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Calvin Coconut: Zoo Breath Hardcover – September 14, 2010
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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.
About the Author
Graham Salisbury is the author of three Calvin Coconut books—Trouble Magnet, The Zippy Fix, and Dog Heaven—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. Graham Salisbury grew up in Hawaii. Calvin Coconut and his friends attend the same school Graham did—Kailua Elementary School. Graham now lives in Portland, Oregon, with his family. Visit him on the Web at www.grahamsalisbury.com.
Jacqueline Rogers has illustrated more than ninety books for young readers over the past twenty years. She studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. You can visit her at www.jacquelinerogers.com.
Top customer reviews
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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.
ZOO BREATH also subtly explores Calvin's feelings about his biological father and Ledward, his mom's boyfriend, as well as Calvin's developing awareness of girls. These issues, too, are important to many of Salisbury's young readers. In perhaps the most poignant scene in the book, Calvin looks forward to having a good phone conversation with his dad Little Johnny Coconut, now living in Las Vegas, but Dad seems to be in too much of a hurry for Calvin. Shortly after that disappointment, Ledward senses Calvin's letdown and offers: "You ever need to talk about anything, you come see me, okay?" Combined with Ledward's fatherly involvement early in the novel when he includes Calvin and Julio in the installation of the new toilet and "wrapping it up" as a surprise for Mom, Salisbury shows readers that Ledward and Calvin's relationship is a more healthy father and son one than the one between Calvin and his biological father.
As Calvin's teacher Mr. Purdy says at one point in the novel, "Some people are dog people, and some aren't." I would add that ZOO BREATH is a book for dog people of all ages.