Alexander the Salamander

Welcome to the debut of the World Adventurers for Kids Series! The first book in this series for children is Alexander the Salamander from authors M.G. and Alex Edwards. The series features more of the kinds of travel stories you’ve come to enjoy from World Adventurers told in a way that children ages three to nine will find entertaining and educational. Filled with illustrated photos and moral tales, these books will take children all over the world.

In Alexander the Salamander, a salamander named Alexander living in the Amazon joins his friends Airey the Butterfly and Terry the Tarantula on an unforgettable jungle adventure. Set in the Amazon region of Brazil, the story teaches children the importance of listening to teachers and other authority figures. Co-authored by M.G. Edwards and his son Alex, the story was inspired by their 2008 visit to the Amazon.

Alexander cover

Alexander the Salamander is now available to purchase as an e-book for just US $0.99 from these booksellers: (United States, $0.99 for Kindle) (United Kingdom, £0.77 for Kindle) (Germany, EUR 0.89 for Kindle) (France, EUR 0.89 for Kindle)

Barnes & Noble ($0.99 for Nook)

Scribd ($1.00 for PDF)

Smashwords ($0.99 for iPad/iPhone/Kobo/Sony)

Click here for other booksellers

Come visit Alexander’s home in Rio Cove on the banks of the Amazon River. You’ll meet Alexander, an amiable salamander who likes school and playing with friends but is curious about the world beyond Rio Cove.


You’ll meet Alexander’s good friend Airey, a butterfly who loves to soar and explore as she zooms around the cove and can’t wait to get back to flying whenever she’s in class.


Then there’s Terry the Tarantula, the new kid in town who’s ready to make new friends and is fearless when it comes to seeing the world.


Join Alexander, Airey, and Terry on an adventure as they set off to explore what lies beyond Rio Cove in the Amazon rainforest.

rio cove

During their 2008 trip to the Amazon, the authors stayed at a remote resort accessible only by boat, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the urban jungle. There they were struck by the immense greenness of the Amazon region. The serpentine network of rivers cut through the rainforest, delivering life-sustaining water to thirsty foliage. Exploring the rainforest on foot and by boat, they visited a monkey sanctuary, met indigenous villagers, fished for piranha, took a walking tour through the dense forest, and went on a daytime river cruise and a nighttime boat cruise to watch nocturnal wildlife.

Young Alex, who marveled at a world he had never seen before, inspired his dad to share the experience in a story that brings the rainforest to life for children of all ages. Alexander the Salamander captures the spirit of the Amazon in a fun and educational way.


Join Alexander, Airey, and Terry for an amazing Amazon adventure! Get your copy of Alexander the Salamander at Amazon or other booksellers today for just $0.99, and stay tuned for more books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series.

Alexander cover

M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the fantasy, thriller and travel genres. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain; a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories; and Alexander the Salamander, a children’s story set in the Amazon. His books are available to purchase as an e-book and in print from and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex, who co-authored Alexander the Salamander. Alex is an elementary school student and avid reader.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

African Critters

Click here for an updated version of this article with photos.

Africa has more than its fair share of wildlife.  Not many large animals — the kind you would typically think of in Africa like lions, elephants, and giraffes — range in urban areas except on private game reserves.  The critters that hang out near our house are of a smaller variety.  An occasional oversized snake (poisonous or not) slithers its way on to our property until someone dispatches it, but for the most part, the critters who hang around the neighborhood are small reptiles, amphibians, insects, and arachnids.



We have small lizards and geckos.  They’re cute, multicolored, and harmless.  Mosquitoes, spiders, ants, termites and other pests are omnipresent.  They usually multiply at the end of the dry season and beginning of the rainy season (right now, September – January).  First the “flatties” – harmless spiders that can grow as large as three inches wide with a very flat profile.  Their abdomens can grow so plump that they almost look like small crabs.  Flatties look menacing but are more lazy than threatening.  I have yet to see one catch an insect — night or day.  Like a lazy tomcat, they usually lounge on the walls as if waiting casually for something to come their way.  I was startled this morning by a flattie squatting on the side of our computer desk.  It must have been 2.5 inches wide with a 3/4 inch abdomen.  She blended in well with the woodwork.


