Jane Wilson-Howarth


Himalayan Hostages

Publisher: Vajra Publications, Kathmandu
Author: Jane Wilson-Howarth
Page count: 215
RRP: NRp 700/-
ISBN: 9789937924597

This is the Nepali edition of the first Alex and James wildlife adventure.  Middle grade readers or older folks will enjoy it and is beautifully illustrated with Betty Levene's evocative but zoologically accurate line drawings.
The text of the book runs to over 37,000 words and in addition there is a glossary of Nepali and other unfamilar words and notes on all of the animals mentioned in the book. An electronic version of this book is available as Himalayan Kidnap for just US$ 3.99 from Eifrig Publishing. Click here for details: e-book

When 16-year-old Alex's parents ask him to deliver a mysterious package to their animal research camp in the Nepali jungle, he and his 12-year-old brother James do not have a clue about the trouble they are about to face. Making the ransom payment doesn't reunite the family but leads to an arduous journey through the dangerous dry forests at the foot of the Himalayas in pursuit of the thugs responsible for the kidnap.

Even with the help of their friend Atti, can three children avoid animal attack and drowning to rescue the parents from armed Kidnappers?


This began as a bedtime story for my then 10-year-old, was published first in the US by Eifrig and is now updated and relaunched in the subcontinent


No matter how often I shook my head, flies landed back on my face. Blinking didn’t keep them out of my eyes either.
They slurped stuff from the corners. They walked on my lips.
Something bigger tickled the end of my nose. I looked crosseyed.
The two of them were mating on me! I tried to blow them away. They weren’t bothered.
We didn’t know why those men had picked on our family, why they’d made that phone call, which in a few short days had turned our lives into a complete nightmare. All we knew was they’d left us here, tied together around a thin tree.
A fly landed by my nostril. It actually went inside my nose—until I sort of snorted it out. This had to be a bad dream. I shook my head again. That felt real enough. Ropes cut into my wrists. This was no dream. If we didn’t do something, we’d die here.
“Hey, James,” I rasped.
“You asleep?”
“I was till you woke me.” He fidgeted and pulled the ropes so they hurt my wrists even more. “So what happens now, Alex?”
“I dunno.”
“I want a drink,” said James.
“Yeah. Me too.” My voice was scratchy, my tongue thick. It
stuck to the roof of my mouth.
James made a strange spluttering sound. “Aggh, a big fat
fly just flew into my mouth! And ants are biting me again—they really hurt!”
“Try wriggling your butt about.”
He yelped. “That’s made them even angrier.”
We were sitting on the dry dirt. Each of my hands was tied to my little brother’s so our arms encircled the smooth tree-trunk. Roped like this with our backs to the tree, we couldn’t even really look at each other.
“When will they come back, Alex?”
“I don’t know. I don’t suppose they care. Not now they’ve got the ransom money.”
Saying that out loud made me choke up. I was glad James couldn’t see my face.
There was a kak kak alarm shout from a langur in a tree above us. This was not a good sign.
Then James said, “What was that?”
“What was what?”
“That bark.”
“Spotted deer. Alarm calls. Quite close.”
“Yeah, yeah, but something's moving over there,” he said jerking his chin towards the thickest patch of undergrowth. “Alarm barks—I don’t like the sound of that. It could mean there’s a leopard or tiger about.”


The sweets stall-holder whisked flies off his treasures. I imagined biting into a syrup-filled jelabi and the sugar exploding into my mouth. The thought of it made me feel dreamy again, but I shook my head, "Come on, James. Not now. We've got to find Mum and Dad."
"A samosa then," he said gazing lovingly into a huge wok of boiling oil. I couldn't resist.
Soon I was savouring the delicious tingling in my mouth from the spices.


There was a noise, like someone breathing out sharply – almost a sneeze. I found myself staring into big round predatory eyes. The cruel kidnappers’ faces came back to me for a moment. My mind was playing tricks. I was looking at a predator all right but this was an otter. Two more otter heads popped out of the water to examine us, then three more. One whistled, another replied and they all dived. A few seconds later they surfaced again on the other side of the boat. They kept with us for several hundred metres.
Mum said, “Look how they touch noses to keep contact with each other.” She reached over and gave me a squeeze. “Thanks for everything Alexander...”
I wished she wouldn’t do stuff like that.


  • Two British boys meet up with their Nepali friend Atti, to rescue their parents from the clutches of kidnappers. They have to contend with dangerous wildlife, armed terrorists, crocodile infested rivers and hunger. This is an exciting yet believable tale of adventure, brotherly banter and dung fights.
    The book is beautifuly illustrated with the animals that the children encounter.

  • What makes this adventure story unique is the author's first hand and in depth knowledge of the flora and fauna of Nepal. The descriptions of both are so vivid that you feel you are really there, with the two brothers, Alex and James, as they desperately follow the trail of their kidnapped parents, facing life-threatening danger along the way.

  • This is an exciting adventure (for readers over the age of eight features) two scruffy English boys and their fiesty no-nonsense Nepali friend Atti. The children have the huge challenge of rescuing the boys' parents from kidnappers and as they chase the grownups through the jungle, they encounter all kinds of dangerous animals - beautifully drawn by Betty Levene.

  • I loved your book
    Tara aged 10

  • This is a great read for pre-teens (or anyone young at heart) interested in Nepal, wildlife, or simply adventure! From run-ins with poachers and bears in the jungles of Bardiya, to struggling to survive in a mountain cave, to canoeing down the Karnali River, James and Alex (the protagonists) seem to find adventures wherever they go.

    As an American journalist who grew up in Nepal myself, I loved the details in this book about wildlife, Nepali cultures, and politics / social problems. The book deals with a terrible time in Nepal's history - the Maoist civil war, when many ordinary people were stuck in the crossfire between rebels and the state security forces - without simplifying complex issues too much. The book's protagonists view the world from a unique vantage point as "Third Culture Kids." Wilson-Howarth, the author, shows her fondness for Nepal and Nepali people, and also demonstrates her lively imagination and story-telling ability!
    Peter Gill

  • Surfing a narrative as swift and treacherous as a Himalayan river, Alex and his brother James pursue their kidnapped parents into the jungles of southwest Nepal, bonding over very many very lucky escapes and a good dose of samosas, milky tea and practical jokes. An enjoyable, educational read for all ages, this beautifully illustrated eco-adventure is an authentic contemporary portrayal of and call to action for a country beset by ecological and moral challenges.
    Rabi Thapa

  • Where to buy

    Good bookshops in the Kathmandu Valley including Vajra in Thamel, Wisdom at Bhanimandal Chowk and online from Vajrabookshop. Currently it is also in stock at the Tibet Book Store in Thamel and the Patan Book Shop.

    An electronic version is available for US$ 3.99 by visiting Eifrig Publishing and clicking on the Himalayan Kidnap page here e-book.