Calvin Coconut: Kung Fooey

Calvin Coconut: Kung Fooey

5.0 3
by Graham Salisbury, Jacqueline Rogers

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Calvin Coconut's fourth grade class meets Benni Obi, a weird and likable new kid. Benny brags about knowing kung fu, wears mirrored sunglasses, eats worms, crickets, and chocolate-covered scorpions, and says all the wrong things to bully Tito. Uh-oh. Meanwhile, the neighborhood kids and pets clear the road—Calvin's  babysitter Stella is learning how to


Calvin Coconut's fourth grade class meets Benni Obi, a weird and likable new kid. Benny brags about knowing kung fu, wears mirrored sunglasses, eats worms, crickets, and chocolate-covered scorpions, and says all the wrong things to bully Tito. Uh-oh. Meanwhile, the neighborhood kids and pets clear the road—Calvin's  babysitter Stella is learning how to drive. She's got a lead foot.
Readers will enjoy the humor in Kung Fooey as Calvin's smarts and courage help him learn something new about standing up for friends, and facing a bully.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Justina Engebretson
Calvin Coconut is not too impressed with the new kid at school. Benny Obi is not just different than the average fourth grade student, he is downright strange! He thinks he knows Kung Fu and likes to have one-word days. He also claims to know Calvin's dad, but Benny claims everything it seems. Worst of all, he eats bugs! He eats all kinds of bugs, prepared in all kinds of ways, whether a chocolate covered bug, a crunchy cricket, or a sucker full of ants. Yes, Benny is definitely strange, and on top of that he is drawing some much unwanted attention from the school bullies, Tito and his sixth grade gang. Meanwhile on the home front, Stella is learning to drive, while Calvin learns new ways to drive Stella crazy. Amidst all this seeming chaos, Calvin learns some valuable lessons about relationships. In this newest addition to the "Calvin Coconut" series, suspense is built as the plot progresses drawing the reading in. However, the ending fails to match the build-up. Yet there is a simple, subtle truth taught about the damage that ridicule can do to an individual whether from peers or a parent. This chapter book will mainly appeal to an audience of young children particularly boys who enjoy a little gross bug eating. Reviewer: Justina Engebretson
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—In this installment, a new classmate, Benny Obi, eats dried bug snacks and claims to know kung fu. While Calvin tries to figure out what to make of him, he's challenged by the school bully, Tito, and has a prickly relationship with live-in babysitter Stella. Supported by his friends and reassuring adults, Calvin finds satisfying solutions to his problems, even if they do not always come in time to save the day. The Hawaiian island setting is a subtle but appealing presence, bringing uniqueness and diversity to the narrative. Salisbury offers gentle wisdom and understanding, helping Calvin—and readers—realize the importance of respect, tolerance, and standing up for oneself and one's friends. Expressive black-and-white illustrations add humor and are generously sprinkled throughout. The straightforward writing style, distinct characters, and now-requisite "Hawaii" and "Calvin" facts are sure to please readers. This is another strong entry in a winning series that can be enjoyed as a stand-alone read.—M. Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
Kirkus Reviews

Sixth in a winning series set in Oahu, Hawaii, this latest about 9-year-old Calvin spins a new twist about his struggle with the island bully that will leave readers satisfied with its auspicious, though imperfect, resolution.

From the moment newcomer Benny Obi enters their classroom, Calvin and his friends recognize that he's a bit of an oddball. Wearing a skull necklace and mirror shades, he approaches them on the playground and boasts about some accomplishments that seem rather unlikely, including knowing kung fu and having seen a show in Las Vegas performed by Calvin's absentee dad, a singer. They're dubious about Benny's claims, but they find him fascinating and are dismayed when bully Tito begins targeting him. Salisbury's established characters have achieved a comfortable familiarity, both because the author allows details about their personalities to emerge naturally throughout the series and because the dialogue and dynamics at play are so realistic. Calvin's first-person voice and his internal process as he strives to do the right thing are engaging and believable. Rogers' black-and-white ink-and-wash drawings are full of movement and mood, from broadly smiling insects to the formidable glower of Stella, the teenage friend of the family with whom Calvin has a strained, but caring sort-of-sibling relationship.

