WESTBOROUGH – Tom Salvemini loves chatting with friends, especially former students and colleagues from Westborough Public Schools.
He sat at Tatnuck Booksellers on Jan. 27, selling his first children’s book, “Band of Gorillas.”
In between greeting friends and signing books, Salvemini chatted about how he decided to change careers.
“I always wanted to be a children’s author,” said Savlemini, who taught third grade at Hastings Elementary for 22 years.
He wrote his first book, “The Clownfish and the Anemone,” while still in graduate school.
“But nothing came of it,” he said.
During his time at Hastings, he met David Lowy, a Shrewsbury resident who became a quadriplegic following an accident. Lowy would visit Salvemini’s class once a year to help inspire students.
Lowy ended up inspiring Salvemini.
“I haven’t done what I wanted to do, so I took a sabbatical for a year” to read, write and talk with people about what it would take to be an author, he said.
After that, he decided to retire and jump into the world of self-publishing.
He said it’s been challenging, especially when “Band of Gorillas” was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and also when he discovered some copies of his book had pages printed upside down.
Overall, he said it’s been a fun and fascinating experience.
“It’s the same as teaching third grade,” he said. “At that age, they really start to build a foundation.”
He praised the work of the book’s illustrator, Jason Slater.
“I’m so pleased with the work,” he said, adding that when it comes to a children’s book, illustrations are key.
The next book
His second book, “Conceivable,” will be out this fall. Instead of animals, Salvemini focused on Lowy, and how he’s gone on with life despite his limitations.
“He skydives, he scuba dives … he blew my students away” with his story of perseverance, said Salvemini.
He said the new book will begin with a photo of Lowy skydiving. The end of the book will show another skydiver – Salvemini himself, who was inspired by Lowy to give it a try.
The book will be illustrated by Ed Turner of Westborough Frame Emporium, whose brother is also a quadriplegic.
Salvemini is planning to have a combination book launch/gala fundraiser this fall, with potential proceeds to benefit Spinal Cord Injury of Boston.
“Band of Gorillas” is available at Tatnuck and through Salvemini’s website, https://tomsalvemini.com/.