Alvin Ho is afraid of nearly everything: the dark, substitute teachers, and girls, to name just a few. But if there is one thing Alvin is absolutely terrified of, it is speaking in school. He has quite a voice at home; in fact Alvin jumps around with his brother and sister and pretends to be Firecracker Man, an explosion-loving superhero who's as noisy as a Chinese New Year. But when it comes time to say anything in school, Alvin loses his voice.
Alvin doesn't know why he's so afraid; after all he comes from a long line of farmer warriors from China who didn't have a scaredy bone in their bodies. His father is fearless, and he is also a great gentleman. Alvin does his best as a gentleman-in-training so he can grow up to be just like him, but it's not easy. He must remember not to thump his little sister Anibelly when she digs holes in the yard, or pester his super-smart older brother Calvin on the secret rules for making friends. He must bravely face down the terrors of piano lessons, show-and-tell, and girl desk buddies!
With a little help from his family and the rules of gentlemanly conduct, Alvin faces his fears, makes new friends, and finds his voice. The expressive spot illustrations throughout evoke the tenderness at the heart of this story.