Sewing the Rainbow

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Nov 2018

Member Reviews

The best thing about this book is that it accurately illustrates the challenges a young gay boy would be likely to face but reveals how he grew into a man who was able to find his place in the world and follow his dreams. The fact that his dreams involved a symbol of love and acceptance makes it even better. I appreciate the factual and straightforward approach of the narrative as well, but there were a couple things I struggled with. The text mentions some names (Sylvester and Mama Jose and her Imperial Court) and a "symbol of evil" without explaining in the actual narrative what these are. They are explained or alluded to in the back matter, so it's a good opportunity for parents to read the back matter aloud and discuss it with their child, connecting it to the text. However, it still bothered me as I read that these weren't adequately explained in the text itself. We learn in the text what his father thought of the protagonist's interests, but we hear nothing of the mother and grandmother. It might be an interesting discussion for parents to broach -- what if some family members accept you and some don't -- but it would have been nice to know what other family members thought at all here. There were a couple incidents that require kids to make an inference about what happens, and I don't think the text provides enough information for kids to make those inferences. The illustrations help, but it will still likely require prompting from the parents (or the child may ask), and I generally prefer books to be just as accessible to a child without explanation as to anyone else. All in all, however, given the dearth of books about LGBTQ history and the importance of the rainbow flag symbol, this is still a book I'd recommend.
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3.5★
“In a small town in Kansas, where everything was gray and dull and flat, there was a little boy who was full of color and sparkle and glitter. 
His name was Gilbert.”

This is a fairly straight (no pun intended) history of Gilbert Baker, born in Kansas in 1951, a place that did not cater for sparkly little boys. He loved drawing gowns and helping his grandmother in her shop; Dad disapproved and surrounded him with boy toys; the army called him up and when he refused to shoot the gun, they sent him to San Francisco to be a medic. 

San Francisco! Colour and light! And now the proud home of a proud gay community. We recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of an historic event. In the Reader Note at the end, we are told

“On June 25, 1978, the day of the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade, the flags were raised for the first time in the United Nations Plaza.”

The story is an important one and the illustrations are delightful. The text is dry facts, possibly to avoid sounding judgemental, but I have to say it’s pretty dull. Still the subject matter itself might be “colourful” enough to engage kids in conversation. 

The long, adult reader note at the end has much more factual information about the whole movement. This is also where the author explains the Nazi pink triangle symbol for homosexuals, that is referred to in the story only as a “constant reminder of evil” when Harvey Milk and Gilbert discuss needing a new logo.

There’s a lot about both of these men online as well as more history about the adoption of the flag around the world.

“Today, the rainbow flag is everywhere. Even in the small town in Kansas where Gilbert grew up. 

Wherever you see a rainbow flag, you’ll know that it’s okay to be your colorful, sparkly, glittery self.”

[From my Goodreads review] : I will include some screenshots of pages to give you an idea of the illustrations. I’m sorry the pages overlapped awkwardly in my preview copy. I’m also sorry if people using the Goodreads apps can’t see the pictures. I hope GR will fix that one day.

1. Gilbert is happy drawing in Grandma’s dress shop.

2. Dad is unhappy with Gilbert’s artwork.	

3. The army is unhappy with Gilbert, so they transfer him to San Francisco..

4. Gilbert is delighted with San Francisco!

5. San Franciscans love Gilbert and his designs.

6. The world celebrates with Gilbert’s Rainbow Flag!

Thanks to NetGalley and the American Psychological Association’s Magination Press for the preview copy.
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I loved this book so much, it teaches kids about the importance of following your dreams and being true to yourself  as well as a part of LGBTQIA+ history on how one of the most important symbols was made and thought of.
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I read a LOT of picture books because I have young children. And we read a lot of books about LGBTQ characters in fictional fairy tale worlds, but there is not much representation of actual queer people in children's books. Sewing the Rainbow is a step toward remedying that and making gay history more accessible for the picture book crowd. I loved how this story showed Gilbert's trajectory from a young boy who had to hide his true self, through his repressive military career, and then finally to San Francisco where he was able to become the bright, sparkly person he had always known himself to be. Gilbert is a charming role model for being true to yourself, and it is amazing to share the origin story of the rainbow flag, such a visible part of queer history. I love that Gilbert is able to express himself through sewing - so much of the narrative of "be yourself" is to "use your voice!" 

