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Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
Published by Macmillan Children's Books, 2002
ISBN 033039715X

First Review: by Shannon Library Children’s Book Club.

This is an exciting adventure set on the Amazon River in Brazil, known locally as the River Sea. The main character is Maia, an orphan who is sent from school in England to live in Brazil with her only remaining relatives, the Carters. Maia dreams of having adventures in Brazil and of the wonderful things she will see and the loving family she will have. Miss Minton is the Carter family’s new governess and she travels with Maia on her long journey. They journey by boat and on the voyage become friendly with Clovis, a boy actor who wishes he could return to England. This friendship becomes very important later in the story

Maia soon realises that the Carters are not the ideal family she hoped they would be. They don’t like mixing with the natives or eating local food. They want to live as if they were still in England. Maia befriends Finn, a mysterious boy who seems almost native and is hiding in the jungle near her home. She discovers he is heir to a family fortune back in England and is being searched for by agents of his family in Brazil. Maia and her friends must do everything they can to stop Finn being taken back to England with exciting results.

The whole group loved this book. With its exotic setting, it is action packed, exciting and a real page turner. The characters of Maia, Miss Minton, Clovis and Finn are excellent, particularly Maia. She’s smart, brave and inquisitive. Maia’s cousins, the twins and their mother are funny and add humour to the story. The ending is full of suspense and all the characters get what they deserve in the end. The only thing the book club members didn’t like was that the book ended too soon!

Marks: Ten out of ten.

Second Review: by Kilmihil Book Club, November 2004

Journey to the River Sea is the story of Maia whose parents are tragically killed abroad. Maia’s guardian and solicitor Mr. Murray finds relatives who will take her in and to Maia’s delight they live in Brazil.

Together with her new governess, Miss Minton, they travel to Brazil to start their new lives but are disappointed to find that their relatives, the Carters, do not want Maia but do want the allowance that comes with her. The Carters are a greedy family who are suspicious of the natives and hate everything about Brazil. The twins, Gwendolyn and Beatrice are jealous of Maya and of the friendships she forms with the other children who live locally.

One of her friends, Fin is in hiding from two English men who want to bring him to England to take up his inheritance. Fin’s father Bernard Taverner, was a naturalist and hated his life and family in England, and Fin whose mother was an Indian, vows never to go to the home his father ran from.

Another of Maia’s friends, Clovis is a child who is growing up and cannot play his parts anymore in the acting company and is stranded in Brazil. Clovis takes Fin’s place and returns to England to live with Fin’s grandfather.

This book is an exciting adventure story, full of detail and action and was enjoyed by all members of Kilmihil Book Club. They did however find the story was slow to start and thought that there were lots of characters in the book. They also found both the cover and title misleading. The actual story was more exciting than the cover or the title had led them to believe.

Favourite incidents in the story were;

Mr. Carter’s saving his glass eye collection rather than Maia in the fire.
Maia’s meeting with Clovis on the ship.
Miss Minton’s, Professor Glastonberry’s, Maia’s and Fin’s journey up the Amazon and their stay with the Indians.

Favourite characters were Fin, Miss Minton, Clovis and Maia

Rating: 10 marks out of 10.