From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—In the first installment of a planned series, readers meet nine-year-old Calvin, whose singing-star father changed their last name from Novio to Coconut before leaving the family four years earlier. In Mr. Purdy's fourth-grade class in Kailua, HI, Calvin's year is off to a bad start when he accidentally lets loose his new pet centipede, forgets to pick up his little sister after school, and incurs the ire of middle-school bullies Tito and Frank. At home, he's got to give up his room to Stella, the blond, beautiful but surly teenaged daughter of his mother's friend who's come from Texas to stay for a while. He gets off on the wrong foot with her, too, when he forgets to fix the lock on the bedroom door, necessitating a window escape. Humor, lots of local color, and richly varied cultural details abound in this accessible, fun read, and a map of the town and sketches throughout help bring readers into Calvin's world. (It does seem odd, though, that Calvin's mother would go shopping while her new guest is locked in the bedroom.) While light on character development and more episodic than plot-driven, this title will be enjoyed by readers venturing into chapter books, and it lays the groundwork nicely for the titles to come.—Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
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Hawaii-centric Salisbury targets a younger reading set with this first book in the Calvin Coconut series. Calvin is a boisterous boy at home on the beaches of Kailua who somehow manages to find mischief at every opportunity, no matter how hard he tries to keep to the straight and narrow. The story follows him as summer winds down and he gets ready to start fourth grade, navigating through the troublesome wake of a menacing bully, a tough but admired new teacher, and, worst of all, having to surrender his room to a teenage girl from Texas who has come to live with the family. Calvin’s relationships with his younger sister and harried mother—his father abandoned the family to pursue a singing career—add promising depth to the deceptively simple story. Calvin isn’t all naughtiness, but he does tend to forget things, shirk responsibility, and become overly excitable, making him pretty much that Everyboy many will easily connect with. Rogers’ lighthearted illustrations help flesh out the characters and establish moods without dominating the proceedings. Grades 3-5. --Ian Chipman