Other insects are more of a nuisance and even threatening.  The ants in this part of the world are diverse and imposing, from tiny yellow or brown sugar ants attracted to unstored food to large half-inch army ants.  One night I saw a stream of army ants marching (quite literally) away from our house down the driveway like a living stream.  We fumigated the foundation soon after that – army ants mean business.  Unattended beverages with sugar or sweet crumbs are major attractions for the smaller ants.  They build large nests around the house foundation and find entry points into the house through the tiniest of openings.  It’s quite a sight seeing a mass of ants attacking a snack you’ve left somewhere you thought would have been off limits – like around your den.

Of course, there are the mosquitoes.  In this part of the world, mosquitoes can be deadly.  Many carry malaria and can leave one very ill or dead if bitten.  Where I live in Lusaka is considered malaria-free because of its high altitude (over 4,000 feet), but leaving the city is a different story.  There are four strains of malaria to contend with — if you get malaria once, you’re not immune to getting it again.  Anti-malaria pills are recommended if you visit Zambia, but they don’t prevent malaria and only help you stay alive if you fall ill.  I’ve been told that malaria-carrying mosquitoes are of a particular variety.  Zambia’s mosquitoes are diverse.  Some are small and silent, and others are slow and noisy, and I have yet to figure out which ones carry malaria.  Better to wear mosquito repellent and sleep under mosquito nets treated with repellent.  We’ve been thankful the past few months to live relatively mosquito-free, but the little critters have started coming out again.

After the first rain of the season, all the creepy crawlies that lay dormant during the dry season come to life.  The winged termites are the first to emerge; they breed in such large quantities that it is a bit like a sooty blizzard when they come out.  As they shed their wings and head into the ground, they leave behind piles of wings akin to small snow drifts.  Out come the brooms to sweep them up.  The termites build mounds that can grow incredibly large.  I once saw abandoned termite mounds in northwestern Zambia as tall as a two-story house – with trees growing on top of them!  I’ve been told that termites keep building their mounds until they can no longer sustain the brood, and then they disperse in search of new homes.  There are few large termite mounds in Lusaka because urbanization has limited the availability of foliage termites consume.

Finally, once a year the caterpillars emerge.  Before they become butterflies, many Zambians will collect and use them in a local dish called ifishimuIfishimu, or cooked caterpillar and onion salad, is an acquired taste.  I tried some and did not like it.  I will not try the termite, another common Zambian dish.  I’d much rather eat crocodile or snack, two animals most Zambians will not eat.

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Little Critters

Click here for an updated version of this article with photos.

In the United States, “little critters” are best known as a children’s chewable vitamin brand.  In Africa, this has an entirely different meaning.  African “little critters” refer to the insects that invade your home looking for sustenance.  They could be mosquitoes looking for blood, perhaps leaving behind malaria, or different types of spiders, the most common of which in Lusaka, Zambia are the “flattie” spiders so named because of their flat bodies (they can grow quite large with a leg span of up to several inches).  Some are flying termites, gnats, putsi flies, or varied types of cockroaches.  Most often, they are ants of many varieties, shapes and sizes ranging from tiny sugar ants to large army ants.

African homes are quite porous and make it easy for little critters to enter at will.  Whether it’s the doors with gaps that leave ample room for entry or the holes in the concrete walls meant for ventilation but more often act as sieves, homes here are built with little thought given to keeping out the creepy crawlies that find them tantalizing targets.  Occupants usually learn to live with them unless the “little critters” invade en masse or appear to be a physical threat.  The mandibles of a large ant leave no doubt that one bite would hurt immensely.

We’ve learned to put up with the “little critters” for the most part, except when they take a liking to our kitchen or living quarters.  When a stream of sugar ants attacks a morsel left on the kitchen counter, it’s time to dispatch them.  When a spider preys too close to the bed, it meets a quick demise.  Spraying poison inside the home is tricky business, and using clothes or paper towels to wipe them out is impractical when they come in great numbers.  Thus, we usually put with them unless they cross our threshold of comfort.  “Little critters” is one of the many aspects of life in Africa that makes living on this continent more challenging than in many other parts of the world.

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