Middle Grade Fantasy Spotlight & Excerpt: Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs by Pam Muñoz Ryan…plus a giveaway!

 

About The Book:

Title: SOLIMAR: THE SWORD OF THE MONARCHS

Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan

Pub. Date: February 15, 2022

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Middle-grade fans of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising, will find a new
Mexican heroine to love in Solimar and a fresh, magical story!

On the brink of her Quinceañera, and her official coronation, Solimar visits the oyamel forest to sit among the monarch butterflies. There, the sun pierces through a sword-shaped crevice in a boulder, which shines on her and sends the butterflies humming and swirling around her.

After the magical frenzy, she realizes she’s been given a gift―and a burden:
she can predict the near future! She has also become a protector of the young and weak butterflies. This alone would be a huge responsibility, but tragedy strikes when a neighboring king invades while her father and brother and many others are away. The remaining villagers are taken hostage―all except Solimar.

Can this princess-to-be save her family, the kingdom, and the future of the monarch butterflies from a greedy and dangerous king?

Written for ages 8 to 12 by the Newbery Honor Medal winner of the highly acclaimed novel Echo.

 

EXCERPT:

ONE

The Arrival

Once, a rich and glorious Mexico stretched from the isthmus of the middle Americas to the northern red wood forests, and as far east as the bayous. Within this vast  land, one of twelve provincial kingdoms—San Gregorio—lay  nestled in a highland valley bordered by thousands of oyamel  fir trees.

Solimar Guadalupe, almost out of breath, ran toward the  forest, hoping she wasn’t too late. In one hand, she clutched  a rebozo, the tails of the long linen shawl trailing behind her.  In the other, she held a crown of flowers that she’d just finished weaving from pink dahlias, a swag of ivy, and ribbons.

When she’d heard the news that the arrival was imminent,  she dashed from the garden, calling to her grandmother,  “Abuela, they’re coming! I will meet you at the creek!”

Lázaro, a resplendent quetzal, flew alongside her, whistling  and cooing.

“Yes, Lázaro,” she told the bird. “I’m sure. A spotter in  the tower saw the first wave headed this way and sent me a  message.”

Lázaro darted back in the direction from which they’d  come, chittering loudly, his long tail feathers in a wild flutter. “Oh for heaven’s sake! Don’t scold me. I’m not completely  without a chaperone. Abuela will be along soon. Besides,  you know how she dawdles. And I don’t want to miss the  spectacle!” Solimar shaded her eyes and looked up. In the distance, a dark veil surged and rippled.

She hurried along a footpath leading to a wide creek and  stopped at the water’s edge. On the far bank, the oyamel firs  towered. “There—the sacred place!”

Like everyone in the kingdom, Solimar believed that the  ancestors of the monarch butterflies inhabited the oyamel  forest, and that year after year, their spirits lured a new generation of butterflies to this spot to rest during their migrations.  In San Gregorio, the forest and the monarchs were revered  and protected.

For as long as Solimar could remember she had come to the  woods to greet the first wave of butterflies on their journey.

She was forbidden to come alone or to cross the creek, which  was riddled with rocky outcroppings and notorious currents.  Everyone in the kingdom feared the rushing water that often  dragged a wayfarer downstream.

Even so, she’d always wanted to sit in the midst of the  butterflies as they arrived. She couldn’t do that on this side  of the water. Solimar paced. “You know, Lázaro, I’m not a  little girl anymore. I shouldn’t have to wait for a chaperone.  Besides . . .” She placed her crown of dahlias on her head and  straightened her shoulders. “I’ll need to be courageous some day. Why not start today? I give myself permission.” Lázaro shook his head.

Solimar tied her rebozo around her waist and leaped. She  landed on a rock surrounded by swirling water and wobbled  back and forth. “Whoa . . .” With both arms outstretched,  she found her balance.

