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Alvin ho 1 allergic to girls school and other scary things



CONTENTS
TitlePage
Dedication
Author’sAcknowledgments
ChapterOne
OnceUponaTime
ChapterTwo
Getting—Gulp—ReadyforSchool
ChapterThree
RoastDuckintheWindow
ChapterFour
AllergictoSchool
ChapterFive
TheTroublewiththeS-Word
ChapterSix
Minutemenvs.Redcoats
ChapterSeven
TheBestWaytoAvoidSchool
ChapterEight

JohnnyAstro
ChapterNine
ARealNightmare
ChapterTen
FacingtheMusic
ChapterEleven
TheWholeTooth
ChapterTwelve
Psychotherapy
ChapterThirteen
RuleNo.2


ChapterFourteen
TheApesofMath
ChapterFifteen
TheProblemWithJoiningaGang
ChapterSixteen
AHorrificThing
ChapterSeventeen
DeathbyVolcano
AlvinHo’sWoefulGlossary
Copyright


ThisbookbelongstoSamFisher,whoinspiredit.
—L.L.
ToallthelittleYearofthePigsbornlastyear,includingtwoofmy
favorites:mynephew,Dylan,and,ofcourse,myownlittleLeo.
—L.P.


AUTHOR’SACKNOWLEDGMENTS
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”—
HenryDavidThoreau,journalentry,19August1851
Thosewhohavestoodwithme:
MadisonChen,whosereadingisalwaysinvaluable.
AnnKelley,whowaitedpatientlyforthisbookwhileIprocrastinated.
VivianLowFisher,whosharedSamwithme.
Manythanksalsoto:
GuillermoFranciscoNahoe,whothrewtheoriginal,errant,eponymousbaseball.
JenniferMartin,Sam’steacher,forlettingmecometoclass.
Dr.ElizaShipon-Blum,forherinsightintoselectivemutism.
The Concord Public Schools, for teaching Henry David Thoreau in the second
grade.
JohnnyLook,forhavingareallystrangegoldfish.


thefirstthingyoushouldknowaboutmeisthatmynameisAlvinHo.
Iamafraidofmanythings.
Elevators.
Tunnels.
Bridges.
Airplanes.
Thunder.
Substituteteachers.
Kimchi.
Wasabi.
Thedark.
Heights.
Scarymovies.
Scarydreams.
Shots.
School.
Iftherewerenoschool,mytroubleswouldblastaway,justlikethat.Iwould
digholesallday.Iwouldplaycatchwithmygunggung.Iwouldwatchcooking
shows.Iwouldkeepaneyeonthings.Itwouldbefantastic!


ThesecondthingyoushouldknowaboutmeisthateventhoughIamafraid
of many things, I am not afraid of anything that explodes. I love explosions. I
waspracticallybornwithgunpowderinmyblood!ThisisonaccountofIlivein
Concord,Massachusetts,whichishardtospell,butwheretherewereexplosions
all overtheplace,whenthe American RevolutionaryWarstartedwaybeforeI
wasborn.
ThethirdthingyoushouldknowaboutmeisthatIhaveadognamedLucy
andabrothernamedCalvinandasisternamedAnibelly,whomesseswithmy
sticksandtoys,eatsmyfood,drinksmychocolatemilkandgetsinmyway.
I am not as big as Calvin, but I am bigger than Anibelly, who isn’t a baby
anymore but doesn’t go to school yet. I am sort of nearly almost medium . . .
whenIstandontiptoeandstretchatthesametime,Iamfinallyalmostvisiblein
myclasspicture!


ThefourththingyoushouldknowaboutmeisthatIlovePlasticMan,Wonder
Woman,theGreenLantern,ConcreteMan,Aquaman,KingHenryVandallthe
superheroes in the world. I know them from reading with my dad every night
whilemymomrunsonthetreadmilllikeahamsteronawheel.Mydadisagreat
readerforhisage,whichcouldbefiftyoronehundred,it’shardtotell.Hewears
reading glasses and always puts one arm around me and his other arm around
AnibellyandCalvinforsupport,onaccountofwhenyougettobethatold,itis
hardtodoanythingbyyourself.

Thefifththingyoushouldknowaboutmeisthatonceuponatime,beforeI
went to school, I was a superhero. I was Firecracker Man! I ran around our
house, full speed ahead, screaming at the top of my lungs while beating on a
garbage can lid. I was as noisy as a firecracker on Chinese New Year! My
costumewasgreat(mygunggungmadeit).
ButnowIamFirecrackerManonlyonweekendsandholidays.There’sjust
notimeforit.
Being a superhero is hard work. You have to save the world. But going to
school is evenharder.Youhaveto saveyourself.MostdaysIcanhardlyeven
makeittotheschoolbus.AndwhenIarriveatschool,Ican’tthink.Ican’tread.
Ican’tsmile.Ican’tsing.Ican’tscream.
Ican’teventalk.


