cover image Music Is a Rainbow

Music Is a Rainbow

Bryan Collier. Little, Brown, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-316-53742-1

Before Daddy leaves for work, he hugs his young child and whispers, “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.” The boy’s mother’s affections are equally ardent, “sweet like penny candy.” But on the boy’s seventh birthday, Momma gets sick and has to go away, and the child’s world comes apart—until he hears a piano playing on the other side of his bedroom wall. Moving through the air in undulating rays of color, his neighbors’ music envelopes him, just as his parents’ hugs and kisses did, in “a rainbow of love.” And instead of joining his friends, “known in the streets as the South Side bandits,” in mischief, music—at the movies, from a piano—allows the boy to “relax. He could shine, and he could dream.” Working in watercolor and collage on canvas, Collier (We Shall Overcome) blends realism with expressionistic fantasy, and painterly portraiture with a documentarian’s eye for detail. The book’s watchful protagonist, who is Black, moves through the world with an endearing tentativeness, making scenes in which the boy connects clearly to music all the more joyful and hopeful: “The rainbow had found him. And then that feeling lasted forever.” An author’s note concludes. Ages 4–8. (June)