The first LGBTQIA+ anthology for middle-graders featuring stories for every letter of the acronym, including realistic, fantasy, and sci-fi stories by authors like Justina Ireland, Marieke Nijkamp, Alex Gino, and more!
A boyband fandom becomes a conduit to coming out. A former bully becomes a first-kiss prospect. One nonbinary kid searches for an inclusive athletic community after quitting gymnastics. Another nonbinary kid, who happens to be a pirate, makes a wish that comes true--but not how they thought it would. A tween girl navigates a crush on her friend's mom. A young witch turns herself into a puppy to win over a new neighbor. A trans girl empowers her online bestie to come out.
From wind-breathing dragons to first crushes, This Is Our Rainbow features story after story of joyful, proud LGBTQIA+ representation. You will fall in love with this insightful, poignant anthology of queer fantasy, historical, and contemporary stories from authors including: Eric Bell, Lisa Jenn Bigelow, Ashley Herring Blake, Lisa Bunker, Alex Gino, Justina Ireland, Shing Yin Khor, Katherine Locke, Mariama J. Lockington, Nicole Melleby, Marieke Nijkamp, Claribel A. Ortega, Mark Oshiro, Molly Knox Ostertag, Aisa Salazar, and AJ Sass.
Katherine Locke lives and writes in a small town outside Philadelphia, where she’s ruled by her feline overlords and her addiction to chai lattes. She writes about that which she cannot do: ballet, magic, and time travel. She secretly believes all stories are fairytales in disguise. Her YA debut, THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON, arrives September 2017 from Albert Whitman & Comapny.
✩ 5 stars ~ tw/cw: grief, homophobia, transphobia, racism ~ ALL THESE STORES ARE SO IMPORTANT!! SO PLEASE DON’T THINK A STORY RATED LOW IS BAD. IT’S NOT, IT’S MY OPINION & WHAT STORIES I FEEL CONNECTED TO. I LOVED ALL OF THESE, JUST SOME MORE THEN OTHERS. <33 ~ also i wish these stories were LONGER! ;) ~ i wish i had this book when i was younger. it would have been PERFECT!!! ~ :) my ABSOLUTE favorites: girl’s best friend, the makeover, paper planes, come out, come out wherever you are, splinter and ash, stacey’s mom, sylvie and jenna, [honorable mention: balancing acts]. ~ ratings: the purr-cle of life - 4 stars girl’s best friend - 4.5 stars the makeover - 4.5 stars paper planes - 4.5 stars petra and pearl - 3 stars i know the way - 2.5 stars balancing acts - 4/4.5 stars come out, come out wherever you are - 4.5 devoyn’s pod - 4 stars guess what’s coming to dinner - 4 stars the golem and the mapmaker - 4 stars the wish and the wind dragon - 3.5 stars splinter and ash - 5 stars menudo fan club - 3.5 stars stacey’s mom - 5 stars sylvie and jenna - 4.5/5 stars
gosto muito da ideia de uma coletânea de contos middle grade queer! gosto também que tem um pouco de tudo aqui (fantasia, contemporâneo, romance, quadrinhos, viagem no tempo, piratas e dragões – até poesia! faltou só um terrorzinho). dito isso, minhas histórias favoritas foram: – paper planes, claribel a. ortega: criança queer e seu vizinho queer conversando por aviões de papel mágicos. me fez chorar. – balancing acts, a. j. sass: crianças fazendo parkour!!!! – devoyn's pod, mariama j. lockington: trio de amigos passando por MOMENTOS. avó queer! – the wish and the wind dragon, katherine locke: piratas e dragões de vento!!!! – stacy's mom, nicole melleby: curtinha, gay, boa demais. – sylvie & jenna, ashley herring blake: meninas queer lidando com atitudes do passado
Full disclosure: I contributed a story to this collection.
I cannot stress enough how liberating it felt to read an entire anthology filled with queer voices and perspectives. I went through a spectrum of emotions while reading, starting with teary (Alex Gino's story was really the perfect way to open this anthology) to grinning and laughing and then back to teary (Ashley Herring Blake is the master of making my heart squeeze).
This collection is perfect for the middle schooler (or kid at heart) in your life, but it'll also be meaningful to many adults who didn't get to see this kind of representation when they were in middle school themselves.
This was so cute! An equal amount of hits and misses, I think, but it will find a home in its target demographic. My favorites were Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are, Sylvie & Jenna, Balancing Acts, Devoyn's Pod, and Stacy's Mom.
The Purr-cle of Life: No Rating Objectively well-written, but I happened to read it right after learning that my friend's beloved cat had died and mourning of a cat's death is a very present theme in the story. It was ultimately sweet and hopeful but I barely made it to the end because of that.
Girl's Best Friend: 4/5 LOVED seeing a squish as the main character dynamic but the dog thing...I don't know.
The Makeover: 4/5 So cute!! Just some girls and enbies going thrifting and finding their aesthetics. I really liked how Jess was allowed to explore their presentation and the discussions around how nonbinary people don't need to present as androgynous to be valid (a misconception a lot of adults have, let alone kids) was very welcome!
Paper Planes: 4/5 Loved the friendship between Alexis and Flor! That was definitely the highlight for me.