ThesixththingyoushouldknowaboutmeisthatIhaveneverspokenaword
inschool.EvenwhenItrywithallmymight,Ialwaysmanagetosaynothingat
all. My voice works at home. It works in the car. It even works on the school
bus.ButassoonasIgettoschool...Iamassilentasasideofbeef.
“You’re like a piece of frozen sausage fallen off the truck,” my brother,
Calvin,likestosay.Itistrue.Iamsomethinglikethat.
NoonereallyknowswhyIlosemyvoiceatschool,sinceIcomefromalong
lineoffarmer-warriorswhohaven’thadascaredyboneintheirbodiessince714
AD. In China my ancient grandpas and grandmas and aunts and uncles fought
offleopardsandtigersintheirgardensthewayCalvinandAnibellyandIfight
offmosquitoesatWaldenPond.Theyweren’tafraidofanything.Iamafraidof
everything.


itwasthelastdayofsummervacationandCalvinandIwereinourroom
gettingreadyforthefirstdayofschool.HewasgoingintothefourthgradeandI
washeadingintosecond.CalvinwasonthecomputerandIwassittingonmy
bedgoingovermyPDK—PersonalDisasterKit.

Whenyou’reafraidofeverything,it’sveryimportanttocarryaPDK.It’slike
aPFD,aPersonalFlotationDevice,onlyheavierandwithmoreparts.APDK
beginswiththerightbox.Itmustnotbetoobig,likeashoebox,ortoosmall,
likeaBand-Aidtin.Ahandleonitisgood,butalockisbadonaccountofitwill
keep you out when you need to get in. I use a waterproof fly box with
compartments,whichisjustperfect.
YoucanputanythinginaPDK,butmostlyitshouldbethingsthatareuseful
inadisaster,suchas:


Awhistle.IfIlosemyvoice,awhistleisveryhandy.
Athree-leafclover(becauseIcouldn’tfindafour-leafone).
Garlic.Forfendingoffvampiresandteachers.


Dentalfloss.Handyfortrapping,wrapping,tyingandhangingthings
(outofAnibelly’sreach).

Band-Aids.


Amagnifyingglass.Forgeneralcuriosity,butcanalsobeusedto
startafire.

Amirror.Forsendingsignals,incaseyoucan’tstartafire.


Abandana.Forpreventingsmokeinhalation,incaseyoustartthe
abovefire,butcanalsobeusedasaslingoratourniquet.

Ascarymask.Forkeepinggirlsaway.
Escaperoutes.

TheproblemwithPDKs,aseveryoneknows,isthattheyneedtobeupdated
every year on account of you never know what you’ll need in the next grade.
Now that I could read and write without help, I was adding something I’d
neededforalongtime—emergencyplans.
IreadthemaloudtoCalvin:


And...

And...


WhenIfinishedreading,Iwasveryimpressedwithmyplans.
ButCalvinwasnot.“That’sstupid,”hesaid.Calvinisnotsupposedtousethe
s-word,itisbad.
“Youcan’tsaythat,”Isaid.
“Okay,it’sdumb,”saidCalvin.“You’resupposedtolookyourteacherinthe
eye,shakeherhandandsmile.”
“Butthat’sharderthanputtingonascarymask,”Isaid.
IamnottoogoodatanythingeversinceIstartedschool,butCalvinisgoodat
everything.Heknowshismultiplicationtables,mostly.Hehasfantasticideasfor
scienceprojects.Mostdayshecanfinishhishomeworkwithoutfallingasleep.
And someday he will know something about everything because he is reading
theentireencyclopediaonline.
“Calvin,”Isaid.“You’regoingtobethesmartestpersonintheworld.”


