Kevin Hawkes (Illustrator); Eva Ibbotson
Along with her new governess, Miss Minton, orphaned Maia Fielding is sent from her posh London boarding school in 1910 to live with her aunt and uncle and twin cousins on the Amazon River (the "River Sea" of the title), near the city of Manaus, in Brazil. On board their ship, The Cardinal, Maia befriends a fellow orphan, Clovis King, a child actor with a disreputable traveling theater troupe. When she arrives in Brazil and meets her relatives at their plantation, it becomes clear that they detest the exotic jungle climate, distrust all natives, and need Maia only for the money they think she will bring them. Her uncle, Mr. Carter, collects glass eyes; her officious aunt is at war with all bugs and germs; and the twins, her cousins Beatrice and Gwendolyn, are unfailingly rude. Her one saving grace is the warm relationship she develops with book-loving, born teacher Miss Minton.
Maia is entranced with life in Brazil, marveling over the flora, fauna, and except for her odious relatives, the many people she meets. She becomes caught up in a mystery when two bumbling English detectives come sniffing around, determined to locate her other new friend, the elusive Bernard Taverner, the now-orphaned half-Indian son of an English naturalist, who might be living in the jungle. Satisfying in the vein of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic A Little Princess or Gail Carson Levine's Dave at Night, Maia's poor-little-rich-girl saga will interest listeners in finding out all about life on the Amazon. It's a Harry Potter-like adventure without the fantasy, and a ripping good yarn.
Reviewed by : JF.
Themes : ADVENTURE & ADVENTURERS. HISTORICAL FICTION. MULTICULTURAL BOOKS.
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- "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." – Publishers Weekly
IF YOU LOVE THIS BOOK, THEN TRY:
- Bath, K. P. The Secret of Castle Cant. Little, Brown, 2004.
- Burnett, Frances Hodgson. A Little Princess. HarperCollins, 1992, c1905.
- Burnett, Frances Hodgson. The Secret Garden. Candlewick, 2008, c1911.
- Creech, Sharon. Ruby Holler. HarperCollins, 2002.
- Creech, Sharon. The Wanderer. HarperCollins, 2000.
- Giff, Patricia Reilly. Pictures of Hollis Woods. Random House, 2002.
- Ibbotson, Eva. The Dragonfly Pool. Dutton, 2008.
- Ibbotson, Eva. The Secret of Platform 11. Dutton, 1998.
- Holm, Jennifer L. Our Only May Amelia. HarperCollins, 1999.
- Levine, Gail Carson. Dave at Night. HarperCollins, 1999.
- Porter, Tracey. Billy Creekmore. HarperCollins/Joanna Cotler, 2007.
- Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scholastic, 1998. (And others in the Harry Potter series.)
- Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures. Scholastic, 2007.
- Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. Gib Rides Home. Delacorte, 1998.
- Spinelli, Jerry. Maniac Magee. Little, Brown, 1990.
- Wallace, Barbara Brooks. Peppermints in the Parlor. Atheneum, 1980.
- Whelan, Gloria. Listening for Lions. HarperCollins, 2005.