With the memorable characters and plot twists she brings to her best-selling fantasies, acclaimed author Eva Ibbotson has written a hair-raising novel, set in turn-of-the-last-century Brazil.
Accompanied by Miss Minton, a fierce-looking, no-nonsense governess, Maia, a young orphan, sets off for the wilderness of the Amazon, expecting curtains of orchids, brightly colored macaws, and a loving family. But what she finds is an evil-tempered aunt and uncle and their spoiled daughters. It is only when she is swept up in a mystery involving a young Indian boy, a homesick child actor, and a missing inheritance that Maia lands in the middle of the Amazon adventure she's dreamed of. Readers of every generation will treasure Ibbotson's lush historical adventure that harkens back to the beloved classics of Frances Hodgson Burnett and Louisa May Alcott.
About the Author
Eva Ibbotson, born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner, was an Austrian-born British novelist, known for her children's books. Some of her novels for adults have been successfully reissued for the young adult market in recent years. For the historical novel Journey to the River Sea, she won the Smarties Prize in category 9-11 years, garnered unusual commendation as runner up for the Guardian Prize, and made the Carnegie, Whitbread, and Blue Peter shortlists. She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was one of eight books on the longlist for the same award in 2012.
From the author:
Journey to the River Sea was written quite quickly but it spent years and years inside my head. It started with my hearing about this fabled opera house a thousand miles from the mouth of the Amazon and I thought it was one of the strangest things I had ever heard - I meant to go there and see for myself but then I realised it would mean going back into the past because everything is quite different there now. So I went on reading and dreaming and researching and then one day, I picked up my pen to start a new book about witches and ghosts and found I had started to write an adventure storyset in the jungle.
Read an Excerpt
It was a good school, one of the best in London.
Miss Banks and her sister Emily believed that girls should be taught as thoroughly and as carefully as boys. They had bought three houses in a quiet square, a pleasant place with plane trees and well-behaved pigeons, and put up a brass plate saying: THE MAYFAIR ACADEMY FOR YOUNG LADIES—and they had prospered.
For while the sisters prized proper learning, they also prized good manners, thoughtfulness, and care for others, and the girls learned both algebra and needlework. Moreover, they took in children whose parents were abroad and needed somewhere to spend the holidays. Now, some thirty years later, in the autumn of 1910, the school had a waiting list, and those girls who went there knew how lucky they were.
All the same, there were times when they were very bored.
Miss Carlisle was giving a geography lesson in the big classroom which faced the street. She was a good teacher, but even the best teachers have trouble making the rivers of southern England seem unusual and exciting.
“Now, can anyone tell me the exact source of the River Thames?” she asked.
She passed her eyes along the rows of desks, missed the plump Hermione, the worried-looking Daisy—and stopped by a girl in the front row.
“Don’t chew the end of your pigtail,” she was about to say, but she did not say it. For it was a day when this particular girl had a right to chew the curved ends of her single heavy braid of hair. Maia had seen the motor stop outside the door, had seen old Mr. Murray in his velvet-collared coat go into the house. Mr. Murray was Maia’s guardian, and today, as everyone knew, he was bringing news about her future.
Maia raised her eyes to Miss Carlisle and struggled to concentrate. In the room full of fair and light brown heads, she stood out, with her pale triangular face, her widely spaced dark eyes. Her ears, laid bare by the heavy rope of black hair, gave her an unprotected look.
“The Thames rises in the Cotswold hills,” she began in her low, clear voice. “In a small hamlet.” Only what small hamlet? She had no idea.
The door opened. Twenty heads turned.
“Would Maia Fielding come to Miss Banks’s room, please?” said the maid.
Maia rose to her feet. Fear is the cause of all evil, she told herself, but she was afraid. Afraid of the future . . . afraid of the unknown. Afraid in the way of someone who is alone in the world.
Miss Banks was sitting behind her desk; her sister, Miss Emily, stood beside her. Mr. Murray was in a leather chair by a table, rustling papers. Mr. Murray was Maia’s guardian, but he was also a lawyer and never forgot it. Things had to be done carefully and slowly and written down.
Maia looked round at the assembled faces. They looked cheerful, but that could mean anything, and she bent down to pat Miss Banks’s spaniel, finding comfort in the feel of his round, warm head.
“Well, Maia, we have good news,” said Miss Banks, a woman now in her sixties, frightening to many and with an amazing bust which would have done splendidly on the prow of a sailing ship. She smiled at the girl standing in front of her, a clever child and a brave one, who had fought hard to overcome the devastating blow of her parents’ death in a train crash in Egypt two years earlier. The staff knew how Maia had wept night after night under her pillow, trying not to wake her friends. If good fortune was to come her way, there was no one who deserved it more.
