Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Authors
Books
Features
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven

Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven

    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook

Written by Graham SalisburyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Graham Salisbury
Illustrated by Jacqueline RogersAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Jacqueline Rogers

eBook

List Price: $6.99

eBook

On Sale: February 09, 2010
Pages: 160 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89541-8
Published by : Wendy Lamb Books RH Childrens Books
Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven Cover

Bookmark,
Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven
  • Email this page - Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven
  • Print this page - Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven
ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AWARDS AWARDS
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

What do you want so badly that you can taste it—and can you persuade someone to give it to you? That's the subject of a fourth-grade writing assignment. Calvin wants a dog! He reads what he's written to his mom to see just how persuasive he can be. No way, Mom says: Calvin is too irresponsible to care for a pet.  Luckily, Mom's boyfriend, Ledward, is on Calvin's side. He takes Calvin to a place he calls dog heaven. There Calvin meets the dog of his dreams—Streak. Now Calvin's got to convince Mom he's dog-responsible, because he and Streak belong together!

Excerpt

1

Manly Stanley

Everyone in class held their breath as Mr. Purdy dangled a squirming cock-a-roach over the brand-new resort he'd made for Manly Stanley.

Manly Stanley was our class pet, a centipede.

A large centipede.

Rubin could hardly stand it. "Drop it, Mr. Purdy, drop it."

Manly Stanley's new home sat on Mr. Purdy's desk. It was an old, cleaned-up fish aquarium. Inside, a big craggy rock and a branch of twisty driftwood sat on a beach of white sand. There was even a marooned pirate ship for Manly to explore.

I could see him looking at me through a cannon port. "Calvin, my man," he seemed to say. "S'up?"

I'd captured Manly Stanley in my bedroom and brought him to school, and now look at him. What a setup.

"Centipedes are predators," Mr. Purdy said, looking down at Manly Stanley. "They use their claws to capture and paralyze their prey."

Yow! I hoped that cock-a-roach could run fast.

But it was hard to imagine Manly Stanley as a predator. I mean, all he did was hang out. He slept. He looked at you. He scurried into the pirate ship when he wanted some privacy.

The crowd squeezed in around Mr. Purdy.

"Move," someone said. "Let me see!"

"Look how Manly's checking out that bug."

"How come you're putting that poor little cock-a-roach in there, Mr. Purdy?" Shayla asked.

"Breakfast."

Shayla's mouth fell open. "Eew, sick!"

"It's what centipedes eat, Shayla. Spiders, too, and earthworms."

"Yuck."

Julio scoffed. "Not yuck, Snoop. Yum. You don't remember when you ate that worm?"

I spurted out a laugh. Julio called her Snoop right to her face. But Snoop fit, because she was nosy. And the story about her eating the worm was true, but she only ate the head. Back in kindergarten, some kid brought a soup can full of compost worms for show-and-tell. At lunch, he stuck one into her tuna sandwich when she wasn't looking. Shayla chomped it down. All us guys thought we were going to die from laughing so hard.

Shayla squinted razor-slits at Julio.

Mr. Purdy dropped the roach.

It must have sensed danger, because it sprang toward the rock. "Dang," Rubin whispered. "Look at him run."

"Okay," Mr. Purdy said. "Back to your seats. Time to get to work. Nothing's going to happen to that roach anytime soon."

"Aw, man," Julio said. "I want to see Manly eat it."

Mr. Purdy clapped his hands. "Let's go! Chop-chop!"

I plopped down at my seat in the first row by the window. Manly Stanley's resort was right in front of me.

I looked out the window, remembering a pet I once had, sort of. A dog named Chewy, a beagle who liked to shred rubber slippers. But Chewy was really my dad's dog, and when my dad moved to Las Vegas to be a famous singer, Chewy went with him.

At least now I sort of had Manly Stanley as a pet. But he couldn't shake hands like Chewy, or run down a tennis ball, or curl up by my feet at night.

Sometimes I really missed Chewy.

And my dad.


From the Hardcover edition.
Graham Salisbury

About Graham Salisbury

Graham Salisbury - Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven

Photo © Jeff Pfeffer

I hope what gives my books their sense of authenticity, other than the natural inculcation of the island’s physical and cultural landscape, which ends up in my sentences by osmosis, is my use of language. In Hawaii we often speak what we call pidgin English, a kind of tropical patois. For example, in standard English, one would say, “I am going home.” In Hawaiian pidgin, it would be, “I going home.” A simple thing, but over the course of a novel, it becomes a bigger thing, a part of a character’s being. It resonates. Syntax, too, creates that feeling of authenticity. It comes to me naturally, thank heaven. I don’t have to work at it because I simply hear it. If I had to fake, it I’d be laughed off the face of the earth. So, growing up in the islands was my gift. My writing is just me spewing it back.

