Book Discussion: Night Of The Howling Dogs

Book Discussion with Severna Park Middle School, 6th Grade

Night Of The Howling Dogshowling dogs
By Graham Salisbury


Names Activity: Have students say something they like that starts with first letter of their name. Ex: Duck Donuts Dave.


Read Eval: Thumbs Up / Middle / Down

Rate It Eval: Thumbs Up / Middle / Down (could you see yourself in story? – or picture it as movie?)

Anyone a Scout? Were characters in story as scout motto “be prepared”?

Been camping?

Been to Hawaii? Was it all beautiful paradise?


Title & Cover: What is the significance of the book title and cover?

Chapters: Each ended with a significant statement of foreshadow to keep you reading.


Characters: Which character do you most identify?

  • Dylan: Senior Patrol Leader / Loser, blind without glasses
  • Casey Bellows: BFF of Dylan, he has shaggy red hair, loyal, experienced in scouts
  • Sam: half Chinese and half French, 11 years old
  • Zach: skinny 12 year old, short on common sense

Why do you think Zach left Tad to hang out with Dylan & Casey?

  • Tad: dreamy kid, momma’s boy with a blanket
  • Mike: curly black hair, 15 years old, had some Hawaiian in him
  • Bill Wheeler: jumpy kid, 11 years old
  • Jesse: Billy’s older brother, drove the van back and didn’t travel on trip
  • Louie Domingo: part Hawaiian & Filipino, 6’1”, all muscle like a man, loner w/o good family
    • “Like a man, ten years too soon.” P.10
    • “He’s good.” P.16
    • “He doesn’t like messing up.” P.58
    • “Dad said Louie was clean as a bar of soap.” P.74
    • Louie walks five miles each week to spend time with Casey’s Dad. P.75
    • “Mr. Bad Man can’t swim. That made me feel better.” P.76
    • “I was beginning to believe that Louie had more guts than the rest of us put together. Nothing seemed to scare him, not broken arms, not a dead horse, not sinking land, not killer waves. It was as if he’d steeled himself against anything the world could throw at him. He was made of something I wasn’t.” p.128
    • Louie of Mr. Bellows: “Whatever it takes. I’ walk around this island six times to find them.” P.135
    • Louie leaped over rocks to get Tad’s blue blanket. P.154
    • Louie’s perspective of problems: “Don’t think about [the hard work of the problem]… think about how each step is taking you closer [to the solution].” P.161
    • “I squinted at Louie Domingo through my mangled glasses. And limped after him.” P.185

What did you like/dislike about the relationship between Dylan and Louie?
What did they each learn about the other?

How should we relate to someone that threatens you harm?

  • Rev Paia: Methodist minister, Assistant Scout Master, pudgy
  • (John) Bellows: Father of Dylan, marine, Scout Master, police detective, caring man
  • Dylan’s Dad: fatherly distant and workaholic for big ship freighter travel
  • Fred: A shark with a hole in fin
  • Masa / Lenny / Cappy: Paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys)
  • Pele: white dog, legend related to volcano warning and earthquake tsunami (p.97-98)

Females – most left out, but could you still relate?

  • Dana: 16 year old sister to Dylan, sleeps in til noon
  • Bellow: “the boss” of family, regular mom
  • Tad’s mom: regular mom
  • Louie’s mom: uninvolved


Surprises / Who were the Heroes-Villains? Who changed the most?

  • Teens lead in the work and save the adults, with help;
    • notice how the adults often let the teens problem solve with little intervening. Do you think that’s good; does that happen IRL?
    • “Our troop was lucky, because Mr. Bellows and Reverend Paia cared. They worked hard for us, kept us pumped up about working on advancement and merit badges, never let us slack off. They celebrated when we succeeded and helped us when we didn’t.” p.27
  • Dylan is main character, narrator, somewhat hero, changes perspective on Louie, admits not greatest leader but does what he can.
  • Louie looks to be villain, but ends up being hero; he tough but tender, loner but needs help & family.
    • How do you think the book would be different if told by Louie’s perspective?
    • How does it change your thinking that life is not always about you but others?
      “That day was about me and my brother, not you.” P.184
  • Bellows walked into vacant warehouse and intervened in Louie’s life. It would end up being his own life-saving act as Louie would intervene on the island disaster. Heroic acts are often ordinary events. P.185
  • Dylan’s dad is a hidden villain, but ends up being hero in some measure


Symbols: What symbolism stood out in the story?

  • Dylan’s glasses tied with cord… clarity vs uncertainty in story… Dylan avoided bad thoughts taking him down a deep, dark hole (p.93)
  • Dogs were warning of danger
    • Do you think Stories and “legends” of our culture have some truth and life application?
  • Louie’s scar reflected suffering yet strength
    (Disney Cars 2 Mater says don’t fix dents, they’re valuable… yes!)
  • Louie’s knife symbolized double edge toughness and insecurity of Louie based on family.
  • Lava: two kinds pahoehoe and a’a, with the former being like mud and easier to walk on, the latter was jagged; reflects the location’s and trip’s benefits and burdens.
  • Coconut grove & Ocean were both inviting beauty but danger, refuge but needing rescue.
    • What are some things in life that look good but can end up being a trap?



  • Have you ever found yourself in a dangerous situation? How did you handle it?
  • What do we learn about assumptions, low expectations, or judging people from outside?
  • What do we learn about family and friendship from the book?
  • What do we learn about teamwork from the book?
  • What impact does the story have knowing that it was loosely based on true events?
  • What questions or summary lessons do you have from the book?

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