This would be great in a queer family's library, in a progressive preschool's collection, at drag queen story hour, and anywhere else where kids deserve to know about the history of gay culture and the importance of being yourself.
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I love Gayle Pitman's books, and this one lived up to my expectations. I think this book would be perfect to read alongside Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders, since Harvey makes an appearance here in Sewing the Rainbow. My only (minor) complaint is that Kansas is described in more than one place as "dull and gray". The story itself is simplified enough for even the youngest picture book readers (and listeners), yet all of the questions my upper elementary-age child asked during the story were answered in the Readers Note at the end.
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Honest, and yet with an innocence aimed particularly at the target audience. I've gone on to mention this to my teacher son, and whilst LBGT teaching isn't taking place until kids are around 10yo, it's a book that he said he'd feel comfortable reading out to kids. Well done. And, also well done on the adults' section, giving them an education, too!
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*Thanks to NetGalley and Magination Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.* 'Sewing the Rainbow is a book for children with beautiful illustrations that tells the story of the creator of the Pride flag, Gilbert Baker. Whilst the story itself is quite simplistic and clearly intended for a young audience, the 'Reader (sic) Note' at the end of the book provides far more in-depth information for older readers, such as parents and teachers.
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This short illustrated children's book tells the story of the man who made the pride flag. The beautiful illustrations tell an important story about being proud of who you are, even if, ESPECIALLY IF you are different.
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Librarian: One of my favourite current trends in kids books is the abundance of picture book biographies. I’ve found them to be a great way to get kids curious about historical figures that they wouldn’t otherwise encounter. This book does that well. Though many children will recognise the rainbow flag, few will know the name of the man that created it. Hopefully this book will change that.
 I will absolutely be recommending this book for purchase.
Reader: Obviously, I’m not the target audience for this book. But as an adult who reads A LOT of pictures books, I will say that this is a good one. The illustrations are nice and the story has a good “be yourself” type message, plus there are lots of little historical nods that adults will pick up on, even if kids won’t.
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I had been meaning to read some books featuring LGBTQIA+ matters, before now, but as we all know - so many books and too little time! With June being Pride month, I feel this is an opportune time to read stories such as this one. Sadly, as I wrote this I learned that for the second year in a row President Trump has failed to recognise June as Pride Month.

"Sewing the Rainbow" is the story of Gilbert Baker and the creation of the rainbow flag, famously used by the gay community for decades now. There have been a few children's books that I had the pleasure of reading recently that focus on inclusivity and making sure children know that they shouldn't have to strive to fit into society, society should strive to make sure that they are accepted, no matter what. This also fits into that category.

Gilbert loved to draw at a young age, not drawing the stereotypical fire engines and soldiers but beautiful costumes and dreamed of becoming a designer. His father tried subtle ways of encouraging him to take part in "boys activities" but it didn't work. So, his father took away his art supplies leaving him crushed. Eventually, whilst stationed in San Francisco in the early 1970's, he realised that there was a world where he could live out the aspirations he held as a youngster. His first creation as a designer was the rainbow flag, which to this day is a universal symbol of diversity.

This is a beautiful book with an important message. Educating our children can only increase understanding of LGBTQIA+ issues. Informing them of these facts from a young age will hopefully mean that society will grow to be more inclusive. Gayle E. Pitman is a writer and a teacher based in Sacramento, California. Her writing focuses on gender and sexual orientation, and she has worked extensively with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Holly Clifton-Brown deserves a special mention here as the illustrations are perfect to help capture a child's imagination.

Many thanks to the American Psychological Association for an ARC.
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Sewing the Rainbow: The Story of Gilbert Baker and the Rainbow Flag is a wonderful book! Children not only get to see the creativity behind the rainbow flag, but also what life was like for young Gilbert Baker. Gilbert always had a love of design and fashion, but his father wanted him to have nothing to do with it and act like a more traditional boy of the time. He was drafted into the army and that was what finally brought him to San Francisco, a place he could finally be himself and feel free. 

I enjoyed learning the origin of the flag. When I was growing up  the pink triangle was the symbol of gay rights, but that was taken from the upside down pink triangle that the Nazis made gay men wear during their reign of terror. 

The 2 1/2 page reader note at the back of the book is amazingly written and full of a ton of information about the gay rights movement, the flag, and Gilbert Baker.
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I adore Gayle E. Pitman's A Church for All. Although my job requires me to be conscious of everyone's right to an opinion and I understand not everyone feels the way I do, I do like to slip in a book or two here and there that might reach a child who needs to hear it.  Gayle E. Pitman writes those books and this is one of those books.

