An adventurous plot with fast pace keeps boys and girls gripped to this story
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.
Gr 5-8-Maia, an orphan, is attending a London girls' school in 1910 when she learns she has relatives who live on a rubber farm near Manaus on the Amazon River. Excited about living in this exotic location, she boards ship with her new governess and makes friends with Clovis, a child actor who is longing to go home to England. Upon arrival, Maia discovers that the Carters have a strong aversion to anything Brazilian and never go out. It's also obvious that they've taken her in because of her allowance from her wealthy parents' estate. Worse yet, their twin daughters are conniving and nasty. The gregarious and adventuresome girl perseveres with the help of her supportive governess and befriends the natives she meets when she sneaks out of the house. The plot accelerates when she becomes involved in a plan to save Finn, a boy of both indigenous and English heritage, from being sent back to England and his dreaded relatives. Finn and Maia scheme to have Clovis disguise himself as Finn and return in his place. The plot is rich in drama, suspense, hints of romance, and a sense of justice. The country's natural beauty and the time period come to life. Maia is a strong heroine who steers her way clear against all odds, including near death. Adventure lovers who enjoyed Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Orchard, 1990) and Sharon Creech's The Wanderer (HarperCollins, 2000) will devour this one and wish that it would continue.-Jean Gaffney, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library, Miamisburg, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.