn Book Magazine, September 1, 2011: “The copious illustrations capture moments both silly and sad as the author again tackles real-kid worries in a truly funny story. Alvin’s phobias are so exaggerated that even readers who consider themselves timid can’t help but feel almost brave in comparison…. Never a dull moment.”

  • WINNER 2012 A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year


Alvin Ho is a boy who’s afraid of everything. For example, what could possibly be so scary about a birthday party? Let Alvin explain: You might be dressed for bowling . . . but everyone else is dressed for swimming. You could get mistaken for the piñata. You could eat too much cake. You could throw up. So when Alvin receives an invitation to a party—a girl’s party—how will he ever survive?

The Horn Book Magazine, September 2010: “Look’s story doesn’t give even reluctant readers a chance to lose interest; like Alvin fervently wishing for a “deluxe Indian Chief outfit with fringe…complete with bow and arrow and the huge feather headdress that makes you look like a giant bird,” readers will be wishing for more about Alvin.”

Kirkus Reviews, September 28, 2010: “Back for a third adventure, anxious Alvin Ho faces such terrifying scenarios as a class visit to the houses of famous deceased authors in his Concord, Mass., hometown and negotiating the particulars of being invited to a girl’s birthday party, even as he yearns to be invited to the shindig of another (male) classmate. As in the first two in the series, illustrator Pham’s expressively appealing ink drawings add life, and Alvin proves an engaging narrator, whose imagination runs wild to hilarious effect. His likable, funny siblings and caring, if at times exasperated, parents are also along for the ride.”

  • 2011 Bank Street Children’s Book Committee’s Best Children’s Book of the Year, with Outstanding Merit


Alvin Ho is back and his worst fear has come true: he has to go camping. What will he do exposed in the wilderness with bears and darkness and . . . pit toilets? Luckily, he’s got his night-vision goggles and water purifying tablets and super-duper heavy-duty flashlight to keep him safe. And he’s got his dad, too.

Lenore Look’s touching, drop-dead-funny chapter book about an Asian-American second grader—with illustrations by New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham—is perfect for beginning and reluctant readers alike, and has tons of boy appeal.

The Horn Book Magazine, September/October 2009: “Readers can only hope that Alvin continues to describe in such wonderful detail his many allergic reactions.”

Kirkus Reviews, May 19, 2009: “While Look certainly embellishes at times for comedic effect, she has created in Alvin a character that is as real as he is irascible, and the tender relationships among the members of the Ho family provide a sturdy backbone for all the silliness. Pham’s simple but vibrant line drawings leap off the page. Another triumph for Alvin Ho.”

  • WINNER 2009 Gryphon Honor Award
  • WINNER 2009 Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books
  • WINNER 2009 Horn Book Fanfare
  • WINNER 2010 Oprah’s Book Club Kids Reading List
  • WINNER 2012 Oprah’s Book Club Kids Reading List


Alvin Ho is an Asian American second grader who is afraid of everything—elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.

From the author of the ALA Notable Ruby Lu series comes a funny and touching chapter book—perfect for both beginning and reluctant readers— that introduces a truly unforgettable character.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2008:“A witty glossary and Pham’s simple yet expressive line drawings perfectly complement this appealing story about the refreshingly original, endearing Alvin.”

Publishers Weekly, July 7, 2008: “Look’s . . . intuitive grasp of children’s emotions is rivaled only by her flair for comic exaggeration.”

  • WINNER 2008 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award
  • WINNER 2008 Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books
  • NOMINEE 2011 Oklahoma Sequoyah Children’s Book Award
  • WINNER 2010 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award
  • NOMINEE 2011 California Young Reader Medal
  • NOMINEE 2010 Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award
  • NOMINEE 2010 Indiana Young Hoosier Award
  • NOMINEE 2009 Texas Bluebonnet Award
  • WINNER 2011 Virginia Young Readers Choice Award
  • NOMINEE 2012 Washington Sasquatch Reading Program
  • WINNER Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices
  • WINNER Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best books
  • NOMINEE Oklahoma Sequoyah Children’s Book Award


Ruby is starting third grade, and she can’t wait! In third grade you get to join clubs, like for knitting and ballroom dancing and yoga. In third grade you get to sign up for a musical instrument (Ruby is convinced that she is destined to play the harp) and play in the orchestra. In third grade you also get to learn cursive…and that’s only the beginning! But for Ruby Lu, third grade also means an especially big change: her father loses his job. When her mother goes to work to support the family, Ruby and Oscar have to adjust to her father’s bizarre caretaking, which is definitely not all fun and games. And then there’s the fact that money is tighter than ever. Ruby is determined to change things, though. Surely there’s a way for her to make a million dollars!

