Calvin Coconut: Kung Fooeyby Graham Salisbury, Jacqueline Rogers
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… See more details below
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.
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)
Read an Excerpt
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 hangingwhich 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.
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