Sewing the Rainbow

By Gayle E. Pitman, Illustrations by Holly Clifton-Brown

Gilbert loved visiting his grandmother’s clothing store. He’d sit next to her while she sewed and drew beautiful gowns and costumes. Gilbert dreamed of someday bringing these drawings to life. But one day, his father took away his art supplies and tore up his drawings. Surrounded by building blocks and Erector sets, sports gear and slingshots, Gilbert’s colorful, sparkly, glittery personality started to fade, and he, too, became gray and dull and flat, just like the Kansas landscape. “When I grow up,” he dreamed, “I’ll go somewhere that’s filled with color.”

Gilbert Baker always knew he wanted a life full of color and sparkle. In his small, gray, flat Kansas hometown, he helped his grandma sew and created his own art whenever he could. It wasn’t easy; life tried over and over again to make Gilbert conform. But his sparkle always shone through. He dreamed of someday going somewhere as vibrant and colorful as he was.

Set against the backdrop of San Francisco during the gay rights movement of the 1970s, Gilbert’s story unfolds just like the flag he created: in a riot of color, joy, and pride. Today the flag is everywhere, even in the small town where Gilbert grew up!

Includes a Reader Note that provides more in-depth discussion of the beginnings of the gay rights movement and a more detailed look into Gilbert Baker's place in our shared history.

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