Petra & Pearl: 2/5 This was good, but also jarringly dark. It's important to show the realities of what it's like to be a trans kid but this felt out of place in the anthology. I'm not one of those "there MUST be more queer joy than queer pain!!" people and I have nothing against sad queer stories (God knows I write some myself) but every other story in the anthology up til this point felt lighter. I don't know, this just felt off.
I Know the Way: 1/5 Easily my least favorite so far, which is too bad bc I've enjoyed the other Justina Ireland stuff that I've read. But this felt too disjointed and come on, a short story does not give enough space for split-timeline POV shifts. Had this been a full book, I think I would have liked it more. And, as other reviews note, the ghost bit at the end makes no sense since they survived the escape.
Balance: 4/5 This was definitely eye-opening in regards to what it's like to be nonbinary in very gendered sports, and like with his other book, A.J. Sass shows to know a lot about the sports he writes about. Also, this is the first MG story I've read with an MC who uses neopronouns! If this is the same Kai who'll be in CAMP QUILTBAG*, I'm excited to see more of em!
Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are: 5/5 Oh my God this was so good? Totally checking out ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD after this. Marcus was so sweet and the narration felt perfect for a MG story."
Devoyn's Pod: 5/5 Devoyn came out to her grandma in almost the exact same way I came out to my mom. Wish we'd gone to a queer beach after instead of her saying that I probably had a hormone deficiency. I honestly thought this was about a poly kid at the start and was in love with both El and Marcel, but I still really liked this anyway.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: 3/5 This was good and I liked the twist, but also...was this one explicitly queer or was it just an allegory? It's not like this anthology has to fly under the radar when it comes to open queerness.
The Golem and the Mapmaker: 3/5 Who even was the mapmaker in this? The other lead was a princess. This was super cute, but it was ultimately too short. I'd love to see it expanded as a whole graphic novel!
The Wish & the Wind Dragon: 1/5 Nonbinary pirates and dragons is a great premise, but this was so boring that I could barely finish it.
Splinter & Ash: 3/5 This was cute! I've now realized that SFF stories in anthologies generally aren't my thing because they feel rushed, and my main takeaway was "I wish this was longer".
Menudo Fan Club: 1/5 What was even the point of this one? So boring. This could have been so much better.
Stacy's Mom: 4/5 Not a huge fan of the writing style, but this was so cute! I'm excited to see Abigail again in CAMP QUILTBAG* and to read more of Melleby's books :)
Sylvie & Jenna: 5/5 Ashley Herring Blake does it again! This was so sweet, also I love the shared universe thing!
Thank you to Knopf Books for Young Readers, the editors and authors, and NetGalley for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. This book will release October 19, 2021.
Wow, I really blew right through this one! I'd been meaning to read this anthology for a couple weeks now and only just got around to it—but it was worth the three hour whirlwind. It's been a while since I read an anthology, and This Is Our Rainbow, the first LGBTQIA+ anthology for middle grade readers, was excellent. There are sixteen stories, some of them longer than others, so I've written just a few sentences on each of them instead on one big, in-depth review like I usually do. But before I get into that, I want to say that I truly liked all of these stories, loved that they had varying degrees to which coming out or the kid's identity was part of the plot, and enjoyed the fact that it was a mix of genres. Not all the stories end super happily, there's some melancholy, but it's a good balance, the characters are so brave, and there's always the sense that the characters are going to be okay. I feel like there's really something for everyone here.
The Purr-cle of Life by Alex Gino
This first story is very sweet, and revolves around the unnamed main character going to pick out a new cat at an animal rescue. This is very difficult for them, as Scout had been with them since birth, and they don't want to feel like they're replacing their old cat. There's a moment detailing the narrator having to deal with their grandma's misgendering and a couple similar (future) moments mentioned at the end, but the most important thing is that their new cats are there to comfort them.
Girl's Best Friend by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
Okay, this was adorable. Roxy is a witch and her family lives near a normal college town. Their new neighbor is a girl who moved away last year and is now back. Roxy experiences really strong feelings for Tess, but realizes they're platonic although they're as strong as a crush—she has a "squish." But Tess seems a little distant, so Roxy transforms into a dog so her new friend has someone to talk to. This has a very sweet ending and might be a contender for one of my favorite stories.
The Makeover by Shing Yin Khor
I was a little iffy about this comic story at first but by the end I was all in! Jes is the new kid, who meets a group called the Porcupines, who all introduce themselves with names and pronouns immediately. At lunch they talk about their "deals" (to me, it seemed like aesthetics) and Alex decides they all should take Jes to the thrift story to help them figure it out—which Jes does, settling on a skirt with pockets. It was nice to see Jes decide to wear what they wanted after initially stopping so people wouldn't think they were a girl. Plus, with Rosie and Alex around, I don't think anyone will dare to misgender Jes. (This is one of the funniest exchanges in the anthology.) Anyway, now I would like to be a knitwear punk.
Paper Planes by Claribel A. Ortega
This has a fascinating world and magic that's not really expanded on, but the author and narrator let you know just enough. Flor is responsible for talking to people in the outside world in English for her Spanish-speaking parents, and uses magical paper planes to do so. A new neighbor named Alexis shows up across the street, and Flor begins communicating with her. Alexis helps Flor be brave enough to send a paper plane to the girl she likes and brave enough to be herself.
