Jane Wilson-Howarth


Madagascar Misadventure

Publisher: Kindle / Audible
Author: Jane Wilson-Howarth
Page count: 174
RRP: £1.99

A fourth Alex and James wildlife adventure, but there is no need to read them in order. Start in Madagascar if you fancy learning something about real foossas.  This book is aimed at readers from older middle grade level (12 - 14y) to young adults and also grownups who love a straightforward adventure. The audiobook launched in December 2023.

Alex and James' parents are zoologists and they have travelled ahead of the rest of the family travel to Madagascar to begin work on the rare carnivorous fossa. In this adventure the siblings link up with strong-willed Claude-Michelle. Strange things are happening at base camp in the Ankarana forest reserve and the children know that not everyone can be trusted. Claude's mother has disappeared and when Dad is arrested for murder, the three kids have to act,. What though are their chances of persuading the local police to listen? Where is Claude-Michelle's mother? Can they prove that someone has framed Dad? And what can mere children do to stop a gang of despicable wildlife traffickers?


It started with a Himalayan bedtime story for my then 10-year-old, and he demanded ever more adventures....


This had to be their base camp, but where the hell were they? I slumped down onto a large flat rock and put my head in my hands. I was wrecked.
All the stuff they needed for their work was here – binoculars, notebooks, radio-tracking equipment, lights, daysacks. So why had they left their gear unattended like this? They couldn’t be out working.
James was busy rummaging in a raffia basket. He pulled out a couple of snackbars and threw one over to me. Three rocks held up a big cooking pot that looked like a cauldron. The fire underneath was lit. James found a jerry-can that was full. We both drank down a load of warm water. It tasted of metal but it was okay. It helped. I walked over and nudged the lid off the cauldron. Steam and good smells rose from it. It looked ready to eat so surely they should be here.
James gave me a manly slap on the back. ‘Cheer up Alex! At least there’ll be some decent food now.’ He kinda rubbed my back too. He’s not usually so friendly but I was so tired I didn’t suspect anything. Not at first. I peered into the cooking pot. ‘Looks like its lunchtime!’ James smiled.
There was the sound of crunching leaves and Claude finally arrived in camp too.
‘At last, we are ‘ere!’ She’d tied her long black hair in a knot to stop it sticking to the back of her neck. ‘I am so ’ot. I really need a shower.’
I expect all three of us stank of stale armpits. Claude headed straight for the jerry-can to quench her thirst.
Something moved on my left shoulder blade.
‘Yes Alex?’
‘What have you put on me, James?’
It was small but it was heavy – surprisingly heavy.
Then, as Claude slowed her drinking, I saw her eyes on my back. ‘Alex – do you know...?’
‘Yes. What is it?’
‘Oh don’t spoil the game! Guess right, Alex, and I’ll take it off.’
I was hoping it was only some kind of lizard, although James knew that a reptile wouldn’t spook me.
‘Go on. Guess, Alex.’
How could he? After all I’d done for him! I looked to Claude for help but she was actually laughing. I hated her. I hated them both.
Then she casually said, ‘You must be gentle with it Alex. The bite of these mygales is very painful. People die sometimes.’
I craned my neck around but couldn’t see it. I could almost feel the hairy great legs. ‘Get it off, James.’
‘But Claude says I shouldn’t upset it.’ He taunted.
‘Get it off me!’ I tried to make my voice threatening without upsetting the spider.
Then out of the corner of my eye I saw something that filled me with cold aching dread. I didn’t want to move but ever so carefully I turned so that I could take in the details better. A freshly sharpened knife was lying open on a rough table near the fire. The knife wasn’t theirs. It wasn’t even the sort of knife they would use. It was a large flick-knife and it was stained with dark-coloured stuff.
James looked at what I was looking at and said, ‘Hey – cool knife.’
He’s such an idiot.


There was that scratchy sound again. I turned towards whateveritwas. I took a few moments to make out anything but what had been a niggling unease suddenly became full-on fear.
It was long: longer than me. It was thick, muscley and powerful-looking. It was hunting. A forked tongue flicked out and in, inspecting the air, detecting movement. It was coming towards me. And I was lying at snake-eye-level.
Would the sleeping bag put it off? Or make me easier to squeeze, suffocate and swallow? I had a vague idea that you are safe if you keep still. But I’d been fidgeting like crazy and surely the sound of my pounding heart would alert the snake?
I heard nothing for a while. I began to think it must have gone when I felt its breath on my face. Its tongue touched my cheek. It was tasting me. I dared not, could not even swallow. I wanted to scream but I was paralysed with fear.
Slowly, painfully slowly, it moved down towards my toes, so that I dared – ever so carefully – to slide my arm out of my sleeping bag. I groped around. My hand met a stone. I threw the stone ahead of the snake and it darted forward to investigate. Away from me, but for how long?


  • I listened to this story as an adult before recommending it to a teenager. It has that good mix of excitement and natural history that I like in a book. Read in a clear, warm voice, it's a good story to sit back and relax to.
    I knew nothing about Madagascar until I heard the story, but I soon realised that the author really knows the island and by end I felt I'd been there.
    book lover

  • Madagascar Misadventure is the fourth book in the series by Jane Wilson-Howarth featuring Alex and James adventures as they are travelling through Madagascar because their parents are wildlife activists. I have listened to the previous books as well.
    I like hearing about all the wildlife in this book like lemurs and foosa and scorpions for example.
    I like that James and Alex and Claude have a sense of humour and I like listening to them banter. Also I like how James and Alex care about each other even though they don't always get along.
    I like that it is interesting hearing about the Madagascar culture and curses that they believe in.
    The story is enjoyable and the characters face a lot of threat so this makes the reader want to know what happens next.
    The recording was done well and is very clearly read.

  • A great tale for teenagers, as the intrepid duo of Alex and James follow their chaotic and negligent parents from the Himalayas to the remoter corners of Madagascar. The quest for lemurs quickly turns into a struggle against corruption, evilness and exploitation of nature. With the help of a feisty local friend they defeat the forces of darkness; they are reunited with their parents and are able to enjoy the wonders of the forest, caves and scenery of Ankarana, and the charm of the Malagasy people. All the charismatic local fauna feature in the story, and many are beautifully illustrated with photographs or line drawings

  • I love the setting of this story – it’s so sumptuously told. The sights, smells and sounds are vivid and evocative, it completely took me away while I was reading it.
    Emily Talbot

  • This was a great story. Malagasy culture, customs and beliefs. Wildlife. Adventure. Humour throughout in the witty chit-chat among the children: Alex, his brother James and the daughter of a colleague of their parents, Claude. Issues of illegal exports of animals and illegal logging. Danger and threat from either people or the environment rear their heads and the children are involved in a great conspiracy and a fight for survival. The writing is wonderful, rich with description, and I can't recommend it enough for readers who enjoy a good adventure in a far-flung place and care about the environment and the protection of animals.
    Mari Law

  • Alex and James continue having adventures without their parents. It was fun to see the brothers continue to scrap between themselves. Jane obviously has a huge knowledge of this part of Madagascar and it shows with her wonderful descriptions of the fauna and flora. I can't help but wonder if she had been hit by deposits from animals and birds overhead from listening to her story. Great read, would highly recommend.

  • Where to buy

    This is launched first for Kindle readers (click Mad for kindle) and then it emerged in December 2023 as an audiobook on Audible click on Madagascar Adventure on Audible