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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 1, 2009

Children's author revisits roots

By Jolie Jean Cotton
Special to The Advertiser

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Author Graham Salisbury paid a visit last week to his old school, Kailua Elementary the setting for his "Calvin Coconut" book series.

Photo by JOLIE JEAN COTTON | Special to The Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Are books as we know them dying? Read and comment on Roger Jellinek's blog www.HawaiiReaders.com.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

'CALVIN COCONUT: THE ZIPPY FIX' by Graham Salisbury, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers Wendy Lamb Books, ages 7-10, $12.99.

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Local author Graham Salisbury seemed surprised that he was returning to Kailua Elementary School, now a successful writer with a new nationally published children's book series set at the school he had attended from grades 2 through 6.

"It feels a little bizarre," Salisbury told a group of about 100 students, parents, grandparents and staff gathered for his homecoming in the Kailua Elementary Library last Monday evening.

"This is where I started. It's amazing to me. I flunked English," Salisbury said with a smile. "I've got some stories to tell."

Salisbury did tell stories of his own childhood that took place at this very school, about his first crush, joining the Boy Scouts and playing with his friend, Bobby, at a construction site on the weekends. All the stories Salisbury told sounded like Calvin Coconut tales, because Salisbury is Calvin Coconut.

"I think the most important thing to being a writer is to have a passion for it," Salisbury said.

"Calvin Coconut: The Zippy Fix" is now in stores. In this second installment of the series, 9-year-old Calvin attempts to "fix" his 15-year-old babysitter, Stella, for teasing him mercilessly. Calvin knows Stella is allergic to cats, so he leaves the neighbor's cat, named Zippy, on Stella's bed. When Stella breaks out in hives, she misses her first big date. Calvin feels rotten and tries to make amends.

There's so much to love about Calvin Coconut. He can be a rascal, but his heart is always in the right place. He's a real boy, and his stories will resonate deeply with Hawaii readers of all ages. The artwork by Jacqueline Rogers is delightful.

"Calvin Coconut Island," based on the book series, is now a Facebook game that lets players fish and grow crops, and send not only gifts to friends, but trouble too.

Salisbury has now sold more than 1 million books, and the process is under way to turn his best known book, "Under the Blood-Red Sun," into a film.

Freelance writer Jolie Jean Cottons writes about keiki books the first Sunday of each month.