Little Alvin Ho is just a little scared of... everything. When he goes to school, he's so scared of his teachers, the other kids and all the pressure to know answers that he can't even speak. But when he goes home, he's Firecracker Man, an alter ego in the manner of Calvin's Spaceman Spiff, who wears a colander on his head. He must contend with school, siblings and his parents in this very modern, very real (even though it's told from Alvin's perspective) short novel with illustrations. The hyper-evocative pictures and the narrative voice of the book suit it well for read aloud with younger kids, especially those that might find school just a little scary. For kids who read on their own, it's well suited for ages 6-9.
Bonus points for the Shakespearian insults, the very realistic appointment with a child therapist, and Mr. Ho's ill-fated rocket launcher.