Tag Archives: LeUyen Pham

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters (Book 2), Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-Made Catastrophes (Book 3), Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals, and Other Fatal Circumstances (Book 4), Allergic to Babies, Burglars, and Other Bumps in the Night (Book 5) by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Alvin Ho 2-4

As part of appreciating the versatile art of LeUyen Pham – who with her hubby Alex Puvilland imbued Friday’s post, Templar, with such swashbuckling energy – I thought I should keep a good thing going by adding a few more Pham-tabulously illustrated titles this bright new Monday. [Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind channeling some of that swashbuckling energy myself, ahem!]

Welcome back to Concord, Massachusetts, the literary birthplace for many – including darling Alvin Ho, introduced in Book 1: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things. In spite of … or because of … the many challenges this brave young man faces – most especially he seems unable to speak out loud in school, not to mention being afraid of just about everything – Alvin is one imaginative hero. Armed with his PDK (Personal Disaster Kit), and well supported (whether he wants back-up or not!) by his family (little sister Anibelly is beyond delightful) and friends (Flea with her self-described “‘irregular arms or legs'” is the ultimate example of total girl power!), Alvin is getting through second grade with courage he sometimes forgets he has!

In Book 2, Alvin and Anibelly discover the many joys of camping, even if their only weekend catch is their shocked (upside-down) father. In Book 3, Alvin realizes just in time that getting the ‘right’ birthday invitation doesn’t always mean that’s the ‘right’ party to attend. In Book 4, Alvin’s inability to speak in school causes a life-and-death misunderstanding as he worries about how he will bring himself to attend his grandfather’s friend’s funeral. And, in the latest Book 5 (out this spring), Alvin needs to transform his usual PDK into a Pregnancy Disaster Kit as he just might be in the family way along with his baby-full mother!

Author Lenore Look manages to balance the neverending humor with well-woven moments of reality. As we giggle and laugh with Alvin, Look gently reminds us that children can have serious issues; Alvin sees a counselor regularly to face his fears (and hopefully find his voice). She carefully adds glimpses of the world beyond Alvin’s limited comfort zone by including a bit of history in each installment – from the American Revolution to Native Americans to even the tragic 2010 Haiti earthquake. And, of course, in every volume, LeUyen Pham whimsically gives Alvin his joy, his shock, his worry, his frustrations, his adoration, his appreciation … his reactions are perpetually wondrous under Pham’s pen. Here’s selfishly hoping that this unique fear factor continues for many seasons to come …!!

Readers: Middle Grade

Published: 2009-2013


Filed under ..Middle Grade Readers, .Fiction, Chinese American, Vietnamese American

Templar by Jordan Mechner, illustrated by LeUyen Pham & Alex Puvilland, color by Hilary Sycamore and Alex Campbell

TemplarReady for some swashbuckling adventure … with quite a history lesson thrown in? ” [I]t’s all absolutely true,” author Jordan Mechner promises in his entertaining “Preface,” before he adds, “Well, some of it.”

The history portion goes back to late 13th-into-14th-century France to the “shocking downfall of the Knights of the Temple – a scandal that shook the fourteenth century and reverberates to this day,” Mechner explains. “Bizarrely, although it’s well documented for something that happened 700 years ago, it was a piece of history I’d never seen dramatized – not in a movie, not in a novel, not in a video game.” Until now. And how! The powerful Templars, originally formed during the Crusades, were “the Jedi of their time,” but in 1307, in a deft political move, the King of France ordered the mass arrest (and subsequent torture and murder) of 15,000 Templars. International machinations ensued: “The Order of the Temple was shattered, never to rise again.”

Within those facts, Mechner inserts a wildly sensational thriller of love, loyalty, and loss. Templar Knight Martin is one of the few survivors of the King’s massacre. He manages to rally a motley crew of fellow survivors and supporters, and devises an impossible plan to ferret out the Templar’s missing grand treasure. Never mind that he’s forced to begrudgingly accept the help of his long-lost first (and only) love, while somehow maneuvering around the King’s henchmen who never seem to die … come hell or high water (literally), Martin’s got plans …

Six years in the making, culminating from research Mechner began back in 2002, this could-have-been-true graphic tale comes to vivid life thanks to the husband-and-wife artist team of  Alex Puvilland and LeUyen Pham (one of my favorite kiddie book illustrators ever!), who also energetically made Mechner’s Prince of Persia fly off their panels. Make sure to set aside the afternoon (and more), because once you open the book you won’t stop until you run out of pages, after which you’ll most likely turn to the screen to find out more, more, more (even a Luddite like me has to be thankful for the instant gratification of the internet!). Mechner even obligingly provides you a detailed “Afterword” to keep your adventures going … !

