Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ibbotson, Eva: Journey to the River Sea

Read it once, retain fond memories.

Read it twice, and feel the love be rekindled.

That's pretty much what I went through when I "rediscovered" this little gem from my elementary school years. For ages, I'd passed it by on the library shelves, always putting it on the reread list for when I had time - and a lack of new, shiny titles to discover. It wasn't until I discovered that our library had gotten rid of BOTH COPIES (I mean, who does that to classic children's literature!) that I took the initiative to revive my childhood memories.

And what memories they are.

Journey to the River Sea is centered around Maia, a sweet young orphan who finds herself abruptly shuttled from her peaceful life in a British boarding school into the hands of unknown relatives, the Coopers, dwelling within exotic, untamed Brazil.What at first seems like a blessing in disguise - a new family, cousins to be played with and an entire new culture to absorb - soon turns out to be something quite different. Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, each with their both hilarious and slightly disturbing obsessions, need Maia simply for the money her parents have left behind. The twins are self-absorbed and quite nasty, and as a result of contact with the despicable Coopers, the locals are sullen and quite unwilling to open up to newcomers.

And of course there is Miss Minton - the stern-faced, unusual governess with an authentic replica of a Viking spear for a hatpin.

The story hardly ends up there, however. Maia isn't one to let her misery keep her from adventure. A young actor in dire straits due to impending puberty, an heir on a mission to escape the shackles of wealth waiting for him back in England, and two persistent crow-like investigators, not to mention the late author's constant dedication to research and beautiful detail - make each page literally breathtaking. It might be marketed for children, but believe me, if you are young at heart and like a good tale of kind hearts and determination winning over...well, not evil, but not very nice people either...this book will not disappoint you.

This is definitely one book that's going on my wish list to share with my children in the future.


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