By Michael Tolkien

An adaptation in narrative verse of a children’s fantasy tale, ‘The Other Side of the Rainbow’ (1910) by Florence Bone (1875–1971), ‘Rainbow’ presents a series of magical adventures that lead the heroine and us to a greater sense of wonder about the living world.

Hardback, 182 Pages


March 2013

£12.99, $19.99

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About This Book

Grace is fascinated by the natural world. To increase this precious sense of wonder she is chosen by Nature’s spirit guides and guardians to travel on ‘a funny sometimes fearful journey’ with an amethyst stone as her guide and promise of help along the way. Creatures she expects to assist her are too self-important. Her allies are small, often overlooked plants, flowers and insects. Her main goal seems to be discovering what lies in and beyond the rainbow, but her adventures bring her only slowly nearer to its mysterious garden, bridge and palace. Everything appears to be a long way round. She decides to assist a lost, bitter boy – Downcast Don – to rediscover ‘wonder’ by obtaining for him a specially made silver spade. This takes her through strange and fearful forests, down a well to find an underground forge, and into an overwhelming encounter with an ancient giantess in a bleak desert. Her chief guide, Heartsease, assures her that it’s all part of a search for rainbow wisdom, to recognise the importance of all things and people and to accept ‘not knowing’. She can then ascend the ‘Shining Stairway’ to a stranger country beyond.

Up here Grace is nearer the rainbow but time and distance play tricks and she is in danger of being sidetracked. A knight, Sir Cloudy, a kind dreamer who lives in a time warp, invites her to his ‘Castle in the Air’. Just short of the rainbow garden she is deceived by a Menace and his monstrous Mother, and only just escapes their clutches. The promised places are beautiful and intriguing but she must learn about what lies under the surface. The palace that crowns the bow bridge is where the guides and guardians weave their many-coloured tapestries that reveal perspectives and choices about the future. When Grace descends the vanishing rainbow steps she meets characters who have made her journey so instructive, and once back in the everyday world she is still herself but somehow more so because she can see and understand more acutely.


‘“Rainbow” is delightful, delicate, and imaginative, just like the illustrations by Maureen Ward. Its story, though featuring Grace and her many exciting adventures, is just as much about the readers, as it strives to teach them to also wonder about the world and to seek their own adventures. Those who have wonder, explains “Rainbow”, never grow old.’ —‘Rainbow by Michael Tolkien’, review at Pages Unbound

Author Information

Born in Birmingham in 1943, Michael Tolkien grew up in South Oxfordshire and North Yorkshire. He studied classics and English at St Andrews and Oxford. He has lived in Rutland since 1968 and was a secondary school teacher until early retirement in 1994. Since 1998 his verse has been published in two booklets and five full collections, most recently in 2012. His work has been widely and favourably reviewed. Two of his major themes are deceptive appearances and the conflict of active and contemplative approaches to life. This is also apparent in his recent narrative verse adaptations of Florence Bone’s now largely forgotten fantasy fiction for children.


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