Frantic, Lázaro flapped his wings in warning and chirruped. “You don’t have to be such a mother hen!” she said, jump ing stone to stone, each one larger than the last. “Just a few  more . . .” She hopped to a cluster of boulders midstream.  On the tallest, decades of gushing water had created a tapered  crevice through-and-through the stone.

“Look, Lázaro. The gap in this rock is the image of a sword!  And the pommel at the top of the hilt is a porthole.” She  peered into the oval opening and saw a cameo of the forest on  the other side. “I can fit my hand through to steady myself.

It’s the perfect holding on place.” She swung to the other side  of the boulder, lowering herself onto a rock submerged in  the water.

The bird tugged on her skirt.

“So what if my boots get a little wet? There’s no going back  now.” She gingerly took a few more steps until she reached  the far bank.

Scrambling to a shady spot between two trees, Solimar  considered the tall firs and muttered, “I’d climb them if I  could reach the lowest branches and if I was wearing trousers.” Instead, she sat cross-legged on the forest floor. She  untied the rebozo, flipped it over her shoulders, and straightened her crown.

Above, a kaleidoscope of butterflies quivered.

Lázaro flew to her side and burrowed beneath the drape of  the rebozo.

Her dark brown eyes wide with awe, she grinned and her  cheeks dimpled. “It’s happening. . . .”

As the monarchs descended, the flutter of thousands of wings  pitter-pattered like gentle rain. They landed on branches,  swarmed around the oyamel firs, or drifted to the creek to  drink, the water trembling from the beating of wings.

She sat as still as she could. As one after another perched  upon her, Solimar’s heart raced. She lifted a finger and several  rested on it. This close, she could see the shimmering scales  on their wings. “Buenas tardes. Welcome to San Gregorio. I  want to reassure you that my family and I will do everything in our power to protect the forest so you’ll always have a  home. It’s a solemn promise.”

Lázaro peeked from beneath the folds of the rebozo. “Come out and greet them,” encouraged Solimar. A butterfly landed on Lázaro’s head.

Dozens covered Solimar. One landed on her face. The light  touch felt like the tickling of feathers. When she giggled, the  monarch burst upward, then slowly settled upon her again.

Lázaro inched forward and perched on her knee. He lifted  one wing, then the other, and held still until the butterflies  fluttered down to roost on him, too.

“Isn’t it amazing that the butterflies, who have never been  here before, arrive season after season at the same spot as their  ancestors? Is it the magnetic pull of the earth, or the position  of the sun as the scientists suggest? Or, do the spirits of their  fathers and mothers whisper directions to them in a dream? Is  it some magical intuition that allows them to know what lies  ahead? Any way you think about it, Lázaro, it’s a miracle!”

Lázaro, now completely covered in butterflies, made a  high-pitched warble, and his new friends took flight. “You’re right. It’s also a mystery. Still, I wish I knew what  came next. Imagine always knowing in your heart which way  to turn and what life had in store for you around the next  corner.” As Solimar carefully stood, Lázaro flew to a nearby  branch.

She held the ends of the rebozo outstretched so that the  fabric hung beneath her arms. The butterflies remained attached, even as a final trail of stragglers slowly drifted down  and landed on the rebozo, too.

“I have giant wings made of butterflies.”

As Solimar slowly turned in a circle, a sunbeam pierced  through the swordlike crevice in the boulder in the creek,  spotlighting her. She tilted her face toward the warmth and,  for a moment, closed her eyes.

A rhythmic humming surrounded her. Her eyes flew  open, looking for who might be nearby. Yet there was no  one. Where was the sound coming from? Was it the wind?  Was it the monarchs? Or just her imagination? She laughed.  “Lázaro, is it just me? Or did you hear ancient chanting, too?”

Lázaro shurgged and preened.

She closed her eyes again, and the chorus continued. For  some reason though, she wasn’t afraid. Instead, she was mesmerized and swayed to the pulsing beat.

A swarm of monarchs descended and swirled around her—a  blur of black, orange, and coral—creating an iridescent mist,  as if she was swaddled in the softest and lightest blanket. For  a moment, resounding peace enveloped her and she smiled.  The song persisted, though, and grew louder and louder until  it reached a crescendo of haunting voices. Her heart pounded.  Startled, she dropped the rebozo.

The sound ceased. The mist unfurled and cleared. Glittery  specks lingered in the air like suspended jewels. “What just happened?” asked Solimar.

Lázaro twittered.

“Yes . . . peculiar.” Solimar picked up the rebozo and  frowned. “One side looks as if the butterfly wings are  embedded in the fabric . . . and they’re shimmering.”

Lázaro flew closer to examine it. He grabbed a corner with  his beak and shook. Nothing happened.

Solimar hurried to the water and rinsed one end of the  rebozo. “It won’t come off.”

She glanced across the creek. “Abuela mustn’t find me over  here.” Solimar squeezed the water from the rebozo, folded  the fabric in half with the iridescence on the inside, and tied  it around her waist. Carefully, she made her way back across  the creek.

When she reached the opposite bank, bushes rustled nearby. She quickly sat on a boulder, as if she’d been patiently waiting there all along.

Lázaro perched on her shoulder.

She whispered, “I don’t need to mention this to anyone.  With any luck, the shimmering will fade quickly and no one will be the wiser.”

 

About Pam Muñoz Ryan:

Pam Muñoz Ryan is a New York Times best-selling author and U.S. nominee for the international Hans Christian Andersen Award. She has written over forty books, including Esperanza RisingBecoming Naomi LeónRiding FreedomPaint the WindThe Dreamer, and Echo,a Newbery Honor book and the recipient of the Kirkus Prize. She is the author recipient of the National Education Association’s Human and Civil Rights Award, the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award for Multicultural Literature, and is twice the recipient of the Pura Belpré Medal and the Willa Cather Award. Other honors include the PEN USA Award, the Américas Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, and the Orbis Pictus Award. She was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, but now lives near San Diego with her family. Many of her stories reflect her half-Mexican heritage.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

 

Giveaway Details:

3 winners
will receive a finished copy of SOLIMAR: THE SWORD OF THE MONARCHS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

2/1/2022

BookHounds YA

Excerpt

2/2/2022

#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt

2/3/2022

Mythical Books

Excerpt

2/4/2022

Two Chicks on Books

Excerpt

2/5/2022

YABooksCentral

Excerpt

Week Two:

2/6/2022

@enjoyingbooksagain

Review/IG
Post

2/7/2022

Nerdophiles

Review

2/8/2022

For the Love of KidLit

Excerpt

2/9/2022

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review/IG
Post

2/10/2022

@emmreadsbooks

Review/IG
Post

2/11/2022

The Reading Wordsmith

Review/IG
Post

2/12/2022

TLC Book Nook

Review/IG
Post

Week Three:

2/13/2022

Lifestyle of Me

Review

2/14/2022

Books a Plenty Book
Reviews

Review

2/15/2022

Karen Dee’s Book Reviews

IG
Spotlight

2/16/2022

A Court of Coffee and Books

Review/IG
Post

2/17/2022

onemused

IG
Spotlight

2/18/2022

Two Points of Interest

Review

2/19/2022

The Bookwyrm’s Den

Review

Week Four:

2/20/2022

@coffeesipsandreads

Review/IG
Post

2/21/2022

More Books Please blog

Review/IG
Post

2/22/2022

The Momma Spot

Review

2/23/2022

A Backwards Story

Review/IG
Post

2/24/2022

Kait Plus Books

Review/IG
Post

2/25/2022

@jypsylynn

Review/IG
Post

2/26/2022

brittreadsalattebooks

Review/IG
Post

Week Five:

2/27/2022

History from a Woman’s
Perspective

Review

2/28/2022

@fictionologyst

Review/IG
Post


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