Painting the Rainbow


In this eloquent middle-grade novel, which takes place over the summer of 1965, thirteen-year-old Holly and her cousin Ivy accidentally discover family secrets no one has spoken of since World War II.

Holly and Ivy have always been close, but this summer at the annual month-long reunion at the Greenwood family lake house the girls seem to be growing apart. Although they spend hours together painting an old row boat the colors of the rainbow, they don't talk about things that are...

See more details below
$15.09 price
(Save 10%)$16.95 List Price
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (21) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $10.54   
  • Used (12) from $1.99   
Painting the Rainbow

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$6.49 price
(Save 7%)$6.99 List Price
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.


In this eloquent middle-grade novel, which takes place over the summer of 1965, thirteen-year-old Holly and her cousin Ivy accidentally discover family secrets no one has spoken of since World War II.

Holly and Ivy have always been close, but this summer at the annual month-long reunion at the Greenwood family lake house the girls seem to be growing apart. Although they spend hours together painting an old row boat the colors of the rainbow, they don't talk about things that are important . . . until they begin to find letters and pictures relating to a Japanese boy named Kiyo. Uncovering the mystery of this ghostlike boy leads the girls to the many subjects no Greenwood adult will discuss, such as their Uncle Jesse's death during the war.

In this insightful and expressive novel about complicated family dynamics, two girls show their elders that with honesty, courage, and empathy, even old wounds can be healed.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in New Hampshire in the summer of 1965, Gordon's (The Shadow Collector's Apprentice) historical coming-of-age novel unfolds through the alternating perspectives of 13-year-old cousins Holly and Ivy. The Greenwoods gather every year at Otter Lake, but ever since a blowup the previous Thanksgiving, multiple tensions are disrupting the family. Holly and Ivy usually have a close bond and even share a secret language, but they are drifting apart. “Every once in awhile there was a flicker of our old friendship, but mostly something kept getting in the way," says Holly. Ivy is serious about music and stressed out by her quarreling parents and her politically active college-age brother, while Holly has boys on her mind. As they work together to fix an old rowboat, bits of family history are unleashed, involving Ivy's father's late twin brother and a Japanese boy named Kiyoshi. Beyond the girls' insights into events and changes that feel outside their control, Gordon's story will leave readers thinking about the politics and chaos of relationships and the effect war has on individuals. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Leona Illig
Ivy’s Uncle Jesse died during World War II. But no one in the family will talk about it. In fact, they do not even want to mention his name. Ivy and her thirteen-year-old best friend and cousin, Holly, try to solve the mystery during the family’s annual vacation at their grandparents’ house at Otter Lake. As they discover clues and work on repainting Jesse’s boat, the Rainbow, unsettling theories emerge. Was Jesse killed in a boating accident? Did a Japanese boy have something to do with it? As the secrets begin to come to light, old family sorrows and tragedies are revisited. Yet when the truth is finally exposed, it comes as a surprise to all. The theme of this book is war, and the complexities and troubles that war brings to the lives of all those who are touched by it. Subjects such as the forced movement of Japanese-Americans to relocation centers and the stigma attached to conscientious objectors are addressed. The story, which takes place in 1965, also touches on the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. Family matters, involving sibling rivalries, warring spouses, and rebellious teenagers, take center stage. There is a large cast of characters in this book; a family tree is provided at the front to help readers keep track of them. Nevertheless, the numerous characters and the myriad subplots make for superficial treatment of some important issues. Readers may also wonder how so many important clues seem to turn up at just the right time and place. The story is told by Holly, with the aid of diary entries by Ivy. Boating enthusiasts will enjoy the references to sailing. Reviewer: Leona Illig; Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—In August 1965, 13-year-old cousins Holly and Ivy are once again together while their extended family gathers for the annual month-long reunion at their grandparents' summer home on Otter Lake, New Hampshire. But tensions run high as Ivy's parents constantly argue; her mother investigates boarding schools for her and her brother Sam; and her volatile father, Jake, clashes repeatedly with her eldest brother, Randy, over his views on civil rights and Vietnam. Holly is hurt and bewildered by Ivy's moodiness and withdraws into her music. Told in the girls' alternating voices, the story skillfully combines complex family dynamics, adolescent angst, and a good mystery, as clues emerge relating to the death, many years before, of Jake's twin brother, Jesse. The girls stumble upon old letters and memorabilia that reveal surprising facts about their uncle's death and its relationship to the plight of Japanese Americans during World War II. Effective integration of setting, details of the time periods, and nuances of personality enhance the plot. A family tree and a time line are provided, as well as an author's note describing her research and inspiration for this multilayered historical novel.—Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Two young cousins try to recapture the feeling of summertime fun during a fraught vacation at their family's lake house, a summer overshadowed by the mystery of their uncle's long-ago death. Cousins Holly Swanson and Ivy Greenwood have very different personalities, but that has never mattered before. During the summers, they've always been inseparable. But this summer of 1965, with Ivy's parents fighting more than ever and Holly showing interest in local boys, they can't seem to find any common ground. It doesn't help that tensions are running high among other family members. Uncle Jesse may have died many years ago, but guilt, sadness and shame still surround the accident. Mixing diary entries and letters into the narrative, Gordon delivers a sweet albeit convenient story about familial rupture and healing. The cast of characters is well-imagined, and the plot is infused with the inevitable repercussions of history, both immediate and those of a more global nature. However, events are repeatedly too advantageous to be ultimately satisfying. Hidden diaries, letters and pictures are discovered with alarming regularity. Perhaps acknowledging this narrative ease, the publisher recommends this book for ages 8-12, but the girls' dawning understanding of the complex world of adulthood pushes it a little older. A story about a tumultuous family that lacks a certain element of hardship needed to make a book truly gripping. (Fiction. 10-14)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823425259
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2013
  • Pages: 169
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)