Book review: “Rainbow: A First Book of Pride”

Genhart, Michael (author) and Anne Passchier (illus.). Rainbow: A First Book of Pride. 2019. $17.99. 24p. HC. 978-1-4338-3087-7.

Did you know the colors in the rainbow pride flag each stand for something? I have to confess to being a less-educated member of the LGBTQ+ community – and the newly-renamed Rainbow Round Table – in that, while I’d always assumed the colors represented something, I didn’t know the actual meanings behind them. So Michael Genhart’s latest picture book, Rainbow: A First Book of Pride, offered something of a surprise for me: Though it may be geared toward children 2-5 years old, this title can even teach clueless adults a thing or two.

Composed of minimalist text – think Todd Parr or Sandra Boynton – paired with simple yet vibrant illustrations, Rainbow offers preschool-age children a first introduction to Pride. Passchier’s illustrations showcase children and caregivers of varying ethnicities and orientations, though ages and gender expressions are fairly one-note as all adults appear young and only two characters present as possibly gender non-conforming. Color meanings – “Red means life. Orange is healing. Yellow is sunlight.” – match up nicely with Passchier’s illustrations – a newborn baby in a hospital, an injured child being bandaged, a beautiful sunrise – making the connection between text and images fairly obvious on each spread.

While this title is intended for a preschool audience, it would have still been a nice touch to include some additional information and historical context as back matter for readers interested in learning more. Instead, Genhart ends with a Todd Parr-esque “note from the author,” which is lovely but not informative. That being said, Rainbow offers a sweet introduction to the rainbow flag and is a welcome addition to Pride reading lists everywhere.

Kate Frick, New York Public Library

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