Review of Black Is a Rainbow Color

Black Is a Rainbow Color
by Angela Joy; illus. by Ekua Holmes
Primary    Roaring Brook    40 pp.
1/20    978-1-62672-631-4    $17.99

A young girl sits on her stoop contemplating the colors of the rainbow, then notes, “But my color is black…and there’s no black in rainbows.” There is, however, black in a crayon box, black in nature (“a feather in snow”), and black in fun (“the bottoms of summertime feet”). And the black of Black culture is rich indeed, as the succeeding pages show. The rhyming text uses familiar symbols and motifs (black-eyed peas, a cooking skillet “for bread to fry,” blues music) as well as allusions to specific examples of African American art, music, poetry, and literature (“Black are the birds in cages that sing”) to create a mosaic of a community and culture that survives and thrives. Holmes’s illustrations use heavy lines and strong colors with soft touches of collage detail to represent everyday children as well as the iconic figures referenced in the text. Details in the back matter increase the book’s value: there’s a playlist; an explication of selected phrases (“Robe on Thurgood’s Back”; “Dreams and Raisins”); several poems by Langston Hughes and Paul Laurence Dunbar; “A Timeline of Black Ethnonyms in America” (from Negro to black to Black); and a bibliography (for adults). A treasure trove of positivity, strength, and pride for anyone seeking to uplift and educate young people.

From the January/February 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Autumn Allen
Autumn Allen

Autumn Allen is an educator, writer, critic and independent scholar of children's and young adult literature. She holds an MA-MFA in children's literature and writing for children from Simmons University, and a master's degree in education from Harvard University. She is the 2020-2021 Writer in Residence at the Boston Public Library.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.