“That’s the whole idea,” said Calvin, still reading. He needed to read pretty
fasttogivehimselfajump-startonthefourthgrade,whichiswhenyouhaveto
speed-readtogetyourselfreadyformiddleschool.Hewasuptotheletter“D.”
“Didyouknowthatdeersleeponlyfiveminutesaday?”Calvinsaid.
“No,”Isaid.“Calvin...”
Calvinignoredmeandcontinuedreading.
“Theelephantistheonlymammalthatcan’tjump,”hesaid.
Calvinwasright.I’veseenanelephantflyinamovie,butI’veneverseenone
jump.“IneedyourhelptofinishmyPDK,”Isaid.
“I’vealreadyhelpedyou,”Calvinsighed.Hedidnotlookup.
“Ineedmorehelp,”Isaid.“Ineedemergencyplansformakingfriends.None
oftheboysatschoolwillplaywithme.”
“That’sbecauseyou’reweird,”saidCalvin.
“I’mnotweird,”Isaid.“Ihaveso-soperformanceanxietydisorder.”Itistrue.
Iseeatherapistforit.
“That’sweird,”saidCalvin.Heskippedaheadto“S.”
“You’reweird,”Isaid.
“Did you know that the author William Shakespeare invented more than
seventeenhundredwords,including‘assassination’and‘bump’?”
Ishookmyhead.
“ ‘Stewardesses’ is the longest word you can type with only the left hand,”
saidCalvin.
Igrowled.
Calvin stopped. “Okay,” he said. “The first step in making friends is, don’t
talksomuch.Youneedtobequiet.Thatisthefirstruleofbeingagoodfriend.”
“Oh.”Iblinked.“ButIcan’ttalkinschool!”Icried.“That’stheproblem!”
Calvin glared at me. “Maybe if you didn’t use up all your words at home,
you’dhavesometouseatschool,”hesaid.
Iglaredback.
“Okay,”hesaid.“IfItellyou,willyoustopbotheringme?”
“Okay,”Iagreed.
“Ready?”askedCalvin.“Youbetterwritefast.”
SoIdid.
Ireadittwice.
ThenIreaditagain.


Itwasn’tperfect,butIputitintomyPDKandstoppedbotheringCalvin.


afterawhile,IjusthadtobotherCalvinagain.Hehadstoppedreading
the encyclopedia online and was now sitting on the floor and holding a
permanentmarkerinhishand.
“Whatchadoing?”Iasked.
“I’mwritingmynameoneverythingIown,”saidCalvin.“Thatway,you’ll
havetoaskforpermissionbeforeyoutouchmystuff.”

“Oh.”

Hewrote“CalvinHo”onthebottomofhissneakers.Thenhewrote“C.Ho”
inglisteningblackmarkeronthebottomofhisbaseballglove.“CalvinHo”went
inside his batting helmet. Finally, he began writing “Calvin Ho” inside his
favoritebooks,whichwerealsomyfavoritebooks.


ItlookedlikeIhadbettergetstartedbeforeeverythingbelongedtoCalvin!So
Igrabbedanothermarkerandwrote“AlvinHo”onmybaseball.Itwasnotmy
playball,butmyspecialball,keptinaclearplasticboxontheshelf.Someone
elsehadalreadywrittenhisnameonit—DaisukeMatsuzaka,whosenicknameis
Dice-K.Icanrollasfastasdicetoo,especiallywhenIamFirecrackerMan,so
mynamesurelookedfantasticrightnexttohis.
“Nowthatball’sgoodfornothingbutplayin’,”saidCalvin.
Itwasgreatnewstome.Ihadalwayswantedtothrowit.
Butevenbetter,Calvinseemedlikehewasnowinatalkingmood.SoIgave
him the bad news. “Calvin’s Rules for Making Friends isn’t going to work for
me,”Isaid.“Ican’tdoanythingonthelistonaccountofIcan’tevensayhello.
Gotanyotherideas?”
“Hmmm,”saidCalvin,hismarkerinmidair.“Aretheotherboysinyourclass
biggerthanyou?”
“Mostly,”Isaid,“butPinkyisbiggerthaneveryone.”
“Sometimes it helps if a friend is the same size as you,” said Calvin. “Then
youdon’thavetosayanything.”
“Howcome?”Iasked.
“Dunno,”saidCalvin.“That’sjustthewayitworks.”
Then Calvin went over to the computer, typed and clicked. “Stretching
Exercises for Accelerated Growth” f lashed across the screen. “See Results in
Five Minutes! Amazing Results FAST!” There were all sorts of diagrams and
instructionsonhowtogrowafewinches.Itwasperfect!Heprintedafewpages,
andwehurriedoutsidetothebackyardwiththem.
Summer wasn’t quite over, but fall was already showing off with pretty
leaves. Butter-, cinnamon-, orange- and burnt-toast-colored, the leaves looked
likefireworksexplodinginthegoldenafternoonlight.AndAnibellywassinging
underthem.
“Lalalalalalalala,”Anibellysang.“Lalalalalalala.”


