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A fast-moving middle-grade novel set in the 17th century about two Portuguese orphans who are sent to Brazil, where they encounter slaves from Africa. The novel opens when Bento is wrongly thrown into Lisbon’s prison, leaving his younger sibling, Manu, to fend for himself. Fortunately, a nobleman’s family reunites the siblings although they will have be exiled to Brazil. They keep secret the fact that Manu is a girl in disguise so that she can accompany her brother aboard ship. The story shifts to the African savannah, where a young boy, Odjigi, is hunting gazelle with his father and other men. But the hunters are kidnapped by slave traders, as are the women and children of the village. In Brazil the siblings adapt to their new lives, but they are shocked by the treatment of African slaves. Manu befriends an aboriginal boy, Caiubi, and a slave, Didi, who has been separated from his father. Meanwhile Bento falls in love with Rosa, a beautiful young slave who is also searching for her family. When Manu learns about quilombos villages hidden deep in the forest where slaves live in freedom she is determined to help Didi and Rosa escape.
Ana Maria Machado is one of the world’s most distinguished writers for children, with more than 100 books published in her native Brazil and in more than 18 other countries. She has won the Hans Christian Andersen Award and the Iberoamerican Children’s Literature Award, and she has been elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters the first writer for children to be so honored. She has also been chosen for the honor list of the highly prestigious Dutch Prince Claus Award. Groundwood has published two of her novels, Me in the Middle (Américas Award Commended List) and From Another World, as well as her picture books Wolf Wanted, which won the Hors Concours, and What a Party! She lives in Rio de Janeiro. Jane Springer lives in Toronto.