Alvin, an Asian American second grader who's afraid of everything, has started to notice his mother 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 puts on a few pounds and—in one hilarious misunderstanding—worries that he might actually be pregnant, too!
A humorous and touching series about facing your fears and embracing new experiences—with a truly unforgettable character—from author Lenore Look and New York Times bestselling and Caldecott Honor winning illustrator LeUyen Pham.
“Alvin’s a winner.” —New York Post
About the Author
LeUyen Pham is the award-winning and critically acclaimed illustrator of more than one hundred books for children. Her picture books include Bear Came Alongby Richard T. Morris, named a Caldecott Honor Book, as well as Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio and the Vampirina Ballerina series by Anne Marie Pace. She is also the illustrator of Princess in Black, the New York Times-bestselling middle grade series by Shannon and Dean Hale, and the co-creator, along with Shannon Hale, of the New York Times-bestselling graphic memoirs Real Friends and Best Friends. Her most recent author-illustrator book, Outside, Inside, is a recollection of our year in lockdown.
Read an Excerpt
A Dark and Stormy Night it was a dark and stormy night.
My name is Alvin Ho. I was born scared and I’m still scared, so a dark and stormy night is a really crummy way to start a book.
Usually it takes a couple of pages for things to get really creepy. But not this time!
Worse, I was already freaking out before the storm even began.
Normally, I’m afraid of many things.
Hairy ice cream.
A full moon.
CPR. (Cell phone radiation.)
Dark and stormy nights.
But this was not normal.
I had only one issue.
And it was DA BOMB.
MY MOM IS GOING TO HAVE A BABY!!!
How this happened, I have no idea. My mom said she told us months ago, but I don’t remember hearing about such a thing. Ever.
And now it’s too late.
“Darling, you know I can’t return it,” my mom said. “It’s not the same as buying a toy and then changing your mind. There are no refunds on babies.”
I knew that. Babies come from BabyStore.com, as everyone knows, and when your mom shops in the clearance bins you’re stuck with whatever she buys. All sales final. No refunds. No returns.
The baby was a Final Sale.
I wiped my eyes on my sleeve.
It was after dinner and I was helping my mom put our dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Normally, I like helping her or my dad after dinner. It’s our alone-time to- gether. Calvin and Anibelly aren’t good cleaner-uppers, but I am, and so is my dad. But this was not normal. We were not alone.
Little ears were listening.
“Alvin,” said my mom. “Don’t you remember when we took your grandparents out for dim sum and your dad and I gave everyone the news together?”
“Don’t you remember that it was all we talked about at dinner for a while?” asked my mom.
I thought we were playing the what-if game. You know, someone asks, “What if . . . Godzilla came to Concord, where would you go?” Or “What if . . . Babezilla were born into your family, what would you do?”
“There are pictures of the baby on the refrigerator,” said my mom, pointing to the curling squares stuck to the door with magnets.
That’s a baby?
I thought they were satellite pictures of UFO landings!
I opened my eyes. I looked really hard. I tried to imagine a baby in the white lines and dark spaces. But all I saw were light beams from an alien spacecraft, and maybe an alien or two if I concentrated as hard as I do for a spelling test.
“Alvin,” said my mom. “Haven’t you noticed the baby growing inside me?” She rubbed her tummy.
I thought maybe my mom had gotten chubby, but I wasn’t sure. Who could tell with all the loose clothing she’s been wearing? I was pretty sure that one of the rules of being a gentleman is to not notice when a lady puts on a few extra pounds. But if you break that rule, then you’d better not even think of breaking the next one, which is to not ask her about it or else!
“Darling,” said my mom, “I’m sorry you didn’t know.”
I was sorry too.
All I know is that my troubles began during show-and-tell, when Scooter showed pictures of his new baby brother.
“It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,” said Scooter. “He cries all night. He wears a diaper. He smells bad. And my mom and dad pet him like crazy.”
He wiped away a tear.
Then someone said that it looked like my mom was going to have a baby too.
It was news to me.
Then someone else asked when the baby was coming.
I had no idea.
“My mom says it looks like it could be any day now,” said Flea, who’s a girl, and who sits next to me. And girls, as everyone knows, are very annoying.
I wanted to set her straight, but I couldn’t. My voice doesn’t work in school, where I haven’t said a word since kindergarten.
“You should come over to my house and see the baby,” Scooter said. “That way you can see the bomb before it hits you.”
Then Miss P, our second-grade teacher, beamed and said, “Congratulations, Alvin! That’s such wonderful news!”
It freaked me out! She’s never congratulated me for anything, ever. And if it was such wonderful news, why did I suddenly feel so sick?
In fact, I ended up going to the nurse’s office.
Soon after that, my mom had to come and take me home.
And I’ve been feeling like a ferry tipping to one side and taking on water ever since.
“Why don’t you run along and relax,” said my mom. “I’ll finish in here.”
Relax? How can anyone relax when they’re on the brink of ruindom?
I mean, what if the baby’s a girl?
I already have a girl for a sister, and the problem with a sister, as everyone knows, is that you can’t thump her. With a brother, a good pounding usually settles everything.
Worse, how will I ever keep an eye on things? It’s hard enough already with Anibelly getting into my toys, eating my food and drinking my chocolate milk.
Who can run along and relax?
“Is it a boy . . . or a girl?” I asked my mom.
My mom smiled her mysterious momsmile and rubbed her tummy. “I don’t know,” she said. “I want to be surprised.”
“But I’m allergic to surprises,” I said. “If a meteorite is heading for me, I’d like to know about it!”
My mom’s smile disappeared.
Her eyes narrowed.
She crossed her arms.
The look on her face said she was NOT carrying a meteorite in her belly.
I wiped away a tear.
Then I ran into the living room and sat down next to Calvin, who was in front of the TV.
I breathed in.
I breathed out.
Extreme breathing is very loud, like my dad’s car, Louise, when she’s going uphill. It’s something I learned to do from my scary psychotherapist. She said to breathe deeply whenever I need to calm down, and to imagine my breath blowing away all my troubles like wind blowing away dust.
It’s never worked before.
And it wasn’t working now.
I wasn’t calm, or relaxed.
Worse, Calvin ignored me completely!