Calvin Coconut: Rocket Ride, by Graham Salisbury;
Wendy Lamb Books: New York, 2012; $12.99
This book is about a kid named Calvin who is getting bullied to give the bully a ticket to his dad’s concert. Calvin lives in Hawaii. His dad is coming there for his band performance. His dad is a famous rock star. Calvin hasn’t seen him for four years, so he is very nervous to meet him. His dad will give him five tickets for his concert. He plans to give the extra tickets to his best friends. After that, he still has one ticket left. Who will he give it to?
Tito, a big and strong kid in his school, likes to bully others. Now he is demanding Calvin give him the ticket. Calvin doesn’t want to. Instead, he has Shayla, his classmate, in his mind. He knows she really enjoys his dad’s music. She is wearing a T-shirt at school that has a picture of his dad’s band on it. She is very excited when Calvin tells her about the offer. Calvin feels like he has done the right thing. But Tito keeps on threatening Calvin. Calvin feels very scared and is forced to change his mind. He tells Shayla that she can’t go. She is sad and heartbroken.
I can relate to this story. I feared a bully in school, too. The bully was actually once my friend in kindergarten. In grade one, I had many new friends. He wanted me to play with him more than I would like to. In order to get my attention, he started to play rough with me. When I started to avoid him, he was upset and bullied me. He started with throwing rocks and woodchips at me. Then he became bolder and bolder. He progressed into kicking me. Eventually, he bluntly punched me in the neck. I felt scared and miserable. Every time I saw him, I quickly ran away. I was even reluctant to go to school to avoid him.
Will Calvin give in or face the bully? Calvin feels bad for Shayla and regrets what he did, so he calls his dad for help. His dad tells him that he can have two backstage passes for him and Shayla. Shayla is so happy to receive the pass that she jumps up and hugs him. Now Calvin still has one ticket left. However, Calvin doesn’t want to give it to Tito, because he doesn’t want to encourage Tito’s bullying behavior. Instead, he gives it to Lovey, Tito’s girlfriend, and asks her to help him tame Tito. She tells Tito to stop bullying Calvin because Tito listens to her.
At the end, everything turns out the way Calvin likes it to be. His dad becomes his best friend. He and Shayla have a good time at the concert. Tito does not bother him anymore.
So Calvin solves his problem by telling his dad and Lovey. They helped. For me, what did I do? I informed the teacher first. But he still looked for chances to annoy me even under the teacher’s eyes. Then I told my parents, who talked to the principal. Now it got serious. The bully got punished. His punishment was that he couldn’t come near me. The principal watched him all the time at school. It finally stopped the nasty behavior.
I heard that bullying is very common at school. It is bad behavior. Both from the book and my own experience, I know that bullying can make you feel scared, powerless, and sad. The best way to defeat a bully is to ask for help from lots of people. If I was Calvin, I would tell his teacher and parents early on, so that he didn’t have to be worrying about Tito for such a long time.
Calvin is in fourth grade. Although he is a small kid, he finds courage and wisdom to face the bully. I would recommend this book to students around his age. Young readers will learn how to take care of themselves when they are bullied.