rating: 4 of 5 stars
Without neglecting that classic Ibbotson feel, this one is a pleasant departure from Europe and boarding schools. But don’t worry – there are still orphans a-plenty. While the plot follows a young English girl sent to live with distant relatives in Brazil, the story is really about expectations, adaptability, and where and how we feel at home. Themes about colonialism run in the background but never overwhelm the story, which focuses on character and atmosphere. In addition to Maia’s story, we also follow two boys who want very different things from life. There’s some exploration and natural history worked into the story. All in all, it was an enjoyable and satisfying story with (of course) a happy ending. Age 9 and up seems to be the general recommendation – I would have devoured her books as a kid.