Readers: Adult, Young Adult

Published: 2013

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Graphic Novel/Manga/Manwha, European, Nonethnic-specific, Vietnamese American

America the Beautiful: Together We Stand by Katharine Lee Bates, illustrated by Bryan Collier, Raúl Colón, Diane Goode, Mary GrandPré, John Hendrix, Yuyi Morales, Jon J. Muth, LeUyen Pham, Sonia Lynn Sadler, and Chris Soentpiet

America the BeautifulReady to ring in the new year? Sing with me now – I’m pretty sure you know the words to this one: “O beautiful for spacious skies …” Yes, the patriotic classic gets a brand new kiddie book … with phenomenal illustrations created by a long list of award-winning artists who each command a line of the 1893 poem by pioneering poet/professor Katharine Lee Bates.

Every illustrated-stanza-double-paged-spread also includes a pithy presidential quote, from George Washington to Barack Obama. No worries – the choices are most definitely non-partisan: Jimmy Carter, Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, JFK, FDR and his (fifth) cousin Teddy Roosevelt, and George H.W. Bush, all get a say. And, just in case you’re feeling like you’re missing a favorite president, the whole book cover cleverly opens up on the other side to showcase all 44 POTUSes!

The awe-inspiring result might represent a rather different U.S. of A. than perhaps our forefathers envisioned centuries ago, but America the Beautiful is nothing less than stupendous. Take that cover, for instance: the always-delight-inducing LeUyen Pham‘s vision for ” … with brotherhood …” couldn’t be more inclusive, not to mention accurate for what 21st-century America looks like. And, call me crazy (many have), but I like to think that’s young Sasha Obama reaching for the stars! Go, girl, go!

To quote our favorite peanut farmer, Jimmy Carter: “We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” The perfect words to start a thus-far perfect, brand new year. Here’s to a happy, merry, healthy 2013 to all indeed!

Tidbit: Can I just say that certain folks in the publishing world had major faith in Obama’s re-election??!! The book (which pubs today) arrived in my mailbox quite a bit before November 6, 2012. The bottom right picture on the POTUS  grid of the inside-side-of-the-cover – specifically the spot for the current president – just happens to be none other than Barack Obama … leaving no room whatsoever for anyone but. I’m just saying …

Readers: Children

Published: 2013

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, .Nonfiction, .Poetry, Nonethnic-specific

Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever by Julianne Moore, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

For those who missed the perennial chart-topper on the list of “Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2010” during the recent Banned Books Week 2011, feel free to click here.

That’s your eyebrow-raised warning right up front that even though these two delightful protagonists both have families, one of those families is described thusly: “I have two moms and a little brother and a dog.” So if two penguin daddies get your feathers all ruffled, then oh so sadly, Freckleface Strawberry Helen and Windy Pants Patrick will not be your best friends … although what a loss of something truly adorable and oh so loving that would be to miss these Best Friends Forever.

In the third installment of the Freckleface Strawberry series by THAT Julianne Moore and the wonderfully artful LeUyen Pham (click here for the first two), the initially not-so-compatible twosome have become best friends. Turns out they have so much in common being utterly different. They’re both “usual sizes” – too little and too big! They both prefer skipping lunch in the cafeteria – Freckleface prefers a hot dog cart and Windy Pants Patrick is chummy with the falafel vendor. And they’re both really good at looking out for each other.

But one day at school, the boys give Windy Pants Patrick a hard time about only playing with a girl. And maybe Freckleface is just fine playing jungle-gym monkeys with just her friends of the female variety.

Thank goodness both kids realize all too quickly that going to the museums and reading books without the other isn’t nearly as much fun. And maybe ball-playing monsters are what both Freckleface Strawberry and Windy Pants Patrick really want to do, and only with each other! “Which is why they were best friends. Forever.”

Pham once again brings the buddies to brilliant, bubbly life: the exuberance they share with each other can hardly be contained on the page, just as their disappointment over missing one another seems to be dripping off the page. Any way you look at it, the ‘awwww’-factor couldn’t be higher!

Here’s to opposites attracting … and their forever-lasting friendships.

Readers: Children

Published: 2011

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, .Fiction, Nonethnic-specific, Vietnamese American

Freckleface Strawberry and Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully by Julianne Moore, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Freckleface Strawberry

Just look at the energy that jumps off even these tiny thumbnail covers. What’s not to love?

