Calvin Coconut: Zoo Breath by Graham Salisbury, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers (Wendy Lamb Books 2010)

September 10, 2010 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

Calvin’s mom threatens to send his dog back to the animal shelter. Streak has bad dog breath and gets into anything and everything that smells, making matters worse.  His fourth grade teacher assigns a class project; to ask a discovery question, and answer it.  Calvin and his friend Julio team up and research, “Things that stink,” in the hopes of finding a solution to Streak’s problems.  Grossness and smells, especially bodily odors are still a source of much humor for boys of this age group.  A competing duo of girls, Maya and Shayla are working on the question, “Why do boys have to smell everything?” and hope to be the winners of the “Detective Research Project.” They spy on the boys, create a presentation and humiliating photo op to present in class.  As the story evolves, Calvin discovers how much he misses his father, who lives in another state, and burying those feelings won’t make them go away.  A newfound compassion for Shayla develops, after Calvin finds out she is dealing with a similar family situation.  Not all “stinks” are considered “bad stinks.” Calvin begins to brush Streak’s teeth regularly with pet toothpaste which helps her bad dog breath. He even begins to bathe her more often, making everyone at home happy.  The biggest concern comes when Calvin gives Streak a bowl of human mouthwash, which is highly dangerous, and she drinks it all.  Luckily, the dog doesn’t get sick, even though it can be toxic.  Fans of Calvin will enjoy this addition to the series.  Newcomers can read this title and won’t feel lost or confused without reading the prior two books.  The “Captain Underpants” audience will continue to read and laugh when they are ready for these longer and more challenging Calvin Coconut chapter books.   Ages 7-10

J-R—Anne Beier (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

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The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (Knopf Books For Young Readers, 2010)

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