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Journey to the River Sea Hardcover – January 7, 2002
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Sent in 1910 to live with distant relatives who own a rubber plantation along the Amazon River, English orphan Maia is excited. She believes she is in for brightly colored macaws, enormous butterflies, and "curtains of sweetly scented orchids trailing from the trees." Her British classmates warn her of man-eating alligators and wild, murderous Indians. Unfortunately, no one cautions Maia about her nasty, xenophobic cousins, who douse the house in bug spray and forbid her from venturing beyond their coiffed compound. Maia, however, is resourceful enough to find herself smack in the middle of more excitement than she ever imagined, from a mysterious "Indian" with an inheritance, to an itinerant actor dreading his impending adolescence, to a remarkable journey down the Amazon in search of the legendary giant sloth.
Eva Ibbotson, author of Dial-A- Ghost, Island of the Aunts, and other positively delightful and droll fantasies, won a Gold Award for this book in the 2001 Nestlé Smarties Book Prizes. Likable heroines, loathsome villains, and splendid adventures-along with Kevin Hawkes's appealing ink illustrations--make Ibbotson's novels a must for every bookshelf. (Ages 9 and older) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Ibbotson (Island of the Aunts) offers another larger-than-life adventure featuring lovable heroes and heroines, nasty villains, much hilarity and a deliciously gnarled plot. In 1910, Maia, an English orphan, accompanied by her newly appointed governess, Miss Minton, sets off to Brazil to live with distant cousins. She dreams of exploring the banks of the Amazon and viewing exotic wildlife, but her self-serving cousins and their spoiled twin daughters despise the outdoors--almost as much as they despise Maia. The heroine feels like a prisoner, forced to live inside the "dark clinical green" walls of her relatives' bungalow. Her life would be dismal indeed, if she didn't sneak out every once in a while to meet up with two other orphans with whom she has crossed paths: Clovis, a traveling actor, who longs to return to England, and Finn, a rich heir, who would rather live with the "Indians" than be sent to the British estate where his grandfather eagerly awaits his arrival. Suspense steadily rises as all three of the children attempt to escape their undesired fates. Thanks to a series of surprising coincidences and strokes of good luck, the orphans manage to change their destinies. Although the book's dnouement drags on a bit long, readers will come away with the satisfaction of knowing that the good guys are amply rewarded with bright futures and the bad guys get their just deserts. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Before Maia leaves England to go to Brazil to live with some long lost relatives, her friends tell her about all the "bad" things she will encounter. The crocs, the piranhas and headhunters, however she does her own research and quickly finds some good to look for and tries to enlighten her friends about how she is not going to the "ends of the earth" but rather a new and exciting country where she will have great adventures.
Most of the people that Maia meets in Brazil are typical of those you will meet in a any "foreign" embassy, company, mission agency, etc. You will have those who miss trivial things about their homecountries and will never be happy. You will find those who refuse to have anything to do with the natives and their way of life and thus make both their lives and the ones of those around them miserable. You will have those who reject their native land totally (for various reason) and totally inculturate themselves...and finally you will have those like Maia and her governess who decide to look for both the good and bad, the beautiful and the ugly to make it all "real" but also live a fuller happier life.
I am so glad that a friend suggested this book to read and while it made me homesick for the Amazon, it also gave me something that I can share with my daughter about the glories of just "living" rather than simply existing.