Weaving the Rainbow


How do you make a rainbow?
If you are a weaver you can make a rainbow with wool.
If you are a sheep you can BE a rainbow.
Here's how.

An artist raises sheep, shears them, cards and spins the wool, dyes it, and then weaves a colorful picture of the Kentucky pasture where her lambs were born.

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How do you make a rainbow?
If you are a weaver you can make a rainbow with wool.
If you are a sheep you can BE a rainbow.
Here's how.

An artist raises sheep, shears them, cards and spins the wool, dyes it, and then weaves a colorful picture of the Kentucky pasture where her lambs were born.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Limpid verse and luminous watercolors form the warp and weft of this beautifully crafted book. Lyon (Come a Tide) follows wool from sheep to loom, tracing the birth of a tapestry. In her first picture book, Anderson's (Witch-Hunt) sharp-edged yet airy illustrations show a weaver and her flock of white sheep, whom Lyon calls, mysteriously, "rainbow sheep." For their first year, Lyon concedes in graceful free verse, they were white. "But," she says, against a spread of sheep gazing toward the setting sun, "they were getting closer to the rainbow." This portentous phrase is left to resonate while Lyon describes the shearing, then the fleece itself: "White and springy this fleece,/ but carrying it from the pasture/ the weaver sees rainbows." (Anderson handles the task of rendering shapeless bunches of wool in watercolor with remarkable proficiency.) As the weaver gathers plants and as the artwork depicts her hands preparing to drop the plants into steaming vats, readers realize the rainbow will appear when the wool is dyed; a magnificent spread shows the drying skeins hanging among blossoming apples trees. The weaver warps her loom and begins to weave-and the subject of the tapestry turns out to be ewes and lambs in a colorful pasture. "White sheep in rainbow pastures./ In rainbow pastures she weaves white sheep": the palindrome form of the last two lines mimics the shuttle's back-and-forth motion; so does the poem, as it moves from sheep to yarn, and back to sheep. Ages 3-6. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Lyon makes the process of weaving into a mystical, magical experience. In the spring, gazing at her pasture, the weaver sees "rainbow sheep." Born as white lambs the year before, washed clean and white, they have won first prize at the July state fair. All winter their fleece has thickened. Now it is shearing time. The weaver cleans and spins the wool into yarn. Making her colors from natural plants, she dyes it, preparing to weave a picture on her loom, just as a painter paints one. Then she adds finger-woven sheep to the rainbow pasture on the loom. Double page scenes, starting on the end-papers, record the pale green, misty pastures; in two page turns, the sheep merge into the weaving. These are naturalistic watercolors with soft, huggable ewes and lambs. Each step of shearing, cleaning and weaving is shown clearly, up until the scene showing the woven sheep being integrated into the finished picture. The respect and affection for the sheep, the weaver and her craft are clearly depicted as well. 2004, Richard Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Library Journal
K-Gr 3-In this satisfying picture book, a young woman raises sheep, shears them, cards and spins the wool, dyes the yarn, and weaves it at a loom. She is an artist who takes pleasure from and applies patience to each phase of her work. Lyon's writing is lyrical, and the gentle pacing is calming. Terms like "yearling," "skein," "warp," "weft," "shuttle," and "treadles" are understandable in context and bring richness to the text. Words and illustrations complement each other in evoking the essence of creating art and in portraying the lush countryside. In her skillfully composed watercolor artwork, Anderson directs readers' eyes and shows them what to focus on. The paintings, with their dose of impressionism, effectively depict textures, but they can also suggest steam or wind. The final spread reveals what the woman is weaving: a picture of her sheep in their pasture, to which an illustration on the dedication page alluded earlier. A beautifully presented walk through one person's artistic process.-Liza Graybill, Worcester Public Library, MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Lyon can make lyrical prose out of anything at all: here she recounts the birth, growth, and shearing of a flock of sheep; then the cleaning, spinning, dyeing, and weaving of a tapestry. The strong young woman who is shepherd, weaver, and artist sees rainbows in the white radiance of her flock and in the multihued radiance of sunlight on grass, both captured exquisitely by Anderson in her first picture book. In telling the tale, Lyon also imagines for her readers how weaving can be an art and how wool can be made into pictures as well as clothing. Along the way, Anderson makes sure to show the details of how wool goes from the sheep to the wall. The beauty of the pictures and the rhythm of the language will entrance children even if they have never thought about sheep, or weaving at all, and they will come away with a bit of knowledge wrapped around a weft of joy. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689851698
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 689,041
  • Age range: 3 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

George Ella Lyon is the author of Trucks Roll! and Planes Fly! Now, Boats Float!, cowritten with her son Benn, adds a new mode of transport to this travel series. Among George Ella’s other books are the ALA Notable All the Water in the World and What Forest Knows. A novelist and poet, she lives with her family in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit her online at GeorgeEllaLyon.com.

Stephanie Anderson lives in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Her first picture book was Weaving the Rainbow, by George Ella Lyon, in which her art was praised by Kirkus Reviews as "exquisite."

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Read an Excerpt

Fall brought their first shearing.

Then as the days turned cold

their winter wool grew in.

It kept them warm right through the snow.

Copyright © 2004 by George Ella Lyon

Next the weaver warps her loom.

She ties her different-colored yarn to the back beam,

then pulls it, strand by strand, to the front.

There she ties it again, making the warp.

When it's time to weave deep blue,

she'll wind that color on the shuttle

the way a painter dips her paintbrush in the paint.

Then she'll guide the shuttle

over and under the warp

to make the weft.

Copyright © 2004 by George Ella Lyon

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