I’ve heard this nasty rumor that it’s uncool for boys to read. I bet you disagree. Could you tell us why?
An awful rumor, indeed! In many parts of the world, it’s uncool for girls to read, and it’s not a rumor, it’s the law. Reading is considered masculine. Reading is power. Reading means you’re educated. Reading gives you privileges. You can pass a driver’s test. You can vote. You can travel. You can tell people what to do. Most importantly, you can tell yourself what to do. You are male, and it’s your birthright to be free and powerful. But if you’re female, you’re out of luck. You’ll always be a second-class citizen because you can’t read. You have no power. You are not free.
It wasn’t so long ago that it was uncool (and illegal) for black people in our country to read, and we all know why – a reading person could never be enslaved. Worse, a reading slave had the ability to undermine the power structure altogether – by teaching another slave to read, then another, and another . . . .
So why is there a rumor that it’s uncool for boys to read? It’s all part of a top-secret plan by girls to take over the world, of course! Once you guys stop reading and can’t read (because it’s considered feminine), then we will RULE!
Reading changes everything.
You are so right—reading is power and it does change everything for the better. So keep reading, guys! (and you girls, too!)
What made you think of writing stories about a second-grade boy who’s afraid of everything? And how did you decide what to put in Alvin’s Personal Disaster Kit?
My editor asked me to write a “boy book” like my Ruby Lu books. “Just make him like Ruby, except a boy,” she said. But I didn’t want to do that. How can you make a boy like a girl? You can’t. So I decided to make him the polar opposite of Ruby. While Ruby is overly enthusiastic about everything, and it’s her enthusiasm that gets her into trouble, Alvin is enthusiastic about nothing, and it’s his fear of everything that has trouble chasing him like a fox after an egg.
BTW, Alvin isn’t a “boy book” any more than Ruby Lu is a “girl book.” If guys limit themselves to reading only about guys (which is another rumor I’ve heard), they’ll miss out on some really fantastic books, including Ruby Lu.
As for the gear in Alvin’s PDK, it’s all the stuff that Alvin thinks he needs for facing scary school without taking the wheelbarrow with him. They’re all small things that you can carry easily without having to ask the bus driver to lower the
wheelbarrow wheelchair lift for you, which Alvin couldn’t do anyway without a voice.
You really know what second-grade kids are like. Have you had a lot of experience with them?
None. I never left second grade.
One of the very funniest things in these books is the “cursing” in mock-Shakespearean. Where did you ever come up with that idea?
My daughter came home with a worksheet on Shakespearean “curses” in the third grade. It even showed you how to DIY. It was fantastic! So I stole it. In some families the dog eats the homework; in mine, well . . . how could you not add that to your ideas folder? But poor Mady. I betcha she got an F.
Will people take tours of your house 300 years from now? And will you give tours (like Emily Dickinson)?
You mean Louisa May Alcott? Emily lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, which is also hard to spell, not Concord.
The last time I was in Seattle, a librarian told me that some enterprising kid in the hood where I grew up is doing a walk-by tour of the house where I lived as a child, and where my Ruby Lu books are set. For a fee, he will go down the sidewalk and point out the house to you. TGINLLT! Thank God I no longer live there! NILIAULDTEKE. Now I live in an undisclosed location due to enterprising kids everywhere.
OOPS! Got my authors wrong. Will there be any more Alvin Ho books or am I asking you a secret?
Oh yes! I hope there’ll be as many Alvins as there are Harrys! :D
Which do you prefer – cheeseburgers or pizza? What do you like on them?
PIZZA!!!! OH I LOOOVE PIZZA!!!! I can eat a whole pie (in two days). I love Pizza Bianca, Pizza Margherita, Pizza Spinacci, Pizza Funghi, and I super-duper love – gasp!—anchovies on my pizza. Mmmmm! I can tell when the crust is just right – chewy and crunchy, a little salty and olive-oily, thin, not bready and not soggy. The best pizza I’ve ever had was in Napoli, the birthplace of pizza. And I’ve eaten my way through the rest of Italy, surviving on the 1-euro slice. It’s fantastic!
You seem very cool. Could we make you an Honorary Guy?
It doesn’t involve an operation, does it? I’m allergic to major changes. Otherwise, I’d loved to be an Honorary Guy! My guy name will be Leonardo, as in da Vinci. Just call me Leonardo da Look!
Thanks, Lenny--I mean, Lenore! We really appreciate your taking the time to talk with us. For writing such terrific books, we're going to bestow upon you the greatest honor we can give and make you an Honorary Guy. Don't worry; it doesn't involve any operations. All you need to do is accept it with our thanks.
Yes, now you have the right to yell obnoxiously loudly at sporting events, crack all the stupid jokes you'd like, and eat insane amounts of food with no nutritional value. What a great life! And don't be shy about accepting the greatness of this honor; you've earned it!
In all seriousness, we'd like to thank you once again. Please keep those books coming! If you'd like to see reviews of the Alvin Ho books, click on the "Alvin Ho" tab underneath this post. And don't be afraid to check out the Ruby Lu books, guys.