Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Review: Paint the Wind, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
One of the real bonuses of WWW membership is meeting and getting to know other author-members. In 2004 at the conference in Albuquerque, YA/Children’s author Pam Muñoz Ryan was our WILLA banquet speaker. I had the pleasure of meeting her and talking with her. Pam, incidentally, is a several-time WILLA winner.
Pam had written a children’s book about Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt — Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride — a story I was familiar with. I wanted an autographed copy for my granddaughter. Pam was interested in my book about women pilots in World War II, THE ORIGINALS, and we agreed to a swap. We have since corresponded off and on via e-mail. At some point, I expressed interest in her next project.
In early June, a package arrived for me containing an advanced reader copy of Paint the Wind. I was thrilled, read it immediately, loved it, and e-mailed Pam that I would love to do a review for WWW. What follows here is that review, along with a Q&A prepared by Pam’s publicist. The Q&A is designed to get you thinking about what you are reading. I would also offer it as a very professional example of a marketing tool from which other WWW authors might learn.
Paint the Wind is due to be released in September 2007. The publisher is Scholastic Press of New York. Here is my review.
Reading WWW member Pam Muñoz Ryan’s latest young adult novel Paint the Wind inevitably took me back to age seven or eight and my discovery of the magic world of horses. I think it was the movie My Friend Flicka that started it all. I know for sure that when I read Walter Farley’s classic The Black Stallion, I was hooked.
I didn’t write stories in my childhood — that would come later — rather I created stories and ran them like movies in my head. I created and dreamed them. I “lived” them in my mind’s eye, in my soul, and sometimes, I think, my body lived them as well.
Like Maya in Paint the Wind, horses changed my life. My desire to ride, to be one with that magnificent animal the horse, led me to attend a Colorado summer camp that specialized in Western riding. It also led me to join a riding club in Denver — these were VERY big in the 1950s — where I learned to ride English style to complement the Western seat I learned at camp. Though I left horses and riding behind when I went to college, the life-blood of the West — horses — had been firmly ingrained in the person I would become.
Talk about life-changing events! That mine spread over ten years just makes it dearer and more vivid.
Paint the Wind is the book I WANTED to read as a young girl. Why? Because it has a HEROINE — a girl protagonist. In all the books I read about horses, a boy was the lead character. I suppose that’s why I had to make up my own stories in order to put the female protagonist — me — into the story. How many of you had similar experiences?
Pam makes the same connection with her own reading as a youngster, but in her author Q&A she adds an element that had not occurred to me.
In those childhood books we both read, the horse in the story wins a race — or some competition — to prove its worth to the owner. Pam’s contention is that she wanted the heroine to bring something to the horse — and thus to all humankind. Thus, her story reaches into that magic realm called universality. It becomes more than just a story of a girl and a horse. It becomes an experience that could be told anytime, anywhere, about anyone, and is understood and meaningful to all people. That’s no easy task, but Pam has achieved it — all in a simple story of a girl and a horse.
What could be better?
Sarah Byrn Rickman is a former WWW president (2005) and author of the forthcoming (March 2008) biography: Nancy Love and the WASP Ferry Pilots of World War II.