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Night of the Howling Dogs Hardcover – August 14, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Senior patrol leader of his Hilo, Hawaii, scout troop, eighth-grader Dylan looks forward to camping on the coast in the shadow of a volcano. But when he hears that Louie, a tough, troubled kid, will be joining the scouts on the trip, Dylan remembers when their paths crossed once before, and his anticipation turns to dread. Dylan's sense of foreboding is justified tenfold. After a difficult trek to their campsite, an earthquake jolts the ground and shakes boulders down from the cliff. Then a tsunami engulfs the area. Even in the midst of disaster, Dylan finds that support can come from unexpected directions. A strong sense of place informs the plot as well as the setting of this convincing story. In an unusually compelling author's note, Salisbury writes of camping on the site of the 1975 natural disaster at Halape with his cousin, who lived through it as a Boy Scout. Inspired by that earthquake and tsunami, this vivid adventure soon strips away every vestige of normality, leaving characters dependent on their wits, their skills, and the mysterious spirits of land and sea for their survival. Salisbury weaves Hawaiian legend into the modern-day narrative to create a haunting, unusual novel that will practically booktalk itself. Phelan, Carolyn


Starred Review, Booklist, August 1, 2007:
"Salisbury weaves Hawaiian legend into the modern-day narrative to create a haunting, unusual novel that will practically booktalk itself."
—Carolyn Phelan

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 530L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Mark Twain Nominees 2009-2010
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (August 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385731221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385731225
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,138,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I hope what gives my books their sense of authenticity, other than the natural inculcation of the island physical and cultural landscape, which ends up in my sentences by osmosis, is my use of language. In Hawaii we often speak what we call pidgin English, a kind of tropical patois. For example, in Standard English one would say, "I am going home." In Hawaiian pidgin it would be, "I going home." A simple thing, but over the course of a novel it becomes a bigger thing, a part of a character's being. It resonates. Syntax, too, creates that feeling of authenticity. It comes to me naturally, thank heaven. I don't have to work at it because I simply hear it. If I had to fake it I'd be laughed off the face of the earth. So, growing up in the islands was my gift. My writing is just me spewing it back.

As for the work itself, I'm big on certain issues having to do with boys and growing up. I guess this is so because of my own fractured upbringing. Much of who I am is self-imposed. I am my choices, and I have chosen to walk a certain path. Important to me are such qualities as honesty, friendship, honor, loyalty, integrity, courage, work and passion. Life for anyone is a series of choices, and I hope that fact gets some play in my books. Luckily for me, I have made some good choices. It could have been different. I could have taken pride in the wrong moves, as many boys do. It's cool to be tough. Beating the spit out of someone is good for the rep. It's honorable to attack someone who "disrespects" you by, perhaps, accidentally bumping into you (Hey! You like I broke your face or what?). Right. I could have fallen into that mindset. But I didn't, and I lay all credit to that on one man: James Monroe Taylor, my high school headmaster.

At the end of my sixth grade year my mom saw the light - she kicked my sorry okole out of the house and sent me to boarding school. It was in the middle of Parker Ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii, and was the most precious gift she ever could have given me. I loved it. For the first time in my life I had something I really, really, really needed: limits. It was like being at boot camp. Mr. Taylor, as part of his training, took us into his home in small groups and lectured us on the good qualities of life, all that stuff that is now so important to me: friendship, honor, etc. Of course, it was my duty at that time to laugh it off. That fat old man was out of his head. But his words stuck, and because they did, whenever I was presented with a sticky situation I was able to fall back on that foundation and use it to make the better choice. My mother and Mr. Taylor. My hat's off to both of them.

In my career as an author, I've spoken to a bazillion kids, mostly in grades 6 through 8. It's been fun, truly. But I had an epiphany one day, and my newest creation, Calvin Coconut, came to be because of it.

I once spoke to a large group of fifth and sixth graders in a huge gymnasium, and was leaving the school, heading down the hall with the teacher who had invited me. "There's a third grade teacher here in our school who just loves your books," she said as we walked, "and she asked me to ask you if you would be willing to just stop by her class and say hi to her kids. They know about you, too, because she read them one of your short stories."

"Sure," I said. I'd never spoken to third graders. It might be fun.

Boy, was it.

The third grade teacher and every one of her students were literally glowing with excitement, having the AUTHOR in their classroom.

They gathered around, sitting in a semi-circle on the floor. I sat in a chair next to the teacher, who reached over and picked up a plate of cookies.

The kids all leaned forward, eyes bright as a thousand suns, rascally twinkles in them.

"Would you like to try one of the cookies we made in class?" she said.

I didn't, but I was on duty. "Uh, sure," I said.

She pushed the plate closer.

The kids did a magnificent job of stuffing back their giggles as I reached out and picked up a yummy-looking, but - I could tell -- very fake, cookie.

The teacher grinned and I played along and pretended to bite into it. "Bleecck!" I spat, and the kids roared, as if it were the funniest thing they'd ever seen in their lives.

And that's what got me: those beautiful, beautiful faces, all looking up at me in pure delight.

I ended up telling them a story of when I got stuck in a mass of mud, a story I love to tell, and they laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

I left that school a new man, and vowed then and there that someday I was going to expand my writing to include this group. Because I loved those faces and yearn to absorb that energy.

