Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet

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Image Credit: Wendy Lamb Books (Random House Children’s Books), Graham Salisbury/Jacqueline Rogers

 

Calvin is a “trouble magnet” because he can’t help but get in sticky situations. This book is very fast-paced and a little all over the place but that’s not a bad thing because the story is so honest, good and funny!

Calvin lives with his mom and little sister Darci in Kailua, Hawaii. Their “famous” dad left them years ago for Vegas but they’re doing just fine. One day, mom tells Calvin and Darci that they’ll soon have a guest from Texas; her name is Stella, she’s fifteen, and is the daughter of one of her friends. She’ll be just like a sister she says. Antics ensue as Calvin finds a pet centipede in the garage, starts his first day of fourth grade, makes a new friend, dodges a bully and barely manages to stay out of trouble.

Salisbury’s writing, characterization, attention to language and cultural details are excellent; he helps the reader feel right at home on the island. From having the kids talk about how much a haole (white person) with blue eyes and blond hair stands out in their community to explaining spam musubi, kimchi and shave ice, he shares his culture. The Calvin Coconut series celebrates how diverse Hawaii is and the honest portrayal of race, difference, and social issues is refreshing.

Jaqueline Roger’s spunky illustrations fit the mood of the story perfectly. Her loose watercolor-sketch style brings the characters to life and she draws expressions so well.

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Image Credit: Wendy Lamb Books (Random House Children’s Books), Graham Salisbury/Jacqueline Rogers

I’m SO ready to hop on a plane and head down to Hawaii!  I just hope I don’t run into someone as silly as Calvin. Be sure to check out this series if you’re looking for something a little different and fun for your kids.

 

Recommended for: 3rd/4th grade and up
Great for: Humor, Friendship, Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Food Culture, Hawaii, School Life, Single Mothers, Bullying, Family
Book Info: Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet by Graham Salisbury/Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers, 2009 Wendy Lamb Books (Random House Children’s Books), ISBN: 9780385737012

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Bernice Gets Carried Away

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Image Credit: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group), Hannah E. Harrison

 

In Bernice Gets Carried Away, Bernice gets carried away and gets carried away!

Bernice is in a bad mood and she’s not ashamed about it one bit! Even though she’s at a party, everything is going wrong for her; she doesn’t get a frosting rose on her cake slice, she gets a nasty warm soda and she doesn’t even get to hit the piñata before some big kid bursts it open. It’s just a bad day overall. Suddenly she spots the balloons and decides to make her day better by snatching them before anyone else can but they carry her up up and away! While dangling in the storm clouds, she realizes that it’s better to be nice and her generosity makes her a little lighter.

The illustrations in Bernice Gets Carried Away are gorgeous. Very detailed acrylic paintings accompany the story. From the whiskers on Fox’s face to the tiny details in Bernice’s annoyed expressions, the art is beautiful. Harrison’s use of color is also great; it ranges from gloomy gray hues to a bright, spring pastel palette. The lesson to take away from this book is, it’s okay to be grumpy sometimes (we all have our days) but it’s important to remember to care for others and not get carried away!

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Emotions, Discussion, Animals, Humor, Lessons, Party
Book Info: Bernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison, 2015 Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group), ISBN: 9780803739161