Fourth-grader Calvin lives near the beach in Oahu with his mom and little sister. Mom says: “You’re the 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 having fun with his pals, and avoiding Tito, the bully.
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 multicultural 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, intimidating, 15-year-old Stella-from-Texas, who arrives to be the live-in babysitter—and to step all over Calvin’s turf.
Salisbury (Night of the Howling Dogs) brings the Hawaiian locale and boy-centric vibe of his novels to a younger audience in this kicky start to a middle-grade series. For four years, Cal has been the man of the house, standing in for his absentee dad, the famous crooner Little Johnny Coconut (who saddled the family with its stage-ready surname). But things get topsy-turvy when a surly teenage family friend arrives to be a live-in babysitter for Cal and his little sister, and Cal makes some missteps in the first days of school in Mr. Purdy's Fourth-Grade Boot Camp, which include a lost centipede and a class food fight. Salisbury uses humor and lots of action to guide Cal as he deals with a neighborhood bully, his new teacher and the upheaval in his home life. Fun details of Hawaiian life, including descriptions of snack foods, beach pursuits and the characters' melting pot of heritages bring the setting to life. The tone is realistic, warm and light as an island breeze perfect for luring newly confident chapter-book readers. Ages 7 10.