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Calvin Coconut: Kung Fooey

Review

Calvin Coconut: Kung Fooey

Calvin Coconut’s day starts off on a low note when he believes he’s shrinking. At least that’s what he thinks after measuring his height on the wall when he gets out of bed. He’s a bit relieved, but mostly upset, when he finds out that live-in-babysitter Stella has tricked him by adding a line to his measuring chart.

Ever since Stella moved from Texas to Hawaii to live with Calvin and his family, she has caused him grief. She calls him Stump and teases him about being short. Calvin’s attempt to make fun of the way Stella drives as she practices to pass her driving test comes up, well, a bit short.

Calvin’s day goes from bad to weird after his teacher, Mr. Purdy, welcomes a new student to fourth-grade boot camp at Kailua Elementary School. Benny Obi and his family have moved to Kailua from Hilo, the Big Island. Benny is odd and likes to stretch the truth. On his first day at school, he brags to the class that he knows kung fu. He also eats bugs, claims to have found a skull in a lava tube, and tells Calvin that he has met his father in Las Vegas. Calvin thinks Benny is “like a firecracker with a fuse that had burned down to the powder but hadn’t gone off…and no one wanted to check it because it might explode in your face.”

While Calvin tries to figure out Benny, trouble brews with Tito Andrade, the sixth-grade bully who, along with his pals Bozo and Frankie Diamonds, makes life miserable for Calvin and his friends. Although Calvin and his crew avoid Tito, Benny is not afraid to stand up to the sixth-grader. But at what price? And will Calvin find the courage to stand up for the new kid?

Award-winning author Graham Salisbury has an ear for dialogue and a finger on the pulse of what makes young readers tick. The dialogue and dialects here are realistic and age-appropriate --- from six-year-olds, to fourth graders, even high school students. KUNG FOOEY, the sixth installment in the series, is a story about needing to belong and finding the courage to stand up to bullies. While the book is great, don’t stop reading just because the story is over. The two facts at the end --- one about Hawaii and the other about Calvin --- are educational and fun. Plus, the charming illustrations by Jacqueline Rogers enhance the enjoyment of the book and make the characters come to life.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on September 18, 2011

Calvin Coconut: Kung Fooey
by Graham Salisbury

  • Publication Date: September 13, 2011
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
  • ISBN-10: 038573963X
  • ISBN-13: 9780385739634