Petra & Pearl by Lisa Bunker
Two trans girls who have Very Upsetting Fathers and live in different countries write fanfic for the same anime; Petra is the only person Pearl is out to. Petra's dad is friends with the shop teacher and doesn't given Petra a choice about taking the class, and unfortunately she's bullied there during school. Both Petra and Pearl take the chance to protest their treatment, and while they both get in trouble, Petra takes the opportunity to come out to her family, despite not knowing what will happen.
I Know the Way by Justina Ireland
A split timeline story; one is set in the past on a plantation and features two girls named Addie and Cora who decide to escape to freedom, the other is contemporary. The present day girls, Evelyn and Ashley, decide to break away from their field trip to go see a bridge where ghosts are rumored to be, a bridge that Addie and Cora had to pass by when running away. There's a poignant moment where their spirits can be heard encouraging bravery.
Balancing Acts by A. J. Sass
Kai is a former gymnast trying to figure out where e belongs and what e can do now that e's left the sport since gymnastic is very gendered. E attends a meet that eir former team is competing at but doesn't feel comfortable enough to celebrate with them afterwards. There's a real sense of sadness here that Kai had to give up something e loved because e thought changing pronouns wouldn't be enough to convince people e isn't a girl. Thankfully there's a kind adult who lets Kai practice on the equipment, which leads to em finding a new athletic outlet.
Come Out, Come Out Whenever You Are by Eric Bell
This is such a clever title for a story about a time loop that lets the main character navigate one very stressful morning and find the courage to stand up and come out to his bully simultaneously. Marcus is absolutely METAL.
Devoyn's Pod by Mariama J. Lockington
Dev's story is a classic one of having best friends who start dating and keep it secret from you, but it's also about recognizing how relationships grow and change. What might have started out as a very close friendship that meant you didn't seem to need any others can spread out to have room for more. Also, Nana rocks for taking Dev to "the people's beach."
Guess What's Coming to Dinner by Mark Oshiro
Aside from the fact that I spent almost the whole story wondering what was up with Sofia and her parents (spoiler! they're not human), I really liked this one particularly for its offhand inclusion of supernatural elements in a plot as simple as someone wanting their new friend to come over for dinner. I know that doesn't always come off well as a queer metaphor, but that's not exactly what it is here, although it almost had the same feeling to me.
The Golem and the Mapmaker by Molly Knox Ostertag
I really wish I knew if this comic was in color in the final book or not; I would love to see it! Despite having a longer page count, this one felt very short, and I wanted more story and depth. Still, the art was beautiful (I've liked the artist's work for a while) and the core narrative of not letting go of the thing you wanted as a child and getting to have your own desire for the first time is very strong.
The Wish and the Wind Dragon by Katherine Locke
A nonbinary pirate kid in a world with dragons? Count me in! Jupiter's main focus is getting to a particular cove for a celebration, and so they can see their sister again for the first time in a long time. But there's no wind, so how to solve that problem? Call a wind dragon! There's a real sense of kinship between the dragon and Jupiter, however brief, and I would read a full novel of this to see that further expanded.
Splinter & Ash by Marieke Nijkamp
I would also read a full novel expansion of this story. Splinter, whose uncle and guardian is exceedingly "traditional" only seems to care about appearances and power, wants to be a knight. So when the princess's birthday masked ball is announced, Splinter goes in borrows leather armor and meets a girl who introduces herself as Ash. I think you can see where this might be heading. Despite an altercation with a guard, this has a very cute ending.
Menudo Fan Club by Aida Salazar
I'm not much of a verse person, but this was beautifully done. The comparisons and language felt fresh, which was a perfect complement to a story about friends drifting apart. D very subtly makes a choice when Camila says all the members of the boy band fan club she started have to claim a boy, but Camila appears to ignore it. This is very much one of the sadder endings in the anthology.
Stacy's Mom by Nicole Melleby
This story's title is [chef's kiss] and you know it. Because sometimes that's how you realize you're different, you know? Of course, that leads to complications for Abigail in her friend group, which does in fact include Stacy, and makes her the Monday morning source of gossip. But not everyone is whispering to Abigail negatively. I really wish this story had been longer!
Sylvie & Jenna by Ashley Herring Blake
I just read my first Ashley Herring Blake book recently so I was really excited for the story. It is also definitely a contender for my favorite, because it's so well-written and the emotions are so real, and messy and imperfect. I love Sylvie and Jenna, as well as how they deal with the conflict in their past. Marnie is an instigator and I would like to give her an award. This was absolutely the perfect story to end the anthology with.
I hope one of these summaries is enough to convince you to grab this anthology. This was such a great pool of authors, and I hope you'll give their vibrant spectrum of characters a chance!
Like all short story collections, this had a few uneven spots, but it was by and large super cute and affirming and lovely. It felt a little heavy in terms of wlw representation vs anything else, so I wish they'd pulled in some other types of narratives, but honestly that Ashley Herring Blake at the end made the whole thing worth it. Sob.
I loved this joyful, empowering LGBTQIA+ MG anthology. It includes a really impressive range of stories—realistic fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, comics, verse—and every piece is excellent. So many kids are going to see themselves in these stories and discover some new favorite authors.
This is a must-have for MG classroom and library collections. I kept thinking as I read about how many kids I would have loved to share this book with when I was a middle school teacher. I highly recommend it!
“This Is Our Rainbow” was such a fun read! I don’t usually read anthologies, but this was a great middle grade book and I was surprised by the variety and diversity of these stories with protagonists of all different identities and backgrounds.
