`I have been a huge fan of Katherine Rundell’s distinctive and beautiful writing since I read Rooftoppers a few years ago. When I heard that her latest book was inspired by “Journey to the River Sea” by Eva Ibbotson, another of my favourite books, I could not wait to get my hands on it, and when I did I simply could not put it down!
No sooner has the first chapter concluded when four children from three different backgrounds have been stranded by a plane crash and in the words of one of the girls, Con, “We’re lost, in the Amazon jungle, and statistically speaking it’s very likely that we’re going to die.” The other children are Fred, a young teenager returning to school in England, and Lila and her slightly irritating 5 -year-old brother Max. Of course, this being a Katherine Rundell novel, you know that the children are going to find inner reserves of bravery to vanquish their situation.
Things I loved about this book: the characters of the four children, especially Con to whom many of the book’s greatest lines apply, and who changes during the story from a prickly outsider, who says such things as, “Shut-up cricket jumper” to Fred, and “Oh good, it’s always nice to be grammatically correct when you’re being eaten” to Lila, to a trusting friend. The unusual advice about how to survive in the wild, such as not eating any part of an animal that would take more than one colour to draw! The descriptions of the terrifying but awe-inspiring beauty of the rainforest and the ecological message of caring for the environment.
The combination of the humour, the descriptions of the setting in the Amazon jungle and the psychological and physical journey of discovery made by the characters, make this my favourite of Katherine Rundell’s books so far. Aspects of the plotline reminded me a little of Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo which I enjoyed when I was in Year 5, especially the determination to protect a place and person which have provided refuge. I think this book should have equal appeal to all generations as there is so much to be learned from it and the writing is so intensely enjoyable.