A Parent’s Guide to Calvin (Book)

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

Calvin by Martine Leavitt

Type: Adventure, Contemporary, Self-Discovery

Basic Plot: Calvin believes he is a human version of the comic character Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. Having a childhood similar to Calvin’s and now having schizophrenia, he decides only Bill Watterson, the creator of the comic, can truly make his life better, and the only way Calvin thinks will get him help is by walking across Lake Erie.


Plot: 3/5 Average: The idea was interesting, but not as original as it could have been. I believe the character that was closest to his actual personal was Calvin. The character personalities were pretty good and pretty similar to what you may expect if they had been older, but the relationships and interactions between them were not like the ones in the comic. There was not as much fighting among them as the comic had, and I think the relationship between Calvin and his childhood friend, Susie, was the worst. I think they could have argued a lot more and that the romance between them was not presented as well as could have been presented. The original Calvin and Susie had a Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’ Hara kind if relationship, while this one is a lot more like an awkward teenage romance, and it is a little weird having their relationship like that.

Writing Style and Setting: 3½/5 Above Average: The writing style was casual, like Calvin was having an easy, everyday conversation with you. The author’s way of righting dialogue was a lot like a play’s dialogue. Instead of writing: John said, “I love playing golf!” It was:

John: I love playing golf!

It was not bad; it was not traditional though. I think sometimes it’s neat seeing how authors rewrite dialogue, as I have seen some other interesting ways its been written in. It is a little odd when you first start, though.

Moral: 3/5 A Good Moral: The book was supposed to be a self-discovery/adventure trip. I think the moral was supposed to be that some things we cannot change about ourselves and that we need to just accept. If applied to the right things than this moral can be very beneficial, yet when applied to other things it can trip us up. I think Calvin learned to balance out the things he could and could not change pretty well at the end, though.

Overall: 3/5 Average: I think age wise teenagers thirteen and older of either gender would enjoy it best. It was not as close to the comic as it could have been, but it was pretty OK in some ways as well.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Suggestive: “Babe” is used a few times, and hot at least once. Calvin also pretends that he is a “yeti” and that Susie is his “mate.” Calvin is obsesses over the idea that he and a girl he likes are sleeping in the same tent. Calvin explains the different parts of the brain, including the one that makes people reproduce. A girl tells Calvin that the part of the brain that makes him affectionate and romantic is affecting the part of her brain that was mentioned in the previous sentence. There are a few kisses, and one part there is some long ones when they were not exactly making out but close to it.

Violence: 1/5 Light Violence: Calvin punches a boy and a girl punches him once. A boy throws an apple at Calvin. Calvin’s friend mentions how religious leaders are physically persecuted. No blood is used in the violence.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 0/5 None

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: ½/5 Very Light Disturbing and Emotional Content: Calvin and Susie nearly die trying to cross the lake. Susie’s little toes are mentioned to have fallen off. Blood is mentioned in a seen where there is no injury. No actual blood shows up in the book.

Religious Issues: 3 ½/5 One or Two Very Contrary Ideas: Calvinism is mentioned, but not explained. A girl says Calvin is trying to be like Jesus for wanting to walk across the lake. It is mentioned how John Lennon claims to have seen God, and they think he wasn’t lying. “Gods” in a plural, pagan sense is talked about twice. A few things are mentioned that refer to evolution, including the idea that theistic evolution happened. The idea if God is real or not is discussed, and no real conclusion is drawn from it except for “So why doesn’t God show himself?” Calvin even gets his friend to wonder a bit about why no one sees Him except the persecuted, and why followers of religion often seem so proud.

Magic: ½/5 Slightly Mentioned: The word magical is used to describe something once. Calvin thinks his teacher is an alien and monsters are mentioned. One of the things he sees is a monster that lives on the lake (it is not real though.) No magic is done in the book.

Others: Calvin seems to be a supporter of socialist ideas, and the book seems to lightly promote the idea of their possibly being multiple realities. There are also some ideas about war I did not agree with. Susie tends to show to be a bit feministic and calls a man a “chauvinist.” Whether he was one or not depends on opinion, and mine is that she was exaggerating a bit.

Overall: 3/5 Teenage Appropriate: The most troubling things in this book are not violence, swearing, or inappropriate things, but philosophical and religious things. The ideas talked about are interesting, but do not line up with the Bible. The worst of these discussions was if God was real or not. Because of this I leave it to parental discretion to decide of they think their child or teenager could handle that kind of philosophical pressure.


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