My favorite stories had to be “The Wish & The Wind Dragon” by Katherine Locke about a nonbinary pirate trying to get their ship and everyone to an island in time to see their sister and her wife for the solstice, needing to rely on a wish gone wrong, “Come Out, Come Out Whenever You Are” by Eric Bell which is about a gay kid who’s stuck in a time loop, forcing himself to relive the exact moment he accidentally outs himself at school over and over again, “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner” by Mark Oshiro about a girl preparing to invite a girl from school over for dinner(probably the story in this anthology with the most fun ending), and “The Makeover” by Shing Yin Khor(it’s a comic!) which is about a nonbinary kid making a new group of friends who empower them by going thrift shopping for clothes and getting a complete makeover.
To summarize, even if you don’t like all the stories or don’t read all of them, I think this book has at least a few stories that appeal for all readers
This was a really cool collection of stories that celebrate humans, and who we choose to be and love. I felt like it was really accessible for middle school students, and it had a wide range of stories. It was really enjoyable!
“The Purr-cle of Life,” by Alex Gino. The main character, who uses they/them pronouns, was devastated after their cat Scout—who had been with them their whole life—died. Will it ever be possible to have a life—and a new cat—after Scout? This wasn’t a story about gender, but about how kids can come to terms with pets not living as long as us, and finding a way to love a new pet. I liked that gender wasn’t a big deal in this one.
“Girl’s Best Friend” by Lisa Bigelow. Roxy and her family are witches, but that has to be a secret. Roxy longs for one best friend she can trust with that secret, and hopes she’s found it when Tess, a well-dressed but enigmatic girl from school, moves in nearby. But all Tess is interested in is Roxy’s dog. So Roxy decides to become a dog (sometimes) to win Tess’ affection. Problem is, if you stay a dog too long, it could become permanent. And also, how will Tess feel when she learns that she was talking all the time to Roxy? This one had me biting my fingernails because there were so many ways it could have gone wrong! I’m not sure that I, in Tess’ place, would have forgiven Roxy.
“The Makeover” by Shing Yin Khor. (Graphic novel format) Jes is new at school, and prefers to be invisible—that is, until the Porcupines (“The coolest girls and not-dudes in the school!”) adopt them and show them that “being nonbinary doesn’t mean you have to look like your eight year old brother” and give them a thrift store makeover. The audiobook version of this was a little confusing, understandably, so I’m glad I saw the print version. In addition to being nonbinary, Jes is fat, which isn’t part of the problem at all—nice to see that intersectionality. I wish every outsider could find their own group of Porcupines!
“Paper Planes” by Claribel Ortega. Flor is the only one in her family whose English is good enough to deal with things like bill-collectors’ letters, and she does so by sending out magical paper planes with letters on them. One day, she sees a new, rainbow-colorful neighbor move in, and given the closeness of their houses, is able to see that “she” is a drag queen. And that gives Flor the courage to send them a letter asking if it’s ok for girls to like other girls. While the magic in this was a little confusing because it was never explained, I liked the relationship of the kid with the supportive, trusted adult. It was sweet. Also, Flor’s situation as her family’s translator, minus the magic, is common for children of recent immigrants, so it’s nice to see that in a story.
“Petra and Pearl” by Lisa Bunker. Main character Petra met Pearl online, writing fanfic for the same anime, and their both writing about a trans character introduces the idea of transness to them both. It helps Pearl decide to become a full-time Pearl, rather than just online—though it won’t be easy. As for Petra, she’s struggling with a father who thinks he’s always right, and teachers at school who look the other way when boys rough up other boys they think are too girly. Sometimes all it takes is just one friend to make your world bearable. This was sad and too believable. I liked that it reflects the tech use of kids in our era, and shows one way it can be a boon—or a lifesaver. This would be a good story to read in class, if teachers are looking for something short about transness.
“I Know the Way” by Justina Ireland. This story is told in two eras; two enslaved girls who decide to run away, and two modern girls, with their class, visiting the supposedly ghost-filled “historic” site where the enslaved girls worked. In both cases, the girls feel drawn to each other. I found this one confusing to listen to because it switched between the story lines without warning (on the page, it’s easier to follow). I was also confused as to why it was being told in two eras—the girls’ stories didn’t have much in common, so they didn’t echo each other beyond the attraction to other girls. This one didn’t really work for me.
“Balancing Act” by A.J. Sass. Kai loved gymnastics, but wanting to present in a way more appropriate to eir nonbinary identity meant quitting the girls gymnastics team (leotards hide nothing). E still mourns the loss, but is there possibly another sport that can use some of eir ability? I liked this one a lot—it points out how difficult it is for some kids when sports are so highly gendered, down to the uniforms, and for no particular reason. It also shows that maybe there are other options, though; not a perfect solution, but at least a way forward.
“Come Out, Come Out, Whenever You Are” by Eric Bell. Middle school is one long horror show for Marcus, surrounded by bullies and terrified that his sexual identity will come out. Which it does, one horrible morning, by accident, and the biggest bully in the school makes sure that everyone knows and makes the most of it. Then Marcus makes a wish…and the morning repeats, offering him a second chance to make sure that doesn’t happen again. And a third… I wasn’t sure how I felt about this one, and that it seemed to be telling kids the best choice is to come out loud and proud on your own terms. That’s the right choice for some, sure, but certainly not for all—and certainly not the safe choice for all, so I don’t like the idea of making them feel guilty for wanting to keep their secret. They shouldn’t be forced into coming out by bullies or stories.
“Devoyn’s Pod” by Mariama Lockington. In the 1980s, Devoyn has always had two best friends, Ella and Marcel. But this summer, Ella and Marcel have betrayed Devoyn by getting together without telling her, and now they’re spending time together without her—and she has no other friends. Plus, if Devoyn were getting together with either of them, it would be Ella—but Ella clearly is not interested. How can Devoyn deal with all these changes in her life? I liked that this one didn’t make the friends evil for wanting to grow up and change their relationship, and didn’t make them want to give up Devoyn’s friendship. And what a kickass grandmother Devoyn has!
“Guess What’s Coming to Dinner” by Mark Oshiro. Sofia is dying to have her new friend Angie over for dinner, but it’s an enormous, terrifying step for Sofia’s parents—they haven’t had someone like Angie in the house before. It’s only recently that the new Accords make it possible, but it’s still risky. Sofia is determined, though. This one was really well-written, unfolding little snips of the mystery (why is this dinner such a big deal?) at just the right times. I do think it could have gone into a little more detail when things became more clear, though, but that wasn’t the really important thing. I liked that Angie had two dads, too.
“The Golem and the Mapmaker” by Molly Ostertag. The golem—who presents as female in the graphic novel format—has been tasked with bringing the princess to marry the emperor. The princess would rather travel the world. But the golem cannot escape her commands…can she? This was sweet, and if it was predictable, it’s the nice kind of predictable.
“The Wish and the Wind Dragon” by Katherine Locke. Jupiter is the child of pirates, and has grown up on their ship. Now, though, they are becalmed and Jupiter is desperate to get back to their home islands and see their sister again. So Jupiter sends off a wish for a wind dragon, who could blow them back home. Will it work? I like the world building in this one, and would like to read more set in that world—to learn more about the dragons and why they respond to wishes. Good descriptions.
“Splinter and Ash” by Marieke Nijkamp. After Splinter’s parents died and their uncle became their guardian, he hid Splinter’s wooden swords and forced Splinter back into hated dresses. When Splinter is forced to go to the ball for the crown princess to represent the family, their best friend Camille suggests wearing Splinter’s brother’s squire armor—which Splinter does, since it’s a masked ball. Escaping the crowds at the ball, Splinter meets a girl on crutches in the gardens; she’s also escaping the crowds, and they decide to spend the time together. This is another fairly predictable one, but it’s nice to have one in which what would usually be a bad ending—were this a more real-life situation—doesn’t have to be. Good descriptions and world building.
“Menudo Fan Club” by Aida Salazar. In verse. What do you do when your best friend—who you wish would like you as more than a best friend—starts a boyband fanclub? Do you join and pretend you like the terrible lyrics and boys who do nothing for you in terms of attraction? This one was sad and believable—so many kids must hide what they feel, and when their hearts are broken.
“Stacey’s Mom” by Nicole Melleby. Abigail fell in love with Stacey’s mom when she was five, and Stacey’s mom put a bandaid on her skinned knee. Now in middle school, she’s still in love with Stacey’s mom, but it’s a big secret. Abigail loves gossip, and has always been one of those eager to talk about the latest scandal at school, and whisper and laugh about whoever is the target of it, until it becomes her. This is a good lesson for kids about empathy, if a bit didactic. Abigail doesn’t exactly get off easy, but it could have been worse. The reference to the song did make me laugh!
“Sylvie and Jenna” by Ashley Herring-Blake. In one fell swoop, a mean girl in 2nd grade trashed the rest of Sylvie’s elementary school years by giving her a mean nickname after an unfortunate incident in which the young Sylvie wet herself. The nickname—and the friendlessness—stuck around until Sylvie got a fresh start in middle school, and also came out (she has queer parents, so it was a happy event). Now there’s a new, super-cute girl in school, Jenna, but Sylvie can’t seem to get her attention. But will she really want to, after learning Jenna’s history? This captures so well the pain of elementary school meanness, and how it sticks with you for years, as well as the heady days of middle school when you have crush after crush. It does have some food for thought—would readers react the same way as Sylvie, on learning the truth about Jenna?
The Purr-cle of Life by Alex Gino: Lol, the first story already made me cry, so cute, so sweet. Loved it. 4.5 Stars
Girl’s Best Friend by Lisa Jenn Bigelow: Things happened way too quick. I love a cute queer witch story, but I don’t know if this was the one for me. 2 Stars
The Makeover by Shing Yin Khor: This was really sweet and funny! And they like to thrift!!! <3 So cute. 4 Stars
Paper Planes by Claribel A. Ortega: These stories have no right to make me cry this much. 4.5 Stars
Petra and Pearl by Lisa Bunker: Great trans rep, great discussions, more tears. 4 Stars
I Know the Way by Justina Ireland: Yeahhh I didn’t like this one. Too much going on not enough time to develop it all. 2 Stars
Balancing Acts by A.J. Sass: Being a gymnast, any story about gymnastics is an immediate turn off for me. But other than that, this story had a really good commentary on trans and non-binary kids in sports. And neo pronoun representation. 3 Stars
Come Out, Come Out Whenever You Are by Eric Bell: This was really funny and really well written. 3.5 Stars
Devoyn’s Pod by Mariama J. Lockington: We love some strong queer black women. 3 Stars
Guess What’s Coming To Dinner by Mark Oshiro: Very Cute. 3 Stars
The Golem and The Mapmaker by Molly Knox Ostertag: I don’t get it. 2 Stars
The Wish and the Wind Dragon by Katherine Locke: It was fine. 2.5 Stars
Splinter and Ash by Marieke Nijkamp: Tears. 3.5 Stars
Menudo Fan Club by Aida Salazar: good, one of the sadder stories. 3 Stars
Stacy’s Mom by Nicole Melleby: Those last lines> 3.25 Stars
Sylvie and Jenna by Ashley Herring Blake: Queer Middle Grade Queen right here finishing it off. 3.5 Stars.
