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Journey to the River Sea Hardcover – January 7, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 d‚nouement 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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers; 1st American ed edition (January 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525467394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525467397
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,177,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you want ghosts and witches, then read any one of Ibbotson's other novels - they're all great, and perfect for Harry Potter fans. However Journey to the River Sea has its own kind of magic, and it's just as good as the stuff with wands and potions.
Maia, an orphan, is sent with her formidable but loving governess (shades of The Little White Horse) to stay with her unpleasant relations on the Amazon. They're being paid to take her in, and hate everything to do with the extraordinary country in which they find themselves as much as Maia loves it. Luckily for her, she makes friends with two boys - one a child actor playing Little Lord Fauntleroy on the boat over, the other a mysterious boy who lives in the jungle, who turns out to be the heir to a great title and fortune back in England. Maia's evil twin cousins and relations are soon plotting how to kill her and capture the boy, for whom a huge reward is being offered. But the love of her governess and friends may yet save her....
This won the Smarties Gold Prize in the UK and is expected to win the Carnegie too. It's unputdownable, packed with old-fashioned story-telling virtues from a great plot to characters you'd love to know.
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By A Customer on November 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Set mostly along the Amazon River, this newest book by acclaimed author Eva Ibbotson (Which Which?, Island of the Aunts) was a wonderful, enjoyable read. It is the story of the orphan Maia who leaves her British boarding school to move in with some distant relatives who live on the mighty Amazon River, or "river sea." Before she arrives, Maia imagines beautiful wildlife and exiciting adventrues, as well as being greeted by a wonderful family who will love her as one of their own. Unfortunately, this is not how things turn out, as her aunt and cousins are extremely xenophobic, and will not allow any bit of Amazonian culture to infiltrate their household. Her uncle, on the other hand, is almost completely oblivious due to his fascination with his collection of glass eyes.
Just as things are getting to be truly unbearable, Maia meets a young "Indian" boy who has a secret and needs her help to keep him from the place of his father's youth. With the help of her governess, the museum curator, and a young actor fearing his demise due to his adolescense, Maia is able to help her new friend and find the true Amazon. I highly recommend this book to all children ages 8+, and adults would probably enjoy it as well. The reading level is not difficult, and the story is definitely a page turner.
Happy reading!
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Format: Paperback
This comfortable, winding story will keep you reading. Maia leaves the security of her boarding school to live with relatives in Brazil after the death of her parents. She is hoping to find a loving family and is apprehensive about leaving everything she knows to live along the wild Amazon River. Her courage is further tested when she meets Miss Minton, the serious governess who is traveling with her. The wildlife, color and scents of the Amazon are thrilling her. Unfortunately her new family smells like bug spray and they live in fear of the very Nature that amazes Maia.

The story has some fun characters, Clovis, a young English actor longing for England, Finn, a mysterious and exotic boy who lives in the jungle, and a Miss Minton, a governess who recognizes Maia's sharp mind and nurtures it. The comical twins, Beatrice and Gwendolyn, are the proverbial "ugly stepsisters."

The story has an old fashioned feel to it, in the best sense. A missing inheritance, switched identities and the setting of the Amazon rain forest intertwine as Maia and her friends search for home.

Kevin Hawkes illustrates the book, as he has other Ibbotson novels, with humor and whimsy.
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By me on September 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK--so there isn't a missionary anywhere in this book, but it is the type of thing that every person who has ever been on the mission field can relate to...

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.
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