Jane Wilson-Howarth

 

Himalayan Hideout

 
 
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Publisher: Vajra Publications, Kathmandu
Author: Jane Wilson-Howarth
Page count: 210
RRP: NRp 700/-
ISBN: 9789937924573
This is the Nepali edition of the second Alex and James wildlife adventure.  It is a middle grade reader introducing an array of rare animals.  These are superbly illustrated by Betty Levene. An electronic version of this book is available as Chasing the Tiger from Eifrig Publishing; click second wildlife adventure

Sixteen-year-old Alex, his 12-year-old brother James and their feisty friend Bim have a life-or-death mission. Armed thugs have captured two innocent wildlife conversationists: the boy's parents. Only the three children have time to engineer a rescue before the kidnappers reach their hideout high in the Himalayas. But saving them means crossing two high passes and fleeing from hungry predators. Surely they can't suceed? 

 

This began as a bedtime story for my then 10-year-old and was first published as Chasing the Tiger by Eifrig in the US

 

1: Startled Hares

I woke hungry. The grease from last night’s meagre meal still lined my mouth. The cold of the bare concrete floor had seeped into my bones. Shivering made the wound in my leg ache. It was a nasty purple colour now. I looked around. Mum, Dad and my little brother, James, were still asleep. Through the bars of our cell I could see that the skies were slowly starting to lighten. Morning had arrived at long last. The weak dawn light picked out streaks of grey mould on the once-whitewashed walls, and there were patterns of green stuff where monsoon rains seeped through cracks in the plaster; it almost looked like a map. The team of ants that found a gecko’s tail on the floor last night had managed to pull it half way up to the ceiling. I was so hungry I almost envied their feast to come.
I heard footsteps and jangling keys. Suddenly everyone was awake.
“This was earlier than I expected,” Dad whispered. “You’ve got to really focus, Alex. No day-dreaming. Don’t forget the plan.” I gave him a dirty look but he didn’t notice. He went on, “Get away, and get word to the Embassy – then we might have some chance of rescue, and of clearing up this big ugly misunderstanding. Once we’re out, we must separate straight away. You boys, go straight to the Irrigation office. Ask Dinesh if he’ll let you phone Kathmandu. We can trust him. Tell him what’s going on. Mum and I’ll head for the main Post Office and try to phone from there. If there’s no Maoist reception committee, we’ll meet at the Post Office and take a tanga to the ferry at Kothiyaghat and then the bus for Kathmandu.”
Keys rattled in the lock. A junior policeman we hadn’t seen before opened the door of our cell. His uniform was all scrumpled, as if he’d slept in it. He looked tired. Maybe he hadn’t slept. He waved the four of us into the gloomy corridor. Wordlessly he indicated we should just go.
Dad said quietly, “Head straight for Dinesh’s house. As soon as you can boys, just run!”

 

A shape passed in front of the sun. I shaded my eyes with my hand and scanned the sky. A couple of vultures were circling as if waiting for us to die...
Then in the distance we heard gunfire. It sounded like people were shooting at the helicopter gunships, which were launching rockets in reply.
I murmured, "This is serious. We're in the middle of a real war!"

Reviews

  • In this second of the Alex and James adventures the story begins with the boys and their parents imprisoned by Maoists in Nepal, in filthy conditions. As they are being moved to a remote hideout, the boys escape and, with their friend Bim, they try to follow their parents, hoping to free them. This is a journey fraught with danger not only from the angry Maoists but also from wild animals and hostile conditions. Wonderfully accurate black and while illustrations by Betty Levene bring the story (and the animals) to life for the reader.



  • The adventures of Alex and James continue on as they brave hunger and every kind of wildlife in Nepal in order to rescue their kidnapped conservationist parents. Young readers are introduced to Nepal's past, a time when real-life kidnappings of conservationists occurred. Not only will readers learn about the history of Nepal and the rich wildlife and foods there, they will be reminded of the grit it takes to stand up for what one believes. Beautifully told and illustrated, a real treat!
    Lizbeth Meredith, author


  • This is another romping himalayan adventure. This time the boys end up in the high himalayas where they meet some beautiful wildlife, but also encounter a family of bears and even a snow leopard and many other rare beasts as they wander, lost, amongst the crags and deep into terrorist territory.
    The Reading Agency


  • This book, not like many others, it starts by plunging you into an adventure, where you are instantly gripped. I really loved this book and read it in an afternoon.  It is not the children being kidnapped, but the adults. The children set off on a long fun, challenging adventure encountering lots of different animals with beautiful descriptions and illustrations. You feel as if you could walk up to them and greet them with their full name. The different personalities of the children really bring the story alive. There are two boys, the younger one thinks mainly of food and the older one tries to be clever but fails desperately over time because the girl out-smarts his thinking with her knowledge of Nepali culture. I think everyone would enjoy this book, even if you don’t have a particular interest in different animals. By the end, you will have a knowledge of more than just foxes and badgers.
     
    Toma, aged 12


  • In this gripping sequel to ‘Himalayan Hostages’ we follow the adventures of two brothers searching for their kidnapped parents across the hills of Nepal. Vivid descriptions (and beautiful illustrations) of the wildlife and people they encounter bring this action-packed story to life.
    The Reading Agency


  • Where to buy

    Good bookshops in Kathmandu including Vajra in Thamel, Wisdom at Bhanimandal Chowk and online from Vajrabooks

    An electronic version of the US edition of the book is available for just US$ 3.99 via Eifrig second wildlife adventure