Calvin Coconut: Hero of Hawaii by Graham Salisbury (Wendy Lamb Books, 2011)
This book is a Cybils nominee, nominated by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz (All opinions are my own and are not meant to reflect the opinions of the entire judging panel.)
Middle grade fiction, as my current Cybils reading marathon is showing me, runs the gamut. "Lower" MG could be read by a 2nd or 3rd grader, while the "Upper" range ("Tween") appeals to upper elementary and middle school. I tend to prefer the tween (must be my mafioso blood), but there are some wonderful tales for the younger part of the age range too.
Amazon gives Calvin Coconut: Hero of Hawaii a reading level of age 9-12, but I think it would appeal to a younger age group too.
The Story:Calvin's younger sister, Darci, is just about to turn seven, and the Coconuts (the name comes from Calvin's lounge singer father, Little Johnny Coconut, who lives on the mainland with his new wife) are planning a party. But a hurricane intervenes.
Why I liked it: Graham Salisbury does an excellent job of portraying Calvin's emotions about the storm. While the adults are fretting, Calvin is thinking "Yee-haw!" Pounding rain, lightning, and a rising river are all "awesome!" Calvin and his friends sneak into the storm, but disaster strikes and Willy is swept out to sea. There is a truly awesome, heart-pounding scene with Calvin trying to rescue his friend. (If you writers want to learn how to write a fast, action-packed scene, study this one!)
It won't give anything away (after all, the title is "Hero of Hawai'i) to reveal that Calvin is indeed heroic. And the book ends in a heartwearming way, with Darci's postponed party taking place and Calvin giving his little sister the best birthday present ever.
More about the Author: There are several other Calvin Coconut books, which I intend to read when I've done my Cybils reading. For now, you might want to get to know the author, Graham Salisbury, who lives in OREGON!