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Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, but spent her early childhood travelling backwards and forwards across Europe between the homes of her father, a scientist, and her mother, a novelist, who separated when she was three. When the Nazis came to power, her family fled to England. She lives in Newcastle, where she brought up her four children and has written the best-selling novels for both adults and children that have been published all around the world.
Gr 4-7-An exotic setting along the Amazon River in Brazil greets listeners in this adventure by Eva Ibbotson (Dutton, 2002). Narrator Patricia Conolly evokes the British colonial world of 1910 for which Mia, a wealthy orphan going to live with distant relatives, and her governess, Miss Minton, are bound. Although Mia's aunt and uncle are eccentric and the twins are hostile, they are embraced and protected by the Brazilian natives and their environment. The story moves slowly, and listeners may feel impatient at times with the descriptive narration. Yet, it is this slow pacing, along with Conolly's beautifully clear British diction that enhances the setting. She changes voices swiftly and effortlessly for about a dozen characters. Her vocalizations of Beatrice and Gwendolyn, the insipid, nasty twins, creates such a strong visual image, that during their petty bickering listeners almost laugh out loud. While this is a first rate translation of the story, children who are more visual may prefer the book where the drawings by Kevin Hawkes, interspersed throughout the text, not only retain the quaintness of this story, but provide concrete visual form. Where budgets permit, purchase both versions.-Tina Hudak, St. Bernard's School, Riverdale, MD Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
'A plot too exciting to put down. Sheer pleasure.' Sarah Johnson, The Times; 'A splendidly suspenseful, richly characterised drama.' Children's Book of the Week, Sunday Times
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. In 1910, Maia, an English orphan, accompanied by her newly appointed governess, Miss Minton, sets off to Brazil to live with distant cousins. She dreams of exploring the banks of the Amazon and viewing exotic wildlife, but her self-serving cousins and their spoiled twin daughters despise the outdoorsDalmost as much as they despise Maia. The heroine feels like a prisoner, forced to live inside the "dark clinical green" walls of her relatives' bungalow. Her life would be dismal indeed, if she didn't sneak out every once in a while to meet up with two other orphans with whom she has crossed paths: Clovis, a traveling actor, who longs to return to England, and Finn, a rich heir, who would rather live with the "Indians" than be sent to the British estate where his grandfather eagerly awaits his arrival. Suspense steadily rises as all three of the children attempt to escape their undesired fates. Thanks to a series of surprising coincidences and strokes of good luck, the orphans manage to change their destinies. Although the book's dnouement drags on a bit long, readers will come away with the satisfaction of knowing that the good guys are amply rewarded with bright futures and the bad guys get their just deserts. Ages 10-up. (Dec.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.