This is based on the creator of the Rainbow Flag, Gilbert Baker who was a sparkly, glittery boy whose dad could not accept that he wanted to be creative and colorful.  When he grew up, he moved to San Francisco where he made costumes for famous people and sewed banners for marches but there was one evil symbol in his city and he wanted to change that.  He got the idea to made a beautiful colorful flag to replace the symbol.  And it did.  When you see that Rainbow Flag, you know it is ok to be yourself.

The illustrations are wonderful.  There is an informative note about Gilbert Baker at the end of the book.

Sewing the Rainbow is not overtly in-your-face Gay Pride, but it gets the point across.  My hope in slipping this story in once in a while is that maybe there is a kid who feels they are sparkly and glittery and that they don't fit in and maybe they will remember this story and realize they are not alone.  Maybe they won't know it when they hear the story, but at a later time they will remember the story and remember the flag and realize they are not alone.  Or maybe there are kids who are just curious about the pretty flag with rainbow colors and their parents were uncomfortable with the question, but after hearing the story, they will now understand that it symbolizes that it's ok to be yourself.

I would like to thank Netgalley and American Psychological Association Magination Press for the galley copy of this book.
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Information on Gilbert Baker – an American gay rights activist and designer of the rainbow flag. Baker's flag became widely associated with LGBT rights causes, a symbol of gay pride that has become ubiquitous in the decades since its debut. California state senator Scott Wiener said Baker "helped define the modern LGBT movement".

This book is a children's nonfiction about Gilbert Baker from a young age up til when he helped create the gay pride flag.

This is written for children. Simple, colorful and easy to follow along. I'd recommend it as a read out-loud for younger elementary kids because block of text may be too wordy. But for older kids they could read this on their own with ease.

There is mention of how his father didn't approve of him as a young child. But there isn't anything stated such as homophobic slurs, images, etc. "But one day, his father took away his art supplies and tore up his drawings." with images of the father destroying his art with an angry face. Very kid-friendly, especially, for parents who worry about their kids reading about hate.


"...where everything was gray and dull and flat, there was a little boy who was full of color and sparkle and glitter..."

Recommend?  Yes!

Quotes are taken from a e-copy given through Netgalley. Words may not be the same as the final version. Downloaded from Netgalley freely for an honest review. Thanks!
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This book makes my heart so happy.  The color and rainbow imagery is very powerful, especially for children whose passions feel stifled.  I would recommend this book as a resource for understanding the rainbow flag and the LGBTQIA+ community for kids.


I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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A really beautifully well done book (for any age) that tells an important piece of history in a way kids can totally understand. Sewing The Rainbow is exactly the kind of book that needs to be part of regular reading in classrooms: by being itself this book tells a true story and promotes tolerance of differences. Thank you for letting me be a part of reading and reviewing Sewing The Rainbow.
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This is a beautifully and colorfully illustrated book about Gilbert Baker's life. As a child, Gilbert loved to draw dress designs and dreamed of one day creating real dresses. Perturbed by his son's gender-nonconformity, Gilbert's father tore up his drawings. Later, as a young man, Gilbert was drafted by the U.S. military and then honorably discharged for refusing to shoot a gun. He moved to San Francisco, where he found his community, taught himself to sew, and eventually created the iconic rainbow flag that became the universal symbol for the LGBTQ community. 

I enjoyed this picture book biography of a person who is saved by others like him, who supported and celebrated the very interests and strengths for which he had previously been persecuted. This book about Gilbert Baker is much-needed; he is an important LGBTQ historical figure who is not often discussed. Little details in the text and illustrations of this story really bring it to life, such as the process of dying strips of fabric to make the flag. I greatly appreciated the author's note at the end of the book, although I would have liked even more detail within the story itself.
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I had no idea! I had never heard the story of the rainbow flag, I just knew it was used by the gay community. This was actually a pretty interesting book, even if it was for very young kids. The end of the book features further info for older kids and adults. Illustrations were nice, too.
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Cute book. I thought about giving it 4 stars because the picture book itself does not delve into why a flag was needed nor its monumental significance, but overall it is a good introduction to Baker and his legacy.
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I liked the inclusion factors to Gilbert's story and the emphasis that you should follow your dreams and your heart and not let anyone else box you in. I don't see this available from my library book supplier but hope to add to our collection.
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Nice to have a history lesson and a lesson in lgbt differences being okay. It's a picture book for kids too! Amaazing.
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