________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 7 . . . . November 21, 2008

cover The Graveyard Hounds.

Vi Hughes. Illustrated by Christina Leist.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books (Distributed by Publishers Group Canada), 2008.
167 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-896580-27-2.

Subject Headings:
Dogs-Juvenile literature.
Detective and mystery stories.
Halloween-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4


"Mike," Annie whispered. "Did you hear that bark?"

"I think so," he said. "Maybe. I don't know. Mr. Duffy grabbed my hand. It freaked me out."

"I'm sure I heard Sheba bark."

"Huh? What do you mean? Is she better?"

"I don't know," Annie said. "Let's find out."

Annie and Mike started running toward the basketball court. The dogs followed. Casey woofed it up, but Sheba could only make those huffing noises. Mike and Annie stopped and leaned against the school. The dogs lay down beside them.

"Sheba still isn't making any sound," Annie said, "so where did that bark come from?"

"Maybe it was another dog," Mike said.

"Maybe," Annie said. "But I didn't see any other dog around. Did you?"

Mike shook his head.

"I'm sure that was Sheba's bark," Annie insisted.

"Weird," Mike said.

A bolt of lightning lit up the sky. Thunder boomed. Then, crack! Mike and Annie turned back to see the branch Mike has been standing on break away from the oak tree. It fell onto the top of the fence and hung there precariously. The basketball popped out and bounced onto the ground inside the fence.


Is there trouble ahead or is it all superstition and pre-Halloween jitters? The sudden storm that hit Mike and Annie's small town didn't appear on any satellite photos, but what was visible to everyone was all the destruction the storm left behind. The town church was now a smoldering mess of barely recognizable remains, and the school playground equipment that was left standing had to be enclosed by a ten foot tall fence. Unfortunately, the animals in town were affected too. Dogs could no longer bark, and crows were converging by the thousands. Cawing one minute, silent the next, they all refused to fly inside the fenced playground. With all the strange occurrences they are seeing in their neighborhood and hearing in their school, best friends Mike and Annie are left wondering whom they can trust and how can they help? It's not until they hear the story behind the stolen barks and the explanation behind the strange noises emanating from the school walls that Mike and Annie venture into a Halloween night they will never forget.

     The suspense in this book involves an ancient curse and a lot of sneaky neighborhood sleuthing. Everyone in town wants answers — the veterinarian, the parents, and the local news reporter — but no one has any answers! However, Mike and Annie believe their school custodian and maybe even their school principal might know more then they are willing to share, especially when Mr. Corone from the Unnatural News Network starts asking questions. The tension in this close-knit neighborhood steadily increases until the moment when Mike and Annie have their speed and bravery tested in a Halloween night graveyard race!

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     The numerous illustrations appearing in The Graveyard Hounds consist of splashes of grey and black tones on white. Appearing on every second or third page, they illustrate each chapter title and add to the underlying ominous atmosphere of the story. Although this book has some mildly chilling scenes, spooky settings and creepy characters, Vi Hughes and Christina Leist were careful to create a story most children eight years old and over can enjoy before bed — unless perhaps it's a Halloween night and a storm is on the horizon!

     Vi Hughes is the author of Aziz the Storyteller and The Trouble with Geese. A former principal and teacher, she presently lives in Vancouver, BC. The Graveyard Hounds is her first novel for young readers.

     While living in Germany, Christina Leist worked in advertising as an art director. The illustrator for the picture book Baaaad Animals, Christina enjoys writing, illustrating, and teaching yoga. If she's not in Germany or in Vancouver, Christina can be found dog-watching on Jericho Beach. Her book Jack the Bear, which she wrote and illustrated, is being published by Simply Read Books.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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