Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Three lives saved by a children's book

Three boys who were camping in Queensland, Australia, escaped from quicksand using information gained in a book.

By Contributor / March 7, 2013

Information in "World Explorer," given to 9-year-old Vasco Gonsalves as a Christmas gift, ended up saving his life.


A travel guide for kids, "Not-for-Parents: How to be a World Explorer: Your All-Terrain Manual," by Joel Levy, saved the lives of three boys in Queensland, Australia. On a family camping trip the three boys – ages six, nine, and eleven – fell into quicksand and soon found themselves waist-deep in mud, reported Publisher's Weekly.

Skip to next paragraph


Ben Frederick is a contributor to The Christian Science Monitor.

Recent posts

But, fortunately, the nine-year-old, Vasco Gonsalves, remembered the step-by-step how-to for escaping quicksand that he had read in "World Explorer" last year, when the book was given to him as a Christmas gift.

"The book said to lean back and lift my legs and bring them up, roll over and swim back," said Gonsalves. He escaped and ran to get his parents who were able to help the other boys out.

Though the book has proven its worth in a real-life setting, all the information in "World Explorer" was vetted by an expert before publication, and the writers themselves are world travelers. According to Piers Pickard, the manager of the Lonely Planet (Not-for-Parent's publisher), the writers "are constantly traveling the far reaches of the planet."

In reference to his feelings on the book saving the boys' lives Pickard said, "It made my day, it made my week, it made my month. The purpose of books is to spread a bit of happiness, and our books especially are supposed to help people, often in tight situations. But to have saved the lives of three kids? That is amazing. It is so gratifying – it makes me grin every time I think about it.” 

Packard deserves to smile. Gonsalves said, "I got out because of the book." 


  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer


What are you reading?

Let me know about a good book you've read recently, or about the book that's currently on your bedside table. Why did you pick it up? Are you enjoying it?

Doing Good


What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!