Cover image for Weaving the rainbow
Weaving the rainbow
Lyon, George Ella, 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
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.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.7 0.5 77405.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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.

Author Notes

George Ella Lyon was born on April 25, 1949, in Harlan, Kentucky. She is an author who has published in many genre, including picture books, poetry, juvenile novels and articles. Her books often take place in Appalachia. She earned her B.A. at Centre College in Kentucky in 1971, her M.A. at the University of Arkansas in 1972 and her PhD at Indiana University - Bloomington in 1978.

She first published in 1983, a poetry collection called Mountain. Aside from publishing, she also taught writing at a number of colleges, including the University of Kentucky, Centre College, Transylvania University, and Radford University. She has also acted as an executive committee member for the Women Writers Conference. She has also taught writing through workshops, conferences, and author visits.

Her titles include Father Time and the Day Boxes, Sonny's House of Spies, Holding on to Zoe, All the Water in the World, With a Hammer for My Heart, and Where I'm From: Where Poems Come From. In 2014 her title Voices from the March on Washington made the Hot Civil Rights Titles List.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

K-Gr. 2. Though its title seems fanciful, this meditative picture book tells a realistic story of a textile artist who spins wool from her own flock of sheep, boils the yarn with dyes extracted by hand, then weaves it, doing with wool what painters do with paint. Even city slickers will be fascinated by Lyon's lyrical yet concrete descriptions of the multistep process: how at shearing time the wool comes off in one piece, sheep-shape ; how dying wool is like dying Easter eggs. Anderson's soft-focus watercolors capture the beauty and serenity of the artist's pastoral surroundings, and, impressively, the nubbly textures of the finished tapestry. Though this title does not fill any obvious niche, the plentiful, winsome, snowy sheep and satisfying start-to-finish story arc have intrinsic appeal. Elementary-school art teachers may find it especially useful for introducing kids to less-common forms of creative expression and for communicating a gentle message about the rewards of patient labor. --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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 (c) 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 (c) 2004 by George Ella Lyon Excerpted from Weaving the Rainbow by George Ella Lyon, Stephanie Anderson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.