The Amazon River contains more water than any other river in the world. This is why it used to be called ‘The River Sea’. The vast network of waterways feeding into the Amazon provides a home for countless birds, animals and insects which dart between the trees and create flashes of colour in-amongst the green. Eva Ibbotson describes this world so vividly in her novel that readers will emerge from the pages feeling like they really have travelled beneath the canopies of the rainforest where the faint melodies of Indian folksongs can be heard in the distance…

It is 1910 and Maia, an orphan girl, is studying at The Mayfair Academy for Young Ladies. During one Geography lesson, Maia is called out to be informed that she has been invited to go and live with distant relatives of her father in the heart of the Amazon. Excited by the idea of exploring the exotic riverbanks, Maia hopes to spend her days catching swallowtail butterflies and collecting rare medical plants with her twin cousins. Life with the Carters, however, is much harder than Maia expected and instead of being allowed to roam freely in the grounds of the Tapherini (or Place of Rest) she is subjected to cruel remarks and icy stares by a family more interested in Benzene and Coackroach Killer than native butterflies and botany.

Ibbotson’s novel has a gripping plot and uses rich layers of descriptive language to conjure up an image of the Brazilian tropics so irresistible that, like Maia, you will never want to leave!

Winner of the Smarties Book Prize: Gold Award 2001. Written by Eva Ibbotson. 
Lydia Mihailovic, literary editor