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Listen Up: A for Alvin

Hi friends,

I hope you had a great lunch & are ready to put on your listening ears, or listening googles, or listening socks.

Alvin Ho, Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look

Today we will read chapter one.

But first, a little introduction to the star of the show, Alvin:

Great, right?

Alrighty, here we go with our first ever voice-overed-stock-footage, pandemicrophone-recorded, read-aloud thinky-poodle-doo program:

Some of you might be thinking I like space as much as the next kid, but that book is about a kid in Massachusets, why the outer space movie? The answer is: Johnny Astro! As the story progresses, we are introduced to this *toy* that plays an important role in Alvin's life. After I finished reading the book, I wondered if Johnny Astro was a real thing or made-up by the I Googled...turns out the toy is kinda like a the RC drones you guys play around with these days. Johnny Astro is no longer made, but if you have a dusty one in the attic, it's worth quite a bit of cash. Maybe you want to tinker around & make your own version (it's just a fan & a ballon, right?!). But first, you should take a minute & learn the physics behind the action with the Coanda Effect.

Ok, ok, back to Alvin. As promised, we have a few discussion questions to consider.

1. Lists. Alvin loves to list things. Did you catch any? He lists the way his sister bothers him, favorite superheros, the ways his voice works everywhere but school & that's just on the first 3 pages of the book. I like that the author describes Alvin's personality with all these lists. Instead of saying "Alvin is a kid who likes to think of examples to express his ideas" or "Alvin doesn't talk at school but he is extremely verbose everywhere else" she lets us (the reader) learn about Alvin by listening to what he has to say. Do you remember any of the things on Alvin's list of things he is afraid of? Take a minute & list (either in your head or on paper) the things you might be afraid of. Do you have any strategies for dealing with these fears? Alvin pretends to be Firecracker Man, loud & wild, totally opposite of the kind of kid who is too scared to talk at school, eat wasabi & watch scary movies---that's a great strategy. Everyone has things to be afraid of & everyone figures out strategies to deal with it. Can you think about what you do to help yourself to feel powerful/strong/not scared? I like to whistle when I'm feeling scared of the dark...

2. Calvin says "You're like a piece of frozen sausage fallen off the truck." That's a figure of speech, a simile. The author uses simile to compare things to help us (the reader) to understand a character or situation. So what does this simile tell us about how Calvin sees his brother? What would a piece of frozen sausage do if it fell? It's a little bit funny, the image our minds create from the words. But it also makes us feel a little bit sad. Alvin is so scared that he is frozen, like the sausage, almost like he isn't alive, he is trapped, solid, stuck until the environment changes (frozen things melt when heated up, so that sausage relies on the sun, or a dog to pick it up or whatever). Challenge yourself to come up with a few similes about the library. You can ask your grown-up in charge of the Internet at your home to bop over to the Hampton Community Library Facebook page & share with us some of your best similes about the library.

3. Expressive & endearing, I love the ink drawn illustrations in the book. Just like words, the illustrations are a language, a visual language that help us (the reader) to understand the characters.

Using the tools of a visual artist take time to develop, but we don't really focus much on that during the school day here in the U.S. More time is spent working with the tools of a writer. That's ok, though because you can use your free time to practice drawing, painting, sculpting...starting out with a fully rendered self-portrait can be daunting. Find some time this weekend to illustrate a little monster---it could be scary or sweet, maybe something Alvin would like to describe with a simile;) Here's my favorite example of a dude with some tools & a sense of joy that inspires me to draw a little bit each day.

Ok, it's time to turn off the screen, grab a writing stick & something paper-ish.

Toodleloo, Kangaroos

Today's book:

For more information about Lenore Look, read this interview or check out her blog Q&A page

Thanks to Pexels contributers for providing awesome video clips.

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