“We have found your relatives,” Miss Banks went on.
“And will they . . .” Maia began but she could not finish.
Mr. Murray now took over. “They are willing to give you a home.”
Maia took a deep breath. A home. She had spent her holidays for the past two years at the school. Everyone was friendly and kind, but a home . . .
“Not only that,” said Miss Emily, “but it turns out that the Carters have twin daughters about your age.” She smiled broadly and nodded as though she herself had arranged the birth of twins for Maia’s benefit.
Mr. Murray patted a large folder on his knee. “As you know, we have been searching for a long time for anyone related to your late father. We knew that there was a second cousin, a Mr. Clifford Carter, but all efforts to trace him failed until two months ago, when we heard that he had emigrated six years earlier. He had left England with his family.”
“So where is he now?” Maia asked.
There was a moment of silence. It was as though the good news had now run out, and Mr. Murray looked solemn and cleared his throat.
“He is living—the Carters are living—on the Amazon.”
“In South America. In Brazil,” put in Miss Banks.
Maia lifted her head. “On the Amazon?” she said. “In the jungle, do you mean?”
“Not exactly. Mr. Carter is a rubber planter. He has a house on the river not far from the city of Manaus. It is a perfectly civilized place. I have, of course, arranged for the consul out there to visit it. He knows the family, and they are very respectable.” There was a pause. “I thought you would wish me to make a regular payment to the Carters for your keep and your schooling. As you know, your father left you well provided for.”
“Yes, of course—I would like that— I would like to pay my share.” But Maia was not thinking of her money. She was thinking of the Amazon. Of rivers full of leeches, of dark forests with hostile Indians and blowpipes, and nameless insects which burrowed into flesh.
How could she live there? And to give herself courage, she said, “What are they called?”
“Who?” The old man was still wondering about the arrangements he had made with Mr. Carter. Had he offered too much for Maia’s keep?
“The twins? What are the names of the twins?”
“Beatrice and Gwendolyn,” said Miss Emily. “They have written you a note.”
And she handed Maia a single sheet of paper.
Dear Maia, the girls had written, We hope you will come and live with us. We think it would be nice. Maia saw them as she read: fair and curly-haired and pretty; everything she longed to be and wasn’t. If they could live in the jungle, so could she!
“When do I go?” she asked.
“At the end of next month. It has all worked out very well because the Carters have engaged a new governess and she will travel out with you.”
A governess . . . in the jungle . . . how strange it all sounded. But the letter from the girls had given her heart. They were looking forward to having her. They wanted her; surely it would be all right?
“Well, let’s hope it’s for the best,” said Miss Banks after Maia left the room.
They were more serious now. It was a long way to send a child to an unknown family—and there was Maia’s music to consider. She played the piano well, but what interested the staff was Maia’s voice. Her mother had been a singer; Maia’s own voice was sweet and true. Though she did not want to sing professionally, her eagerness to learn new songs, and understand them, was exceptional.
But what was that to set against the chance of a loving home? The Carters had seemed really pleased to take Maia, and she was an attractive child.
“The consul has promised to keep me informed,” said Mr. Murray—and the meeting broke up.
Meanwhile, Maia’s return to the classroom meant the end of the tributaries of the Thames.
“Tomorrow we will have our lesson on the Amazon and the rivers of South America,” said Miss Carlisle. “I want all of you to find out at least one interesting fact about it.” She smiled at Maia. “And I shall expect you to tell us how you will travel, and for how long, so that we can all share your adventure.”
There was no doubt about it: Maia was a heroine, but not the kind that people envied, more the kind that got burnt at the stake. By the time her friends had clustered round her with “oohs” and “aahs” and cries of distress, Maia wanted nothing except to run away and hide.
But she didn’t. She asked permission to go to the library after supper.
The library at the Academy was a good one. That night Maia sat alone on top of the mahogany library steps, and she read and she read and she read. She read about the great broad-leaved trees of the rain forest pierced by sudden rays of sun. She read about the travelers who had explored the maze of rivers and found a thousand plants and animals that had never been seen before. She read about brilliantly colored birds flashing between the laden branches—macaws and hummingbirds and parakeets—and butterflies the size of saucers, and curtains of sweetly scented orchids trailing from the trees. She read about the wisdom of the Indians who would cure sickness and wounds that no one in Europe understood.
