Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

Escape to the River Sea by Emma Carroll

In 1946, Rosa Sweetman, a young Kindertransport girl, is longing for her family to claim her. The war in Europe is over and she is the only child left at Westwood, a rambling country estate in the north of England, where she’d taken refuge seven years earlier.

The arrival of a friend of the family, Yara Fielding, starts an adventure that will take Rosa deep into the lush beauty of the Amazon rainforest in search of jaguars, ancient giant sloths and somewhere to belong. What she finds is Yara’s lively, welcoming family on the banks of the river and, together, they face a danger greater than she could ever have imagined.

Featuring places and characters known and loved by fans of Journey to the River Sea (including, among others, Maia, Finn, Miss Minton and Clovis) this spectacular new chapter in the story tells of the next generation and the growing threats to the Amazon rainforest that continue to this day.

My review:

A new Emma Carroll story is always something special. It’s an experience to be savoured, to allow myself to sink into and be swept away into adventure. Escape to the River Sea is no exception. Likeable (and very unlikeable characters) with depth of personality, engaging personal journeys, a beautiful setting and heart-stopping adventure come together to create a captivating story.

Rosa is a joy. Travelling to England as a Kindertransport child, she finds herself at Westwood, a country home, with Sir Clovis. He has taken in a magnificent menagerie of zoo animals to keep them safe during the war. Rosa falls in love with Opal, a jaguar, and desperately wants it to be safe and happy. When the war ends and all the children and animals leave, Rosa is alone. That is, until Dr Yara Fielding gives her the opportunity of a lifetime – the chance to travel to Brazil and search for the Giant Sloth. There, Rosa finds friendship, adventure and truth she never expected. Many different kinds of monsters lurk in the jungle. Rosa must dig deep within herself to fight back and find out where she really belongs.

So often, teachers ask for recommendations for books to accompany an Amazon, South American or Jungle topic. Escape to the River Sea will now be at the top of my suggestion list. A modern story with a classic feel, it takes children deep into the rainforest, surrounding them with the hum of life that can only be found there. Plants, animals, intense heat, rushing rivers, risks and true danger are around every corner, giving readers a vivid picture of this very special part of the world.

Thank you to NetGalley UK and Macmillan Children’s Books for this wonderful book!

Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon or

Books by Kate Heap:

Available to pre-order:

Nonfiction: Years 5/6

Nonfiction: Years 3/4

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