Journey to the River Sea Discussion Questions

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

These discussion questions can help to guide your students as they talk about their thoughts and reactions to the Evan Ibbotson novel 'Journey to the River Sea'. Updated: 10/21/2019

Journey to the River Sea

Journey to the River Sea is a novel by Eva Ibbotson about a young British girl who relocates to early-20th century Brazil and finds both freedom and confinement there. It's a compelling adventure story that can open up discussions about cultural contact, freedom of expression, and growing up. The following questions can help to facilitate a class discussion on this book, its characters, and its themes.

Questions about Plot and Characters

  • In one sentence, can you describe the plot of Journey to the River Sea? What is this story about?
  • Who is the main protagonist of this novel? How are we introduced to Maia? What are the first things we learn about her? How would you describe her personality? What are her strengths and weaknesses?
  • What does Maia imagine Brazil will be like? Why does she think this? Where do these ideas come from?
  • After arriving in Brazil, are Maia's expectations met? Which ones are? Which are not? Why?
  • Describe the important characters that Maia meets on her journey? Who are Miss Minton, the Carters, Clovis, and Finn? How would you describe these characters? How does Maia see them? What does each of these characters represent to Maia?
  • How do Clovis and Finn complement each other? What do Brazil and England represent to each character? How does this help to shape Maia's impression of these places and societies?
  • How does the burning of the Carter home impact Maia? What does this represent to her? How is this a chance for her to fulfill her original dreams of what Brazil could be?
  • What is the climax of this novel? How does this represent a chance for the main characters to demonstrate growth or make a choice? How has Maia grown as a character? What choices does she make?
  • By the end of this novel, does Brazil represent the same things to Maia that it did at the beginning of the novel? How has her relationship with Brazil and its people changed? How has she changed? How have other characters changed?
  • How does this novel deal with large groups and places? Can an entire setting, landscape, place, or people be a character in the novel? Where do we see this? How is Brazil a character in this novel? How is Manaus? How about the Xanti, or British?

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