Ibbotson, Eva. Journey to the River Sea. New York: Scholastic, 2001.
Maia wants a family more than anything. She’s delighted when her lawyer finds distant relations living in Brazil. They want Maia to live with them and they have twin daughters Maia’s age. So Maia travels to Brazil in the care of the new governess, Miss Minton.
“She was becoming more and more excited. The color, the friendly waving Indians, the flashing birds, all delighted her, and she was not troubled by the heat. But at the center of all her thoughts were the twins. She saw them in white dresses with colored sashes like pictures in a book, laughing and welcoming and friendly. She imagined them getting ready for bed, brushing each other’s hair, and lying in a hammock with a basketful of kittens on their laps, or picking flowers for the house” (26).
But life with her new relations is not what Maia imagined. They live as though they are still in England. They do not eat native food or embrace local customs. Mrs. Carter wages a never-ending war against insects. Mrs. Carter doesn’t believe in pets as they carry germs. They never go outside. The twins don’t like Maia. They are even cruel to her. Maia likens the Carter’s house to a prison for so it is to her. If it were not for Minty, such a life would stifle Maia. With Minty’s help, Maia continues her studies and even makes friends with the locals. To read more about Maia’s adventures in Brazil, check out Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson.