Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet


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.


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


A Chair For My Mother


Image Credit: Greenwillow Books, Vera B. Williams

There are many people around the world who consider A Chair for My Mother a classic; perhaps they grew up with this book and special memories are associated with it. For me, this book is brand new. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for knowing it now and being able to share it here, with you.

What a sweet book this is. A young girl’s mother works hard every day at the Blue Tile Diner and all she wants to do is make her mother more comfortable. Their house was ruined in a big fire but their community came together to support them with a new home and beautiful items to fill it. Though they have many new things, they still don’t have a big comfy chair. So, they work together to fill a large glass jar with left over change, so that one day they can buy the most comfortable and beautiful chair to rest in. This story of family and community is diverse and relatable; the girl’s mother is a single mother and works hard to support her family.

Williams’ watercolor illustrations are warm and inviting. She uses bright colors and every scene is framed with a sweet border, as if the pictures are in a frame. The image below is my favorite; mother is tired but peaceful, resting on the table with her shoes off while Grandmother and her granddaughter smile and add coins to the jar. I’d say that A Chair for My Mother is perfect for Mother’s Day but since Mother’s Day is really every day, take time to enjoy this book with your family.


Image Credit: Greenwillow Books, Vera B. Williams


Recommended for: Kindergarten and up
Great for: We Need Diverse Books, Family, Community, Caldecott, Single Mothers, Reaching Goals
Book Info: A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams, 1982 Greenwillow Books, ISBN: 9780688009144