Cover Image: Solimar

Solimar

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Member Reviews

As always Pam Munoz Ryan delivers a heart-felt, warm hero’s journey. Satisfying from the beginning to the end, her latest, Solimar, follows the titular heroine on a magical path of discovering her truest self as she completes her Quinceanera’s preparations.
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Thank you to Disney-Hyperion books and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Solimar is almost 15 and getting ready for her quinceañera and princess coronation in the kingdom of San Gregorio. Her older brother is set to become king in a few years but he’d rather explore the world. San Gregorio is home to the oyamel forests when the monarch butterflies winter each year. Solimar goes into the forest to watch the swirl of butterflies when some land on her rebozo (shawl). She has received a gift and a burden – to watch and protect the butterflies in her rebozo that need to regain their strength but now she can predict the near future. When her father and brother lead the merchants to the annual market a few days travel away, San Gregorio is invaded by the neighboring king who want to buy the land for his own selfish purposes. When her family and court are taken hostage, Solimar escapes and sets off to find her father and prevent him from walking into a trap. She is helped along the way by Berto, a clever older teenager, who knows the river that Solimar travels along. Will they make it to the Puerto Rivera market in time?
This is a fun and light fantasy that is also a very quick read. Ryan explains the customs of the quinceañera and also focuses on girl power. It is also timely, as the monarch butterflies are becoming endangered due to climate change. I would definitely recommend for grades 4 and up.
#SolimarTheSwordOfTheMonarchs #NetGalley
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How important are rules and tradition when one’s desires do not necessarily align with them? Fourteen-year-old Solimar is the daughter of the king and queen, although her older brother is the official successor to the throne. When the annual migration of the monarch butterflies begins, Solimar ventures a little too far, finding herself unexpectedly granted with the important role of caring for the weaker butterflies that need a little more support before they can join their companions. In addition to this responsibility, Solimar becomes the only person able to protect her kingdom from the nefarious intentions of another ruler, and she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to restore balance to the world she loves so much.

Well-written and engaging, this story blends fantasy with reality while balancing one girl’s quest to better her kingdom with the need to protect monarch butterflies. Intriguing characters support Solimar along the way, and they are always available to lend an ear or a helping hand. Though there is some conflict with the neighboring kingdom, the overall struggle is found within Solimar’s journey to become an independent leader even when women are given less of a voice than men in her kingdom. Vivid descriptions bring Solimar’s experience to life, making it easy for readers to picture what is taking place in each scene. Even when Spanish vocabulary is used, it is defined in English in the surrounding text, making the presentation accessible to readers no matter their own Spanish-language fluency.

This charming story is one that showcases the strength of one independent young woman alongside the more restrictive nature of the kingdom in which she was raised. The overall narrative flows smoothly, with Solimar focusing on figuring out where to go and how to help rather than facing internal moral struggles. As Solimar is fourteen, this book will speak to older middle grade readers in plot while the presentation is accessible to those who prefer a streamlined narrative without many surprises. Succinct and heartwarming, this story is a good fit for middle grade readers who appreciate fantasy adventures in concise packages.
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3.5 stars 

In this creative novel that includes elements of fantasy, adventure, and light gender-specific commentary, readers get another solid middle grade entry from Ryan. 

The titular character is a young princess who is just about to celebrate her quince with her family and who struggles with following the rules at times. This latter element helps her get into an unusual but exciting situation: encountering butterfly-related magic! In an effort to get a handle on her role with these butterflies, Solimar enlists the help of her awesome abuela and her abuela's curandera buddy (who gives some kinder-side-of-Baba-Yaga vibes for a number of reasons). Along with these mentors, Solimar gets assistance from two amazing sidekicks: her beautiful bird (pictured on the novel's cover) and a good natured but still frightening little talking doll (because, frankly, a talking doll is always terrifying). These four characters - the two mentors and two sidekicks - are the highlight of this novel. Their dialogue, antics, and general contributions are fun to follow, and I wish readers were able to see much more of them throughout. 

Along with wanting to see more from the aforementioned characters, I wanted a bit more of a faster pace. Interestingly, when Solimar is close to home, her experiences are more engaging. The more traditional adventure aspects that all take place away from home are where, for me, the excitement and development unfortunately slowed. 

I've read a lot of Ryan's works and have taught them over the years, and while this one isn't my favorite, it'll still get honorable mentions from me.
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I forgot this was a kid's book just a few pages in. Munoz Ryan had me totally engrossed and desperately rooting for Solimar's safety as she accidentally found herself the protector of weakened Monarch Butterflies. Fast paced, easy to read, likeable main characters makes this title an excellent recommendation for reluctant readers. Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and NetGalley for an early edition.
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What a phenomenal book! I am a huge fan of this author and of Esperanza Rising. Take that novel and add a fairy tale to get an idea of the feel of this book. It’s fast paced and a quick read that would be appealing to kids who love strong female characters, princess stories, fairy tales, quests, conservation and the environment, and even STEAM/engineering. I would recommend this to readers who liked Esperanza Rising, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and Ella Enchanted. It also leave lot of opportunity for book groups/discussions. I am dazzled and excited by this Latinx kick-butt princess story that breaks the boundaries of traditional royal roles.
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This book was short and sweet. It is the perfect amount of adventure for middle grade readers. The story progresses quickly and is captivating as there is never a dull moment. Solimar is a great main character and is a good MC for middle grade girls as she is very progressive in her thoughts and feelings on how women should be as equal as men. She is a strong female character.
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Good book for middle grade school age kids. Interesting and pretty fast paced. Solimar is a princess-to-be just before her 15th birthday. Set in Mexico I think based on the Monarch butterflies visit and the Hispanic names and culture, but in the time of kings and queens and with some magic thrown in for good measure.
Solimar has to escape from a hostile takeover of her family castle and find a way to inform her father and brother and save the castle. They are far away at a big market and she has to travel down the river rapids to get there. She has a magical talking doll and the temporary gift of prophecy from the butterflies. It's a fun journey, a little scary. Nothing gory and no romance
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This middle grade book was such a fun read! Taking place in a fictional kingdom in the Mexico area, Solimar is about to be officially crowned a princess when she ends up tasked to be the protector of the butterflies. 

