Scholastic Press: NY, 2007.
Paint the Wind may be Ryan's best work yet. She writes for picture book level up through 8th grade, but her stories are so inspiring that they are enjoyed by adults as well. This particular book has a complexity not often seen for younger ages. It is 2 stories in one-a girl living with her strict, overly protective paternal grandmother, needing desperately to have a connection with her dead mother, and a wild horse, the lead female of her band.
Maya's grandmother dies, and she goes to live with her maternal grandfather and his siblings, with which she has been denied contact since her parents' death. Their family life revolves around horses-wild and domesticated. Under the observation of Maya's great-aunt, Artemisia has her own story to tell, in caring for her new foal and surviving the dangers of the wild. Artemisia is one of the things connecting Maya to her mother, and they also help each other through a critical moment in the story. There are comparisons of their characters to be made as well.
Setting up the story is Maya's transition from one environment to another, with trust issues playing a great role-relating to all of her newfound family. In particular, she has competition from a cousin, who does not want her invading his vacation time.
There is also the matter of finding her way in foreign circumstances, as Artemisia similarly must find her way. Maya and Artemisia are both faced with survival in an extreme situation. There is the possibilty that the connection they share with Maya's mother is a key to their survival. Freedom vs captivity is another shared aspect of their stories.
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