“Those who think of the Amazon as a Green Hell,” she read in an old book with a tattered spine, “bring only their own fears and prejudices to this amazing land. For whether a place is a hell or a heaven rests in yourself, and those who go with courage and an open mind may find themselves in Paradise.”
Maia looked up from the book. I can do it, she vowed. I can make it a heaven and I will!
Matron found her there long after bedtime, still perched on the ladder, but she did not scold her, for there was a strange look on the girl’s face, as though she was already in another country.
Everyone came well prepared to the geography lesson on the following day.
“You start, Hermione,” said Miss Carlisle. “What did you find out about the Amazon?”
Hermione looked anxiously at Maia.
“There are huge crocodiles in the rivers that can snap your head off in one bite. Only they’re not called crocodiles, they’re called alligators because their snouts are fatter, but they’re just as fierce.”
“And if you just put one hand in the water, there are these piranhas that strip all the flesh off your bones. Every single bit. They look just like ordinary fish, but their teeth are terrible,” said Melanie.
Daisy offered a mosquito which bit you and gave you yellow fever. “You turn as yellow as a lemon and then you die,” she said.
“And it’s so hot, the sweat absolutely runs off you in buckets.”
“Not sweat, dear, perspiration,” corrected Miss Carlisle.
Anna described the Indians, covered in terrifying swirls of paint, who shot you with poisoned arrows which paralyzed you and made you mad; from Rose came jaguars, silent as shadows, which pounced on anyone who dared to go into the forest.
Miss Carlisle now raised a hand and looked worriedly at Maia. The girl was pale and silent, and the teacher was very sorry now that she had told the class to find out what they could.
“And you, Maia? What did you find out?”
Maia rose to her feet. She had written notes, but she did not look at them, and when she began to speak, she held her head high, for her time in the library had changed everything.
“The Amazon is the largest river in the world. The Nile is a bit longer, but the Amazon has the most water. It used to be called the River Sea because of that, and all over Brazil there are rivers that run into it. Some of the rivers are black and some are brown and the ones that run in from the south are blue and this is because of what is under the water.
“When I go I shall travel on a boat of the Booth Line and it will take four weeks to go across the Atlantic, and then when I get to Brazil I still have to travel a thousand miles along the river between trees that lean over the water, and there will be scarlet birds and sandbanks and creatures like big guinea pigs called capa . . . capybaras which you can tame.
“And after another two weeks on the boat I shall reach the city of Manaus, which is a beautiful place with a theater with a green and golden roof, and shops and hotels just like here, because the people who grew rubber out there became very rich and so they could build such a place even in the middle of the jungle. . . . And that is where I shall be met by Mr. and Mrs. Carter and by Beatrice and Gwendolyn—”
She broke off and grinned at her classmates. “And after that I don’t know, but it’s going to be all right.”
But she needed all her courage as she stood in the hall a month later, saying good-bye. Her trunk was corded, her traveling cape lay on the small suitcase which was all she was allowed to take into her cabin on the ship, and she stood in a circle of her friends. Hermione was crying; the youngest pupil, Dora, was clutching her skirt.
“Don’t go, Maia,” she wailed. “I don’t want you to go. Who’s going to tell me stories?”
“We’ll miss you,” shrieked Melanie.
“Don’t step on a boa constrictor!”
“Write—oh, please write lots and lots of letters.”
Last-minute presents had been stuffed into her case: a slightly strange pincushion made by Anna, a set of ribbons for her hair. The teachers, too, had come to see her off, and the maids were coming upstairs.
“You’ll be all right, miss,” they said. “You’ll have a lovely time.” But they looked at her with pity. Piranhas and alligators were in the air—and the housemaid who had sat up most of the night with Maia after she heard of her parents’ death was wiping her eyes with the corner of her apron.
The headmistress now came down the stairs, followed by Miss Emily, and everyone made way for her as she walked up to Maia. But the farewell speech Miss Banks had prepared was never made. Instead she came forward and put her arms round Maia, who vanished for the last time into the folds of her tremendous bosom.
“Farewell, my child,” she said, “and God bless you!”—and then the porter came and said the carriage was at the door.
The girls followed Maia out into the street, but at the sight of the black-clad woman sitting stiffly in the back of the cab, her hands on her umbrella, Maia faltered. This was Miss Minton, the governess, who was going to take care of her on the journey.
“Doesn’t she look fierce?” whispered Melanie.
“Poor you,” mumbled Hermione.