The story is simple but filled with magic and adventure. Definitely great for middle school and adults, or to be read to younger kids. 

I won’t spoil the end, but I do feel it all kind of ended very fast compared to the set up of the rest of the novel, but even so, it tied everything up really well.
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This was a fantastic adventure novel full of fairy-tale intrigue and an important message of butterfly conservation!  I loved it!  Solimar has the heart that we saw in Munoz Ryan's Esperanza Rising but with the magical realism that I personally love and that is kind of trendy!
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This novella was thin but filled with deep themes. The story stayed short and focused on the themes and magical elements more than the character development or world building which left it with the feeling of a fairy tale. 

Set in Mexico, the story focuses princess Solimar. While visiting a forbidden area of the forest, Solimar's stoll is magically infused with butterflies and she is given a special gift. She is now able to predict the near future, and does so uncontrollably anytime someone asks her a question. Meanwhile, it is unveiled that a neighboring king has plans to take over her father's kingdom and takes everyone in the castle hostage except Solimar. 

Through the help of the local magic worker, an animated doll, her pet bird, and a new found friend, Solimar works to stop the plot of the evil king. There was a lot of action and adventure that makes this a fast-paced, engaging read. It would be perfect for reluctant readers who want to be kept on the edges of their seats. 

I would have liked to see more world building or feel like I 'knew' the characters better. The magical elements were also confusing and off-putting at times. Overall, though, this was a valuable thematic story that I would recommend.
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Solimar is the princess of a fictional kingdom, San Gregorio, in Mexico, which is home to a forest that’s a migration stop for Monarch butterflies. Wanting to sit with the butterflies when they arrive in the forest, Solimar is caught up in a magical experience: she has been chosen to be protector of young and weak butterflies that cannot survive on her own, and, while she serves as protector to the young butterflies, Solimar will be able to predict the near future. If you like adventure stories that feature resourceful princesses, this is a book you’ll want to read.
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Thank you to #NetGalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide for allowing me the opportunity to read a digital ARC of Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs by Pam Munoz Ryan. This middle grades fantasy novel will be published on February 1, 2022. All opinions are my own.

Solimar, the princess-to-be, is about to celebrate her Quinceañera and her official coronation when she visits the oyamel forest to see the coming of the monarch butterflies. Though forbidden, she crosses the creek and sits among the oyamel trees as the monarchs arrive. A shining light lands on Solimar and there is a frenzy among the butterflies. After the incident, she realizes she's been given a magical gift, the ability to predict the near future. This gift comes with great responsibility and danger as she must protect the monarchs. When her father, the king, and her older brother, the crown prince, leave on a trade journey, the neighboring king attempts a takeover and holds the women of the castle hostage. Solimar manages to escape. Now, the fate of the monarchs and the kingdom are in her hands. 

This book is absolutely magical. Ryan presents a strong, confident, and forward-thinking Mexican heroine. I loved the unique magic of Solimar's world and the creative and well-developed characters. Ryan has excellent world-building skills and I felt immersed in Solimar's story and adventure. The story was full of twists, turns, and adventure. I loved that Solimar wasn't ready to settle for "the way of the land" and that she had big ideas and wanted to make a change in her world. The cover of the book is gorgeous, captivating, and invites the reader into a story that is sure to enchant them.
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It's the perfect book: adventure, heart, humor, and more. A Mexican princess who wants to be King?! How timely and important. Ryan's imagery is like watching a Disney movie. You can just see the shimmering wings of the butterflies as they kiss the cheeks of Solimar. With a touch of magic and danger, readers will cheer our heroes on through caves, rapids, and the dangers of saving a country. Hooray for Solimar, Berto, and Campeon! 

I'm adding this title to my What's New in Children's Books for 2022~
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Fabulous cover and fantastic story makes “Solimar” another winner for Ryan. This novel is set in Mexico on the brink of Solimar’s quinceañera when she is given a magical gift. The blending of monarch butterflies, Mexican culture, and the power (and burden) of prediction makes for a compelling and purely readable story.
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ARC Copy...the only compliant I would give is, the narrative/page count could have been longer to encompass the beautiful latin-spiced world building and colourful cast of characters. Good points on imagery.
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it was refreshing to meet a character like Solimar, it was a great storyline and I think it will resonate with others as well. The story was so well done and loved the use of monarch butterflies. This was a great adventure and I hope there is more in this universe.
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Solimar is a beautiful blending of fantasy, female empowerment, action and adventure. As an elementary teacher, I am always on the lookout for brilliant stories that introduce my readers to different cultures, provocative discussion points, and robust vocabulary. As with all Disney books, this one fits the bill in every way. Solimar isn't satisfied with just carrying the princess title. Unlike fairy tale heroines of the past, she wants a say in government. She isn't waiting for her prince to arrive. SHE is the hero of this story in every way! I won't ruin the ending for you, but it's empowering for girls and boys!
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Thank you to the publisher for the e-ARC of this fantasy novel.

Solimar's story is a unique one that I think many middle grade readers will find enchanting.
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