Who is Calvin Coconut?

Kids often ask me if I am in any of my books. That’s a good question, and I like answering it. Yes! I am in every book … but not in the way one might think. I have never completely based a character on myself, though I have shared many pieces of my life in my stories. As amazing as my life is and has been, it’s way too boring for good fiction. Still, part of me is in every lead character I have ever written. It’s the part that believes in something, that feels something, that loves or dislikes something. My sensibilities come through in every story situation. And Calvin is where it all starts, in the age of wonder. With the ever-curious young. Character building can never start too soon. And this, to me, is what Calvin Coconut is all about. Character, values, ethics, work. Choices and consequences, even in the silliest of situations. Calvin is Every boy. Calvin is me.

Calvin Coconut | Trouble Magnet

Calvin Coconut - Trouble MagnetFourth-grader Calvin lives near the beach in Oahu with his mom and little sister. Mom likes to call Calvin her “man of the house.” But Calvin’s not great at being the man of the house, or taking care of his responsibilities. He’s too busy bouncing around with his friends and trying to avoid Tito, the tough kid.

Trouble Magnet is the first book in a new series for younger readers, full of all the fun of growing up in Hawaii. It introduces a wonderful multiracial cast of characters, including Mr. Purdy, who calls his fourth-grade class Boot Camp; Uncle Scoop, who runs the lunch wagon at the beach; Ledward, Mom’s 6’7″ boyfriend; and gorgeous, cynical, intimidating, 15-year-old Stella-from-Texas, who arrives to be Mom’s live-in helper—and to step all over Calvin’s turf.


  • 2011 Hawaii Nene Public Award Nominee
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • 2010 – 2011 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List
  • 2009 Book Award Nominee
  • Spring 2009 Indie Next list
  • 2009 New York Public Library Titles for Reading and Sharing
  • 2011 Hawaii Nene Award Nominee
  • 2011 – 2012 Indiana Young Hoosier Children’s Book Award Nominee
  • 2011 PNBA Book Award Nominee
  • 2011 Global Reading Challenge List, Seattle Public Library
  • 2011 – 2012 Oregon Battle of the Books pick
  • 2012 Beverly Cleary Children’s Book Award Nominee
  • 2009 – 2010 Cochecho Reader’s Award Nominee
  • 2012 – 2013 Minnesota Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award Nominee

Calvin Coconut | Zippy Fix

Calvin Coconut book, Zippy FixCalvin Coconut needs to fix things with Stella — and fast!

Stella from Texas is now officially a member of the Coconut household. As if getting a bossy babysitter isn’t bad enough, Stella teases Calvin mercilessly. What’s a nine-year-old boy to do? Calvin decides to fix her, and he dumps his neighbor’s cat, Zippy, on Stella’s bed, knowing she’s allergic. But when Stella breaks out in hives and misses her first big date, Calvin realizes his zippy fix went too far. He’s got to make it up to her, and decides to give her a birthday present. But he has no money. Along with the help of his loyal friends and little sister, Darci, Calvin works hard, and comes up with enough cash to give Stella the best birthday gift ever.


  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • 2011 Oregon Book Award

Calvin Coconut | Dog Heaven

Calvin Coconut  book, Dog HeavenWhat do you want so badly that you can taste it—and can you persuade someone to give it to you? That’s the subject of a writing assignment Calvin’s fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Purdy, gives the class. Calvin wants a dog! He reads what he’s written to his mom to see just how persuasive he can be. No way, Mom says. Stella, their babysitter, might be allergic, and Calvin is too irresponsible to care for a pet.

Luckily, Mom’s boyfriend, Ledward, is on Calvin’s side. He takes Calvin to a place he calls Dog Heaven. There Calvin meets the dog of his dreams—Streak. Now Calvin’s got to convince Mom he’s dog-responsible, because he and Streak belong together!


