South Carolina History Books for Children

About Main Characters, Sal & Amanda

Sal and Amanda are the creation of Dr. Mary Ann Solesbee, author, and Tony Waters, illustrator. They are twin salamanders that represent the South Carolina state amphibian, the spotted salamander.


The natural habitat of the spotted salamander or abstomata maculatum, the Latin name, is underground in damp places, like under rocks and logs. They come out only a few minutes at the time. They like to be near water because they lay their eggs there. They are black, brown, or grey with yellow or orange spots. They should not be handled by humans because they have very sensitive skin that has a slimy coating. If this coating is removed, it can cause serious damage. The spotted salamander catches bugs, beetles, snails, earthworms, and spiders with their sticky tongue for food. They lay eggs in the water and breathe with gills. Eventually, like frogs, they grow lungs and move to the land. The spotted salamander lives in every part of South Carolina.

The Spotted Salamander


“Spotted Sallie, Ambystoma Maculatum” by Dave Huth licensed under CC BY 4.0

In 1997, children in Mrs. Lynn Burgess’ third grade class at Woodland Heights Elementary in Spartanburg, South Carolina, learned, while studying South Carolina history, that our state did not have a state amphibian. The children began a campaign to have legislation introduced that would make the spotted salamander our official amphibian. The children worked tirelessly for two years, calling, emailing, and lobbying for the bill. Finally, in 1999, David Beasley, governor, signed the legislation into law. Read more about the salamander as the South Carolina state amphibian.

Sal and Amanda are known as the Underground Ambassadors of our state. They are called ambassadors because they represent South Carolina to all its citizens and to the world. They have adventures that help children learn about the history that made our state and nation great. It is impossible to tell South Carolina history without telling United States history and the reverse is also true. South Carolina history plays a starring role in the history of our nation. In keeping with our mission, Sal and Amanda want readers to enjoy learning about this role and be able to apply what they have learned to make their lives better.

Introduce Sal & Amanda to your students! Click the link below open the page displaying Sal & Amanda’s choral reading!