Paint the Wind

Paint the Wind – By Pam Munoz Ryan

The book starts off like most children’s books do, by taking the parents conveniently out of the way. In this one, the parents are killed off in a freak accident and the child, Maya, we meet at her paternal grandmother’s house leading a dull, orderly life in which there is no place for frivolity, laughter or joy. Her grandmother dies and the young child finally gets to see her maternal side of the family who were held in such disdain by her pat. Gran that she does not have any recollections of them.

Of course, all this is meant for us to feel for Maya and hope her life turns around and she gets to enjoy life in her time. She does. 

I don’t know why books do that. But they do. 

The book is a story of how Maya finds herself while finding the horse her mother adored a decade ago. The horse, Artemisia, is now a wild stallion who broke free from her aunt’s ranch and joined a stud stallion, Sargent, and became the leader of the herd. Some wisps of wisdom offered up here and there make the sweet story likable. 

🐎 “With horses, it’s not the biggest or oldest who is the lead. It’s the horse who has the confidence to guide the family in times of danger, who has knowledge of the land and knows the routes to safety, who is herd smart and can make alliances with other mares and keep peace. Some mares have the ability. Others don’t. Think about great human leaders. They have many of the same qualities.”

Pam Munoz Ryan – Paint the Wind

🐎 “When the horses run against the wind with their manes and tails flying, I think they look like fleeting brushstrokes of color.” 

Pam Munoz Ryan – Paint the Wind

I have never had the opportunity to photograph a field of racing horses, but I have admired them. Their power and strength seeming to include the environment around them. I remember pulling over on a whim in Iceland where a field full of Icelandic horses offered us their manes to pat. It was easily the highlight of the trip for the daughter. I hope she remembers the way her face lit up when one nuzzled up next to her. 

I have to admit I chose the book because I saw Artemisia on the blurb. That was the name my daughter wanted to name her horse who was secretly a unicorn, and only reveal itself to her. I miss the innocence of her beliefs and the determination with which she loved her book horses. She read American Horse Diaries, watched My Little Pony, though her favorite was The Secret Unicorn. 

So many little tidbits that I’d listened to with fascination when the daughter as a little girl told me came back: #horsemagic

🐎 The color of horses: Audubon (light tan) dun, bay (red-brown)

🐎 The different strides and their names: trotting, canter, gallop , lope

🐎 Horsing vocabulary such as Remuda: a herd of horses on a ranch

All in all, it was a wild journey into the canyons with a little girl and her horse. We all belong on Earth and there are so many ways in which we can find that feeling. Our attraction to nature, this planet’s nature, is one of them. 

Buckle Bo & The Mystical Orb

One day, I saw the daughter hard at work writing an entry for the Young Authors Contest in her school.  Usually, when she thinks of a story, unicorns, horses and ponies, leap across continents and worlds to establish their roles in them.  If there is a human element involved, that person would have just moved to the countryside and gotten a horse as a gift. The horse could then become a unicorn and shall reveal itself under special circumstances or continue along life as a special horse with powers almost magical to behold. I glanced at the story, and surprise of surprises: there was a unicorn, a mother unicorn and seven sibling unicorns. I was a little tired of this arc, so I asked her to try something else for a change. A dash of encouragement, and some coaxing later, she agreed to try. The tale that emerged this time, I was thrilled to see,  was one where the protagonist was a duck battling an evil raven, and not only that, the duck had a noble purpose: to save all plant life. So good so far.

(Note to self: I should have taken a picture of the book title at least, but I forgot. I could have pasted it here *facepalm*)

I was mildly proud of myself. I had truly inspired her enough to try different stories. I swelled at the thought and every time I saw her working on the story, or drawing a picture for it, I would smile a little. There is something else that I should probably mention here. Recently, I spent an afternoon in her class reading out one of my stories to them, discussing the elements of writing and such. It was a golden afternoon in my mind. I had the time of my life discussing moral dilemmas, morals, plot devices and narrative styles with them. Children can be precocious and highly engaging when they want to be. In that class, it was hard to think that these children are the same ones who will double up and laugh at fart jokes. The discussions were so animated, intelligent, and lively. It was like floating in a hot air balloon above some fuzzy, golden clouds on a full stomach.

Floating in a Hot Air Balloon
Floating in a Hot Air Balloon

Obviously, when I met her friends at School later, I asked them whether they were going to write as well. Some eagerly nodded, while others skulked off. Her friends, who did try,  told me their titles. I don’t know about the stories, but the story titles made you want to snatch a chair and settle down to read: The Adventures on Mount Whirldoom, The Mystery of the Missing Phantom, Buckle Bo and the Mystical Orb (that was the daughter’s title). Very fancy, I tell you. Very fancy.

One of them hinted that she picked up some tips from my discussion in their class the other day while writing her story. I was so happy to hear that, I beamed. Clearly fishing for more compliments, I asked them why they wanted to write: did they think it will be fun to construct a plot?

Now, I don’t know what devices hot air balloon makers use to deflate their devices, but I needed none of that. Their answers were enough.

‘Oh! That. No. Usually, there is a pizza party for participants.” said a Jane Austen.

“Hey, don’t forget we also get ice-cream.” a Mark Twain piped up.

“And brownies.” said an Enid Blyton.

My hot air balloon crash landed on the lawns nearby, and I fumbled out.

Buckle Bo & The Mystical Orb, if you please!

%d bloggers like this: