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Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven Hardcover – February 9, 2010

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 390L (What's this?)
  • Series: Calvin Coconut
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (February 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385737033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385737036
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,566,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Graham Salisbury is the author of two Calvin Coconut books: Trouble Magnet and The Zippy Fix, 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. He lives in Portland, Oregon. Jacqueline Rogers has illustrated more than 90 books for young readers. She lives in Chatham, New York.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


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.


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

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


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.

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!

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
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2 star
1 star
See all 8 customer reviews
Her teacher read this book to her class.
Gayla Noneaker
It is written in easy to ready chapters with cute illustrations along the way.
Kerri Busteed
I love the concept of "Dog Heaven, " too.
Jane Murphy Romjue

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kerri Busteed on May 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Graham Salisbury brings one fourth graders dreams to light. Calvin Coconut is given an assignment in class to write about something he wants so bad he can taste it. The only thing he has ever wanted that bad was a dog. When the subject comes up the same answer is always given, Stella is allergic to cats so they can't get a dog. Now comes the hard part, he has to write a paper that's so good that it might just work on his mom.

Calvin shares his story with his mom's boyfriend who quickly becomes an ally in his quest. He takes him to dog heaven to meet all kinds of unwanted dogs. Dogs that need a good home and someone to take care of them. When asked which dog he wants, it becomes evident that not only does he want this black and white dog, but the dog wants him too. It is truly a match made in heaven. The only thing left is to convince his mom... This could be harder then it sounds.

Being a fellow dog lover, I could understand how a child without any pets would want a dog all his own. Dog Heaven is a book that will make you smile and root for Calvin throughout. It is written in easy to ready chapters with cute illustrations along the way. Any child that is beginning to read chapter books will love to hear about Calvin Coconut and his quest to get a dog.

By Kerri J. Busteed
Author of Will's First Hunt Will's First Hunt
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Format: Hardcover
When I picked my copy of Graham Salisbury's newest book Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven, I could not put it down! This is certainly the best of the (so far) trilogy, and one of his best books yet even though I am usually partial to those geared to older readers. WOW! It definitely sings!

The heart-warming story has lots of kid appeal but adult appeal too; the emotions of wanting and eventually "adopting" a dog of one's own won me and will, I am confident, win more and more readers for Salisbury! I like the emphasis on the very positive aspect of adopting a dog, the believable way the dog's personality reaches out to his new master, and, of course, the companionship the dog brings to Calvin (sleeping on the bunk right below his new "master" at night).

I found the plot absorbing and Calvin's "small kid time" yearning for a dog very much in character. I love the concept of "Dog Heaven, " too. Having recently become a dog owner, I found myself identifying with many aspects of Calvin and Ledward's selection of Streak or rather Streak's selection of Calvin! Like Calvin, my husband and I had chosen a name for our dog before we even met Baxter, but once we held our little puppy we knew he suited his name perfectly.

As an English teacher, I particularly liked Salisbury's focus on the importance of the writing process, especially the emphasis on revision. I plan to read Calvin's question from the beginning of Chapter 21 to my students--not just those in my 7th grade English classes, but also the juniors in my American Literature classes: "Can it be a revision even if you change everything, Mr. Purdy? I mean, to make it better?" How long does it take for that understanding of real revision to sink in????
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Format: Hardcover
Graham Salisbury's cheerful middle grader, Calvin Coconut, is back in his luckiest adventure so far: his journey to realize his dream of something he wants "so bad he can taste it!" To reach his goal, he must learn what it means when "a pig in a jeep would be a monster pretzel."

All of the series' characters return: Calvin; his sister Darci; his mom Angela; Stella, the teenage Texan his mom has taken in; Ledward, his mom's boyfriend; along with Calvin's allies Julio, Willy and Maya, and enemies: Stella, of course, and older boys Frankie Diamond and Tito . Only this time, Tito, Frankie and Stella grow to (maybe temporarily) respect Calvin as he moves toward his goal aided by his teacher, Mr. Purdy, who set him thinking about what he wants, and Ledward, both of whom understand what is given room in a boy's heart.

In that heart this time is a dog named Streak, held in the dog pound- can Streak take the place of Chewy, the family dog that left with Calvin's dad? Calvin decides she can. Can Calvin rescue her- or will somebody else take her home first? Stella, as we know from The Zippy Fix, the second book in the Cavin Coconut series, is allergic to cats-will something as boring as a teenager's allergies make bringing a dog home impossible? And these visits to the pound are taken secretly . . .How Calvin manages this great desire while fulfilling all the other stuff a young boy must: chores, schoolwork, generally helping out his single mom- this is powerful writing in simple form. This story is an illustration of what life is like when dreams burn bright.

Jacqueline Rodgers' charming drawings breeze along with the storyline, adding a layer of pure fun.
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By DAC VINE VOICE on September 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is the third Calvin Coconut book. This is a great early chapter series that features a diverse cast of characters. Calvin lives in Hawaii with his mother and younger sister Darci. Stella, the teenage daughter of his mother's best friend is staying with them.

At school Calvin's class is given an assignment to write a persuasive letter. Calvin decides to write about wanting a dog. With the help of his mother's boyfriend, Ledward, Calvin eventually gets the dog he really wants.

This works well as stand alone. Though it's best read in order, since Salisbury does a great job of developing the characters and their relationships.

Jacqueline Rogers illustrations are great. I especially like the ones with Stella and Calvin. Rogers also shows off Calvin's active imagination.
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