Lois Ehlert, Planting a Rainbow. (Orlando FL: Harcourt, Inc., 1988).
Ehlert’s book is a classic, if admittedly out of season in late November. Still, it’s worth revisiting the delightful colors and vocabulary of Planting a Rainbow as the last leaves descend from the trees in the Northern Hemisphere. The dwindling visibility of flora and fauna makes makes holiday season a great time to revisit the cyclical patterns of nature. Ehlert’s cut-out tiger lilies, zinnias and phlox promise a bright explosion of color at the end of winter, and her depiction of slowly sprouting bulbs and rhizomes help young readers understand the purpose of burying plant life in the soil.
For the design-inclined, Planting a Rainbow serves a second purpose: it demonstrates that paint, paper and scissors are not the only media for decorating a landscape. Children who are too young to experiment with bricks and mortar can -- like the unseen narrator of Ehlert’s tale -- harness nature’s forms and colors in their creative work. In a brief narrative, Ehlert gives children new vocabulary and models a lovely parent-child interaction with the natural world. Planting a Rainbow deserves a place on holiday gift lists for 2-5 year-olds.