“When my 7th grade students read EYES OF THE EMPEROR, they began to refine their critical reading and thinking skills (by examining WHY questions) and were motivated to produce solid analytical writing … When they wrote their essays, students had to grapple with the distinction between their emotional responses (anger at the unfairness) and the intellectual process of supporting their ideas with examples from the novel and history.” (A middle school teacher)
“Charlie has never been much of a reader … until now. He has devoured the first two Calvin books in 4 days and I have just ordered the rest of them – including an advanced order on the latest. I could not get him to come to dinner just now since he was so engrossed. Thank you so very much for your efforts and writing for boys!” (A parent)
“The important thing for me to understand as a writer for young readers is that though the world has changed, the basic needs of young people haven’t. There are many, many kids out there with holes in their lives that they desperately want to fill. I can write about those holes. I can do this because I am human and have suffered and soared myself. When I write, I remember, I understand, I empathize.” (Graham Salisbury)
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We are what we choose to be. Fortunate kids learn this truth early on – from a parent, a mentor, a committed teacher, a friend. But not all are so fortunate as to have such guides.
This is where stories can make a real difference. Vicarious exploration can offer opportunities to learn good things: What is character? What is friendship? What are values? What is courage? What is generosity? What is work ethic? These themes and more play out in my books. We are who we choose to be. We, and we alone, are the master of our ship. – Graham Salisbury
As a writer, I’ve been called “Hawaii-centric.” I guess that’s true. Every book I have written is set in the islands, probably because of the love I have for them. My Hawaiian roots run deep, my family having arrived in Kailua-Kona in 1820. Though I grew up in a far more innocent time, my challenges were much the same as for any young person growing up today. Some of those challenges did not play out well. What went wrong … or right? Through fiction my readers and I discover hidden treasures.
There are few things as enjoyable to me as an invitation to stand in front of a group of wide-eyed young people to relive the foolishness of my youth and revel in the honesty of their welcome. To me, that’s just plain old good fortune. I tell stories of choices gone awry, and the value of common sense. I often talk about World War II, and how that huge event played out in the islands. And for those who love to write, I talk shop and share my writing insights. As work goes, it’s right up there at the top of the list.
As I have grown as a writer of books for young people, I’ve come to realize that writing stories is only part of my responsibility. Sure, writing is an art, and I treat it as such. But when I am out among my readers, I find something far more important going on: connection. I have been especially moved by those with little to count on in their lives. When they look up at me with eyes of wonder, I am humbled. To them I am more than a writer; I am someone who cares. Caring is my mission.