“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 is in yourself, and those who go with courage and with 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!
Maia Fielding is an orphaned English girl. In 1910, when she gets an opportunity to live with distant relatives in Manaus, on the Amazon, her friends warn her about alligators, piranhas and hostile Indian tribes. But Maia dreams of living amidst colourful birds and curtains of orchids, surrounded by a loving family.
What Maia does not know is that the Carters have agreed to have her only for her money. Mr. Carter cares little for people. Mrs. Carter hates her life in South America and spends all her energies in disinfecting her home. The twins are stuck-up and selfish. Maia’s life is almost miserable, but for some new-found friends in Miss Minton, the stiff governess; Clovis, the young actor who yearns for England; Professor Glastonberry the Naturalist; and most of all, Finn, the fair-haired ‘Indian’ boy. When two British detectives arrive in Manaos looking for a lost heir, the plot twists and turns like the Amazon itself. Maia, Clovis and Finn are all fighting for the life of their dreams – can they fight overpowering circumstances and find it?
Eva Ibbotson has written many enjoyable books for children on strange, magical creatures. This book is very different. Its world is very real, and exotic. The characters are well-drawn, though out of the ordinary. Young readers are sure to cheer for Miss Minton and her support for Maia, Finn and Clovis. The book is a very satisfying adventure story for readers 11 years and above.
Journey to the River Sea won the Nestle’s Smarties Gold Medal for the best children’s book in 2001.
Published by: Macmillan Children’s Books (London) 2001
Price: Rs 200/-