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.
Eva Ibbotson, author of Dial-A- Ghost, Island of the Aunts, and other positively delightful and droll fantasies, won a Gold Award for this book in the 2001 Nestlé Smarties Book Prizes. Likable heroines, loathsome villains, and splendid adventures-along with Kevin Hawkes's appealing ink illustrations--make Ibbotson's novels a must for every bookshelf. (Ages 9 and older) --Emilie Coulter
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'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