Cover image for Black is a rainbow color
Black is a rainbow color
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm

On Order

R.H. Stafford Library (Woodbury)1On Order
Hardwood Creek Library (Forest Lake)1On Order
Park Grove Library (Cottage Grove)1On Order



A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on.

Red is a rainbow color.
Green sits next to blue.
Yellow, orange, violet, indigo,
They are rainbow colors, too, but

My color is black . . .
And there's no BLACK in rainbows.

From the wheels of a bicycle to the robe on Thurgood Marshall's back, Black surrounds our lives. It is a color to simply describe some of our favorite things, but it also evokes a deeper sentiment about the incredible people who helped change the world and a community that continues to grow and thrive.

Stunningly illustrated by Caldecott Honoree and Coretta Scott King Award winner Ekua Holmes, Black Is a Rainbow Color is a sweeping celebration told through debut author Angela Joy's rhythmically captivating and unforgettable words.

Author Notes

Angela Joy was born and raised in Minneapolis. Before graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Minnesota, Angela attended New York University and Spelman College. Angela then traveled as a background vocalist, also working in television and movie soundtracks. She lives in southern California with her family. Black Is a Rainbow Color is her first book.

Ekua Holmes is a native of Roxbury, MA, a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and a recipient of the 2013 NAACP Image Award, a Brother Thomas Fellowship, and a 5-year appointment to the Boston Art Commission. Her picture books include the Caldecott Honor book Voice of Freedom and the Coretta Scott King Award winners Out of Wonder and The Stuff of Stars . Holmes serves as Assistant Director of MassArt's Center for Art and Community Partnerships, and manages sparc! the ArtMobile, the institution's vehicle for community outreach.

Reviews 2

Horn Book Review

A young girl sits on her stoop contemplating the colors of the rainbow, then notes, But my color is blackand theres 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. Holmess 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 books value: theres a playlist; an explication of selected phrases (Robe on Thurgoods 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. Autumn Allen January/February 2020 p.72(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A young black child ponders the colors in the rainbow and a crayon box and realizes that while black is not a color in the rainbow, black culture is a rainbow of its own. In bright paints and collage, Holmes shows the rainbow of black skin tones on each page while Joy's text describes what "Black is" physically and culturally. It ranges from the concrete, such as "the braids in my best friend's hair," to the conceptual: "Black is soft-singing, Hush now, don't explain' "a reference to the song "Don't Explain" made popular by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, the former depicted in full song with her signature camellia and the latter at her piano. Joy alludes throughout the brief text to poetry, music, figures, and events in black history, and several pages of backmatter supply the necessary context for caregivers who need a little extra help explaining them to listeners. Additionally, there is a playlist of songs to accompany reading as well as three poems: "Harlem," by Langston Hughes, and "We Wear the Mask" and "Sympathy," by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The author also includes a historical timeline describing some of the names that have been used to describe and label black people in the United States since 1619.Both a beautiful celebration of black culture and an excellent first black history book for young children. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.