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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 7, 2010

Strong contenders for annual Nēnē Award


By Jolie Jean Cotton
Special to The Advertiser

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Thursday is the deadline to vote for this year's Nēnē Award. Each year since 1959, Hawai'i fourth- through sixth-grade students have voted for their favorite fiction book and presented the author with the award. Again this year, a local author is up for the coveted prize.

This year's nominees include:

"CALVIN COCONUT: TROUBLE MAGNET" BY GRAHAM SALISBURY

Hawai'i author Graham Salisbury's first book in the popular "Calvin Coconut" series, set at Kailua Elementary School, features the good-hearted rascal Calvin Coconut. We meet Calvin as he is about to begin fourth grade, along with his buddies Julio, Maya and Willy.

Suited to grades 2 through 4, this series gives all Hawai'i elementary school students an opportunity to see themselves authentically reflected in the national spotlight.

"EAGER" BY HELEN FOX

This is one of my all-time favorite books. Eager is a cutting-edge prototype robot, designed to take commands and make his own decisions. Eager joins the Bell family when Grumps, the family's robot, begins to malfunction. When the most popular robots, BDC4s, become increasingly unstable and threaten their owners, Eager, Gavin and Fleur Bell try to set things right.

"THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY" BY TRENTON LEE STEWART

The elementary students at Sacred Hearts Academy tell me this title is a strong contender. Some of the girls have read this book more than once. In it, dozens of children respond to a newspaper ad and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children (two boys and two girls) succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete.

"KEEPING SCORE" BY LINDA SUE PARK

Newbery Medal winner Linda Sue Park is expected at the Children's Literature Hawai'i conference at UH in June.

In this winning title, set in 1951, Maggie and her brother, Joey-Mick, are named after baseball great Joe DiMaggio. But they are not Yankees fans. Their team is the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although Maggie doesn't play baseball, she knows the game. She can recite stats, understands complicated plays, cheers when the Dodgers win and suffers when they lose. Maggie becomes friends with Jim, a fireman at her father's station who shares her love of baseball. When Jim is drafted and sent to Korea, he and Maggie exchange letters.

Fourth- through sixth-grade students can submit votes for the Nēnē until Thursday at http://nene.k12.hi.us, or they can e-mail nominations to vicky@librarieshawaii.org.

Jolie Jean Cotton is a Honolulu freelance writer. Her reviews of keiki books appear here on the first Sunday of the month.