Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury

Chorus: The Shadow nears when foreshadowing appears.

It's 3:30 in the morning. Dylan and the rest of his scout troup are already up for their big day. The troop is getting ready for their camping trip to the southern most part of the 50 states. Their destination is Halape Beach, at the base of a volcano located on the southern tip of the big island of Hawaii. They are planning to pitch their tents in a grove of trees that sit below a 1000 ft. cliff right next to the ocean. Because of its remote location and the difficult trail that leads to it, the boys and their adult leaders will probably have the beach all to themselves. The trail is steep and treacherous. One false step could result in injury or something worse. So, Dylan and the others have to keep their eyes focused down to avoid stumbling, but out the corner of his eye Dylan spots some wild dogs in the distance. One of the dogs appears to have a white coat of fur. No one else sees them. No one else believes him. Dylan knows what he saw was real.

Mr. Bellows is Dylan's scout leader. As part of Dylan's ladder of requirements to be an Eagle Scout, Mr. Bellows assigns him a turn as the troop's Senior Patrol Officer on this particular scouting trip, even though he isn't the oldest. One of the older boys named Louie, calls Dylan "Senior Patrol Loser" instead. To Dylan it seems like Louie wants to settle an old score. Dylan wishes Mr. Bellows had never invited Louie. Louie was nothing but trouble, in his mind. Sure, Louie could do some things like tie knots, but Dylan thought even an ape could tie an knot. Dylan considers Louie like he were a big dumb ape of a bully, or was it that Dylan was really being oversensitive and looking for ways to get back at Louie?

Chorus: The Shadow nears when foreshadowing appears

That night one of the other adult leaders is asked to tell a scary story. He chooses an ancient Hawaiian legend involving a god that takes the form of a white dog. According to the legend the god who takes a white dog's shape and form has power over spiritual and physical forces on the Hawaiian Islands. Later that night, Dylan wakes up in his sleeping bag. He feels something moving on his face. His face is crawling with roaches. What drove them out of their cracks and hiding places to seek protection in Dylan's sleeping bag? As he shakes them off he suddenly hears howling. The dogs are back. The white dog makes another appearance.

Chorus: The Shadow nears when foreshadowing appears

When an author gives clues that something is going to happen later in the story, in this case something bad that is going to happen, this technique is known as foreshadowing. What clues does the author give? What's going to happen?

The ground begins to shake. There's an earthquake. Mr. Bellows calms everyone down and reassures them that it wasn't big, maybe a 2.5 or 3.0 tops. But, Mr. Bellow's face cannot hide the concern on his face about what might follow.

The book says that the howling stopped, and then the world fell apart.

"Way out on the horizon a flash of unworldly light lit the ocean, like some silent scream from the deep emptiness beyond."

One of the boys witnesses an EQL (Earthquake Light)-the mysterious flash of light that sometimes appears when there is an earthquake. Even today, Scientists can't quite yet explain why this phenomena happens.

In addition to the appearance of the white dog, the earthquake also foreshadowed something bad that was about to happen. The events that follow in, Night of the Howling Dogs, remind me of something that recently happened in the Samoa Islands or the events that happened in the Indian Ocean 5 years ago that killed over 200,000 people. The events that follow are actually based on a true story that happened in Hawaii on November 29, 1975, on the very spot the story says the boys were camping.

Dylan will observe first hand what being a leader really means. He will witness what it means to reach deep inside to find the will to survive. And, he will reflect on how terrible circumstances can reveal how outstanding character can rise up in the most unlikeliest of sources.

Did all the boys and their adult leaders survive? Will Dylan make it? If you like adventure, stories of survival, I would recommend, Night of the Howling Dogs, by Graham Salisbury.

Take a look at photos from the 1975 tsunami and Boy Scout Troop 77:

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