As for the work itself, I’m big on certain issues having to do with boys and growing up. I guess this is so because of my own fractured upbringing. Much of who I am is self-imposed. I am my choices, and I have chosen to walk a certain path. Important to me are such qualities as honesty, friendship, honor, loyalty, integrity, courage, work, and passion. Life for anyone is a series of choices, and I hope that fact gets some play in my books. Luckily for me, I have made some good choices. It could have been different. I could have taken pride in the wrong moves, as many boys do. It’s cool to be tough. Beating the spit out of someone is good for the rep. It’s honorable to attack someone who “disrespects” you by, perhaps, accidentally bumping into you (“Hey! You like I broke your face or what?”). Right. I could have fallen into that mindset. But I didn’t, and I lay all credit to that on one man: James Monroe Taylor, my high school headmaster.

At the end of my sixth-grade year, my mom saw the light—she kicked my sorry okole out of the house and sent me to boarding school. It was in the middle of Parker Ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii, and was the most precious gift she ever could have given me. I loved it. For the first time in my life, I had something I really, really, really needed: limits. It was like being at boot camp. Mr. Taylor, as part of his training, took us into his home in small groups and lectured us on the good qualities of life, all that stuff that is now so important to me: friendship, honor, etc. Of course, it was my duty at that time to laugh it off. That fat old man was out of his head. But his words stuck, and because they did, whenever I was presented with a sticky situation, I was able to fall back on that foundation and use it to make the better choice. My mother and Mr. Taylor—my hat’s off to both of them.

In my career as an author, I’ve spoken to a bazillion kids, mostly in grades six through eight. It’s been fun, truly. But I had an epiphany one day, and my newest creation, Calvin Coconut, came to be because of it.

I once spoke to a large group of fifth and sixth graders in a huge gymnasium, and was leaving the school, heading down the hall with the teacher who had invited me. “There’s a third-grade teacher here in our school who just loves your books,” she said as we walked, “and she asked me to ask you if you would be willing to just stop by her class and say hi to her kids. They know about you, too, because she read them one of your short stories.”

“Sure,” I said. I’d never spoken to third graders. It might be fun.

Boy, was it.

The third-grade teacher and every one of her students were literally glowing with excitement, having the author in their classroom.

They gathered around, sitting in a semicircle on the floor. I sat in a chair next to the teacher, who reached over and picked up a plate of cookies.

The kids all leaned forward, eyes bright as a thousand suns, rascally twinkles in them.

“Would you like to try one of the cookies we made in class?” she said.

I didn't, but I was on duty. “Uh, sure,” I said.

She pushed the plate closer.

The kids did a magnificent job of stuffing back their giggles as I reached out and picked up a yummy-looking but—I could tell—very fake cookie.

The teacher grinned, and I played along and pretended to bite into it. “Bleecck!” I spat, and the kids roared, as if it were the funniest thing they’d ever seen in their lives.

And that’s what got me: those beautiful, beautiful faces, all looking up at me in pure delight.

I ended up telling them a story of when I got stuck in a mass of mud, a story I love to tell, and they laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

I left that school a new man, and vowed then and there that someday I was going to expand my writing to include this group. Because I loved those faces and yearn to absorb that energy.

I also wanted to include this younger audience because teachers have told me many, many times that they just can’t get their boys interested in reading. I know of their plight. I was one of those boys. I read only one book on my own in all my elementary school years: Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

So Calvin Coconut and I have a job to do. Call Calvin Graham Salisbury light, because I’m bringing real-life situations and themes for discussion into every Calvin book, just like I do in my books for older readers. I won’t get heavy, I won’t get edgy, and I won’t be gratuitous. None of this is about me. It’s about every kid out there today who is just like the wandering fool I was. Besides the simple enjoyment of writing, my aim is simple: to build trust and turn boys into lifetime readers.

I finally became a reader at thirty. That’s how hard it is to get some boys to read. I’d like to help change that a bit. Because reading changes everything. Oh yeah.
 
 
Awards

Awards

FINALIST Bank Street Child Study Children's Book Award
WINNER Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award
NOMINEE New Jersey Garden State Children's Book Award

Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: