|Journey to the River Sea|
by Eva Ibbotson
"Sent in 1910 to live with distant relatives who own a rubber plantation along the Amazon River, English orphan Maia is excited. She believes she is in for brightly colored macaws, enormous butterflies, and "curtains of sweetly scented orchids trailing from the trees." Her British classmates warn her of man-eating alligators and wild, murderous Indians. Unfortunately, no one cautions Maia about her nasty, xenophobic cousins, who douse the house in bug spray and forbid her from venturing beyond their coiffed compound. Maia, however, is resourceful enough to find herself smack in the middle of more excitement than she ever imagined, from a mysterious "Indian" with an inheritance, to an itinerant actor dreading his impending adolescence, to a remarkable journey down the Amazon in search of the legendary giant sloth."
This wasn't a recent read, but we have it in our Blevins library and it remains one of my all-time favorite children's books. It is slightly Dickensian in flavor, because the good people are very, very good, and the bad people are horrid. It is set in the Amazon Rain Forest and has plenty of action and adventure. The ending sees the good people rewarded and the bad ones getting what they deserved. The writing is beautiful, the setting is gorgeous and exciting, the main character is strong and survives against all odds, and the plot is magical. This would make a great family read.
Publisher's Weekly: Ages 10+
School Library Journal: Grades 5+