Cover image for Paint the wind
Paint the wind
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, 2007.
Physical Description:
327 p. ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
780 L Lexile
Geographic Term:
After her overprotective grandmother has a stroke, Maya, an orphan, leaves her extremely restricted life in California to stay with her mother's family on a remote Wyoming ranch, where she discovers a love of horses and encounters a wild mare that her mother once rode.


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Maya is a captive. In Grandmother's house in California, she is forbidden from playing or having friends, every word and action is strictly monitored, and even her memories of her mother have been erased--except within the imaginary world she has created. A world away, in the rugged Wyoming wilderness, a tobiano paint horse called Artemisia runs free, belonging only to the stars. The mother of a new foal and the lead mare of a harem band in a land where survival is precarious, she embodies the spirit of the wild--and she holds the key to Maya's memories. How Maya's and Artemisia's lives intertwine, like a braided rein, is at the heart of this richly drawn adventure about freedom and captivity, about holding on and letting go.

Author Notes

Author Pam Muñoz Ryan was born in Bakersfield, California on December 25, 1951. She received a B. A. in child development and a M. A. in education from San Diego State University. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a bilingual Head Start teacher and as an early childhood program administrator. At first, she wrote adult books about child development, but soon switched to writing children's books.

She has written over twenty-five picture books, novels, and nonfiction books for young readers. The novel Esperanza Rising, winner of the Pura Belpre Medal, the Jane Addams Peace Award, an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults, and the Americas Award Honor Book, is based on her own grandmother's immigration from Mexico to California. Riding Freedom has also won many awards including the national Willa Cather Award and the California Young Reader Medal. When Marian Sang, a picture book about singer Marian Anderson, won numerous awards including the ALA Sibert Honor and NCTE's Orbis Pictus Award. In 2015 her title Echo made The New York Times Best Seller List. She also won a Kirkus Prize in the children's literature category with her title 'Echo'.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

An overprotected orphan, an imperious guardian who dies suddenly, a tender reunion with long-lost rustic relatives-Ryan (Esperanza Rising) opens her tween crowd-pleaser with tried-and-true material, and follows with even more of a sure thing, a horse story. The author gets the romance just right, from 11-year-old heroine Maya's aching desire to learn about her long-dead mother and fit into her mother's family, to Maya's instant connection with the horses raised and trained by her great-aunt Vi. Details surrounding the care and riding of horses are both authentic and copious. Accordingly, readers aren't likely to mind either the cliched characters or gaps in plausibility. Nor will they blink as Ryan interweaves the narrative with segments told from the perspective of a wild mare named Artemisia (after, says Vi, the 17th-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi): "She draped her neck over his withers, reassuring herself that [her colt] wasn't going anywhere with a band of bachelor stallions." When Maya learns that Artemisia was once her mother's horse, a pairing seems inevitable; Ryan exploits it for maximum effect as the centerpiece of an attenuated survival sequence that involves an earthquake, broken bones, near-starvation, bareback riding and, of course, a bond between wild horse and child. The overstuffed quality of the plot may seem like a good thing to the target audience-adventure plus horses trumps realism anytime. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Since her parents' deaths when she was six, Maya, now 11, has lived a luxurious but wholly repressed existence with her paternal grandmother. Housekeepers have overseen her basic needs and supervised her homework, and Maya has made a game of driving off the ones who curry favor with Grandmother and watching as the others depart when the old lady's despotism overwhelms them. Then Grandmother dies, and Maya is whisked off to her mother's relatives in Wyoming, where her new life begins. Ryan parallels and foreshadows Maya's growth and change with glimpses of an exuberant herd of wild horses, a mothering mare, the stallion that leads the herd, and an adolescent stallion that must leave the herd to establish itself. The stories are quite cleverly wound together, and readers will understand much more about Maya's character from viewing it in relation to what happens to the horses. In spite of the book's character-driven core, there's lots of adventure here (both human and equine), and the pace never lags for an instant.--Goldsmith, Francisca Copyright 2007 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-Maya, an orphan, copes with her strict grandmother's harsh rules by lying and sabotaging a revolving stream of housekeepers. Upon her grandmother's sudden death, the 11-year-old is sent to Wyoming to live with her mother's family, strangers whom she has been told are wild and worthless. Maya soon discovers that she was badly misled and that her relatives are warm and loving, teaching her not only about their remuda horses but also about the wild mustangs of the surrounding hills and plains. One mare in particular attracts her attention, for it was the horse tamed and loved by her mother before it was returned to the wild. When disaster strikes, the bond between the girl and the horse is tested, and at this point the book morphs into a survival story. Against enormous odds, Maya makes it to safety with the help of Artemisia, and through these experiences her connection to her family and to the natural world are secured. Both the descriptions of the mustangs' life and of Maya's growth from an angry self-centered liar into a kind and honest girl capable of making difficult decisions are handled with skill and realism. Admirers of Ginger Kathrens's Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies (BowTie, 2001) and others of its ilk will love this exciting horse tale.-Ann Robinson, formerly at Moultonborough Academy Library, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Wide open space changes people, as 11-year-old Maya discovers in this novel of a young girl's growth from sheltered grandchild to independent young woman. Maya felt like a captive living with a grandmother who had shut herself off from the world after an accident killed her son and Maya's mother. After her grandmother dies, Maya goes to live with her Aunt Vi in the wide-open spaces of a Wyoming ranch. There, Maya learns the ways of a land that feels to her like an alien planet, forges a relationship with feisty Aunt Vi and finds her life changed by a tobiano Paint horse called Artemisia. Told in the alternating third-person voices of Maya and Artemisia, Ryan's tale is a beautiful portrait of a rugged land, within which people and horses sometimes find a bond. Maya, Aunt Vi and secondary characters are well drawn, as is the world of wild horses. Readers will learn much about horses, and even those who know nothing about them will cheer as Maya learns to walk, jog, lope and gallop. (glossary, websites, bibliography) (Fiction. 9-13) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



A puzzling photograph, a box filled with faded toy horses, and a single fractured memory are all that Maya has left of her mother. In Grandmother's house in California, she lives like a captive, tethered by Grandmother's rules: no talk of her mother, no friends, no foolishness of any kind...until a shocking event changes everything.A world away, in the rugged Wyoming wilderness, a wild mustang called Artemisia runs free, belonging only to the stars. In a land where mountain lions and wranglers pose an ever-present threat, she must vigilantly protect her new foal...until a devastating act separates them from their band. Like a braided rein, Maya's and Artemisia's lives will ultimately intertwine. Together, they hold the key to each other's survival.In this radiant and expansive novel, Pam Muñoz Ryan walks, jogs, lopes, and gallops on new ground, her transcendent prose beating out a memorable refrain in the heart. Excerpted from Paint the Wind by Pam Muñoz Ryan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.