Q&A

The inspiration for this page comes from the amazing students at the Bradbury School in Hong Kong. DSC_0971So in their honor, here’s a place where you can ask me whatever you want and I’ll answer as soon as I can! Thanks, Bradbury students, for all your marvelous  enthusiasm! xxoo

P.S. Questions may be posted in English, Chinese or Italian, and replies will be made in kind. Correct grammar, spelling, sentence structure and word choice not guaranteed.

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104 thoughts on “Q&A

    • Hi Everyone! Great to hear from you again! It takes about nine months to write one of my Alvin books. It takes about nine months of research BEFORE I can start writing. Then it takes about six to nine months of editing and illustrating before it’s ready to be published. In all, One book takes nearly three years to prepare.

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    • Hi Mrs. Mack’s Class, Are you guys competing to see who asks the best questions, or something? Well, you all win! I don’t exactly remember what my first books that I wrote in kindergarten and first grade were about. But if I had to guess — I would say all of them were about ME!!! I was my favorite subject. And most likely I was a mermaid, or a little match girl, or some adorable little animal like a rabbit. I definitely was not a koala because we didn’t know about koalas back then, but if we did, I most certainly would have been a koala. They’re SO cute!!! The mermaid theme was my favorite, and can still be found in some of my books today. I try to mention mermaids whenever I can, but eventually my editors caught on, and it was goodbye to many of them.

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  1. Hi Mrs. Look,
    This is Mrs. Tyranski’s 3rd grade class from North Hill Elementary again (Rochester, MI). To answer your question, we are special because…we are obnoxious and fun and our teacher is the best teacher EVER!!! From all of her students!

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    • Oh wow! I LOVE obnoxious students! They’re they best!!! Mrs. Tyranski is SO lucky! But you’re even more lucky to have her!!! And I’m lucky you guys like Alvin! Do you know if I’m visiting your school in April as part of Authors in April????

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      • Hi Mrs. Look,
        Yes! Sorry to take so long to reply! You WILL be coming to see us as part of Authors in April and we can not wait to meet you in person!

        What are you doing for Halloween this year?

        We get to dress up at school next Monday.

        Mrs. Tyranski’s obnoxious, amazing, fun students at North Hill Elementary, Rochester, Michigan

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      • Hi Mrs. Look,

        YES! You are visiting our school for Authors in April and we can NOT wait to meet you in person. We are on Chapter 6 in Alvin Ho right now. Such a great book!

        What are you doing for Halloween? We get to come to school dressed up on Monday.

        Warmly,
        The Obnixious, Fun Class of Mrs. Tryanski at North Hill Elementary in Rochester Michigan

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      • Oh wow! Can’t wait to meet all the obnoxious, fun kids at North Hill! Sounds like I’m in for a treat! As for Halloween, I wish I were trick-or-treating with you!!! Have a great time on Monday! If you guys don’t look too scary, send me a photo on twitter @lenorelook

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  2. Dear Ms. Look,

    I am a PhD student writing a thesis on selective mutism in children’s fiction, and Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things is such an important exemplary text for me – I really admire it and am so glad to have found it! I have a quick but burning question I was hoping you could answer. Alvin Ho #1 mentions the term “selective mutism” in your author acknowledgments but nowhere in the story itself. I get the sense that you did intend to portray selective mutism in this book (in addition to performance anxiety disorder – it makes sense that they would co-occur) – is that right? If so, why did you choose not to mention the term selective mutism in the story itself? Please feel free to email me at cecoll87@gmail.com if it’s easier. I can’t wait to hear from you! Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    With best wishes,
    Christina

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    • Hi Christina,

      Thanks for writing to me. I’m glad to hear that you’re working on this topic. I never mention “selective mutism” in the text because it’s narrated by Alvin, a kid, and kids don’t generally talk like that. They don’t care what something is called — it’s completely useless to them, and it wastes time. Kids just cut to the chase, “Miss P, Alvin needs to go to the bathroom!” By not using the term, the narration stays in Alvin’s voice, and my adult voice, hopefully, is completely absent.

      Just so you know, he’s a selective mute all the way through all six books in the series. He never makes any progress in becoming less mute. This, too, is keeping it real.

      Hope this helps!

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      • Thank you so much for answering! That makes perfect sense! Alvin’s voice is definitely a 100% believable kid’s voice, and no doubt partly for the reason you mentioned. You really nail the perspective! Part of the reason I asked was because Alvin uses the term “performance anxiety disorder” on page 13, mentioning to his brother that he’s been diagnosed with it, but I figure this is simply because he is repeating words (as kids are wont to do) that his therapist told him, and one could surmise that Alvin’s therapist is not informed about selective mutism, as many psychologists still do not fully understand the condition. And his diagnosis supports the fact that children with selective mutism often have another anxiety condition – so it all makes perfect sense to me! I also think you portray the anxiety that comes with SM incredibly well. And the book’s humor makes it such a fun read even though anxiety is not fun. Well done, and thank you again for writing the book and for answering!

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  3. Hi Christina,

    I think you’re saying I’m inconsistent — I didn’t use “selective mutism,” but used “performance anxiety disorder,” another long, meaningless adult term. Right? It’s okay to challenge, it’s what scholars do!

    Actually, you missed it — Alvin says, “so-so performance anxiety disorder,” the “so-so” is what makes the term totally kid-like. He mishears and mispronounces lots of words (it’s one of his schticks) throughout the books, to great comic exaggeration. In this case, “so-so” is a mishearing of the word “social.” The full diagnostic term is “social performance anxiety disorder.” And for him to think it means he suffers from “so-so” or sub-par, “meh” performance is kinda funny, I think. So it’s not that his psychologist isn’t aware of his selective mutism, she is, but there’s no point in repeating any of the names of his multi-layered condition to him during therapy, so she doesn’t. And what he mishears once, is misheard forever 😉 — a very common childhood experience!

    Thanks again for reading Alvin! Please feel free to ask more questions.

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