Oh, this book was just absolutely incredible! I loved every second that I was reading this book and just didn't want to put it down because I wanted to read more and more of it.
All of the main characters in this book were absolutely blooming brilliant and all so unique. I just adored reading all of their stories and seeing such a wide amount of representation for the LGBTQ+ spectrum aimed at children. I honestly don't think I could choose a favourite because they were all so good! On a more serious note, it was just amazing to see the representation in these characters for children because for LGBTQ+ kids this book is going to be so important. Plus, it's all framed within some wonderful worlds and stories.
The plots of all of the stories were just brilliant and heartwarming and I just finished each story with a warm fuzzy feeling in my chest because they were all so good and sweet and perfect. They were all so amazing and I liked how we got a mix of fantasy and contemporary and even a tad of historical fiction in there. It was just so great seeing all of the representation fitting so well into these stories because they were absolutely incredible and so well written.
Speaking of the writing, all of the stories were so well written and I just think that all of the authors included in this book deserve as much praise as they are going to get for this brilliant anthology. I cannot wait for kids to read this book!!
This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us is an anthology of sixteen entries co-edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby. These sixteen entries by celebrated authors of literature for young people center the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in pivotal moments of childhood and adolescence.
For the most part, this collection of short stories was written and constructed extremely well – it is far from perfect, but comes rather close. Editors and contributors Locke and Melleby assemble the works of sixteen authors and artists whose pieces present a wide range of LGBTQ experiences across genres and formats. Thirteen short stories, two comics, and one written in verse encompass this anthology of diversity. The result is a strong amalgam of confidently written portraits that consider the joys, pains, and complexities that can come with being young and queer.
Like most anthologies there are weaker contributions, but This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us may be the rare exception. Many of the protagonists feel a budding desire for close connection and they overcome self-doubt to reach for it. Not every infatuation works out, and sometimes feelings get hurt, but these outcomes lean toward recovery and personal growth while validating the sadness of loneliness. This collection breaks free from the dichotomy of representing LGBTQ+ lives as total tragedy or one-true-love, happily-ever-after coming-out stories.
All in all, This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us is a vital and liberating anthology perfect for middle graders.
This was such a good and interesting book. Picking it up I didn’t realize it was Middle grade and it was a nice surprise. I wish I had a book like this as a kid. But I wasn’t the target audience and I could feel it.
There was a lot of representation and many views on different topics that I think everyone should be educated about.
Normally, when rating anthologies I write a sentence review for every story and rate them individually. I don’t want to do this here though, because I think every story was valid and deserves a chance of being discovered.
In our current age of "Don't Say Gay" and "The only two genders allowed are GUNS and PINK" it was a genuine balm for the soul to read a bunch of stories about all kinds of queer kids.
I appreciate this book a lot for what it's doing, and for giving a positive spotlight to young members of the LGBTQIAP2+ community. Because…they exist! And they're great! I'm so glad that kids have stories like this in which to see themselves or their friends represented, and so they can know that they aren't alone, and that if they live in a state where politicians are literally trying to make it a crime for their parents to love and care for them, they can see that a different and better world is possible, and that they belong in it.
Unsurprisingly, my favorite story was Sylvie and Jenna, by queer MG queen Ashley Herring Blake. I also really enjoyed Petra and Pearl by Lisa Bunker and Devoyn's Pod by Mariama J. Lockington. (Though there was a moment of kind of acephobia or at least ace-ignorance in that one, which was disappointing, especially because one element of the acronym which isn't really represented explicitly in any of the stories was aro/aces. I saw a couple reviews positing that an MC in one of the stories was ace, but as an ace reader, she didn't come across that way to me at all. I'm not saying in any way that a 12 or 13 year old can't be ace, but a kid that age not having sexual feelings yet is also totally normal and doesn't necessarily mean they're ace.) Most of the rest of the stories were sweet and enjoyable too.
There were a few sour notes for me, though. I had a LOT of issues with I Know the Way by Justina Ireland. Having a white girl essentially whitesplain why cultural appropriation of Black hair is bad to a Black girl was super weird. I know the author is also Black, but that was just…strange. But also, I felt like she was trying to draw a comparison between the two timelines, which in the present involve a girl wanting to tell another girl she likes her, and in the past, involves SLAVES RUNNING AWAY FROM A PLANTATION AND WITNESSING OTHER SLAVES BEING HANGED. Like………..you're seriously analogizing these things? And then the girls end up kissing on the bridge where the slaves had been hanged during the Civil War? Just…no. That one was a whole mess.
I also thought a few stories were just way too short and kind of felt aimless, like Menudo Fan Club by Aida Salazar and The Golem and the Mapmaker by Molly Knox Ostertag. Also, zombies show up in one story and I was like, what the entire fuck.
