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What she finds, however, is far from her imagined situation. Maia is a strong female character — intelligent, kind, generous, brave, resourceful and loyal. I loved how she reserved judgment until she was certain of the facts, and even when faced with greedy, spiteful people she maintained her dignity and, with the help of Miss Minton, found a way around obstacles.

Her willingness to explore and learn about the native culture was also a fine lesson.


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And I liked the way Ibbotson made heroes out of some unlikely characters. Occasional illustrations by Kevin Hawkes really lend atmosphere to the book. Dec 14, Mara rated it really liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , american-indians , nature , orphans. At first, this looks like a fairly predictable orphaned-English-girl-gets-shipped-off-to-live-with-distant-relatives story. Predictably, the family Maia is to live with in Brazil is horrid, and only allowed her to come at all so that they could get the allowance that comes with her.

Fortunately, Maia has a very sympathetic, if somewhat mysterious governess who accompanies her to Brazil and in her adventures. It isn't until Maia's been in Brazil for a while that the story begins to come out of it At first, this looks like a fairly predictable orphaned-English-girl-gets-shipped-off-to-live-with-distant-relatives story. It isn't until Maia's been in Brazil for a while that the story begins to come out of its predictable beginnings. There's a missing boy who may or may not actually be missing, and a child actor suddenly looking at the end of his career, and possibly Maia's new family has been living on ill-gotten gains for some time.

This is quite an enjoyable story, with plenty of adventure, and some intrigue mixed in for good measure. The characters are believable and the ending is quite satisfying, with the horrid family getting their comeuppance and Maia and her friends being able to live out their dreams. A wonderful adventure story set in England and the Amazon. Richly drawn characters and beautifully written.

I felt like I was there! Perfect for UKS2 - I'll be sharing this at school. Eva Ibbotson, if still with us, would have been celebrating her 90th birthday in January , but sadly she died in Born in Vienna, she had to move to England in when Hitler came to power. That experience -- of being uprooted -- was drawn on directly for novels like The Morning Gift about a girl from a secular Jewish family escaping Nazi Germany and indirectly, I suspect, for Maia, the young protagonist of Journey to the River Sea.

Who has not imagined what life might be like if on Eva Ibbotson, if still with us, would have been celebrating her 90th birthday in January , but sadly she died in Who has not imagined what life might be like if one was an orphan forced from their familiar environment? Ibbotson experienced some of this, while the fictional Maia is a genuine orphan -- not impecunious, it is true -- who at the beginning of the 20th century has to travel away from her boarding school to live with distant relatives. On the banks of the Amazon. When I was a kid growing up in the early 60s my mother had a collection of ethnographic travel books, many about the 'lost worlds' of the Amazon.

They had titles like Exploration Fawcett or involved a quest for the mysterious city of El Dorado. They had photographs of naked forest-dwellers in dug-out canoes or by their huts staring at the camera. And, I suspect, they had that classic National Geographic paternalistic stance towards benighted natives paraded before civilised eyes. Earlier in the century, when empires were still carving out new territories for exploration corporations do that now locals were often regarded by Europeans as heathen, dirty, lazy cheats, both primitive and incorrigible.

And that is the attitude that Maia discovers underpins her newfound relatives living near Manaus, a thousand miles upriver.

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This is the Carter family: an unsuccessful rubber plantation owner so obsessed with his glass eye collection that he is blind to impending financial disaster; his vapid but overbearing wife focused only on sanitation; and their two children, twins Beatrice and Gwendolyn. The latter made me wonder if Ibbotson borrowed the latter's name from the equally objectionable Gwendolen in Diana Wynne Jones' Charmed Life. Maia briefly considers whether they will be like the two Ugly Sisters in Cinderella but then dismisses the thought when she first meets them.

In fact this really is a Cinderella story, and while Ibbotson never labours the parallels that is the trope we inevitably have in the back of our minds. The two sisters are indeed spiteful, the foster parents disregard or look down on her, she is indeed the belle of the ball in Manaus, she has a 'fairy godmother' in the shape of Miss Minton, the governess who tutors Maia and the twins, and through Minty's machinations Maia is able to slip away on occasion to befriend the Carter's workers and meet up with her 'prince'. Maia is a genuine girl, one who is intelligent, curious and good-hearted, a character who is both believable and one in whom we willingly invest our sympathy.

The Carters would be caricatures if we didn't in fact all know people just like that: self-centred, greedy, empty headed, cruel or any combination of these traits. And need I mention xenophobic?


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Miss Minton a stern governess in a Mary Poppins sort of way might almost also veer towards caricature if it wasn't for the fact that she has a heart-breaking secret of her own that we hope for her sake will be resolved the clues are in the text, if we notice. And the two principal boys who appear in Maia's life seem to have their own mysteries.

One is Clovis King, a stage name, borrowed from the first monarch who united Gaul after the fall of the Western Roman Empire; he comes to the Teatro Amazonas in Manaus to play Little Lord Fauntleroy, a significant role and a significant name too: Clovis is called on to play the part of a missing young milord, while 'Fauntleroy' suggests the derivation enfant le roi , 'the child king'.

The second is a young Brazilian Indian whom Maia encounters, but is he whom he seems to be? Journey to the River Sea is a beautifully written novel, deserving its many accolades. As with so many young adult novels the protagonist has to find her way in the world through her own courage, gifts and wits, with just a little help from a few friendly helpers. She is the classic 'outsider' who doesn't appear to fit the mould: she looks different, loves books and, above all, is an orphan. In fact, as we see, most of the children mentioned in this tale lose or have lost one or both of their parents.

Forget that we have a few possible literary trope borrowings I suspect Peter Pan and Tarzan and The Jungle Book might have been distant influences, as well as the aforementioned Mary Poppins , Cinderella and, obviously, Little Lord Fauntleroy ; it's what Ibbotson chooses to do with these themes that make this both unputdownable and rarely predictable. Add to all this the book's central setting in the early 20th-century Amazonian forest, with its distinctive sounds, smells, sights and experiences, juxtaposed with the accoutrements of Western civilisation: dancing and music, grand houses and shops, all symbolised by the incredible building that is the Manaus Opera House.

In the theatre one observes everything from high drama to comedy, pathos to bathos, and so it is with Ibbotson's novel; laughter is here, but so is death; wins as well as setbacks.

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If the course of novel conforms to the Voyage and Return plot out from England to Brazil and back again , the final sentence -- "'We are all going home,' she said. And if our hearts don't swell at that then we must truly be stick-in-the-mud individuals.

Many editions of this novel include an exotic butterfly or two on the cover; though butterflies are one of the many, many plot drivers the choice of this creature as a decorative features reminds me of that famous notion, the so-called Butterfly Effect of chaos theory, where a small local disturbance a butterfly flapping its wings in a jungle, say can ultimately give rise to more complex phenomenon a hurricane in another part of the world, for example. So it is that little happenings in Maia's life have unintended consequences on the people she comes, however obliquely, in contact with.

Journey to the River Sea is just the kind of book I loved reading as a child.

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It is set in the late 19th century I've always enjoyed those books more than the ones set in more recent times and is an adventure story with strong female characters and intelligent kids. Maia has lost both her parents in an accident. She lives in a boarding school in London until her guardian finds distant relatives who are willing to let her live with them.

Maia is very excited to have a new family again with twin Journey to the River Sea is just the kind of book I loved reading as a child. Maia is very excited to have a new family again with twins her age and especially because the family, the Carters, is living in Brazil, on the Amazon river also called the river sea.

Sent to Brazil with her is Miss Minton, who will work as governess for the twins and Maia. Miss Minton appears to be very strict at first sight but soon turns into Maia's friend, especially when the family turns out to be quite different from what Maia imagined it to be: the Carters only want Maia's money and aren't interested in her otherwise.

They also don't enjoy living on the Amazon and believe all the Indians to be savages. Maia on the other hand makes friends with the native people and soon experiences many adventures The story is told in a very suspenseful from several different perspectives. Of course many things are foreseeable but that doesn't make the story any less lovely. Journey to River Sea is a quick read I would recommend to everyone. I read this at school and found it quite enjoyable. The characters and storyline managed to draw me in well and I could really sense what it was like in the situation. I was drawn into the story and the atmosphere of the book.

Apr 08, Les McFarlane rated it it was amazing. What a little stunner of a story! I came across this book in a charity shop. I liked the fact it was a hardback I know, a little quirk I have! I was taken with the gorgeous cover and the unusual title. This was written in a way that reminded me of the books I read in junior school. It relit my ten year old self's yen for adventure and for things completely different to all I've known. The main character, Maia, sadly lost her parents to an accident and we find her receiving some news of her fut What a little stunner of a story! The main character, Maia, sadly lost her parents to an accident and we find her receiving some news of her future at the girls boarding school she now attends.

She is to be taken in by distant family who live in the Amazon making their money or not from the rubber trade. The characters are given flesh and bones in the most beautiful, solid writing. Not a word wasted, not a phrase that didn't enhance the story. Descriptions of the places and people formed magnificently clear pictures. The characters did not change and blow about in the wind and I really liked their solidness.

It fit the story perfectly. I would love to think I could have been like the positive, brave Maia. However, I know in reality I'd be a proper Mrs Carter! A cracking adventure that also made the point of families, friendships, loyalty and trust in a really charming way. The synopsis of the story is, I'm sure, on many other reviews, so I won't even try to clumsily sum it up.

Journey to the River Sea reminded me of the C. Lewis quote, ' No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally- and often far more - worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond. Really enjoyed this book.

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Feb 10, Mariah rated it it was amazing. Re-read for the category "favorite book as a child". Now I realize this book is the reason I love books set in the Amazon.