Review of Music Is a Rainbow

Music Is a Rainbow Music Is a Rainbow
by Bryan Collier; illus. by the author
Primary    Little, Brown    48 pp.    g
6/22    978-0-316-53742-1    $18.99

“Son, life is full of holes. / You may want to close them up to keep / out the storm / But make sure to leave room for that / rainbow to find you. / Broken is beautiful.” A loving father’s morning prayer for his son exemplifies this powerful story about a young Black boy’s need for connection and hope. When the boy was seven years old, as the gentle third-person narration tells us, his mother became ill and “had to go away for a while.” The subsequent emotional void sends him to seek comfort and belonging with troublemaking friends. His pain is momentarily alleviated by music; when he hears piano music from the apartment next door or a movie soundtrack in the theater, he “could relax. He could shine, and he could dream.” After participating in a break-in at the rec center, the boy finds a piano. As he plays it, he recalls his father’s words, and, in an emotional moment, “the rainbow…found him.” The muted shades of Collier’s (All Because You Matter, rev. 7/20) accomplished watercolor and collage illustrations brighten as the story progresses; a final spread features a beautiful array of shades and a collage of faces, instruments, and patterns. The transformative power of music is a clear theme, but equally important is the connection between the boy’s inability to express feelings of abandonment and disconnection and his destructive behavior. This visual and textual journey of self-discovery offers a poignant message about the potential of the arts to foster children’s development. An appended note discusses the story’s inspirations.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Monique Harris

Monique Harris is a public educator, reading specialist and independent educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science degree in Education from Simmons University, and is enrolled in a PhD program at Florida State University.

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