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  • Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet
  • Written by Graham Salisbury
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375846007
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  • Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet
  • Written by Graham Salisbury
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375893933
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Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet

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Written by Graham SalisburyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Graham Salisbury

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List Price: $6.99

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On Sale: March 24, 2009
Pages: 160 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89393-3
Published by : Wendy Lamb Books RH Childrens Books
Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet Cover

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

A humorous chapter book about a fourth-grade boy, full of the fun of growing up in Hawaii.
 
Calvin Coconut lives near the beach in Kailua, Hawaii, with his mom and his little sister. All his friends live there, too.


Mom says: "You're the man of the house, Cal." Which means: Be responsible. Calvin tries, but fun—and trouble—follows him wherever he goes, even in the classroom, also known as Mr. Purdy's Fourth-Grade Boot Camp. And how can he be the man of the house after teenage Stella-from-Texas arrives to be the live-in babysitter and steps all over Calvin's turf?

Award-winning author Graham Salisbury welcomes younger readers to a lively new series with great illustrations by Jacqueline Rogers.

Excerpt

Chapter 1
Prob'ly an Idiot


Maybe you know the feeling of how junk it is when summer ends. The good times are over. You start thinking about school, homework. Getting up early again.
And there's nothing you can do about it.

But I say, forget that. Get out there and squeeze the last drop of fun out of summer.
Which is why I was down at the beach with my friends Julio Reyes and Maya Medeiros. We were watching a kiteboarder zip over the ocean. I couldn't believe how fast he was going. "Ho, man, look at that guy go!"

Julio whistled. "Like a rocket."

The hot sun sparkled on the blue-green bay. The kiteboarder topped a small wave and let his kite pull him high into the sky. He did a flip and came back down. Perfect.

"Holy moley," I whispered.

All three of us lived a couple blocks from the beach on the same dead-end street, in a town called Kailua, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Across from our small one-story houses, patches of jungle blocked our neighborhood from a fancy golf course. High above the jungle, green mountains sat under hats of white clouds.

Julio elbowed me. "That guy's a famous kiteboarder."

"No joke? What's his name?"

Julio pinched his chin. "I forget. Something."

Maya laughed. She was cool, and really good at sports. Better than me and Julio. She had a skateboard and a brown belt in tae kwon do. She was born somewhere in China. The Medeiros family adopted her.

We were sitting on a sandy rise under a stand of ironwood trees just above the beach. It was a breezy Thursday morning, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

The kiteboarder swung around and raced toward shore. When he got as close as he could before hitting sand, he slowed and sank to his knees. His kite settled down onto the water like a small parachute. He stepped out of his wakeboard and pulled his kite in, then spread it out on the sand.

"Hey," he said. "You kids mind watching my gear? I need to run over to the pavilion."

"Sure!" I sprang to my feet.

"Thanks. Be right back."

The guy dropped his wakeboard, harness, and control bar and headed up over the rise.

The wakeboard was black with red stripes. It had foot grips and looked new. Nice. I glanced over my shoulder to see if the guy was coming back. Nope. I waggled my eyebrows at Julio and Maya. "Watch this."

I stepped into the foot straps. "Bring on the wind!"

"You better get off that, Calvin," Maya said.

I picked up the control bar, which was attached by cables to the kite spread out on the beach. "Yee-hah!" I gave the cables a flip. The kite caught a puff of wind, rose a foot, and settled back down. Ho, man, this was so cool!

I grinned at Maya and Julio.

Just then a strong gust whooshed down the beach and caught the kite. The kite blossomed and snapped up off the sand.

"Calvin!" Maya pointed.

I was still grinning at them when the wind grabbed the kite and whoomped it out like a sail. It shot down the beach, ripping the control bar right out of my hands.
"Grab it!" Julio shouted.

I leaped off the wakeboard and stumbled after it, Maya yelling, "Get it! Get it! It's flying away!"

The control bar bounced along the sand, just out of reach. It skipped out over the water, came back over the sand, and skipped out again. I dove for it and landed on my belly. But I managed to grab the bar and hang on.

The wind was strong! I couldn't slow the escaping kite. It dragged me over the shallow water on my stomach. It fishtailed me up onto the sand, then back into the water again.

"Calvin!" Maya shouted, racing down the beach with Julio.

I bounced and banged over the water, swallowing salty gulps of ocean.

"Calvin! Let go!" Julio called. "You'll drown!"

But I would never let go.

A quarter mile down the beach the wind finally let up. The kite sank onto the sand. I sank into the water, gripping the control bar with white knuckles.

Julio grabbed the kite. Maya waded into the waves. "You all right?"

I staggered up, coughing.

Maya grinned when she saw that I was okay. Just soaked, bruised, scratched, and covered with sand. "You look like you fell into a cement mixer."

"Uh-oh." Julio nodded toward the pavilion.

The kiteboard guy was racing toward us, shouting, "Hey! What's going on?"

He ran up, breathing hard.

"The wind grabbed your kite, mister." I handed him the control bar. "We, uh . . . we saved it."

The guy looked at me, then at Julio with the kite bunched and overflowing in his arms. "I must have been careless. Hey, thanks for running it down for me."

"Yeah, no problem."

He laughed. "No problem? You look like roadkill."

He gathered up his equipment and started back up the beach.

"Hey!" I called.

The guy stopped and turned back.

"Are you a famous kiteboarder?"

"Pshh. I wish."

I frowned at Julio. "You idiot."

Julio shrugged.

Maya pointed at my arms and chest. "Yikes! Blood."

I looked down. Cuts and scratches ran across me like spiderwebs. "Cool."

Maya stared at me. "I think you might be the idiot, Calvin."

"And I think you're prob'ly right." I grinned.

Julio slapped my back. "You sure know how to end summer with a bang, bro."


From the Hardcover edition.
Graham Salisbury

About Graham Salisbury

Graham Salisbury - Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet

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.
 
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