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Although Eyes of the Emperor, a novel by Graham Salisbury, might be too intense a book for elementary school readers, one might argue that it is certainly appropriate to readers in high schools. Arguments in favor of teaching it there might include the following:
- The main character, Eddy Okubo, is sixteen. High school students might therefore be able to relate to his experiences.
- The novel is set during World War II and thus would help acquaint adolescent readers with that important period in American history.
- The novel is based on real events and would thus have added historical value.
- The novel deals with issues of racial prejudice and discrimination from which American society is still not entirely free.
- The novel highlights the experiences of Japanese Americans, a group that is not often featured in fiction.
- The novel deals with generational differences – a perennially relevant theme.
- The novel deals with adolescent friendships – another perennially relevant theme.
- At a time when many young men and women are taking part in wars, the themes of war and patriotism in this novel seem highly relevant.
- At a time when the patriotism of some Americans is being questioned because of their ethnic identities, the emphasis on ethnic prejudice in this book is highly relevant.
- The novel deals with achieving respect despite enormous odds – a theme likely to appeal to many adolescents. At the end of the book, Eddy and his friends are commended by a superior officer:
"You've proved your worth and your loyalty ten times over...even in the minds of your most stalwart critics."
- The novel has been recommended by professional reviewers and regular readers, and one of the latter, a teacher, says on Amazon.com that her students reacted to the book with enthusiasm:
"Whoa!" "Cool!" "What detail": These are the kind of comments my 7th grade students made when I read them an excerpt from Chapters 16 and 17 of EYES OF THE EMPEROR.
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