cover image Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs

Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs

Pam Muñoz Ryan. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4847-2835-2

Muñoz Ryan (Mañanaland) nimbly wields fairy tale charm in this rousing fantasy about a young Mexican royal who must protect her home and its rich natural resources from invading forces just before her quinceañera and official coronation. In the kingdom of San Gregorio, soon-to-be 15-year-old Solimar Guadalupe (“more like a rough-and-tumble forest elf than a princess”) sneaks out of her palace to greet the first wave of migrating monarch butterflies in a nearby forest. After the encounter leaves her rebozo, a long linen shawl, with a curious iridescence she can’t seem to remove, Solimar discovers that she has gained the ability to predict future events and been given a critical task: protecting young straggling monarchs until they can fly. But when a neighboring kingdom uses her father and brother’s absence to invade San Gregorio in a play for land, Solimar must use everything in her arsenal to save her kingdom and its beautiful oyamel fir forests from destruction. Though Muñoz Ryan incorporates an ill-considered connection to the colonial powers of Spain to explain Solimar’s “distinguished” royal heritage, the otherwise thoughtfully crafted protagonist and band of heroes display charisma and cleverness aplenty, and the narrative’s action sequences create an enthralling, well-paced narrative. Ages 8–12. Agent: Kendra Marcus, BookStop Literary. (Feb.)