I also wanted to include this younger audience because teachers have told me many, many times that they just can't get their boys interested in reading. I know of their plight. I was one of those boys. I read only one book on my own in all my elementary school years: TARZAN OF THE APES, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

So Calvin Coconut and I have a job to do. Call Calvin Graham Salisbury light, because I'm bringing real life situations and themes for discussion into every Calvin book, just like I do in my books for older readers. I won't get heavy, I won't get edgy, and I won't be gratuitous. None of this is about me. It's about every kid out there today who is just like the wandering fool I was. Besides the simple enjoyment of writing, my aim is simple: to build trust and turn boys into lifetime readers.

I finally became a reader at thirty. That's how hard it is to get some boys to read. I'd like to join all my very fine writer/teacher/librarian/parent colleagues in changing that a bit. Reading changes everything. Boy, does it!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jane Murphy Romjue on August 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Night of the Howling Dogs: A Page-turning Thriller

In his newest novel, Night of the Howling Dogs, popular writer Graham Salisbury masterfully combines the atmosphere of superstition and spooky stories around the fire at Camp Halape, with Hawaiian tales and legends of the Big Island locale, and the almost spiritual setting (the mana of place so important in Hawaiian mythology) on the slope of an active volcano in a near "perfect storm" to build suspense and create a thriller based on a true story. Night of the Howling Dogs is certainly a new direction for Graham Salisbury. Whereas his previous novels have focused primarily on character, this book focuses on the natural setting and survival of characters in conflict with the elements of nature. This time the place and the people rather than the period of history (World War II, for example, in Under the Blood-Red Sun and Eyes of the Emperor) drive the action. The novel's plot is tightly structured. The conflict in the opening pages of the story pits narrator Dylan and the other "good guys" against menacing and mysterious "Mr. Bad Man" Louie and the challenge of camping in a remote area on the side of volcano Moana Loa the Big Island of Hawaii. The geological instability of the natural setting and the growing possibility of impending disaster become the focus barely one third of the way into the novel.

Salisbury seamlessly blends the elements of plot with supernatural aspects of the setting--such as tales of the night marchers, the importance to the Hawaiians of akua, or good spirits associated with an area, as well as the importance of sharks as protectors to those who feed and befriend them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Terry Pierce on March 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Graham Salisbury has done it again with Night of the Howling Dogs. He's taken an actual event (the 1975 7.2 earthquake, epicenter Halape) and created a fiction story based on the horror that a Boy Scout Troop experienced during the quake and subsequent tsunami.

Salisbury's knowledge of Hawaii and his "nature-based" writing style are perfect for telling the story of Dylan (scout leader) and Louie (a hardened street kid with a rough past)and how they survive the aftermath of Pele's anger; saving their fellow scouts, leaders and a group of paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) who were also camping there.

Having been to this region of the Big Island, I can say that the descriptions are not only accurate, but they put you there, in the moment, as are the characters. An excellent read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By SonzTwin on September 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover

14-y.o. Dylan is on a trip of a life time. Not only is he going on an exciting hike and campout at the paradisial Halape Beach on the Big Island in Hawaii, he's the senior patrol leader. But Dylan also has on his hands a problem of seismic proportions: Louie Domingo, an older, taller troubled teen, all muscle and menace. Previously, the two had a happenstance run-in that was the fault of neither, but Louie had vowed he would get Dylan back. Soon enough, trouble stirs and stews. It seems only a matter of time that Louie's threats would explode into violence. Little did either boys realize that a far greater peril would come from above - and beyond. Their world is shattered when a 7.2 earthquake rocked their campground, shaking loose boulders that rained death upon them, causing a tidal wave that wiped out their idyllic beach. Struggling through crippling injuries and paralyzing fear, every troop member has to dig deep to survive the catastrophe; Dylan and Louie must band together in order to save the troop, and save themselves.

This is a great book for boys who complain they don't have anything good to read - it's GOOD alright. It has a killer cover that sets the tone. A growing sense of foreboding sets in early and carries the reader away like a tsunami. Besides the brewing danger that Louie presents, we also have the mysterious howling dogs that seemed to be following them (cleverly set off by Louie's growling dogs introduced earlier - dogs that he controlled with a single word); there's also a shark of mythical pedigree, and spine-tingling tales of intrigue told around a campfire. What makes the book even more compelling is the epilogue.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on December 17, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Many years ago an airplane crashed in the Potomac River. One particular passenger became a national hero and was dubbed "The Man in the Water," for in giving his place of rescue to others, he developed hypothermia and slipped into the deathly throes of the frigid water. His body was never found. We will never forget that man.

Such selfless sacrifice and heroic effort animate one of the characters in "Night of the Howling dogs." A major, but understated, message of this young adult novel is that the heroic lives in each of us, just waiting for the opportunity to be born, at least that's the message I take from it.

But first, let's look at two prongs of back story. First, Author Graham Salisbury lives in Hawaii and often sets his novels there. This particular novel is based on a true event which happened to his cousin, who becomes the narrator of the novel. On November 29, 1975, a troop of Boy Scouts and their leaders went camping at Halape, a remote beach campground on the southern bank of the Kilauea volcano. An earthquake, measuring 7.2, hits the area during night, followed by a 300-foot tsunami that raised the sea level by 50 feet. Not everyone in the group survived.

The second prong is the honor bestowed on "Night of the Howling Dogs" by its placement on a list of 15 books in the annual Young Readers' Choice Award 2010 in Louisiana. Every year the Center for the Book, administered by the State Library of each state, compiles a list of 15 books with the goal of children in each state to read at least three books from the list. Reading three qualifies them to vote by material ballot supplied by their teachers or online. There are two divisions: one for Grades Three through Five, and Grades Six through Eight.
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