Giving visual expression to R.J. Palacio’s opening sentiment that rainbows “are always nearby, somewhere beyond our grasp and yet never really beyond our reach,” the racially and culturally diverse (if all U.S.–based) contributors either incorporate rainbows into their full-spread scenes or creatively use a full spectrum palette. Nearly everyone narrowly sticks to the common theme in their actual subjects, however.
Elise Parsley leads off with a backyard soiree: “I cannot wait to yak with my neighbors, / and laugh with my neighbors, / and snarf up toasted marshmallows / with my neighbors.” Others echo the feeling with scenes of children throwing a beach ball (Brian Biggs), juggling huge ice cream cones (Molly Idle), dancing around a birthday cake (Sarah Jacoby), or crowding onto a lap (Claire Keane). One simply enjoys “sitting next to strangers on the bus” (Magdalena Mora). Lane Smith thinks outside the box: “Stuck inside, I was forced to put my moon mission on hold,” writes a smiling, brown-skinned young astronaut aboard a spaceship that has been spectacularly tricked out in paint and collage. “At least I had time to rethink my rocket’s paint job.”
Oge Mora does go for a broader vision (“My rainbow is a warm hug”) with a tender adult-child clinch, and so likewise Vashti Harrison, depicting a lone child hugging the Earth. Unlike the table of contributors, the art is not arranged alphabetically, and the artists’ bios are, at best, cursory, so the focus throughout is on the art and the warm feelings. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 88 % of actual size.)