Maria and the Magic of the Rainbow by Suzanna L Royse is an inspiring and beautiful story with manifold lessons for both young and adult readers. Maria is a pre-teen butterfly who is accidentally blown away as she hurries to warn her parents of an impending storm. She is captured and made to slave under a cruel and unforgiving fire ant, El Jefe. She is forced to sing and do things she’s never dreamt about doing in her short life span.
The reader won’t miss the commands of El Jefe, reminding her of where she belongs: “The most important thing you need to learn is that your place is here—to sing and clean! Don’t forget how lucky you are. I’m the one who rescued you—you the orphan with only one wing.” But Maria escapes and makes a wonderful adventure that will bring both joy and pain to her heart as she discovers the beauty of friendship and the tragedy of loss.
Maria and the Magic of the Rainbow is a well-crafted story that brilliantly showcases the themes of self-confidence, freedom, bullying, family, and the wonderful sense of tolerance that assures inner freedom. Maria is a character that many young readers will relate to—I was able to connect with her as well as did my twelve-year-old granddaughter. The writing is poetic and evocative and it features great poetry in the form of Maria’s songs. For instance, the soul and spirit of youthfulness is captured in the following lines:
“Every day I keep asking why,
Like why the river runs and clouds play in the sky.
So many things to learn and know,
But what can I do? Where can I go?
Who’s out there?
Who can teach me to do
Everything I need to learn
To make my dreams come true?”
The illustrations are very telling and entertaining in themselves. It will be impossible for young readers not to identify with Maria’s curiosity, her problem with bullies, and her desire to be able to experience real freedom. This is also a story about friendship and forgiveness, a story with values that kids need to learn. Suzanna L Royse’s work will encourage, inspire, educate, and remain engraved in the hearts of young readers long after they have read them.