The Boy Who Spoke Dog

The Boy Who Spoke Dog

3.2 7
by Clay Morgan

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Jack, a storm-snatched cabin boy, washes up on a mysterious island. He finds sheep, sheep dogs, and wild dogs called fangos, but strangely, no people. Jack struggles to survive, to understand the dogs, and to befriend a little Border collie named Moxie. She and the other sheep dogs are mystified by the skinny boy, who does not fit their myths about people. During a

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Jack, a storm-snatched cabin boy, washes up on a mysterious island. He finds sheep, sheep dogs, and wild dogs called fangos, but strangely, no people. Jack struggles to survive, to understand the dogs, and to befriend a little Border collie named Moxie. She and the other sheep dogs are mystified by the skinny boy, who does not fit their myths about people. During a final battle between the fangos and the sheep dogs, Jack finds he can communicate with the dogs, a discovery that deepens his friendship with Moxie and validates his life on the island. But the crew from Jack's ship returns to rescue him-now that Jack does not want to be rescued.

This middle-grade novel, told from Moxie's and Jack's alternating points of view, reads like a classic adventure story-vivid, swiftly paced, and woven with the timeless themes of a boy's self-reliance and the intense loyalty of dogs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A tender exploration of the bond between man and his best friend, Morgan's thoughtful adventure uses the relationship between human and animal to cast a warm glow on each. The narrative alternates between the point of view of Moxie, one of the dogs living on a remote island years after his master died in a house fire, and Jack, an orphan who is taken in by a crew of sailors only to be shipwrecked and deposited alone on Moxie's island. The old blind dog Sage has been telling of a messianic return of "the humans," and Jack's arrival on the beach is seen as a great blessing by most, but as an ominous portent to the suspicious Kelso. Morgan uses simple, clean prose to paint two separate pictures of two distinct perspectives on innocence-the kind that Jack has apparently just lost, having to face the world on his own once again, and the kind that Moxie is just discovering, rooted in the singular love that comes from the connection between man and dog. Many insights come from the canines' view of humanity ("Humans are complicated.... I was told that often humans think by barking in their minds. The inside of a human's mind must be a very noisy place," Sage tells Moxie). The pacing is swift, and the surprising and touching finale begs for a sequel. Ages 9-12. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Twice-orphaned Jack washes up on a deserted island off the coast of New Zealand after his captain throws him overboard in a last-ditch attempt to save him from the violent storm overtaking his ship. Jack stumbles on two groups of dogs: the honorable shepherd dogs who continue herding sheep without orders from human masters and the fangos, their wild forest-dwelling cousins who attack the sheep. With help from the shepherd dogs, Jack discovers abandoned human tools enabling him to cook and survive. He befriends the dogs, particularly a young border collie named Moxie, and becomes an integral part of their war with the fangos. At the height of a battle Jack is miraculously able to communicate with the dogs. Told in the alternating views of Jack and Moxie, this novel is an engrossing and compelling read. Moxie's thoughtful insights into both the human and canine worlds are right on target. Morgan portrays the complex relationship between humans and dogs beautifully. Although fascinated with Jack, Moxie observes him from a safe distance until their bond is too strong for her to resist. The end is bittersweet and begs for a sequel, a testament to the engaging characters and intriguing story. Although the cover looks a bit juvenile, middle school readers, especially dog lovers, should enjoy it. VOYA Codes 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2003, Dutton, 166p., Ages 11 to 14.
—Jennifer McIntosh
Children's Literature
Already orphaned once—his parents were killed in the great San Francisco earthquake—Jake finds himself alone again when the ship he has been apprenticed to runs into foul weather off the coast of New Zealand. Washed ashore on an island, Jack soon learns that there he is the only human being around. He encounters a herd of sheep dogs that have continued to guard over the flock, even though their human owners deserted the island many years ago. Another group of wild dogs, called fangos, have lost their sense of dogness—all they care about is killing and eating sheep. Jack befriends the sheep dogs, especially a little Border collie named Moxie, and slowly but surely develops courage and bravery in the fight against the fangos. Related through the alternating viewpoints of Jack and the dog Moxie, this novel brings to life a gripping story that has its roots in a legend handed down by New Zealand's Maori people. 2003, Dutton, Ages 10 to 14.
— Christopher Moning
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-After being cast overboard during a storm, a young cabin boy is washed ashore on an island inhabited by two packs of dogs. One group protects the sheep that were left behind by now-departed settlers, while the other, the wild fangos, hunts the herd. Soon after his arrival, Jack has a suspenseful life-and-death encounter with the fangos and is rescued by the sheep dogs. They lead him to the ruins of a farm, where he is able to find the necessities of survival. Lonely, he tries to reach out to the canines, but they keep their distance. Soon Moxie, a little Border collie, befriends the boy, and before long, the two form a bond. The events are related from alternating viewpoints. During Jack's scenes, the plot moves more quickly, while Moxie's chapters are more thoughtful, as she listens to her leader, a blind old English sheepdog who guides her to an understanding of the pack's history and the connection between humans and dogs. In many ways, this story is really Moxie's, as the themes of companionship and communication develop through her thought processes and her budding relationship with Jack. More than just an exciting adventure tale, this novel is an exploration of the hidden link between people and animals. Get out your Kleenex; the ending is no fairy-tale wrap-up.-James K. Irwin, Poplar Creek Main Library, Steamwood, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Set early in the last century, this echoes Robinson Crusoe and recounts the adventures of Jack, an orphan of indeterminate young age, who washes ashore on an uninhabited island off New Zealand. The hands on the ship that he served as cabin boy set him adrift in a fierce storm in hopes that Jack would be spared the fate of going down with all aboard. The island turns out to be inhabited after all-by two factions of dogs. There are the friendly sheep herders, one of whom, Moxie, becomes a special friend to Jack, and the fangos, feral dogs who represent the constant threat of violence and evil. This is a tale with mythic overtones: Ultimately Jack becomes imbued with the power to communicate in telepathic dog language with his friends, the sheepdogs, and comes to their rescue in a final showdown with the vicious ones who long ago lost their ability to live as noble dogs and to live among humans. Morgan tells the tale in chapters that alternate between the inner voice of Jack and the "voices" of the herders. The dogs fare particularly well. They are not anthropomorphized, but they are relatable as noble and generous. Middle-grade boys and girls will find much to appreciate here, right up to the poignant ending. (Fiction. 9-12)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.42(d)
650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Clay Morgan is the author of the adult book Santiago and the Drinking Party. Mr. Morgan lives with his wife, Barbara, an astronaut and teacher, and their two sons.

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Boy Who Spoke Dog 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am 11 years old and most books sort of bore me. This book was outstanding! I can't wait to read the next one, The Boy Who Returned From the Sea. I wish these books would be made into movies!!!!
SilentFox21993 More than 1 year ago
When I decided to read this book, I noticed that it was intended for an audience younger than myself, and that almost detered me from reading it. I'm glad it didn't. This is by far my favorite book, and I am trying to get ahold of another copy, and it's sequel which I have not yet read, but I am sure it will be as great as the first one. Jack makes a good main character from the human point-of-view, and Moxie is so loveable, and not just because she is a Border Collie (I LOVE Border Collies). It is an original read, and the dogs' views on humans make humans have second thoughts about their furry friends and their views on us. I look forward to reading it again and again, as it is that kind of book. It is not a long read for the people who are not very fond of reading, and is definently worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a huge waste of time. The plot was flimsy and pointless, the ending was pathetic, and overall, I want a refund for my wasted time!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in 1 day because it was really great. It was emotional in the end and I can't wait for the next one. Really! The way it was written, and the way it showed the dogs point of view and the boys point of view was really cool. The end of the story was left open for a sequel, but I haven't found out if there is one. But I sure hope so!
HD-HD More than 1 year ago
This book started to bore me at the beginning, im 11 and yet im into books such as intensity by Dean Koontz. This book wasnt that bad, but it was a class assignment, i didnt get to choose what i read. I really didnt like the book that much because it really was that exciting, in fact, the details somewhat bored me and put me to sleep on some nights. I think that more detail, a little more scary or frightening and alot more action!!!! But i didnt really read all of this book i was just looking for a nice summary to give me the idea for my report,so thanx! and any more questions look me up