Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs opens with a description of monarch butterfly swarms taking flight in Mexico's oyamel forest. This true-life phenomenon is an awe-inspiring sight. View the PBS video below.
Thirteen -year-old Solimar steals into the oymel forest to watch butterflies awaken from their winter hibernation. Warmed by the sun, the monarch pattern woven into her rebozo also comes to life as butterflies once trapped inside the shawl take flight. Soli wonders what causes the magical transformation. The soon-to-be-princess considers this as she returns to her kingdom and learns of troubling events.
It is an unfortunate time for her father and brother to be absent from the kingdom. They are traveling on business to the distant city of Puerta Rivera. Upon their arrival, her brother plans to give up the throne and join the crew of a ship ready to set sail from this harbor city.
Solimar remains her own person, determined to risk her life to save her kingdom. She agrees to a traditional quinceañera.. But Soli cuts her hair and decides that both her parents should have starring roles in her upcoming corination ceremony. She eventually convinces her family that she can capably rule the kingdom.
This story traces several journeys: the migration of monarch butterflies, a dangerous expedition to save a kingdom, the transition from girl to young woman, and a princess’ quest to set a new course for her life.
Ryan's narrative is replete with references to Latin culture. Solimar's pet is a resplendent quetzal. At her quinceañera Soli wears her first pair of shoes with heels and dances with father.