cover image Jungle Dogs

Jungle Dogs

Graham Salisbury. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32187-7

Manhood looms large for the adolescent characters of Salisbury's tightly drawn drama set in Hawaii. Twelve-year-old Boy has inherited his older brother Damon's morning paper route. Unfortunately he hasn't inherited Damon's bravado and is nearly paralyzed with fear when he must face the ""jungle dogs"" that guard one of the dark roads where he delivers newspapers. But the dogs are not Boy's only worry. He also has to contend with Gabriel, a bully who can't stand him. Damon and his tough-guy gang, the Cudas, step in to fight Boy's battles, but their ""help"" only makes things worse. After one particularly violent showdown Boy learns that bravery is proven not with fists but rather by standing up for one's convictions, no matter how unpopular they may be. As he did in Shark Bait and other novels, Salisbury introduces a family struggling to keep itself running while raising children (in this case five of them, including a frustrated, unruly teenage son). The somewhat exotic scenery and dialect are backdrop for sharp characterizations and inventive, subtle plot twists. But at the heart of this satisfying read lies a believable relationship between brothers, one filled with skirmishes and love. Ages 9-13. (Sept.)