As Ruby is about to discover, making money isn’t easy…but having a loving family is the most valuable thing of all. This is another funny, charming, heartfelt gem from Lenore Look.

Booklist, February 2011: “Ruby is as effervescent and charming as ever.”

The Horn Book Magazine, March 2011: “Leavening the seriousness of her family’s money worries is Ruby’s Ramona-like talent for getting into trouble. (Young readers will think of Lilly and her purple plastic purse when Ruby’s beloved third-grade teacher Mr. Yu sends home a letter about her bad grades–Ruby draws a picture of him being struck by lightning, then features him in a less-than-flattering haiku.) Ruby and her family, along with cousin Flying Duck and the rest of the 20th Avenue Plum Club, are as comfortably familiar–and entertaining–as ever.”

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2011: “Although the overall tone is lighthearted, Look provides some real insight into the struggles a family faces when its main breadwinner is out of work, and she resists providing an easy resolution. Fans of Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine and Katy Kelly’s Lucy Rose should definitely meet Ruby Lu.”

School Library Journal, March 2011: “A fun easy chapter book despite the heavier issues.”


When Ruby’s cousin Flying Duck emigrates from China to live with her, Ruby decides the best thing about Flying Duck is that she is a great new friend. BUT the worst thing about Flying Duck is that now, no one speaks English at home. Plus, there’s strange food on the table every night and only chopsticks to eat it with. And Flying Duck is deaf, and Ruby doesn’t know any Chinese Sign Language.

As if that weren’t enough, this summer proves to be even more perilous as Ruby faces the dangers of swimming lessons, the joys of summer school, the difficulty of staying with a twelve-step program, the miracle needed to keep a beautiful stray dog that wanders into her life, and much more. Is it all too much for anyone — even the Empress of Everything — to handle?

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, May 2006: “Though Ruby invites favorable comparison with Junie B. Jones, Judy Moody, and Ramona, her charm, especially as it is threaded through with a funky multicultural sense of style and play, is unique. Keep ’em coming!

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2006: “Reminiscent of Beverly Cleary’s infamous Ramona Quimby, Ruby Lu is at once endearing and exasperating.”

  • WINNER 2007 ALA Notable Children’s Book
  • WINNER 2007 Gryphon Honor Award
  • NOMINEE 2007 Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Award (OR),
  • WINNER 2007 CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children’s Book Council)


Most days the best thing about being Ruby is everything. Like when she’s the star of her own backyard magic show. Or when she gives a talk at the school safety assembly on the benefits of reflective tape. Or when she rides the No. 3 bus all the way to Chinatown to visit GungGung and PohPoh.
And then there are the days when it’s very hard to be Ruby. Like when her mom suggests Chinese school on Saturdays. Or when her little brother, Oscar, spills all of Ruby’s best magician secrets. Or when her parents don’t think she’s old enough to drive!

Come along with Ruby Lu in her chapter-book debut — which even includes a flip book of a magic trick — and share the good and the not-so-good days with an (almost) eight-year-old Asian-American kid.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2004: “Hooray for Ruby Lu: she can ably join Hurwitz’s Russell and Elisa, McGovern’s Julian, and Cleary’s Ramona on the shelves of excellent series fiction for new chapter-book readers.”

Publishers Weekly: “Look (Henry’s First-Moon Birthday ) introduces a plucky Chinese-American heroine in this chapter-book series opener. . . . Kids who have taken a shine to the likable lass will look forward to her return.”