In her debut, our spunky heroine, whom everyone calls Freckleface Strawberry, needs to “get rid of her freckles fast.” She tries everything from scrubbing them off, coloring herself with markers, and eventually hides herself under a colorful disguise … which just makes her sad and lonely until she realizes, “Who care[s] about having a million freckles when she had a million friends?” And life is joyful once again.

In the recent follow-up, Freckleface returns in all her gleeful glory to confront that scary, hairy dodgeball, which seems to come attached with overgrown Windy Pants Patrick. And she learns that friendship can appear in the most unexpected packages.

Yes, Freckleface is the creation of THAT Julianne Moore. The resemblance is just ticklish fun. But what really brings the adorable one to life is thanks to the prolific talents of illustrator LeUyen Pham who imbues her with colorful, delightful spirit – the kind that just makes you want to run down a giant hill with arms outstretched screaming “wahhhhhhhhh” convinced that you might just lift off. Which is exactly happens in Pham’s illustrations here … Freckleface lifts off beyond the page: Just look at her expressions while she works those lemons or the complete trust in her eyes when she offers the ball back to Windy Pants Patrick. Indeed, Pham creates a little bit of true magic.

Readers: Children

Published: 2007 and 2009


Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, .Fiction, Nonethnic-specific, Vietnamese American

Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel created by Jordan Mechner, written by A.B. Sina, artwork by LeUyen Pham & Alex Puvilland, color by Hilary Sycamore

Prince of PersiaBeing a Luddite, I don’t play video games. Although I should confess that growing up in the 1970s (*gasp!*), ours was the first house in the neighborhood to get Pong, then Atari, then an Apple II. Contrary as I am, all that early technology probably made me the Luddite I am today in old age!

Anyway, if you’re a gamer, you probably know Prince of Persia as a wildly popular adventure game series. Apparently, millions have played endless hours since it became a worldwide bestseller by 1992. Since old-school is sorta trendy again, here comes the first-ever graphic novel version of Mechner’s game, apparently given authentic new life by writer Sina who relied on “the myths and legends of the Persia of his childhood.”

The highlight, of course, is the artwork created by the prolificly talented LeUyen Pham (once again) and her husband Alex Puvilland. Together, they energetically render cross-dressing, 13th-century dancer-in-training Shirin who escapes the suffocating palace and happens to meet a mysterious young man who claims to be Layth, a 3rd-century deposed guardian prince of a crumbling palace. Hormones get the best of them and the two fall in love, but with their forces combined, they save the thirsty village from the greedy rulers.

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 2008

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Filed under ..Middle Grade Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Graphic Novel/Manga/Manwha, Persian

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

alvin-ho-allergic-to-girls1When Alvin Ho gets scared, he can’t seem to talk … especially at school. Unfortunately, he’s frightened of just about everything, which is really not a good thing when you’re supposed to be a big second-grader! But family and friends – including an eye-patch-wearing feisty little girl named Flea  – help him find his voice, Shakespeare curses and all! Delightful, laugh-out-loud-fun indeed!

Review: “TBR’s Editors’ Favorites of 2008,” The Bloomsbury Review, November/December 2008

Tidbit: This just in March 30, 2010 … egads! Whitewashing 21st-century style in the Midwest??!! Can this BE more egregious? Scroll down to see the offensive audio version cover!

Readers: Middle Grade

Published: 2008


Filed under ..Middle Grade Readers, .Fiction, Chinese American

Sing-Along Song by JoAnn Early Macken, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Sing-Along SongAll the many sounds in a little boy’s happy life are caught in rhythmic sing-along songs. But the real draw – no pun intended – here is the utter joy captured in the little boy’s face in LeUyen Pham‘s celebratory illustrations.

Review: “New and Notable Books,” AsianWeek, May 28, 2004

Readers: Children

Published: 2004

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, .Fiction, African American, Vietnamese American

Can You Do This, Old Badger? by Eve Bunting, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Can You Do This Old BadgerEven while his energetic young body is capable of many things, Little Badger still has much to learn from Old Badger’s love and experience.

Review: “New and Notable Books,” AsianWeek, April 30, 2004

Readers: Children

Published: 2000, 2004 (paperback re-issue)

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, .Fiction, Nonethnic-specific, Vietnamese American

Piggies in a Polka by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Piggies in a PolkaA rootin’, tootin’, foot-stompin’ porcine party to tickle your dancing feet.

Review: “New and Notable Books,” AsianWeek, August 29, 2003

Readers: Children

Published: 2003

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Filed under ..Children/Picture Books, .Fiction, Nonethnic-specific, Vietnamese American