And indeed the tall, gaunt woman looked more like a rake or a nutcracker than a human being.
The door of the cab opened. A hand in a black glove, bony and cold as a skeleton, was stretched out to help her in. Maia took it, and followed by the shrieks of her schoolmates, they set off.
For the first part of the journey Maia kept her eyes on the side of the road. Now that she was really leaving her friends it was hard to hold back her tears.
She had reached the gulping stage when she heard a loud snapping noise and turned her head. Miss Minton had opened the metal clasp of her large black handbag and was handing her a clean handkerchief, embroidered with the initial A.
“Myself,” said the governess in her deep gruff voice, “I would think how lucky I was. How fortunate.”
“To go to the Amazon, you mean?”
“To have so many friends who were sad to see me go.”
“Didn’t you have friends who minded you leaving.”
Miss Minton’s thin lips twitched for a moment.
“My sister’s canary, perhaps. If he had understood what was happening. Which is extremely doubtful.”
Maia turned her head. Miss Minton was certainly a most extraordinary-looking person. Her eyes, behind thick, dark-rimmed spectacles, were the color of mud, her mouth was narrow, her nose thin and sharp, and her black felt hat was tethered to her sparse bun of hair with a fearsome hat pin in the shape of a Viking spear.
“It’s copied from the armor of Eric the Hammerer,” said Miss Minton, following Maia’s gaze. “One can kill with a hat pin like this.”
Both of them fell silent again, till the cab lurched suddenly and Miss Minton’s umbrella clattered to the floor. It was quite the largest and ugliest umbrella Maia had ever seen, with a steel spike and a long shaft ending in a handle shaped like the beak of a bird of prey.
Miss Minton, however, was looking carefully at a crack in the handle which had been mended with glue.
“Did you break it before?” Maia asked politely.
“Yes.” She peered at the hideous umbrella through her thick glasses.
“I broke it on the back of a boy called Henry Hartington,” she said.
Maia shrank back.
“How—” she began, but her mouth had gone dry.
“I threw him on the ground and knelt on him and belabored him with my umbrella,” said Miss Minton. “Hard. For a long time.”
She leaned back in her seat, looking almost happy.
Maia swallowed. “What had he done?”
“He had tried to stuff a small spaniel puppy through the wire mesh of his father’s tennis court.”
“Oh! Was it hurt badly? The puppy?”
“What happened to it?”
“One leg was dislocated and his eye was scratched. The gardener managed to set the leg, but we couldn’t do anything about his eye.”
“How did Henry’s mother punish him?”
“She didn’t. Oh, dear me, no! I was dismissed instead. Without a reference.”
Miss Minton turned away. The year that followed, when she could not get another job and had to stay with her married sister, was one that she was not willing to remember or discuss.
The cab stopped. They had reached Euston station. Miss Minton waved her umbrella at a porter, and Maia’s trunk and her suitcase were lifted onto a trolley. Then came a battered tin trunk with the letters A. MINTON painted on the side.
“You’ll need two men for that,” said the governess.
The porter looked offended. “Not me. I’m strong.”
But when he came to lift the trunk, he staggered.
“Crikey, ma’am, what have you got in there?” he asked.
Miss Minton looked at him haughtily and did not answer. Then she led Maia onto the platform where the train waited to take them to Liverpool and the RMS Cardinal, bound for Brazil.
They were steaming out of the station before Maia asked, “Was it books in the trunk?”
“It was books,” admitted Miss Minton.
And Maia said, “Good.”
What People are Saying About This
Adventure lovers will devour this one and wish that it would continue. (School Library Journal, starred review)
Reading Group Guide
Ghosts and hags, wizards and banshees, mermaids and mistmakers—all are part of the magical worlds that Eva Ibbotson creates in her fantasy books for children. Even her more realistic stories are set in exotic places like the Amazon River in South America, where the natural world creates a mystical sense of wonder. Ibbotson introduces us to an array of fascinating characters and creatures: some from real life, some from folklore and mythology, and some completely original. What readers discover in her books is a love for the natural world in all its forms, plus fast-moving plots that emphasize the importance of showing kindness to others and never being quick to judge those who are different from ourselves. Humor plays an important role in her stories, for they are meant to be entertaining above all. Yet long after the last page is turned, the deeper meanings that emerge from these rollicking adventures linger in the reader's mind.
About the Book
Journey to the River Sea
Maia feels at home in the boarding school where she lives in London, in 1910. It is the only home she has known since her parents died two years earlier. When distant cousins are discovered 4,000 miles away, Maia must travel to the exotic Amazon River town of Manaus to live with them. She is accompanied on her journey by a governess, the imposing Miss Minton, who has her own secret reasons for accepting a post so far from home. They arrive in South America and soon discover that the Carters, Maia's cousins, are selfish and greedy people who isolate themselves from the wild beauty of the countryside around them. With the help of her clever governess, Maia finds moments of brief escape from their stifling home and makes friends with a strange Indian boy named Finn and a homesick child actor called Clovis. Soon she is swept up in the human intrigues and natural wonders of the world around her. As she helps her new friends to follow their dreams and desires, Maia learns what is most important to her and where her own future will lie.
ABOUT EVA IBBOTSON
Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, Austria, in the years before World War II. Her mother was a playwright and her father a scientist, but the marriage was unhappy and they soon went their separate ways. Eva's early childhood was spent shuttling back and forth in trains across Europe, from one parent to the other. When Hitler rose to power, Eva's father went to Great Britain, and her mother, after remarriage to a Russian philosopher, soon followed him. Eva switched languages and spent the rest of her childhood in a progressive boarding school, striving to become British. After taking a degree in Physiology at London University, she went on to do research at the University of Cambridge, but she found the experiments she had to perform on living animals very distressing. The results of her experiments were "peculiar," she relates, so when a fellow student, Alan Ibbotson, suggested she could do less harm to science by leaving it and marrying him, she accepted without hesitation. The couple moved to Newcastle, in the north of England, where they raised four children and Eva began writing short stories. When the youngest son started school, she wrote her first full-length novel for children and continued to write for children and adults alternately, much to the delight of her many readers.
by Lloyd Alexander
HC: Dutton Children's Books, 0-525-45415-2
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-038073-6
The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man
by Lloyd Alexander
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-130704-8
by Gail Carson Levine
HC: HarperCollins Children's Books
The Ghost Belonged to Me
by Richard Peck
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-038671-8
Ghosts I Have Been
by Richard Peck
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-131096-0
Going Through the Gate
by Janet Anderson
HC: Dutton Children's Books, 0-525-45836-0
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-130698-X
James and the Giant Peach
by Roald Dahl, illus. by Lane Smith
HC: Knopf Books for Young Readers
PB: Puffin Books, 0-14-037424-8
The Shaman's Apprentice: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest
by Mark J. Plotkin and Lynne Cherry
HC: Gulliver Books
The National Trust
The National Trust is an organization dedicated to the preservation of the countryside, coastline, and important buildings and gardens in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This site lists interesting places to visit.
Site of the National Geographic Society. Look up maps of London and the Amazon River. Search the sea around the British Isles for places where the Island might be found.
Ghost Watch UK
An English organization that specializes in paranormal investigations. Their site includes stories and anecdotes of people's encounters with ghosts and ghostly phenomena.
AN INTERVIEW WITH EVA IBBOTSON
Magical beings are central to many of your books. Have you always been interested in the supernatural?
No, curiously I was never particularly interested in the supernatural—quite the contrary. Ghost stories frightened me badly as a child, although I didn't really believe that ghosts existed. I think I began to write about ghosts and witches and magic generally to make children less afraid; to turn these beings into creatures much like us but of course able to do more interesting things. My ghosts and witches are more like underdogs, people on the fringes who need sympathy and help. And the witches in Which Witch? are based on my relatives—the nice witches anyway!
Your main characters all seem to come up against people who are more interested in money and power than in feelings and compassion. Is this a theme you consciously set out to explore in every book?
I think of my books as entertainments, a kind of present I give the reader, and any serious themes that come up are a by-product. But of course when I am creating "baddies" for the purposes of the plot, I find myself choosing people with the characteristics I dislike most—and there is nothing I despise more than financial greed and a lust for power.
Humor is an important element in most of your stories. What do you think is the role that humor plays in shaping our lives and our personalities?
I don't really know how to define humor or how to describe it; it is something you have to show. But I do know that both in my personal life and in my work I would be completely lost without humor...without the ability to turn things upside down, to extract something ridiculous out of the most solemn moment. Incidentally, when I'm writing I find humor—jokes that aren't forced or silly—by far the hardest thing to pull off.
In Journey to the River Sea you have written a more realistic story with a strong theme about the importance of nature to the human spirit. What was your inspiration for this story?
I wrote Journey to the River Sea not long after my husband died. He was a committed naturalist, someone who combined a deep knowledge of animals and plants with a spiritual outlook that had been strengthened by his war service in India and Burma. I think I felt at that time that I needed a rest from my usual fantasy stories—though goodness knows the Amazon landscape is fantastical enough in its own right! I wanted to write a story that was simple and old-fashioned and direct. But I have to say that the reasons one gives for writing anything tend to be made up afterwards. At the time you just find yourself doing it!
- The world of nature plays an important role in Eva Ibbotson's books. Often her characters' personalities are shown through their relationship to the natural world and the way they interact with creatures in the wild. Compare the different reactions to nature of these characters: Ben and Raymond; Oliver and Fulton; Minette, Fabio, and Lambert; The Aunts (Etta, Coral, and Myrtle) and Mr. Sprott; Maia and Gwendolyn/Beatrice; Mrs. Carter and Miss Minton; Mr. Carter and Bernard Taverner.
- In each of these stories, children must find resources inside themselves to face difficult challenges and changes in their lives, many times without the help of adults. The author says of Maia at the beginning of Journey to the River Sea, "She was afraid...afraid in the way of someone who is alone in the world" (p.2). Which of these characters believes that he or she is alone, and how does that affect the way they face their challenges: Maia, Clovis, Finn, Minette, Fabio, Oliver, Ben, Odge Gribble, Arriman, Terence?
- Help can often come from unexpected sources in Ibbotson's stories. Look carefully at each of the books to see which characters or creatures are most helpful to the protagonist. Was it obvious to you as the reader that important help would come in this way? How often were you surprised by the power of the helpers? Have you had this experience in your own life, that help came from unexpected sources?
- Many of the evil characters in the books share certain personality traits. What do these characters have in common: Mrs. Trottle, Mr. Sprott, Fulton and Frieda Snodde-Brittle, Mr. and Mrs. Carter, Madame Olympia? What do these characters tell you about the personality traits that the author dislikes? Do you know people who exhibit these qualities?
- Showing kindness toward others and especially those who appear to be "different" and "strange" is a quality that is shared by many of the main characters. Discuss the ways in which Maia, Miss Minton, Ben, Belladonna, Oliver, and the Aunts demonstrate this important character trait. What is the author telling us, through these characters, about exhibiting this quality in our own lives? How can we translate this theme from exotic and fantastic settings into our everyday world?
- At the end of Journey to the River Sea, Miss Minton says to Mr. Murray, "Perhaps I'm mad—and the professor, too—but I think children must lead big lives...if it is in them to do so" (p. 283). What does she mean by this statement, and how do you interpret the phrase "big lives"? Which characters in the other books are capable of leading "big lives," and which of them are not? Discuss the personality traits that make it possible for children—and adults—to "lead big lives."
- Ibbotson says of the Carters, "...they were far too selfish to want anybody, but they needed her [Maia]" (p. 37). What is the difference between wanting and needing somebody or something? Discuss this difference between wanting and needing as you see it in the actions and feelings of Arriman, Belladonna, the Wilkinson family, Oliver, Mrs. Trottle, Ben, Nanny Brown, the Aunts, Minette and Fabio, Maia, Miss Minton, Finn, Clovis, the Carters, and other characters of your own choice. How does it affect your feelings about a character when you make this distinction?
- When Maia first reads about the Amazon, she encounters these words: "For whether a place is a hell or a heaven rests in yourself, and those who go with courage and an open mind may find themselves in Paradise" (p. 6). Discuss this idea with relation to the setting of each of the books. How does each character's perception of a place affect the way he or she reacts to that place? How does perception of place affect you in your own life?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was totally AMAZING. I had to read it for the 2011-2012 Battle of the Books list. It was so great and I loved it so much. If you are a reader of adventure and seek hints of romance and inner-connection with a legitament, exhilarating story, you're looking at it!!!!!!!!!!!!
Journey to the River Sea is still to this day one of my favorite books. I have read several of Eva Ibbotson's books, but this one is definitely her best! The way she described the setting made me want to hop on a plane and see it for myself.
Journey to the River Sea is okay. It starts off more than a little slow, but picks up at the end.
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 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.
Maia is a wealthy orphan from Victorian England who is sent to live with unknown relatives in the Amazon. Accompanying her is a stern, but book-loving governess named Miss Minton. Maia dreams of adventures and a loving family to welcome her. Unfortunately, the Carters are only after her money. But there are adventures to be had with a half Indian boy heir to an unwanted fortune in England, a child actor who longs to return home to the land of bread puddings, and a lovable natural history museum curator.I read this book to my daughter, and at first I was charmed, although there were shades of The Secret Garden hovering about the book. (Why are there so many orphans in children's literature? This book had three.) Unfortunately I didn't feel as though we learned as much about the Amazon as about the more detestable aspects of British classism. Also, I wish that Maia had been a stronger female character. Much of the time she is a pawn for others, and I wish she had shown more initiative in going after her dreams of exploration. Although there were exciting moments, it was a big of a slog to get to the end. I have not given up on the author, however, as I hear some of her other books are better.
14 Sep 2010 - from Emma, Beth and GraceI'd been discussing this book with my friend Emma and her daughters when I saw them at the weekend. I didn't have room in my bags to take their copy home with me, so we agreed they'd post it to me. I was thrilled when a brand new copy arrived via Amazon on Tuesday! I promised to read it quickly and let them know what I thought about it, and it was no problem to promote it up the reading pile!This is a fabulous book that I feel follows in the tradition of earlier children's books like The Secret Garden or The Little Princess. Indeed, this tale of an orphan girl shipped off to a new life on the other side of the world mentions Little Lord Fauntleroy, a nice touch for the adult and younger reader.It's fabulous in two ways - a very good read and full of excitement, colour, mystery and magic. Maia is a lovely heroine and I adored her governess, Miss Minton, first met seeming very forbidding with a terrifying umbrella, but soon revealed to have a trunk full of books, and therefore to be on our side. All the requisite elements are here, from absent-minded professors to distant guardians, a fantastic landscape and a realistically described city, and an interesting family to live with. I particularly liked the way Miss Minton's fate worked out, and the way Ibbotson worked in different parts to appeal to different groups of readers, from the knockabout experiences of a couple of lawyers, to the very odd obsessions of the Carters, to the interesting and beautiful dwellers in the jungle.Any more than this would give the plot away, so I'll just exhort people to get hold of a copy and read it! It's won a Nestle Children's Book Prize and been shortlisted for the Carnegie, and rightly so - a classic for the future.
This book is about the adventures of an orphaned English girl who must travel an live with her terrible relatives in Brazil. The main character is very loving and trusting. The characters are all adventurous and connected with the bond of family. Each of the main characters are wanting to have the family that they have either lost or never had. The story takes us from England to Brazil, through the jungles, then back to England, and once again returning to Brazil for more adventure. The book could be used for exposure to other cultures, also could be trasitioned into many different units depending on the need for the child/classroom.
A wonderful story about finding what you never knew you were looking for. The story brings to life all different aspects of existence in the Amazon, and stages an epic battle between the two forces at work there--the 'civilized' world trying to tame and contain it, and the 'savage' world only trying to understand its beauty. Reminiscent of The Secret Garden, this is another story of a English orphan who is moved out of her element, forced into a quiet and sterile environment, who refuses not to shine. With a wonderful happy ending and the perfect amount of vengence for all wrongs done, this is a gem for both young readers and those who still feel young.
I very much enjoyd this book. It's a good story with an engaging central character and plenty of incident. Maia has a lot to cope with: her parents have died and she must travel to the Amazon with a governess she does not know to live with distant relatives that she has never met. She is an adventurous person and approaches her new life with enthusiasm and spirit. But things do not turn out quite as she has hoped, and Maia is soon dealing with difficult people and an unexpected adventure.The story, set in 1910, reminded me rather of 'A Little Princess' with its lonely, plucky heroine, but Maia is more convincing character than Sara Crewe.The description of the Amazon and its people is vivid and real and left me with a lasting sense of the colours and sounds of the amazon.
I picked up Journey to the River Sea, by Eva Ibbotson, strictly because I needed a book written by an "I" author. Fortunately I chose wisely and thanks to the A to Z Challenge, I found a wonderful book that I probably would never have looked at otherwise.Maia is an orphan who is leaving the security of her boarding school in England to travel to the Amazon to live with distant relatives. She has images of her twin cousins becoming fast friends, and having adventures in the jungle. Once she arrives, she realizes that nothing is as it seems. Her aunt is paranoid, her uncle unaware, and her cousins are downright creepy. It is Miss Minton, Maia's nanny and teacher, who protects Maia from her awful family. Maia does find her adventure in the jungle, and with a great cast of characters, we the readers go along for the ride. Journey to the River Sea is one of those special books that is going to stay with me. I plan to share this book with many people and I really highly recommend it. If any of you are teachers, it's an excellent book to read aloud, with all the twists and turns.
One of the best books I've read in ages and the first one I've read that was written by Ibbotson (I'm ashamed to say). Makes me want to read more by her. A great book for daughters.
Maia, an English orphan, is sent to live with her only living relatives, the Carters, currently living in Brazil outside the city of Manaus. Although the Carters are trully horrible, Maia is able to find solace, in her governess, Ms. Minton, who helps her to discover the beauty of the jungle. Maia makes friends in town including Clovis, a child actor in a company that has come to Manaus, and Finn, a half British, half Indian boy who lives on his own in the jungle. With them Maia discovers her passions and goes on the adventure of a lifetime. Reminicant of turn of the century children's books like The Secret Garden or Little Women, Journey to the River Sea can at times be overly sentimental, but the earnestness of the main charachter makes the story a timeless favourite. Maia is a wonderful argument for letting children live "big lives". I read this story years ago and it continues to stay with me and influence how I treat my students and other children in my life. I would definitly recomend this to any young girl with a hearty imagination and a thirst for adventure
A wonderful little book. I would have loved this as a child. If i had a daughter, i'd want her to read this book. My only quibble is that the girl in the story, Maia, is too perfect - clever, good, unspoilt etc. But then, as she's the heroine, i can forgive her...
An exciting story of a young woman who goes to the Amazon River to be raised by unscrupulous relatives who resist seeing the beauty of the world around them and lock themselves away from the savage jungle and its people who she longs to meet. A secondary story includes another orphan who refuses to be found and has become part of the jungle that he loves, refusing to return to England and proper society despite the great wealth that awaits him. The story revolves around these two young people finding solutions to their related dilemmas with the aid of sympathetic adults and yet one more orphan... Very well told and enjoyable and explores an entirely new setting for the time period.
It is a well written, funny and a tad bit educational. I like how the characters are very, obviously, thought of thouroughly, and have unique personalities, just like in real life. Speaking of which, the overall realism is a very high percentage. I have not completed the book, but only on chapter 5, and even then, it is very high in quality, and meets very high expectaions. I am working on it in a novel, for obvious reasons, and am glad that i chose it for my group. Highly recomended, worth reading, even only to chapter 5, book. Must read. If you see this book on the shelves of your local book store, snatch it before anybody else can get at it.
this book is so great that it has become one of my best reads. it's a bit boring in the beginning, but if u read it further, u begin to like it. Maia's character has been so beautifully made that u can't stop yourself from being fond of her. u must must read it......
When I first began reading this book I thought it was horrible. I didn't like it at all and I really didn't want to read it but as we kept on reading I started to like it. I guess that I just hated the beginning of the book and loved it towards the end. The beginning seemed dull to me so when your reading this book and you think the beginning is dull don't stop reading it because it does get very interesting towards the end of the story. Many events happen more towards the end. Many exciting events happen and make you more interested in finding out what happens to the characters in the book.
Journey to the River Sea was one of the best books I have read in a long time. It was exciting and fun. This book is not any old predictable book where you can automatically guess what is going to happen. If you read this book ,i can assure you that you will not be dissapointed.
I liked this book a lot. It was interesting and exicting. Eva Ibbotson is one of my favorite authors. She really knows how to pull you into her books.
The setting for Journey To The River Sea by Eva Ibbotson mostly takes place in the Amazon. Once you get into the book it is very hard to put it down. The book has suspense and drama. Maia is an orphan living in and going to the best school in London. Suddenly she learns that she is going to have to stay with her unknown relatives, the Carters, in the Amazon. She thinks that her cousins will like her and every thing will be fun. On her journey to the Amazon, she meets her governess and they become friends. She also meets a young actor named Clovis. When she gets to her new house, it is anything but fun. She is not allowed to go outside and play. Her two cousins, Beatrice and Gwendolyn, are mean to her because they have never lived with anyone before. After she gets settled in, she finds that the Indians are not bad and they will not do anything to her. An Indian boy brings her out to a lagoon where she meets a young boy named Finn. He explains that he needs her to help him get away. His grandfather has sent two people to bring him back so he can inherit Westwood, when his grandfather dies. Both his uncle and father would have been the next in line to inherit Westwood, but they both have died. Maia, Finn and Clovis come up with a plan to have Clovis and Finn switch places. The story continues with them carrying out their plan. After you get done with the first few chapters of the book you will be drawn into the story. It¿s an easy book to read and to understand. I recommend this book for intermediate school-age children and some high school teens.
One of my very favorite books. It does NOT start off slow. Ibbotsen describes things wonderfully. If I could, I'd give it 10 stars.