Anibellywasdiggingholes,oneofourfavoritethingstodo.Herholeswere
notasgoodasmine—theyweren’tevenrealholes,justdimples—butshesure
loveddiggingthem.
“Lalalalalalalala,”shesanglikealittlebird.Thegardenhosewasinonehand
andoneofmycarvedstickswasintheother.
I ran over. I nearly almost gave her a thumping, but I didn’t. I remembered
justinthenickoftimethatIamagentleman.MydadtaughtmeandCalvinthe
rulesofbeinggentlemen.RuleNo.1:Nohitting,especiallygirls,unfortunately.
IfIrememberonlyoneruleitshouldbethis,mydadsaid,andifIforgetit,Iwill
not be a man but a mushroom. Being a man would be a lot easier if Anibelly
didn’tmesswithmythings,eatmyfood,drinkmychocolatemilkorgetinmy
way.
“Anibelly,” I said, breathless. “That stick’s been carved and it’s not for
digging,it’sonlyforrobberyandmayhem.”
“Yup,”saidAnibelly.Shestopped.Shelookedatthestick.Mydadhadshown
mehowtouseaknifetotakeoffthebarksothatitwouldbesmooth.Ihadarare
collectionofthesesticksagainstthebackfence.
“Andit’sgoodfordigging,”Anibellysaid.“Tryit.”
So I did. And so did Calvin. He digs better than anybody. He is a regular
backhoe.Someday,hecouldbecometheworld’sbestholedigger.
Dirtflew.
Watergushed.
Itwasgreat!
When our yard had more holes than the prairie dog exhibit at the zoo, we
stopped.
“Anibelly,you’reright,”Calvindeclared.“Thesesticksaregoodfordigging.
They’resmoothinthehand,notrough.”
Anibellybeamed.Calvinalwayshasagoodwordforher.


“NowAlvinandIhaveworktodo,”saidCalvin.
“Work?”Anibellylookedpuzzled.
CalvinmadeastirrupwithhishandsandIstuckmyfootintoitandhepushed
meupintoourappletree.Igrabbedabranchandhungfromit.
“Whatkindofworkisthat?”askedAnibelly.
“It’sastretchingexercise,”saidCalvin,“tomakehimtaller.Beingbiggerwill
helphimmakefriendsinschool.”
“Oh,” said Anibelly. She tilted like a teapot to look at me. “You look like a
duckhanginginaChinatownwindow.”

“C’mon, let’s help him,” said Calvin. He reached up and pulled on one foot
andAnibellycopied,pullingontheother.
“SeeResultsinFiveMinutes!”saidCalvin.“AmazingResultsFAST!”
Ithurtmyarmpitsjustalittle,nottoomuch.Icouldfeelmyselfstretchinglike
arubberchicken.
SuddenlyAnibellyletgo.“Let’sbakecookieswithMom!”sheshrieked,and


beganrunningtowardthehouse.
“Greatidea!”saidCalvin,takingoffafterAnibelly.
“Hey,wait!”Icried.“Iwanttobaketoo!”
Anibelly looked back but didn’t stop. She was getting better at doing two
thingsatonce,likegivingordersandrunning.“Youkeepstretching,Alvin,”she
saidassheran.“We’llbringyousomecookieswhentheycomepipinghotoutof
theoven,okay?Thatwayyou’llbehalfgrownbythetimewegetback!”
“Greatidea!”Isqueaked.Anibellyisn’tinschoolyet,butshesaysthingsthat
soundasthoughshe’salreadybeenthroughthesixthgradeorsomething.
Butitwasn’tsuchagreatideaforlong.Icouldfeelmygripslipping.
Icouldn’thangonforever.Icouldn’tevenhangonmuchlonger!

ButIcouldn’tjumpeither.Iamafraidofheights.Icouldbreaksomebonesif
Ifell.SoIswungmylegsupanddrapedmykneesoverthebranchlikeonthe
monkeybarsatschool.Itwasaclosecall.
Butthiswasnotthemonkeybars.
Iwasnowupsidedownandevenfartherfromtheground.
AndIwas...stuck.
“Calvin!”Iyelled.“Helpmedown!”
Therewasnoanswerforalongtime....
Thenthescentofcookieswaftedfromthehouse.
“Hey!” I screamed. I heard milk glasses clinking, followed by the muffled
voicesofaTVcookingshow.
ThenthesoundofAnibellysinging,“Lalalalalalalalalalala.”
“Anibelly!”Iscreamed.“Help!”
“Lalalalalalalalalalalala,”sangAnibelly.
“Mom!”Isquawked.
Mybreathpuffedoutinclouds.Myfacefroze.