But overall I do think this is a valuable collection and I'm sure the target audience would get a lot of joy and comfort from it. And I'm sure its existence makes MTG and DeSantis big mad and that's always a good thing.
I read this over a few months, occasionally reading one of the short stories as a bedtime story.
I feel like overall, there wasn't one that I loved above all others and that really stood out to me, but there also weren't any I disliked. There was truly a lot of variety in sexuality and gender identity, as well as in other identities and in genres, but they were all appropriate for late elementary or middle schoolers. As ever, I wish books like that had existed when I was a child, but I'm grateful these books exist for kids today.
Thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. Here is that review:
The world needs more middle grade (and YA!) short story collections, and this is an action-packed anthology filled with well known writers and important topics. As is made obvious by the title, cover, and content, the running motif is LGBTQIA+, and there is quite a variety when it comes to the presentation of these characters and the events they experience.
Like the vast majority of anthologies, there are some stories that are standout stars and others that are good or really good. On the upside, for me, there aren't any obvious extras here, but I think everyone will have their favorites. Among mine are the installments from Ashley Herring Blake (a consistent five-star writer for me, so no surprise), Mark Oshiro (I loved this twist), Justina Ireland (I loved the structure of this piece), and A. J. Sass (who brings in one of the stronger character displays + context). I really enjoyed every piece in the collection, but these are the ones I think I'll remember the clearest (and will reference in my recommendations to students).
I am loving the recent influx of story collections in middle grade and YA. There is a wide audience for this one, and folks looking to expand their young readers' (or their own) repertoire in genre and motif need look no further. Recommended.
ADORABLE! I love the range of stories in this anthology, as well as the range of genders and identities represented. Yeah, they have a token cis gay boy, but there's so much more. :)
Lisa Jenn Bigelow's story about a dog witch is ESPECIALLY adorable. Plus, stories with dragons, requited love, unrequited love, and more. Special love for Nicole Melleby's piece, "Stacy's Mom." I mean, c'mon!
And from Shin Yin Khor's graphic (as in picture-based, people!) story, the line Re: skirts, "being nonbinary does not mean you have to look like you eight-year-old brother. Unless you want that look."
What an incredible era we're in for children's literature, to have an uplifting and informational anthology for LGBT kids of all kinds. This Is Our Rainbow brings so many influential and bestselling authors into one book, one of hope, camaraderie, and spirit. Friendships, family, identity, and first crushes are all focal points in this collection, just as they are in real life. A must-have for personal and professional libraries.
This book made my kid so happy, I just had to read it for myself. I loved the warmth and joy and the fact that each story treated its younger characters and all their different identities, crushes, and experiences with such care and respect. I asked my kid how many copies we should buy as gifts and they said, “ALL of them!”
I'm so glad that This Is Our Rainbow exists for middle grade readers to see a variety . That alone deserves five stars. In terms of my own personal enjoyment, this was a solid 3 stars. Anthologies are always a mixed bag, and I trend toward the ambivalent side when it comes to short stories unless something really wows me. But at the same time, I really love picking up anthologies and I keep doing it even when I inevitably rate them 3 stars. Oh, well. Something I really appreciated about this anthology was the even mix of contemporary stories for readers to relate to versus fantastical ones for readers to escape into. I would have appreciated seeing some specified ace and m-spec rep, and for all the sapphic rep I don't recall the word "lesbian" ever actually being used. Also I'm just realizing that there wasn't much mlm rep-- only one story has a boy main character. My favorite story of the bunch was Balancing Acts by A.J. Sass.
🏳️🌈 The Purr-cle of Life by Alex Gino ★★★☆☆ 🙌 Rep: nonbinary (they/them) 🙅♀️ TW: pet death A sad but uplifting story about how pets are a comfort during the difficult times of our lives.
🏳️🌈 Girl's Best Friend by Lisa Jenn Bigelow ★★☆☆☆ 🙌 Rep: queerplatonic crush (i.e. "squish") 🙅♀️ TW: mention of domestic abuse, deception and invasion of privacy I really liked the exploration of a squish (platonic crush), but the storyline involving the MC disguising herself in order to trick her squish into being vulnerable skeeved me out. The MC realizes she was wrong and apologizes in the end, but still not fun to read.
🏳️🌈 The Makeover by Shing Yin Khor ★★★☆☆ 🙌 Rep: nonbinary (they/them), transgender girl 🙅♀️ TW: mention of beating up bullies who misgender Super fun short comic about friendship and experimenting with your gender expression. Some stilted dialogue.
🏳️🌈 Paper Planes by Claribel Ortega ★★☆☆☆ (2.5) 🙌 Rep: wlw, gay, drag queen, discussion of nonbinary gender 🙅♀️ TW: mention of past toxic relationship, racism and anti-immigrant sentiment A pinch of magical realism accompanies this story of a twelve-year-old who's tired of being the English translator for her ESL family, and uses her gift of letter-sending through paper planes to become friends with the drag queen who just moved in across the street. I like the idea of this story but the writing didn't work for me.
🏳️🌈 Petra & Pearl by Lisa Bunker ★★★☆☆ 🙌 Rep: trans girls 🙅♀️ TW: bullying, coming out themes, threat of being kicked out Two trans girls connecting online find in each other the truth about themselves. This was sweet but over too quickly; I wanted to know more.