This newest continues to spin a fun and thoughtful yarn. (Fiction. 7-10)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Calvin Coconut
Sold by:
Random House
420L (what's this?)
File size:
6 MB
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt


Kung Fu

One morning I slid off my top bunk and staggered over to the wall to measure myself. Maybe I’d grown overnight.

I grabbed a book and pencil, and made a mark.


My sleepy dog, Streak, leaped off the bottom bunk and ran around the room barking. What’s up? What’s up? What’s up?

“Aaaaaaaack!” I screamed again.

I burst out of my room.

“Mom! Mom!” I shouted, stumbling into the kitchen from my bedroom in the garage. “Something’s wrong!”

Mom grabbed my shoulders. “Settle down, Calvin, settle down.” Her face was a frown of concern. “Now . . . what’s wrong?”

“I’m shrinking, Mom! For real! I measured myself and--”

“Shrinking.” It wasn’t a question. She raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah, Mom, I’m getting smaller, not bigger.”

My six-year-old sister, Darci, sat frozen at the breakfast counter gaping at me, her spoon dripping milk into her cereal bowl. Stella, the tenth-grader who had come to live with us to help Mom, stood at the kitchen sink with her back to us. She didn’t care that I was shrinking to death. She didn’t even turn around.

Mom let go and brushed dog hair off my T-shirt. “What makes you think you’re shrinking, Calvin?”

“Well . . . I . . . I, uh . . .”

Calm down. Breathe.

I gulped. “I just measured myself on the wall in my room and I’m . . . I’m an inch shorter than I was last week. I’m not kidding, Mom, there’s something wrong with me . . . and . . . and . . .”

Maybe I was dying. Maybe my time was up.

I took a deep breath.

Mom tried really hard not to smile. “There must be some mistake, Cal. People don’t just go around getting smaller.”

Stella spurted out a laugh and staggered away from the sink.

Mom turned to look at her. “Stella,” she said, and left the word hanging--which was Mom’s way of hinting that laughing at a shrinking person wasn’t very nice.

Stella bent over, holding her stomach, laughing and laughing.

“Stop!” I said. “I’m . . . disappearing, and that’s not funny!”

Stella’s eyes were wet with tears. She pointed at me, trying to speak, but couldn’t. My shrinking problem was the funniest thing she’d ever heard in her entire life.

“Well, I am!” I said to her. “You’d be worried, too, if you were getting smaller!”

Mom studied Stella. “Stella, did you . . . ?”

Stella tried to stop laughing but burst out again, even louder than before.

Mom cupped the side of my face with her hand. “I think Stella just got you, sweetie.”


Stella ripped off a paper towel and dabbed at her eyes. Her shoulders bounced as she laughed. “Oh, oh, oh! This is just too good.”

Mom bent close and whispered, “Stella played a trick. I think she added a line to your measuring chart. You’re not shrinking.”

“A . . . what?”

“An extra line. Above the real mark. So it looks like you shrunk.”

Heat flushed over my face. I squinted at Stella. “I’ll get you. I’m not kidding. You better watch out.”

Stella laughed until she choked on her own spit. “Anyone could fool you, Stump. Anyone!”

“Yeah, well, you drive like an idiot and everyone laughs at you!”

That wasn’t a very good comeback, but it was all I could think of. Stella was trying to get her driver’s license. She already had her permit. Mom and Stella’s boyfriend, Clarence, were teaching her how to drive.

“Lame,” she said. “Really, really lame.”

That was just the beginning of a truly strange day.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

GRAHAM SALISBURY is the author of five Calvin Coconut books: Trouble Magnet, The Zippy Fix, Dog Heaven, Zoo Breath, and Hero of Hawaii, as well as several novels for older readers, including the award-winning Lord of the Deep, Blue Skin of the Sea, Under the Blood-Red Sun, Eyes of the Emperor, House of the Red Fish, and Night of the Howling Dogs. Graham Salisbury grew up in Hawaii. Calvin Coconut and his friends attend the same school Graham did—Kailua Elementary School.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Calvin Coconut: Kung Fooey 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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