Mynoseran.Myearsrang.Myheadspun.Then...IhadanitchIcouldn’t
reach.
Butthatwasn’ttheworstofit.
ItwasgettingDARK.Thewindmovedandtheleavesapplauded.Thegarden
hosehissedandslithered.Thegrassdisappeared,andinitsplaceroaredablack,
blacksea.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!”Iscreamed.
Somewhereapianoplayed.
Videogamesblasted.
AndAnibellysang,“Lalalalalalalalalala.”
Iwantedtocry.SoIdid.Isqueezedthebranchwithmykneesandcriedfull
blast. Crying is really great, even upside down. Everything is always better
afterward.
And it was. Soon I heard Louise coughing up the driveway. Louise is my
dad’swasabi-greencar,whichhelovesmorethanfireworks.Mydadwashome!
My dad is da dad, which means he’s the best. He would save me, he always
does.
“DAD!” I yelled. “DAAAAAD! HELP ME! DAAD! I’M IN THE
TREEEEE!”IscreamedasloudlyasIcould.
Therewasonlyoneproblem.Nosoundcameoutofmymouth.Myvoicewas
allinmyhead.
Outthereinthecold...inthedark...inthegraspoftheeviltree,perched
abovethehungrysea...Iwastooscaredtospeak...andschoolhadn’teven
begun!


“Oh, you poor thing,” said my mom, rolling me up in a blanket before
carryingmeintothehouse.“Howdidweforgetyou?”

Itiseasytoforgetme.Idon’tmakemuchnoisewheneverIamscaredoutof
mywits.Andlikemydadsays,“Outofsight,outofmind,”whichmeansifyou
don’tseeme,youwon’tthinkofmeeither.
But finally, when my mom saw my empty place at the dinner table, she
thoughtofme.
My mom is da mom. She never had another life, like my dad, who was
probablysecretlyagungfuactionherospymasterassassinbeforehewasadad.
Shewasalwaysamom—shewaspracticallybornthatway—butthat’sokay.She
is really super-duper. She is not afraid of heights. She can climb a tree in two
secondsflatandtearme—poorthing—fromthegraspoftheeviltree,justlike
that.
Iloveitwhenshecallsmethat:poorthing.Itwasalmostworthhanginglikea
roastducktohearit.Poorthing.


“wheniwasyourage...,”mydadsaidatbreakfastthenextday,“Iwas
scaredofschooltoo.Worse,IwasneverasuperherobeforeIwenttoschool,so
itwasveryrough.”
Mydadisnotsuperheromaterial,buthehasreadpracticallyeverythingever
written about superheroes and so knows us from beginning to end, which
explainsalotabouthim.
“Justholdyourheadhigh,”saidmydad,“andbeagentleman.”
“ButIfeelsick,”Isaid.

Mydadputahandonmyforehead.
“Nofever,”hesaid.
“Are you sure?” I looked at his hands. They are thick like baseball mitts. It
wasawonderhecouldfeelanythingthroughthem.
“Wheredoesithurt?”heasked.
“Allover,”Isaid.Itwastrue;Iwasnotmakingitup.Imusthavegrownat


least two inches from stretching so long in the tree. And growing hurts, as
everyoneknows.
Igavealittlemoan.
“Hmmm,”saidmydad.
Imoanedalittlemore.
“Youarenotsick,”saidmydad.
“But I will be,” I said. “I will be very, very sick. I’m allergic to school,
severelyallergic.”
Mydadlookedatme.
“Alvin,”hesaidfirmly,puttingoneofhismittsonmyshoulder.
“Yes,Dad.”
“Youwillbeokay,son,”hesaid.Iloveitwhenhecallsmethat.Son.
Ifeltalittlebetter.Maybemydadwasright,maybeIwouldbeokay.Agood
word from my dad changes everything. Besides, if I missed the bus, my dad
mighthaveafewotherwordsforme.SoIdashedoutofthehouseandcaughtup
withCalvinjustasthebuswaspullinguptotheendofourdriveway.

“Bye,Alvin!”criedAnibelly.“Bye,Calvin!”
“Bye,Anibelly!”Wewavedandclimbedon.
Thewheelsonthebuswentroundandround.
Iwasokay.
IclutchedmyPDKandsatnexttoCalvininthebackofthebuswhereallthe
fourth graders sit. The big kids screamed their heads off. I screamed my head
off.Webouncedupanddown.
“Youwillbeokay,son,”mydad’svoiceechoedbetweenmyears.
IsmiledatCalvin.AndCalvinsmiledback.


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