  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Los Angeles Times Parent Reading Circle Guide
  • Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year
  • 2010 Oregon Spirit Book Award (Oregon Council of Teachers of English)
  • Parents Choice Award
  • 2011 – 2012 Gate City Book Award Nominee

Calvin Coconut | Zoo Breath

Calvin Coconut - Zoo BreathHawaii boy, Calvin Coconut, is a fourth grade whiz kid: he convinced his mom to let him adopt a dog. But Mom says Streak smells bad. Especially her breath. To Calvin, Streak’s stink is a good one. But he’s worried. If he doesn’t come up with a way to deal with Streak’s breath soon, Mom might make him give his dog back to the shelter. So when his teacher assigns a discovery project, Calvin decides to find a way to fix Streak’s zoo breath.


  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • 2011 PNBA Book Award Nominee

Calvin Coconut | Hero of Hawaii

Calvin Coconut book, Hero of HawaiiHawaii boy, Calvin Coconut, has come up with the best idea ever for his sister Darci’s birthday party. But a huge tropical storm hits the islands and threatens everything. It rains and rains. And rains. The river next to Calvin’s house rises high. When Calvin’s friend, Willy, falls into the raging water, Calvin grabs his skiff to save him. As Willy is swept into the bay, Calvin struggles in the wild waves. What happens next shows Calvin what heroes are made of.


  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • 2012 Oregon Book Award

Calvin Coconut | Kung Fooey

Calvin Coconut book, Kung FooeyThere’s a weird new kid in Calvin Coconut’s fourth grade class. His name is Benny Obi, and the first thing he says when he shows up is, “I know kung fu.” Whoa! Is this kid for real? It’s only the beginning. Turns out he’s a big-time exaggerator, a bug eater, a scary storyteller, and he wears sunglasses to school. He’s also not afraid of Tito, a tough sixth-grader … and he should be. That’s where Calvin steps in. Meanwhile, in Calvin’s neighborhood, everyone (including pets, bugs, and toads) clears the road — Stella, Calvin’s live-in babysitter, is learning how to drive … sort of.

Enjoy the humor in KUNG FOOEY and root for Calvin as he finds the courage to stand up for a friend.


  • Junior Library Guild
  • Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year

Calvin Coconut | Man Trip

Calvin Coconut Book, Man TripCalvin Coconut and his mom’s boyfriend, Ledward, are good buddies. When Ledward wins some plane tickets, he invites Calvin to fly to Hawaii, the Big Island, for a day of deep-sea fishing. Wow! Calvin’s never been on a plane, or on any boat but his little skiff.

Calvin catches his first big fish while trolling off the Kona coast. But that’s nothing compared to what happens when Ledward hooks a huge marlin that charges the boat!

A day full of adventure, fishermen, fish tales, and the lure of the sea opens Calvin’s eyes to some important ideas about respecting nature.


  • 2013 Oregon Book Award Nominee

Calvin Coconut | Rocket Ride

Calvin Coconut Rocket Ride Book Cover and SummaryCalvin’s dad is a famous pop singer, and he’s going to be in a concert on the island! Everyone wants to go. Dad gave Calvin’s mom 10 tickets, and Calvin has to decide who gets the last ticket: teacher’s pet Shayla, who has a crush on him (ick!) or Tito the bully? But much more important: Calvin hasn’t seen his dad in four years. And he’s never met Dad’s new wife. Will Dad still like Calvin now?


  • 2012 Oregon Spirit Book Award Short List (Oregon Council of Teachers of English)


Calvin Coconut | Extra Famous

Calvin Coconut Extra Famous Book Cover and SummaryThere are zombies at Kailua beach!! Well, kind of. Fourth-grader Calvin Coconut and his friends have been recruited by Benny Obi (the boy from Kung Fooey who told wild and crazy stories and ate bugs) to be extras in his uncle’s movie: Zombie Zumba! And who ends up with an actual part? Calvin’s babysitter, Stella. But movie parts are only part of the picture. Calvin’s friend, Julio, has another part that nearly makes his head explode. What’s that all about?


  • 2014 Oregon Book Awards Finalist
  • 2014 Oregon Book Award (Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature)