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Salisbury, Graham 1944-

Salisbury, Graham 1944-

Personal

Born April 11, 1944, in Philadelphia, PA; son of Henry Forester Graham (an officer in the U.S. Navy) and Barbara Twigg-Smith; married second wife, Robyn Kay Cowan, October 26, 1988; children: Sandi Weston, Miles, Ashley, Melanie, Alex, Keenan, Zachary, Annie Rose (adopted). Education: California State University at Northridge, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1974; Vermont College of Norwich University, M.F.A., 1990. Politics: "Middle of the road." Hobbies and other interests: Boating and fishing, biking, running.

Addresses

Office—Lake Oswego, OR. Agent—Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary, 320 7th Ave., No. 266, Brooklyn, NY 11215.

Career

Writer. Worked variously as a deckhand, glass-bottom-boat skipper, singer/songwriter, graphic artist, and teacher; manager of historic office-buildings in downtown Portland, OR.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, American Library Association, Hawaiian Mission Children's Society, National Council of Teachers of English.

Awards, Honors

Parents' Choice Award, Bank Street College Child Study Children's Book Award, Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children's Literature, Women's National Book Association, Best Books for Young Adults designation, American Library Association (ALA), and Best Books designation, School Library Journal, all 1992, Notable Trade Book in the Language Arts, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and Oregon Book Award, both 1993, all for Blue Skin of the Sea; PEN/Norma Klein Award for emerging voice among American writers of children's fiction, 1992; Parents' Choice Honor Award, Editors' Choice, Booklist, Scott O'Dell Award, ALA Best Books for Young Adults and Notable Children's Books designations, and Books in the Middle designation, Voice of Youth Advocates, all 1994, Teacher's Choice, International Reading Association, Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council (NCSS/CBC), Notable Children's Books selection, Library of Congress, New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, Hawaii Nene Award, California Young Reader Medal, and Oregon Book Award, all 1995, all for Under the Blood-Red Sun; Oregon Book Award, 1998, and Parents' Choice Honor Award, both for Shark Bait; New

York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, and ALA Best Books for Young Adults designation, both 1999, both for Jungle Dogs; Parents' Choice Gold Award, Capitol Choices selection, New York Public Library Title for Reading and Sharing, and Booklist Editor's Choice, all 2001, Riverbank Review Children's Book of Distinction finalist, Boston Globe/Horn Book award, and ALA Best Book for Young Adults, all 2002, and Cooperative Children's Book Center Best of the Year selection, all for Lord of the Deep; Booklist Editor's Choice, 2002, and New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection and Chicago Public Library Best of the Best designation, both 2003, all for Island Boyz; John Unterecker Award for Fiction, Chaminade University/Hawaii Literary Arts Council, for body of work; Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, NCSS/CBC, New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, ALA Best Books for Young Adults designation, and PEN USA Literary Award finalist, all 2006, all for Eyes of the Emperor; New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, ALA Notable Book selection, and Outstanding Merit citation, Bank Street College of Education, all 2007, all for House of the Red Fish; New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2007, Best Children's Book of the Year, Bank Street College of Education, Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, NCSS/CBC, and New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age, all 2008, all for Night of the Howling Dogs.

Writings

Blue Skin of the Sea, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1992.

Under the Blood-Red Sun, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1994.

Shark Bait, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1997.

Jungle Dogs, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1998.

Lord of the Deep, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2001.

Island Boyz: Short Stories, Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Eyes of the Emperor, Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2005.

House of the Red Fish, Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Night of the Howling Dogs, Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to anthologies, including Ultimate Sports: Short Stories by Outstanding Writers for Young Adults, edited by Donald R. Gallo, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1995; Going Where I'm Coming From: Memoirs of American Youth, edited by Anne Mazer, Persea, 1995; No Easy Answers: Short Stories about Teenagers Making Tough Decisions, edited by Gallo, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1997; Working Days: Short Stories about Teenagers at Work, edited by Anne Mazer, Persea, 1997; Dirty Laundry: Stories about Family Secrets, edited by Lisa Rowe Fraustino, Viking (New York, NY), 1998; Time Capsule: Short Stories about Teenagers throughout the Twentieth Century, edited by Gallo, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1999, and Shattered: Stories of Children and War, edited by Jennifer Armstrong, Knopf (New York, NY), 2002. Contributor to periodicals, including Bamboo Ridge, Chaminade Literary Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Journal of Youth Services in Libraries, Manoa: A Journal of Pacific and International Writing, Northwest, Booklist, ALAN Review, SIGNAL Journal, and Hawaii Library Association Journal.

Adaptations

A number of Salisbury's works have been recorded as audio books.

Sidelights

Characterizing himself as an author who writes for and about teenage boys, Graham Salisbury has published several well-received novels, among them Blue Skin of the Sea, Jungle Dogs, and House of the Red Fish, as well as the collection Island Boyz: Short Stories. All of his books are set on the Hawaiian islands, where Salisbury was raised. In addition to their exotic island setting, these fictional coming-of-age tales feature intricate interpersonal relationships that force young protagonists to take distinct, conscious steps toward maturity. Echoing the qualities many reviewers have cited in Salisbury's works, School Library Journal contributor Alison Follos noted of the short stories in Island Boyz that, using "creative and credible narrative voices" and "difficult situations," the author weaves together tales in which readers will discern "recognizable facts of life."

Although Salisbury was born in Pennsylvania, his family has its roots on the islands of Hawaii, where Salisbury's ancestors served as missionaries in the early nineteenth century. His father, an ensign in the U.S. Navy, was at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941; although he survived that ordeal, the man died a few years later, shot down in his fighter plane on April 11, 1945, his son's first birthday. Young Salisbury and his widowed mother continued to make their home on the islands, and the author's love for this tropical region is reflected in his books.

Unlike many writers, Salisbury was not interested in reading as a child. Because of his father's untimely death, he was raised without a solid male role-model to provide guidance, and he was left with a lot of time on his hands in which to wander the islands with his friends. Salisbury's mother, immersed in her own problems, was distant both emotionally and physically, leaving her son to seek guidance and approval from other adults in his life, such as friends, relatives, and teachers.

When Salisbury enrolled in boarding school in grade seven, he finally gained the structure and guidance he had missed earlier in life. However, until his college days at California State University at Northridge, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1974, the idea of being a writer never occurred to him. "I didn't read until I was a little past thirty," Salisbury once confided to SATA. "Sure, I … read the required Iliad and Odyssey in high school, but I didn't read of my own choice until my first son was born. Then I read Alex Haley's Roots, which changed my life forever." It was Roots that inspired Salisbury to become a voracious reader and then to write books of his own. He also earned a master's degree in fine arts at Vermont College of Norwich University in 1990.

Published in 1992, Salisbury's first novel, Blue Skin of the Sea, is composed of a series of eleven interlinking short stories that center on Sonny Mendoza and his cousin Keo. The boys are growing up in Hawaii during the 1950s and 1960s, at a time when the old island ways are fading due to the increasing influx of tourists and other newcomers. Keo is fearless, while Sonny, whose mother died when he was very young, is more thoughtful and introspective. Still, as friends, the two cousins balance one another. Throughout the novel, the boys learn to deal with the school bully, try to cope with their growing attraction to girls, figure out ways to earn spending money, and jump other hurdles of everyday teen life. Along the way they meet up with a Hollywood film crew that is filming actor Spencer Tracy in The Old Man and the Sea. The boys, thinking that the props make the action look unrealistic, decide to educate the veteran actor in how to deal with real, rather than fake sharks.

A New York Times Book Review critic termed Blue Skin of the Sea an "impressive debut," while Five Owls contributor Gary D. Schmidt deemed the novel "entertaining, moving, and poignant," adding praise for Salisbury's realistic depiction of island life, with all its "pressures and tensions and loves and fears." Blue Skin of the Sea won several awards, and was chosen one of the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults.

Reflecting upon his father's experiences during and after the bombing raid at Pearl Harbor, Salisbury began a new novel when he imagined what it would be like to be there, as a boy, during the bombing and its aftermath. Under the Blood-Red Sun, published in 1994, is the story of Japanese-American eighth-grader Tomikazu "Tomi" Nakaji, whose parents had left Japan to find a better life in the United States and now live on the island of Oahu. Tomi's life is suddenly, radically altered after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an action that prompted the U.S. government to enter World War II. Where baseball, school assignments, and a local bully once occupied his thoughts, young Tomi now must worry about battling the increased tensions between Japanese immigrants and native islanders. Of real difficulty is toning down his elderly grandfather's proud display of his Japanese heritage, a heritage that is now viewed with suspicion by the Nakajis' American neighbors. Praising Salisbury for "subtly reveal[ing] the natural suspicions of the Americans and the equally natural bewilderment of the Japanese immigrants," Booklist contributor Frances Bradburn wrote of Under the Blood-Red Sun that it is "a tribute to the writer's craft that, though there are no easy answers in the story, there is empathy for both cultures." Voice of Youth Advocates reviewer John R. Lord also praised Under the Blood-Red Sun, noting that, "in a time when positive co-existence is being touted in our schools, this novel is an outstanding example of thought-provoking—and at the same time eerily entertaining—prose for the YA reader."

House of the Red Fish, a sequel to Under the Blood-Red Sun, "conveys a sense of community that cuts across race and generations," noted Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman. Set in 1943, the work concerns Tomi's efforts to raise and restore his father's fishing boat, which has been sunk by the U.S. Army. With his father and grandfather imprisoned in internment camps, Tomi relies on his friends and neighbors to help with the rescue effort, despite threats from a vigilante gang. Connie Tyrrell Burns praised the novel in School Library Journal, stating that Salisbury "writes with balance of the ways in which war touches people, creating characters with fully realized motivations."

The world of boyhood is central to Salisbury's writing, and it contains elements that he well remembers, particularly what he calls the "Silent Code of Conduct." In his ALAN Review interview, he recalled a scene from his youth, when he and friends were surfing. While sitting on their surfboards, legs dangling knee-deep in the salt water, one of the boys pointed out to a nearby reef and stated, simply: "‘Got one shark surfing with us,’ as if it were a mullet, or one of those fat hotel-pond carps," Salisbury remembered. "The strength in my arms suddenly felt like jelly," he continued, adding that stories of the infrequent shark attacks around the island of Oahu quickly reeled through his mind. "None of us moved. None of us started paddling in to shore. We just kept sitting there with our legs, from the knee down, dangling underwater," Salisbury recalled. "I sat there with the rest of them, keeping an eye on the shark … trying not to look nervous, which I was." Salisbury attributes the young boys' desires to be accepted to "that unspoken ‘code’ lurking in the corner of [our] mind."

In Salisbury's novel Shark Bait, that silent code of male conduct weighs heavily on fourteen-year-old protagonist Eric Chock, nicknamed "Mokes" or "tough guy." Mokes is unsure where his loyalties lie when he and his school friends hear through the grapevine that tensions between native kids and Navy sailors from a destroyer docked nearby are about to spark a showdown. Mokes's father, the police chief in their small Hawaiian town, working to uphold the law and keep the peace, imposes a six o'clock evening curfew, but Mokes's best friend, seventeen-year-old Booley, plans to go to the fight and vows to kill one of the white sailors if he has the chance during the brawl. Mokes wants to obey his father, but also feels he should stand by his friend in battle. Things take a sharp turn for the worse when it is discovered that one of the island kids is going to the fight with a loaded gun.

Praising Salisbury's "surefooted" portrayal of "the teen milieu of fast cars, faster girls, rivalries, and swagger," Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books critic Elizabeth Bush commended Shark Bait as "a lot more diverting than luaus and ukuleles." While somewhat concerned about Salisbury's casual treatment of alcohol and drug use among the novel's teen protagonists, School Library Journal contributor Coop Renner deemed Shark Bait "a consistently engaging, well-written problem novel in a well-realized setting."

In Shark Bait, Salisbury's characters speak Pidgin English, a dialect used by many people native to the islands. Booklist contributor Helen Rosenberg praised the author's use of dialect, writing that it adds to his "colorful picture of island life, complete with love interests and local superstitions. Along with the local color, there's some riveting action and a [powerful] climax."

Again featuring a Hawaiian setting, Jungle Dogs centers on twelve-year-old Boy Regis, who is growing up in a tough neighborhood in which he must learn to conquer his fears and stand up for his convictions. Boy's older brother, who belongs to a gang, believes he must fight all his younger sibling's battles for him, often making things more difficult for Boy. At the same time, Boy's family relies on income he earns from his paper route—a route requiring that he daily pass a pack of wild jungle dogs on one of the paths to his deliveries. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the novel as a "tightly drawn drama," noting that Salisbury's "somewhat exotic scenery and dialect are backdrop for sharp characterizations and inventive, subtle plot twists." Janice M. Del Negro noted in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books that "The lush Hawaii setting adds a physical dimension that strongly colors the action as Boy faces both canine and human packs with tenacity and nerve that will hearten young readers confronting their own demons."

Winner of the Boston Globe/Horn Book award, Lord of the Deep introduces readers to thirteen-year-old Mickey Donovan, who works alongside his stepfather, Bill, as a deck hand Bill's charter boat, the Crystal C. To Mickey, Bill is not only the boy's mentor and the man who gave his family emotional and financial stability; Bill is the best skipper on the islands. Bill is also patient with his stepson as Mickey tries hard to learn the ropes, from piloting the boat to swimming under the Crystal C. to detangle fishing lines. However, the boy watches his idol tarnish when the older man tolerates the mistreatment of two fishing clients, loutish brothers Ernie and Cal, during a three-day fishing charter. When Ernie strong-arms Bill to let him take credit for a huge, world-record shattering mahi-mahi that Bill actually brought in by offering the captain money, Mickey is crushed to see that his stepfather agrees to go along with the lie. While his reaction is at first raw anger, the boy eventually realizes that, all along, his stepfather has been exhibiting the most important attributes of adulthood: patience and the strength to forgive.

In Horn Book a contributor deemed Lord of the Deep a "masterpiece of subtlety," while School Library Journal reviewer Caroline Ward praised it as "a winning combination of riveting deep-sea fishing action, a sensitive depiction of family relationships, and an intriguing exploration of the fine line between lying and telling the truth." While the novel "vividly conveys the pace and dangers of sport fishing," according to Booklist contributor John Peters, the critic added that the overlying plot hinges on the "ethical conundrum" of Salisbury's young protagonist, revealing, as the Horn Book contributor noted, "the perilous undercurrents that can lie beneath even the best of human relationships."

Based on actual events, Eyes of the Emperor centers on Eddy Okubo, a sixteen-year-old Japanese American who doctors his birth certificate so he can serve in the U.S. Army with his friends. Just weeks after Eddy enlists, Pearl Harbor is attacked and America enters World War II; Eddy and his comrades soon find themselves segregated from their unit because of their ancestry. Dispatched to Cat Island, Mississippi, Eddy and twenty-five other Japanese-American soldiers are used as "bait" to train attack dogs that will hunt the enemy in the Pacific. "The shameful way Japanese American soldiers were treated will be eye-opening to most readers," noted Kliatt reviewer Paula Rohrlick, "and the scenes on Cat Island are dramatic and horrifying." According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, Eyes of the Emperor "is a valuable and gripping addition to the canon of WW II historical fiction from a perspective young readers rarely see."

In Night of the Howling Dogs, Salisbury offers a fictional account of a natural disaster that occurred in Hawaii in 1975. Narrated by Dylan, a Boy Scout patrol leader, the work describes a camping trip that threatens to end in disaster when an earthquake hits the area, followed by a violent tsunami. Along with Louie, a troubled member of the scout troop, Dylan mounts a rescue effort that involves an arduous trek along the coastline. "A strong sense of place informs the plot as well as the setting of this convincing story," Carolyn Phelan remarked in Booklist, and School Library Journal critic Joel Shoemaker observed that "Salisbury's tale of courage, strength, and survival is appealing, exciting, and insightful."

Island Boyz contains ten stories, including five previously unpublished works, that examine the lives of young men in Hawaii. "Mrs. Noonan" centers on a boarding student's obsession with a faculty member's wife, and "Angel-Baby" tells a story of first love. Critics especially praised "Waiting for the War," which describes a soldier's gesture of kindness before he is shipped off to battle, and "Hat of Clouds," a tale of two brothers whose relationship changes after one is wounded in Vietnam. Calling the collection "memorable," Gillian Engberg added in Booklist that each story pairs the island's "tropical setting with vivid, tangible details that electrify each boy's drama."

Understanding that his books are read by impressionable youngsters, Salisbury takes his writing seriously. "I was told by a young reader that a scene in Under the Blood-Red Sun was so powerful to him, so moving, that it became, for him, a seminal life moment," the author remarked in an interview on the Ya Ya Yas Web log. "In a realistic, human way, that one scene (in the context of the novel) turned him into a Lifetime Reader. That is what it's all about. I call that a home run."

Salisbury once told SATA: "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. Strange as it sounds to say, I—as a writer—consider myself lucky, indeed, to have all the holes I have in my own life. Because when I write, I remember, I understand, I empathize, and I feel a need to explore those holes and maybe even fill a couple of them—for myself and for any reader with a similar need who happens to stumble onto my work."

Salisbury is certainly appreciative of his talents, as he noted in an essay on the Random House Web site: "I have been honored by the universe. Writing is often as mysterious as the concept of eternity. How a twerp like me ever got this lucky, I'll never know." He concluded, "The magic comes, really, in the writing. Something happens between my fingertips and the keyboard. I don't understand it, but it's absolutely the most fabulous and surely the most mysterious part of the writing process: write, and things happen."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Gill, David Macinnis, Graham Salisbury: Island Boy, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 2005.

PERIODICALS

ALAN Review, fall, 1994, Graham Salisbury, "A Leaf on the Sea," pp. 11-14; winter, 1997, Janet Benton, "‘Writing My Way Home’: An Interview with Salisbury."

Booklist, October 15, 1994, Frances Bradburn, review of Under the Blood-Red Sun, p. 425; September 1, 1997, Helen Rosenberg, review of Shark Bait, p. 107; September 15, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 110; March 1, 2001, Anna Rich, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 1295; August, 2001, John Peters, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 2108; April 15, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Island Boyz, p. 1399; May 15, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Eyes of the Emperor, p. 1669; April 15, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of House of the Red Fish, p. 64; August, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of Night of the Howling Dogs, p. 70.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 1997, Elizabeth Bush, review of Shark Bait, pp. 138-139; February, 1999, Janice M. Del Negro, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 216.

Five Owls, May-June, 1992, Gary D. Schmidt, review of Blue Skin of the Sea, p. 66.

Horn Book, September-October, 1998, Susan P. Bloom, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 614; September, 2001, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 595; March- April, 2002, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Island Boyz, p. 219; January-February, 2003, Graham Salisbury, "E Komo Mai" (award acceptance speech), p. 39; July-August, 2005, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Eyes of the Emperor, p. 480; September-October, 2007, Betty Carter, review of Night of the Howling Dogs, p. 589.

Journal of Adolescence and Adult Literacy, November, 2002, James Blasingame, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 267.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2002, review of Island Boyz, p. 425.

Kliatt, July, 2002, Jean Palmer, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 53; May, 2003, Paula Rohrlick, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 20; March, 2004, Olivia Durant, review of Island Boyz, p. 28; July, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Eyes of the Emperor, p. 16; July, 2006, Paula Rohrlick, review of House of the Red Fish, p. 14.

New York Times Book Review, May 2, 1993, review of Blue Skin of the Sea, p. 24.

Publishers Weekly, July 13, 1998, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 78; July 30, 2001, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 86; September 5, 2005, review of Eyes of the Emperor, p. 64.

School Library Journal, September, 1997, Coop Renner, review of Shark Bait, p. 225; October, 2000, Todd Dunkelberg, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 94; August, 2001, Caroline Ward, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 188; March, 2002, Alison Follos, review of Island Boyz, p. 238; August, 2001, Caroline Ward, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 188; September, 2005, Carol A. Edwards, review of Eyes of the Emperor, p. 213; August, 2006, Connie Tyrell Burns, review of House of the Red Fish, p. 128; August, 2007, Joel Shoemaker, review of Night of the Howling Dogs, p. 125.

Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1994, John R. Lord, review of Under the Blood-Red Sun, p. 216.

ONLINE

Graham Salisbury Home Page,http://www.grahamsalisbury.com (November 10, 2008).

Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (November 10, 2008), biographical essay by Salisbury.

Ya Ya Yas Web log,http://theyayayas.wordpress.com/ (May 17, 2007), interview with Salisbury.

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Salisbury, Graham 1944–

Salisbury, Graham 1944

Personal

Born April 11, 1944, in Philadelphia, PA; son of Henry Forester Graham (an officer in the U.S. Navy) and Barbara Twigg-Smith; married second wife, Robyn Kay Cowan, October 26, 1988; children: Sandi Weston, Miles, Ashley, Melanie, Alex, Keenan, Zachary, Annie Rose (adopted). Education: California State University at Northridge, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1974; Vermont College of Norwich University, M.F.A., 1990. Politics: "Middle of the road." Hobbies and other interests: Boating and fishing, biking, running.

Addresses

Agent Fran Lebowitz, Writers House, 21 West 26th St., New York, NY 10010. E-mail graham@graham salisbury.com.

Career

Writer. Worked variously as a deckhand, glass-bottom boat skipper, singer-songwriter, graphic artist, and teacher; manager of historic office-buildings in downtown Portland, OR.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, American Library Association, Hawaiian Mission Children's Society, National Council of Teachers of English.

Awards, Honors

Parents Choice Award, Bank Street College Child Study Children's Book Award, Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children's Literature, Women's National Book Association, Best Books for Young Adults designation, American Library Association (ALA), and Best Books designation, School Library Journal, all 1992, Notable Trade Book in the Language Arts, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and Oregon Book Award, both 1993, all for Blue Skin of the Sea; PEN/Norma Klein Award for emerging voice among American writers of children's fiction, 1992; Parents' Choice Honor Award, Editors' Choice, Booklist, Scott O'Dell Award, ALA Best Books for Young Adults and Notable Children's Books designations, and Books in the Middle designation, Voice of Youth Advocates, all 1994, Teacher's Choice, International Reading Association, Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council (NCSS/CBC), Notable Children's Books selection, Library of Congress, New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, Hawaii Nene Award, California Young Reader Medal, and Oregon Book Award, all 1995, all for Under the Blood-Red Sun; Oregon Book Award, 1998, and Parents' Choice Honor Award, both for Shark Bait; New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, and ALA Best Books for Young Adults designation, both 1999, both for Jungle Dogs; Parents' Choice Gold Award, Capitol Choices selection, New York Public Library Title for Reading and Sharing, and Booklist Editor's Choice, all 2001, Riverbank Review Children's Book of Distinction finalist, Boston Globe/Horn Book award, and ALA Best Book for Young Adults, all 2002, and Cooperative Children's Book Center Best of the Year selection, all for Lord of the Deep; Booklist Editor's Choice, 2002, and New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection and Chicago Public Library Best of the Best designation, both 2003, all for Island Boyz; John Unterecker Award for Fiction, Chaminade University/Hawaii Literary Arts Council, for body of work.

Writings

Blue Skin of the Sea, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1992.

Under the Blood-Red Sun, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1994.

Shark Bait, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1997.

Jungle Dogs, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1998.

Lord of the Deep, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2001.

Island Boyz: Short Stories, Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Eyes of the Emperor, Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to anthologies, including Ultimate Sports: Short Stories by Outstanding Writers for Young Adults, edited by Donald R. Gallo, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1995; Going Where I'm Coming From: Memoirs of American Youth, edited by Anne Mazer, Persea, 1995; No Easy Answers: Short Stories about Teenagers Making Tough Decisions, edited by Gallo, Delacorte, 1997; Working Days: Short Stories about Teenagers at Work, edited by Anne Mazer, Persea, 1997; Dirty Laundry: Stories about Family Secrets, edited by Lisa Rowe Fraustino, Viking (New York, NY), 1998; and Time Capsule: Short Stories about Teenagers throughout the Twentieth Century, edited by Gallo, Delacorte, 1999. Contributor to periodicals, including Bamboo Ridge, Chaminade Literary Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Journal of Youth Services in Libraries, Manoa: A Journal of Pacific and International Writing, Northwest, Booklist, ALAN Review, SIGNAL Journal, and Hawaii Library Association Journal.

Adaptations

Jungle Dogs was adapted for audio by Recorded Books, 2000.

Work in Progress

Sidelights

Characterizing himself as an author who writes for and about teenage boys, Graham Salisbury has published the short-story collection Island Boyz, as well as several well-received novels, among them Blue Skin of the Sea, Jungle Dogs, and Lord of the Deep. All of his books are set on the Hawaiian islands where Salisbury was raised. In addition to their exotic island setting, these fictional coming-of-age tales feature intricate interpersonal relationships that force young protagonists to take distinct, conscious steps toward maturity. Echoing the qualities many reviewers have cited in Salisbury's works, School Library Journal contributor Alison Follos noted of the short stories in Island Boyz that, using"creative and credible narrative voices" and "difficult situations," the author weaves together tales in which readers will discern "recognizable facts of life." Calling the collection "memorable," Gillian Engberg added in Booklist that each story pairs the island's "tropical setting with vivid, tangible details that electrify each boy's drama."

While Salisbury was born in Pennsylvania, his family had its roots on the islands of Hawaii, where his ancestors served as missionaries in the early nineteenth century. His father, an ensign in the U.S. Navy, was at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941; although he survived that ordeal, he died a few years later when he was shot down in his fighter plane on April 11, 1945his son's first birthday. Young Salisbury and his widowed mother continued to make their home on the islands, and the author's love for this tropical region is reflected in each of his books.

Unlike many writers, Salisbury was not interested in books as a child. Because of his father's untimely death, he was raised without a solid male role-model to provide guidance, and he was left with a lot of time on his hands in which to wander the islands with his friends. His mother, immersed in her own problems, was distant both emotionally and physically, leaving her son to seek guidance and approval from other adults in his life, such as friends, relatives, and teachers.

When Salisbury enrolled in boarding school in grade seven, he gained the structure and guidance he had missed earlier in life. However, until his college days at California State University at Northridge, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1974, the idea of being a writer never occurred to him. "I didn't read until I was a little past thirty," Salisbury once confided to Something about the Author (SATA ). "Sure, I read the required Iliad and Odyssey in high school, but I didn't read of my own choice until my first son was born. Then I read Alex Haley's Roots, which changed my life forever." It was Roots that inspired Salisbury to become a voracious reader and then to write books of
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his own. He also went on to obtain a master's degree in fine arts at Vermont College of Norwich University in 1990.

Published in 1992, Salisbury's first novel, Blue Skin of the Sea, is composed of a series of eleven interlinking short stories that center on Sonny Mendoza and his cousin Keo. The boys are growing up in Hawaii during the 1950s and 1960s, at a time when the old island ways are fading due to the increasing influx of tourists and other newcomers. Keo is fearless, while Sonny, whose mother died when he was very young, is more thoughtful and introspective. But as friends the two cousins balance one another. Throughout the book, the boys learn to deal with the school bully, try to cope with their growing attraction to girls, figure out ways to earn spending money, and jump other hurdles of everyday teen life. Along the way they meet up with a Hollywood film crew that is filming actor Spencer Tracy in The Old Man and the Sea. The boys, thinking that the props make the action look unrealistic, decide to educate the veteran actor in how to deal with real, rather than fake sharks.

A New York Times Book Review critic termed Blue Skin of the Sea an "impressive debut," while Five Owls contributor Gary D. Schmidt deemed the novel "entertaining, moving, and poignant," adding praise for Salisbury's realistic depiction of island life, with all its "pressures and tensions and loves and fears." Blue Skin of the Sea won several awards, and was chosen one of the American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults.

Reflecting upon his father's experiences during and after the bombing raid at Pearl Harbor, Salisbury began a new novel when he imagined what it would be like to be there, as a boy, during the bombing and its aftermath. Under the Blood-Red Sun, published in 1994, is the story of Japanese-American eighth-grader Tomikazu"Tomi" Nakaji, whose parents had left Japan to find a better life in the United States and now live on the island of Oahu. Tomi's life is suddenly, radically altered after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an action that prompted the U.S. government to join World War II. Where baseball, school assignments, and a local bully once occupied his thoughts, young Tomi now must worry about battling the increased tensions between Japanese immigrants and native islanders. Of real difficulty is toning down his elderly grandfather's proud display of his Japanese heritage, a heritage which is now viewed with suspicion by the Nakajis' American neighbors. Praising Salisbury for "subtly reveal[ing] the natural suspicions of the Americans and the equally natural bewilderment of the Japanese immigrants," Booklist contributor Frances Bradburn wrote that it is"a tribute to the writer's craft that, though there are no easy answers in the story, there is empathy for both cultures." Voice of Youth Advocates reviewer John R. Lord also praised Under the Blood-Red Sun, noting that "in a time when positive co-existence is being touted in our schools, this novel is an outstanding example of thought-provokingand at the same time eerily entertainingprose for the YA reader."

The world of boyhood is central to Salisbury's writing, and it contains elements that he well remembers, particularly what he calls the "Silent Code of Conduct." In his ALAN Review interview, he recalled a scene from his youth, when he and friends were surfing. While sitting on their surfboards, legs dangling knee-deep in the salt water, one of the boys pointed out to a nearby reef and stated, simply, "'Got one shark surfing with us,' as if it were a mullet, or one of those fat hotel-pond carps," Salisbury remembered. "The strength in my arms suddenly felt like jelly," he continued, and stories of the infrequent shark attacks around the island of Oahu reeled through his mind. "None of us moved. None of us started paddling in to shore. We just kept sitting there with our legs, from the knee down, dangling underwa-
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ter," Salisbury recalled. "I sat there with the rest of them, keeping an eye on the shark trying not to look nervous, which I was." Salisbury attributes the young boys' desires to be accepted to "that unspoken 'code' lurking in the corner of [our] mind."

In Salisbury's novel Shark Bait, that silent code of male conduct weighs heavily on fourteen-year-old protagonist Eric Chock, nicknamed "Mokes" or "tough guy." Mokes is unsure where his loyalties lie when he and his school friends hear through the grapevine that tensions between native kids and Navy sailors from a destroyer docked nearby are about to spark a showdown. Mokes's father, the police chief in their small Hawaiian town, working to uphold the law and keep the peace, imposes a six o'clock evening curfew, but Mokes's best friend, seventeen-year-old Booley, plans to go to the fight and vows to kill one of the white sailors if he has the chance during the brawl. Mokes wants to obey his father, but also feels he should stand by his friend in battle. Things take a sharp turn for the worse when it is discovered that one of the island kids is going to the fight with a loaded gun.

Praising Salisbury's "surefooted" portrayal of "the teen milieu of fast cars, faster girls, rivalries, and swagger," Elizabeth Bush writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books commended the novel as "a lot more diverting than luaus and ukuleles." While somewhat concerned about Salisbury's casual treatment of alcohol and drug use among the novel's teen protagonists, School Library Journal contributor Coop Renner deemed Shark Bait "a consistently engaging, well-written problem novel in a well-realized setting."

In Shark Bait, Salisbury's characters speak Pidgin English, a dialect used by many people native to the islands. Booklist contributor Helen Rosenberg praised the author's use of dialect for adding to his "colorful picture of island life, complete with love interests and local superstitions. Along with the local color, there's some riveting action and a [powerful] climax."

Again featuring a Hawaiian setting, Jungle Dogs centers on twelve-year-old Boy Regis, who is growing up in a tough neighborhood in which he must learn to conquer his fears and stand up for his convictions. Boy's older brother, who belongs to a gang, believes he must fight all his younger sibling's battles for him, often making things more difficult for Boy. At the same time, Boy's family relies on income he earns from his paper routea route requiring that he daily pass a pack of wild jungle dogs on one of the paths to his deliveries. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the novel as a"tightly drawn drama," noting that Salisbury's "somewhat exotic scenery and dialect are backdrop for sharp characterizations and inventive, subtle plot twists." Janice M. Del Negro noted in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books that "The lush Hawaii setting adds a physical dimension that strongly colors the action as Boy faces both canine and human packs with tenacity and nerve that will hearten young readers confronting their own demons."

Winner of the Boston Globe/Horn Book award, Lord of the Deep introduces readers to thirteen-year-old Mickey Donovan, who works alongside his stepfather, Bill, as a deck hand Bill's charter boat, the Crystal C. To Mickey, Bill is not only the boy's mentor and the man who gave his family emotional and financial stability; Bill is the best skipper on the islands. Bill is also patient with his stepson as Mickey tries hard to learn the ropes, from piloting the boat to swimming under the Crystal C. to de-tangle fishing lines. However, the boy watches his idol tarnish when the older man tolerates the mistreatment of two fishing clients, loutish brothers Ernie and Cal, during a three-day fishing charter. When Ernie strong-arms Bill to let him take credit for a huge, world-record shattering mahi-mahi that Bill actually brought in by offering the captain money, Mickey is crushed to see that his stepfather agrees to go along with the lie. While his reaction is at first raw anger, the boy eventually realizes that, all along, his stepfather has been exhibiting the most important attributes of adulthood: patience and the strength to forgive.

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In Horn Book a contributor deemed Lord of the Deep a "masterpiece of subtlety," while School Library Journal reviewer Caroline Ward praised it as "a winning combination of riveting deep-sea fishing action, a sensitive depiction of family relationships, and an intriguing exploration of the fine line between lying and telling the truth." While the novel "vividly conveys the pace and dangers of sport fishing," according to Booklist contributor John Peters, the critic added that the overlying plot hinges on the "ethical conundrum" of Salisbury's young protagonist, revealing, as the Horn Book contributor noted, "the perilous undercurrents that can lie beneath even the best of human relationships."

Understanding that his books are read by impressionable young readers, Salisbury takes his writing seriously."I've thought a lot about what my job is as an author of books for young readers," he noted in an article in the ALAN Review. "I don't write to teach, preach, lecture, or criticize, but to explore. I write to make good use of the amazing English language. And if my stories show boys choosing certain life options, and the possible consequences of having chosen those options, then maybe I will have finally done something worthwhile."

Salisbury once told SATA: "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. Strange as it sounds to say, Ias a writerconsider myself lucky, indeed, to have all the holes I have in my own life. Because when I write, I remember, I understand, I empathize, and I feel a need to explore those holes and maybe even fill a couple of themfor myself and for any reader with a similar need who happens to stumble onto my work."

Although he still has many relatives in Hawaii, Salisbury makes his home in Portland, Oregon, with his family. His hobbies include boating, fishing, biking, and running, and he also enjoys researching his family history in Hawaii, both the positive and negative aspects of his Anglo-Saxon missionary past and its role in the colonization of the native Hawaiian people. While identifying with native Hawaiians' concern that their traditional culture is being destroyed, Salisbury maintains that looking back and apportioning blame is not constructive. As he told Benton, "We are all new people. The people of the past are dust."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

ALAN Review, fall, 1994, Graham Salisbury, "A Leaf on the Sea," pp. 11-14; winter, 1996, pp. 35-45; winter, 1997, Janet Benton, Janet, "'Writing My Way Home': An Interview with Salisbury."

Booklist, October 15, 1994, Frances Bradburn, review of Under the Blood-Red Sun, p. 425; September 1, 1997, Helen Rosenberg, review of Shark Bait, p. 107; September 15, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 110; March 1, 2001, Anna Rich, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 1295; August, 2001, John Peters, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 2108; April 15, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Island Boyz, p. 1399.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 1994, p. 102; December, 1997, Elizabeth Bush, review of Shark Bait, pp. 138-139; February, 1999, Janice M. Del Negro, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 216.

Five Owls, May-June, 1992, Gary D. Schmidt, review of Blue Skin of the Sea, p. 66.

Horn Book, September-October, 1995, pp. 634-639; September-October, 1998, Susan P. Bloom, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 614; September, 2001, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 595; March-April, 2002, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Island Boyz, p. 219; January-February, 2003, Graham Salisbury, "E Komo Mai" (award acceptance speech), p. 39.

Journal of Adolescence and Adult Literacy, November, 2002, James Blasingame, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 267.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 1994, p. 1415; July 1, 1997, p. 1035; July 15, 1998, p. 1041; March 15, 2002, review of Island Boyz, p. 425.

Kliatt, July, 2002, Jean Palmer, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 53; May, 2003, Paula Rohrlick, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 20; March, 2004, Olivia Durant, review of Island Boyz, p. 28.

New York Times Book Review, May 2, 1993, review of Blue Skin of the Sea, p. 24.

Publishers Weekly, June 15, 1992, p. 104; July 13, 1992, p. 22; October 31, 1994, p. 64; July 13, 1998, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 78; July 30, 2001, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 86.

School Library Journal, July, 1995, p. 50; September, 1997, Coop Renner, review of Shark Bait, p. 225; October, 20000, Todd Dunkelberg, review of Jungle Dogs, p. 94; August, 2001, Caroline Ward, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 188; March, 2002, Alison Follos, review of Island Boyz, p. 238; July, 2002, Vicki Reutter, review of Lord of the Deep, p. 63.

Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1994, John R. Lord, review of Under the Blood-Red Sun, p. 216.

ONLINE

Graham Salisbury Web site, http://www.grahamsalisbury.com (June 28, 2005).

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