  • WINNER 2005 ALA Notable Children’s Book
  • NOMINEE 2005 Beehive Book Award (UT),
  • NOMINEE 2007 Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Award (OR)
  • WINNER 2005 Capitol Choices List (DC)
  • WINNER 2005 CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children’s Book Council)
  • NOMINEE Delaware Diamonds Award
  • NOMINEE Flicker Tale Children’s Book Award (ND)
  • NOMINEE Garden State Children’s Book Award Nominee (NJ)
  • NOMINEE Great Lakes Great Books (MI)
  • WINNER Kansas State Reading Circle Intermediate Titles
  • NOMINEE Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice
  • WINNER NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts
  • NOMINEE Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Nominee
  • NOMINEE South Dakota Prairie Bud Award
  • NOMINEE Virginia Readers’ Choice Award

Brush of the Gods

Who wants to learn calligraphy when your brush is meant for so much more? Wu Daozi (689-758), known as China’s greatest painter and alive during the T’ang Dynasty, is the subject of this stunning picture book. When an old monk attempts to teach young Daozi about the ancient art of calligraphy, his brush doesn’t want to cooperate. Instead of characters, Daozi’s brush drips dancing peonies and flying Buddhas! Soon others are admiring his unbelievable creations on walls around the city, and one day his art comes to life! Little has been written about Daozi, but Look and So masterfully introduce the artist to children.

Publishers Weekly, April 15, 2013: “Look (the Alvin Ho series) blends mystical realism and biography to create a magical portrait of one of ancient China’s famous artists, Wu Daozi… The young artist’s cherubic face with big, black eyes and plump, rosy cheeks will pull readers in at the first page; the brisk narrative and vibrant spreads will keep them reading. So’s (Water Sings Blue) breezy ink-and-watercolor illustrations evoke Daozi’s flowing style.”

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2013: “Look’s text is brief and impressionistic, conveying with quick brushstrokes the mythical genius of the artist and his own wonder at the miraculous work of his brush… So’s friendly ink-and-watercolor paintings are a mix of graceful lines and careful detail, conveying a world in motion. The black and white of Wu Daozi’s classical-style paintings as she depicts them come alive in bright colors.”

School Library Journal, May 2013: “Highly detailed and vibrantly colored, the illustrations render Daozi’s paintings with brilliance. Children will appreciate the imaginative aspect of the text as well as the inspiring story of a boy who follows his dreams. Inviting and appealing, this title serves as a great addition to a unit on ancient China or Chinese Art.”


Aspen Colorado Kim Chee Lee likes writing stories about monkeys, elephants, and aliens, but these days writing hasn’t been much fun. It’s like her characters are on vacation. Her pages are blank and she’s blocked. Luckily, her grandparents know that a trip to the local paint-your-own-pottery studio is exactly what she needs to feel creative again. Lenore Look’s charming story and Yumi Heo’s mixed-media naive-style illustrations create a warm and childlike book for young artists and writers.


Jenny’s favorite uncle, Peter, is getting married, and everyone is happy happy — everyone, that is, except Jenny. While her family runs about getting ready for the traditional Chinese wedding — preparing for the tea ceremony, exchanging good-luck money called hungbau, helping the bride with her many dresses — Jenny is crying on the inside. How is she supposed to still be Uncle Peter’s number-one girl, with her new aunt Stella around? Maybe if she can stop the day’s events from happening, he won’t get married at all…

Mischievous kids will love following Lenore Look and Yumi Heo’s feisty heroine from Henry’s First-Moon Birthday in this charming story that also illuminates the many traditions of the Chinese wedding.

Publishers Weekly, December 5, 2005: “The team behind Henry’s First-Moon Birthday here follows a boisterous modern-day Chinese family through a traditional wedding and again lets readers in on some unusual customs. . . . While the book is a fascinating look at Chinese wedding rituals, it’s a standout because of its appealing narrator. With her true-to-life voice, Jen conveys real feeling—making her a memorable model to kids facing change.”

  • WINNER 2007 ALA Notable Children’s Book
  • WINNER 2007 Charlotte Zolotow Honor Award


Jenny’s baby brother Henry is having his one-month birthday — his first-moon, as it’s called in Chinese. And even though Jenny’s sure he doesn’t deserve it — all Henry does is sleep, eat, and cry — there’s a big celebration planned for him. Together, Jenny and her grandma get everything ready, from dyeing eggs a lucky red to preparing pigs’ feet and ginger soup. And someday, when Henry’s old enough to appreciate all her hard work, Jenny will tell him how lucky he was to have her in charge.

The childlike charm of Lenore Look’s story is perfectly captured in Yumi Heo’s naïve illustrations, which give readers the impression that Jenny drew them herself.

Booklist, April 2001: “Jen’s chatty narration infuses the book with … cozy immediacy.”

  • WINNER, Charlotte Zolotow Award, Highly Commended Title, 2002.


