Paint the Wind

Book review by
Ellen Dendy, Common Sense Media
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Popular with kids
Horse tale shines with rich plot and characters.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 10+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Kids lie, break the rules, and pull pranks -- sometimes with dire consequences -- but eventually grow through the lessons they learn. A bitter grandmother demonstrates poor parenting skills and judgment, but the other adult characters provide their young relations with unconditional love ... and tough love when appropriate.

Violence & Scariness

A mountain lion kills a colt, not described.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book has some intense scenes that may upset younger or more sensitive kids, but none are graphic, many are kept to very brief descriptions, and, for the most part, everything turns out all right in the end. Most of the story takes place in Wyoming, so the harsh realities of the wilderness are prevalent. There's also a relatively descriptive account of a horse giving birth that could raise questions.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8-year-old Written byThe Benevolent ... April 9, 2008
Kid, 11 years old December 23, 2017
This book was fine, but not one of Pam Munoz Ryan's best. I love the author and was not thrilled when I read Paint the Wind like I was with her other book... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 1, 2016


Paint the wind takes you to a whole different world in Wyoming. Perfect for kids and teens. This book is incredibly fun, but can also be sad. There is no inappr... Continue reading

What's the story?

Life hasn't been easy for 11-year-old Maya -- orphaned at 5, she lives in a tawny California mansion with her overbearing grandmother who detested Maya's horse-loving mother. But a tragic event changes everything. Maya is whisked off to Wyoming to live with her mother's relatives, whom she's never met and, due to her grandmother's lies, she actually fears.


Maya struggles to adapt to her new family and living in a rustic camp, but her love of horses -- the strongest connection she has with her mother -- makes living in a teepee and dealing with her bratty cousin a little easier. Maya learns to ride and slowly comes out of her shell, embarking on a journey of self-discovery that leads her to a beautiful, wild horse named Artemisia. With Artemisia by her side, Maya will face the unfathomable.

Is it any good?

Award-winning author Pam Muñoz Ryan paints vivid images of wild horses and western landscapes in this tale about a young girl who must adapt to a brand-new life. It's hard to imagine any horse-loving child disliking this satisfyingly complete story, and the rich plot and character development are likely to captivate young readers who aren't horse-obsessed, too.

The main character's story is interspersed with segments written from the perspective of the wild horse, Artemisia, and Ryan's thorough research on the region and wild horses is evident. Ryan is a masterful writer who deftly handles dialogue, detailed descriptions, action scenes, and plot and character development, and she's achieved another winner in PAINT THE WIND.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Maya changed once she left her grandmother's home and moved to Wyoming. How did Maya's new family, and the rough conditions of the horse camp, help her grow as a person? How did her relationship with Artemisia help her feel closer to her mother? What do you think the future holds for Maya?

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