I had heard about a new series of chapter books that have become popular very quickly about a boy who lives in Hawaii named Calvin Coconut. I was intrigued, in part because my own father grew up in Hawaii and our family loves to visit the islands. I finally got my hands on a copy of the latest book “Calvin Coconut: Hero of Hawaii” (I had to have it held at the library, since there are never any copies available when I am there each week). I am happy to say that this book did not disappoint! Calvin is a fourth grade boy going to school, hanging out with his friends and growing up in Hawaii. A huge tropical storm has hit the island ruining their plans for his sister Darci’s birthday and as the river behind his house continues to rise something unexpected happens. Calvin’s friend Willy is swept into the river and Calvin hops into his skiff to save him.
The author, Graham Salisbury, also grew up in Hawaii and went to the same elementary school as his character Calvin. I absolutely love how he has included the “culture” of Hawaii throughout these books. A few examples are, characters that speak pigeon, a visit to the Byodo-In Temple (where my grandparents are buried), and the multiracial mix of friends of the family. This is the third book I have read this week that is a finalist in the Oregon Book Awards (Salisbury now resides in Portland – just like me!) See my review of Medio Pollito for more information about this award. Another book in this series, “Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet,” is part of the 2011/2012 Oregon Battle of the Books for 3rd-5th grades. I can’t wait to buy these books for my nephew!
Title: Calvin Coconut: Hero of Hawaii
Author: Graham Salisbury
Illustrator: Jacqueline Rogers
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books