Katie loves to show her grandma how to dress a Barbie…and GninGnin loves to show Katie how to make rice dumplings. More than anything, Katie longs to go with GninGnin to work, to crack a mountain of crabs alongside her at the crab cannery.

One day Katie gets her wish, but nothing is the way she’d imagined it. GninGnin swings a heavy mallet from sunup to sundown in a noisy, smelly room, earning barely enough for bus fare and a fish for dinner. That evening, when Katie eats the delicious meal that GninGnin has cooked — “made with love as strong as ginger and dreams as thick as black-bean paste” — she has a new understanding of her beloved grandma’s hard life, and the sacrifices she’s made to give her granddaughter a brighter future.

All the poignancy of Lenore Look’s beautifully realized story — based on her own childhood memories of her Chinese immigrant grandmother — is captured in Caldecott Honor Medalist Stephen T. Johnson’s sensitive, expressive pastels.

Publishers Weekly, May 1999: ““While Look doesn’t flinch from describing the harsh conditions … her story focuses on the strength and dreams of the women who work there,… The words are simple. The facts are stark, Love as Strong as Ginger is a fine addition to the realistic stories of coming to America.”

The Horn Book Magazine, May 1999: “A powerfully felt evocation of the dreams that can sustain one generation with hope of a better life for the next.”

  • WINNER 2000 Booklist Editors’ Choice,
  • WINNER 2000 CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book

6 thoughts on “Books

  1. you visited my school witch is bradbury school in hong kong . i read your alvin ho books that i really like and i wish to be a author just like you .


    • Hi Jasmine! That makes me so happy! Keep reading and writing and asking good questions. A good writer is always curious. And never give up, unless food is involved, then it’s okay, because a writer’s brain needs tea and biscuits every day to function properly. Now that I’ve thought of it, please ask Mrs. Perrin to send me more Digestives!


  2. Hi
    I am Aaron I am from our own high school I am 10 years old I really like your books I have some questions for you please answer them :

    1 – Who inspired you to be an author ?
    2 – Which book is your favourite book ?
    3 – Do you narrate stories to your own children ?
    4 – Why did you choose children as your main theme ?
    5 – What is your advice to young generation ?
    Please answer these questions .


    • Hi Aaron,

      It was a great pleasure and an honor to be at your school today.

      Thank you for all your excellent questions. I am further impressed by the expeditiousness of your inquiry, as I had left your school just a few hours ago.
      Thank you, too, for loving my work, it makes all the hours that I spend alone writing, worth it!!! So now to answer your questions:

      1. I was inspired to write by the authors that I enjoyed reading as a child: E.B. White, Beverly Cleary, Judy Bloom. Then when I was in high school and university, I read Homer (in Latin!), Socrates, Plato, (not in Greek), and I thought, geez, these dudes have been DEAD forever!!! but they’re alive every day because we’re still talking about them and connecting to what they said. So logically, I reasoned that if I wrote something, I could also be like that, that I could also live forever. So then I had to ask myself, what do I want to say that is worthy of being kept alive forever? If you can answer that question, then you, too, should be an author.
      2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It contains everything that is good and noble about American society, and addresses a terrible evil (racism) that our country has always suffered from.
      3. No, but I SO wish I had that talent! Stories don’t roll off my tongue like that, I need a LOT of empty space to write. I have to sit and brood, do research, brood some more, make notes, write and re-write. For me, writing is all about re-writing. I go through so many drafts before it’s ready for public consumption. This isn’t about perfectionism, this is just the way writers work. So I can’t simply open my mouth and produce a story out of thin air.
      4. Well, my first attempts at a book were for an adult audience, but they were especially awful. Then when I tried writing for children, I discovered that I have a child’s voice. Inside, I’m still seven years old! And sometimes, outside too. Especially when I’m near candy, or a board game.
      5. I don’t like giving advice. I think that giving advice means you have the answers. Well, I haven’t got the answers. But I have got a lot of questions, and I hope that I’ll die that way — asking good questions — so that they will lead to important questions — so that all of us can know how to live good lives and how to conduct ourselves in a way that makes life meaningful, not just for ourselves, but for all those around us.

      I hope this helps! Thank you again for such excellent questions. They made me sit and think for a while.

      Your friend,


  3. Pingback: Reading With Your 6 - 9 Year Old | Columbia SC Moms Blog

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