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Calvin Coconut: Zoo Breath Paperback – October 11, 2011

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Calvin Coconut: Zoo Breath + Calvin Coconut: The Zippy Fix + Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 3-5–Calvin Coconut investigates the severity of canine odors for his elementary school assignment. He's convinced his mother will force him to give up his beloved smelly dog and hopes to justify her odiferous existence. The innovative child tries numerous tactics to minimize the dog's smell, including brushing those doggie teeth with a toothbrush unknowingly donated by Calvin's high-strung teenage babysitter. The overload of bathroom humor will elicit numerous “ewws” and gags along the way, but the fourth grader also demonstrates a fledgling maturity as he struggles to relate to his absentee father. The Hawaiian landscape provides a unique angle, and supportive adult characters encourage Calvin as he juggles classroom expectations with family relationships. Punchy dialogue relies on regional slang to reflect the school-centered dynamics. Rogers's liberal black-and-white drawings utilize shading and nimble lines to support each lively chapter. This latest entry relies heavily on the “ick” factor and combines gross-out humor with a bit of heart.–Meg Smith, Cumberland County Public Library, Fayetteville, NC. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

GRAHAM SALISBURY is the author of three Calvin Coconut books: Trouble Magnet, The Zippy Fix, Dog Heaven, 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.

JACQUELINE ROGERS has illustrated more than 90 books for young readers. She studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: Calvin Coconut
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375846034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375846038
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I hope what gives my books their sense of authenticity, other than the natural inculcation of the island 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 6 through 8. 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 semi-circle 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 join all my very fine writer/teacher/librarian/parent colleagues in changing that a bit. Reading changes everything. Boy, does it!


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jane Murphy Romjue on October 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
While I am definitely enjoying reading about Calvin Coconut's adventures in Graham Salisbury's new series of books for younger readers, ZOO BREATH goes beyond simple "small kid time" antics and subtly explores deeper issues such as ways kids relate with absent parents and the parent figures in their day-to-day lives. On one level, ZOO BREATH is a delightful and edifying adventure of a fourth grader living with his single mother; his younger sister, Darci; the teenage daughter of one of Calvin's mother's high school friends and now the live-in babysitter, Stella; and Streak, Calvin's recently acquired dog. Calvin's life includes typical fourth grade challenges such as school projects, responsibilities at home, the irritations of having a sixteen-year-old female in the house ("who could make my dog go away by complaining to Mom"), teasing about girls by his peers, and a mom who he fears will make him get rid of his dog if he can't keep Streak from causing problems at home. These issues will certainly capture Salisbury's younger readers.

This book's conflict revolves a round the challenge of a school science project, and clever Calvin manages to combine his concerns about Streak with his school obligations in a project focusing on kinds of stinky smells. Young readers will delight in the situations Calvin and his assigned project partner, Julio, get into doing their research: attempting to bottle offensive stinks, making a chart to show their ranking of common stinks (toilet hole and dead toad were among the worst, while cat breath and pig breath were less offensive than dog breath), and even trying to use mouthwash and toothpaste to clean up Streak's breath.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Looney on November 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have read all of the Calvin Coconut books to my boys (ages 7 and 9)for a fun read-a-loud at bedtime. They are both avid individual readers but love having mom read to them still too and these books are perfect for that. They are so funny and charming and have just the right amount of "boy" humor to make us all laugh. Zoo Breath was our favorite so far but I must say the previous three would definitely get a full five stars too. This one was just so funny, all three of us were laughing out loud. We were sad when it was over and that is always a sign of a great book! We can't wait for the next one- keep them coming Mr. Salisbury. Thanks for the creating such a fresh, fun and truly enjoyable series.
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Format: Hardcover
Graham Salisbury's CALVIN COCONUT: ZOO BREATH receives Jacqueline Rogers' fun black and white drawings as it provides another Calvin Coconut adventure for ages 7-10. Here Calvin finally has a dog of his own from the shelter, but his mother thinks the dog's breath stinks. A school discovery project seems the perfect way to investigate - and solve - his dog's breath problem before his mother makes him return it, in this fun new Calvin dilemma.
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By Bargain Hunter on August 8, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Cute book, daughter had to read it for summer reading (going into 3rd grade).
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