Night of the Howling Dogs

Graham Salisbury

Wendy Lamb Books, August 2007, 291 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-385-73122-5

Genre: Young Reader
Subgenre(s): Fiction / Disaster
Reviewed: 3/4/2008

Reviewed by: Conan Tigard

Book Cover


The Shark Swam, In, Out, In, Out.

"Let's go together," Casey said. "Make it look like we might be too much to mess with."

"I don't like the word might."


"Or we could just wait until it goes away."

"That would be the smart thing."

Minutes passed. The sun blasted down, and the water on my back evaporated to crystals and salt. the shark seemed to have all the time in the world, cruising, waiting.

"But we're not very smart, are we," I said.


We got up.

The shark seemed to know what we were thinking, never straying from the path between us and the beach. Small whirlpools erupted around its fin whenever it turned. I could even see its eye, looking. I wiped my palms on my damp shorts.

Casey tossed a rock at it. The shark jolted. Casey threw another one and it shot out to sea.


Tired of this game.

We jumped in and swam like spooked sardines. Near shore, something rough in the water rubbed up against me, like sandpaper. . . . Shark skin!

I yelped, beating it with my fists.

Casey hit the sand and stumbled up the beach, looking back, shouting, "Run, Dylan! Run!"

The thing grabbed my legs. "Get it off! Get it off!"

It fell away as I staggered ashore, my heart slamming in my chest. I looked back.

An old submerged palm frond.

Louie and Mike laughed so hard they fell on the sand and cried.



In Hawaii in 1975, Boy Scout Troop 77 packs up their gear for a long hike down Mauna Loa to the ocean. The troop consists of eight boys, and two parents. Dylan is best friends with Casey and they are in eighth grade. Casey's father, Mr. Bellows, a police officer, is the Scout Master. The drive the van and pick up Sam, Zach, Tad and Billy, who are the youngest in the troop. Reverend Paia is the Asst. Scout Master and jumps in the van with is fifteen-year old son, Mike.

Finally, they pick up Louie, a troubled boy who Mr. Bellows has been lending a hand. After a long and sweaty hike, they finally arrive at the Halape, an oasis in the middle of a huge, old lava flow. The scouts waste no time setting up camp and break into three groups. It doesn't take long for Louie start giving Dylan a hard time because of something he saw years ago involving Louie and a boy that was beating him up.

Mike hangs out with Louie because they are the same age and starts to pick up some of Louie's bad habits. Dylan and Casey swim out to a small island with Louie and Mike while the leaders take the other boys for a nature hike. The Dylan and Casey find themselves trapped on the island by a shark with a bullet hole in the fin after Louie and Mike swim back to the mainland.

That night, around 4 o'clock in the morning, a 7.2 earthquake rocks the campsite. Part of the land drops and the ocean rushes in. Dylan finds himself being washed out to sea and struggles to breathe. As the boys recover from being throw around like rag dolls by the undulating ground and being nearly drown, they realize that most of their fellow scouts and the leaders missing. Helping Casey and Billy to higher land, Dylan and Louie return to the campsite to find Reverend Paia with a broken arm in a crevice holding Tad in his arms. After bringing them to safety, Dylan and Louie head back down to look for Mr. Bellow, Zack and Sam.

When the sun rises, the see that the campsite is totally underwater and they fear that all three have drown. Refusing to give up, the two boys start off along along the lava-covered land searching for their friends.

Night of the Howling Dogs is a Fiction story by Graham Salisbury. It is the story of a Boy Scout troop in 1975 that went camping on the shore of a Hawaiian island when a major earthquake occurred just offshore. This book is intended for readers 8 and up.



I grew up going to a boy scout troop in Houston for a few years, but really didn't get into it until I joined Troop 46 in Solvang, CA. I went on many hiking / camping trips, but never one like the boys did in Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury. Also, growing up in California, I have lived through many earthquakes, even the 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake that hit San Francisco when I was on the top level at the airport. So, when the earthquake hit in this book, I felt for these boys. I know how it feels to have the ground violently heave back and forth or up and down.

This book was based upon the stories the author's cousin told him about when he was one of the boy scouts of Troop 77 that was camping during the November 29, 1975 earthquake. Although the story has fictional characters and events, it is based upon actual events. To tell the truth, I didn't know that the troop was going to be hit with an earthquake when I started this book.

But I will tell you what, Graham Salisbury weaves a magical tale of survival and comradeship in Night of the Howling Dogs. Once the action started happening, I read until 12:30 AM and then got back up at 6:30 AM to finish the book on a Saturday morning! Wow! What an excellent book! I sure an glad I wasn't there camping with those boys.

Overall,  Night of the Howling Dogs is a wonderful read, like all of Graham Salisbury's books, and highly enjoyable. Fantastic!

I rated this book a 9 out of 10.

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