STARRED REVIEW
January 21, 2022

Solimar

By Pam Muñoz Ryan
Review by
Newbery Honor author Pam Muñoz Ryan offers a new tale about a compelling heroine, her supportive community and a shimmer of magic in Solimar.
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Beloved and bestselling children’s author Pam Muñoz Ryan offers a new tale featuring a compelling heroine, her supportive community and a shimmer of magic in Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs.

Solimar’s quinceañera and her official coronation as princess of the small kingdom of San Gregorio are rapidly approaching, and she is about to face a lot of changes and new responsibilities. But all she really wants to do is witness the annual migration of the sacred monarch butterflies to the forest beyond the small village where she lives. 

During this grand event, something strange happens to Solimar, and she receives a magical gift that she doesn’t understand or know how to control. When dark forces threaten San Gregorio, Solimar must learn to harness her new power if she has any hope of saving her people, her family and her beloved monarch butterflies. 

In Solimar, longtime fans of Ryan’s books will recognize echoes of Esperanza Rising’s titular protagonist. Both girls take pride in their heritage and demonstrate strength and resilience when faced with situations that put them and the people they love in peril. These qualities make them easy to root for, but Ryan also skillfully tempers their exceptional qualities with realistic flaws, ensuring that they remain simultaneously admirable and relatable. 

Another element common to many of Ryan’s books present in Solimar is a tight-knit village filled with vibrant characters who genuinely care for each other and feel a sense of love for their home. Much as she did in Mañanaland, Ryan creates a portrait of a community with strong beliefs. The people of San Gregorio have a deep respect for nature, especially the monarch butterflies, which Ryan conveys through awe-inspiring descriptions of towering oyamel fir trees and thousands of delicate butterfly wings glittering in the sunlight. Readers will be immersed in the natural wonders of San Gregorio and understand Solimar’s determination to protect them.

With many hallmarks of the Newbery Honor recipient’s best-loved works, Solimar is a satisfying fantasy adventure that will delight faithful readers and send new ones scurrying to shelves to discover more of her wonderful tales.

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Solimar

Solimar

By Pam Muñoz Ryan
Disney-Hyperion
ISBN 9781484728352

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