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THE COLORS OF THE RAIN
By: Toalson, R. L.
Middle Grade, Forthcoming 2018
THE COLORS OF THE RAIN by R.L. Toalson is a historical middle grade novel in verse set against the backdrop of the desegregation battles that took place in Houston, Texas in 1972. It is a heartbreaking portrait of loss and human connection during an era fraught with racial tension, written in the style of Karen Hesse’s OUT OF THE DUST, Katherine Applegate’s HOME OF THE BRAVE, and A.L. Sonnichsen’s RED BUTTERFLY.
10-year-old Paulie hates his name because it also belonged to his daddy. He and his 12-year-old sister Charlie are being kept home from school indefinitely because their mama can’t cope after their daddy died. Paulie hates his daddy because he killed a man and then crashed a car, and caused Paulie to lose all his friends in one fell swoop. Now Paulie’s trying to figure out how to be a boy without a daddy—and trying to understand why everyone in his small Southern town looks at him like he doesn’t belong anymore.
Charlie and Paulie move in with their Aunt Bee because their mama can't take care of them anymore, and agree to make a new start at the elementary school where Aunt Bee is a principal. Except it's 1972 and going to a different school puts them right into the middle of the Houston School District’s 1972 war on desegregation. This new school raises significant questions for Paulie. He heard his daddy's crime was a race related one: Big Paul killed a white man defending a black one. And when Paulie picks a fight with a black boy at his school, he must face why he does it.
Then Paulie’s art teacher invites him to collaborate on a beautification project at the school which reveals some more secrets that Paulie never knew about—Paulie's daddy was an artist, and his Aunt Bee is one too. But when his granddad has a heart attack and winds up in the hospital, dark family secrets from years of unspoken prejudice are revealed. The way forward will change the way Paulie thinks about family forever.