Holiday Hiatus and Journey to the River Sea

Greetings, everyone! ‘Tis the season for celebration, and we’re feeling the heat to finish shopping and dive into baking, cards, and other seasonal chores. We hope you’ll understand that we’ve decided to put Estella on hiatus until the beginning of January 2013. We promise we’ll be back with the wrap up of the Count of Monte Cristo Readalong, more discussion of the Top 100 Chapter Books, Lists of Note, and other bookish bits.

In the meantime, why not brainstorm your 2013 contributions to the Estella Society? We’d love to have you! E-mail your submissions to estellabooks @ gmail (dot) com.

We also don’t want to leave you empty-handed, so enjoy Kristen’s discussion post of Journey to the River Sea below. She’ll be picking up with the Top 100 Chapter Books in January with a slightly modified schedule (also included below).

One of the newer books on the list (2001), Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson came in at #93. Z and I have been discovering Ibbotson together through her children’s ghost stories but, after rave reviews from other bloggers, I wanted to try one of her books in another genre. Now I fear that I will have to buy every book she ever wrote because I loved this book.

Simply, this is the story of Maia Fielding, who, after being orphaned, is removed from her cozy boarding school in England and is sent to live with cousins in Brazil in 1910. The Carters live in the town of Manaus on the Amazon River — which is also known as the River Sea because of its size. Besides dealing with her horrid cousins, Maia must discover who her real family is and the true definition of home.

There are so many things that stood out in this story. The first thing is how it reads like a fantasy when, in fact, it takes place in a setting that is very much real. Ibbotson uses real cities and landmarks (like the Teatro Amazonas seen above) which transports the reader straight to the Amazon. I thought it was fantastic how she used this to show children that one can find magic and surprises in our existing world. Refreshingly, native cultures are described as different but certainly not inferior. Education and science are put at the forefront of this story. And, quite literally, women are given the chance to throw away their corsets and find a new life outside of the restrictive constructs of “civilized” society. I really can’t say enough about how wonderful this story was and I certainly hope it will find its way higher on a list like this as the years go by.

Verdict: Buy

 Have you read this book or any other Ibbotson stories? Do you have a favorite?


Schedule – November through April (modified) NOTE: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after

 January 15 – #75 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright (1941)

— a new-to-me book, 1st in a series

January 31 – #10 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1977)

— first time reading on my own, was read to us by teacher in 6th grade

February 15 – #25 The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (1995)

— new to me, a great read for Black History Month

February 28 – #97 The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton (1962)

— new to me, out of print so check your local library

March 15 – #12 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (1999)

— going to be my first time reading it with Z, 3rd in a series (duh)

March 31 – #83 Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1907)

— a re-re…re-read, 3rd in a series after The Wizard of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz

April 15 – #33 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (1971)

— a childhood favorite (will pair with watching the 1982 film, another favorite)

April 30 – #9 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978)

— new to me, Newbery Medal winner

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