🏳️🌈 I Know the Way by Justina Ireland ★★☆☆☆ 🙌 Rep: Black, wlw 🙅♀️ TW: slavery, mention of lynching, mention of flogging Parallel stories about two young enslaved girls hatching a plan to run away from the plantation, and two modern-day girls visiting that plantation on a school field trip. Eh. The characters weren't well developed, and I didn't appreciate the ghost bait-and-switch.
🏳️🌈 Balancing Acts by A. J. Sass ★★★★☆ 🙌 Rep: nonbinary (e/em/eir) 🙅♀️ TW: misgendering (corrected) A former gymnast reflects glumly on eir departure from a sport that is divided into boys' and girls' teams, but then discovers an intriguing gender-neutral alternative. I really liked this one! Kai's characterization felt very strong.
🏳️🌈 Come Out, Come Out Whenever You Are by Eric Bell ★☆☆☆☆ 🙌 Rep: gay, nonbinary (they/them) 🙅♀️ TW: homophobia, bullying A gay middle schooler who has been accidentally outed to his bully wishes he could turn back time, and becomes stuck in a time loop. Did not vibe at all with the writing in this one, and the story itself is very typical without bringing anything new or interesting to the table.
🏳️🌈 Devoyn's Pod by Mariama J. Lockington ★★★★☆ (3.5) 🙌 Rep: wlw, Black 🙅♀️ TW: mention of racism Devoyn, Ella, and Marcel have always been a trio, but when El and Marcel start dating, Dev must examine her complicated feelings and figure out how to adjust to a new status quo. This was very cute, but I wish I knew what happened next! Dev, El and Marcel's relationship feels prime for a poly triad. I love how all the marine biology facts related to the story.
🏳️🌈 Guess What's Coming to Dinner by Mark Oshiro ★★★☆☆ 🙌 Rep: Latinx, wlw, mlm 🙅♀️ TW: Sofia's new friend and crush is coming over for dinner, and she wants everything to be perfect... but cultural differences could be tricky to navigate. I was so confused for most of this haha, but it was pretty cute!
🏳️🌈 The Golem and the Mapmaker by Molly Knox Ostertag ★★★☆☆ 🙌 Rep: wlw? 🙅♀️ TW: arranged marriage, forced servitude A Golem is tasked with escorting a princess to her future husband's palace for their wedding, but the journey brings them closer to each other than expected. Molly Knox Ostertag's artwork is always adorable!
🏳️🌈 The Wish & the Wind Dragon by Katherine Locke ★★★☆☆ 🙌 Rep: nonbinary (they/them), wlw 🙅♀️ TW: When Jupiter's family's ship stalls in a windless ocean, threatening to make them miss their family reunion, they wish for a Wind Dragon to blow them on their way. This was a sweet, low-stakes fantasy.
🏳️🌈 Splinter & Ash by Marieke Nijkamp ★★★☆☆ 🙌 Rep: nonbinary, disability (crutches), trans boy 🙅♀️ TW: parent death, abuse, bullying, implied sexual assault A cute Cinderella retelling in which a nonbinary orphan named Splinter joins forces with the disabled princess to fight bullies.
🏳️🌈 Menudo Fan Club by Aida Salazar ★★☆☆☆ 🙌 Rep: wlw 🙅♀️ TW: D's best friend Camila starting drifting away when she changed schools and started liking boys, and if D has to fake an interest in the boy band Menudo to be friends again she will. I've saidbefore that Aida Salazar's verse doesn't work for me, and that was the case here as well.
🏳️🌈 Stacy's Mom by Nicole Melleby ★★★☆☆ 🙌 Rep: wlw 🙅♀️ TW: homophobia, shunning Abigail becomes the target of gossip at her small Catholic middle school when her crush on Stacy's mom is revealed, but she might also have made a new friend.
🏳️🌈 Sylvie & Jenna by Ashley Herring Blake ★★☆☆☆ 🙌 Rep: wlw 🙅♀️ TW: bullying, parent death, peeing your pants in public The cute new girl at school turns out to be Sylvie's childhood bully. There was nothing wrong with this short story, so I honestly don't know why I found it so mind-numbingly boring.
Average rating: 2.69 stars
Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
What a fabulous short story collection! There’s tons of fabulous representation in this book and every reader will find at least one (but likely many) stories that they’ll love. Stories span all genres (including realistic, fantasy, novel in verse, graphic, and even realistic with historical flashbacks) and include plenty of representation of trans, non-binary, gay, bisexual, and queer kids from different backgrounds (one story has a character who uses eir/e pronouns).
From a coming out do-over (and over and over thanks to a time glitch) to a transgender girl getting support from an online friend, to a fabulous graphic queer makeover at a thrift shop, characters are depicted bravely stepping into their queer identity and claiming space for themselves. I especially loved the way this book represents lots of different ways of being queer and experiencing queer identity – not all stories are about one aspect of queer identity like coming out and some stories don’t center on sexuality or queer identity at all. The list of participating authors is a who’s who of queer middle grade authors including Alex Gino (Melissa, and Rick), Molly Knox Ostertag (Witch Boy series), Ashley Herring Blake (Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World), A.J. Sass (Ana on the Edge) and Nicole Melleby (In the Role of Brie Hutchins). All participating authors identify as queer (several hadn’t written books with queer books prior to this collection so that’s cool!).
Overall, this is a refreshing, affirming collection of stories for the middle grade reader who is queer, questioning, or ally.