Rainbow Book List

2009 Rainbow Book List

Posted by: John on: February 2, 2009

Introduction to 2009 Rainbow Book List

The Rainbow Project is proud to announce the 2009 Rainbow Book List, a joint undertaking of the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table and Social Responsibilities Round Table. Featuring well-written and/or well-illustrated titles with authentic and significant gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered/queer/questioning (GLBTQ) content for youth from birth through age 18, this year’s bibliography presents 34 outstanding titles, published in the last eighteen months and representing a broad range of GLBTQ experience.

The 2009 Rainbow List includes titles from 26 publishers/imprints and 36 authors and illustrators. Of the authors, five are offering their first published novels or picture books, and seven are published for the first time by major presses. Most books on the 2009 Rainbow Book List are recommended for teens, including four titles published for adults. Two picture books, two middle-grade novels, two graphic books (a novel and a biography), one short story collection, one translation, and five nonfiction titles are represented.

Coming-out stories have consistently made up a large part of GLBTQ literature, as have “problem novels” populated by characters defined by orientation. But the books on this year’s Rainbow Book List go much farther by offering young readers rich characters embodying the full spectrum of youth and family experience. Primary characters are gay, lesbian, transgendered, questioning, and straight, and they grapple with varying degrees of acceptance and prejudice from their friends, families, and communities, as well as from themselves.

Four titles stood out to the selection committee as especially deserving of recognition for their characters, stories, and quality of writing and/or illustration:

  • Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole (first novel),
  • 10,000 Dresses, written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Rex Ray (first picture book),
  • Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon, and
  • Skim by Mariko Tamaki (text) and Jillian Tamaki (artwork)

We applaud these and all of the other recommended authors and illustrators, alongside their editors and publishers, for producing works that can be held up as examples of excellence in glbtq literature for young people.

We are pleased to introduce such an extensive collection of quality titles which can be recommended and offered to young readers and their families with confidence, and we are certain that in coming years an increasing number of exceptional titles will be available to younger readers and pre-readers.

2009 Rainbow Project Members: John Andrews, Washoe County Library System (Reno, NV); Helma Hawkins, Kansas City Public Library (Kansas City, MO);  K.T. Horning, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI); Arla Jones, Lawrence High School (Lawrence, KS); Natalie Kendall, Greeley Elementary School (Chicago, IL);  Sharon Senser McKellar, Oakland Public Library (Oakland, CA); Michael Santangelo, Brooklyn Public Library (Brooklyn, NY); Victor Schill, Harris County Public Library (Houston, TX); Nel Ward, Chair (Newport, OR); and Christie Gibrich, Assistant to the Rainbow List for Public Relations and Support, Grand Prairie Public Library System (Grand Prairie, TX).

Rainbow Book List

An entry beginning with an asterisk (*) indicates the book was found to be exceptional and highly recommended.

Picture Books

Brannen, Sarah. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding. 2008. 32p. Putnam, $15.99. (978-0-399-24712-5). PreS-Gr. 2. Chloe’s concerns about her uncle’s upcoming wedding have nothing to do with the fact that his partner is male; instead, like a typical preschooler, she worries that she will lose her favorite uncle’s attention.

* Ewert, Marcus. 10,000 Dresses. Illustrated by Rex Ray. 2008. 32p. Seven Stories Press, $14.95. (978-1583228500). PreS-Gr. 2. Bailey dreams of wearing beautiful dresses, but her family disapproves of her understanding of her true self.

Middle / Early Young Adult


Bauer, A.C.E. No Castles Here. October 2007. 270p. Random House, $15.99 (Trade); $18.99 (Lib. Binding) (978-0-375-83921-4; 978-0-375-93921-1). Gr. 5-7. A book of fairy tales, participation in a school chorus, and a gay Big Brother combine to give 11-year-old Augie the confidence he needs to become an activist.

Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac & D Foster. 2008. 153p. Putnam, $15.99. (978-0-399- 24654-8). Gr. 5-8. Eleven-year-old D Foster completes a trio of friends who share a passion for the music of Tupac Shakur as they deal with discrimination directed toward the gay brother of one of the trio.

Young Adult


Bach, Tamara. Girl from Mars. Translated by Shelley Tanaka. 2008. 180p. Groundwood Books, $12.95. (978-0-88899-725-8). Gr. 7-10. At fifteen, Miriam’s life in a small German town lacks excitement and meaning until she meets Laura and begins to discover how full her life already is.

Brothers, Meagan. Debbie Harry Sings in French. 2008. 240p. Henry Holt, $16.95. (9780805080803/1-8050-8080-5). Gr. 8-12. Johnny is pretty sure he isn’t gay, but he’s not quite sure what it means that he wants to be Debbie Harry, to dress like her, have hair like hers, and to hang out with drag queens.

Cohn, Rachel, and David Levithan. Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List. August 2007. 230p. Knopf, $16.99 (Trade); $19.99 (Lib. Binding); $8.99 (pbk.). (978-0-375-84440-9; 9780375944406; 9780375844416). Gr. 9-12. Witty, urbane Naomi, age 19, finally comes to terms with being hopelessly in love with her gay best friend, Ely, even after she learns he is sleeping with her boyfriend.

* Dole, Mayra Lazara. Down to the Bone. 2008. 367p. HarperTeen. $16.99 (Trade); $17.89 (Lib. Binding). (978-0-06-084310-6; 978-0-06-084311-3). Gr. 8-12. After sixteen-year-old Laura is outed at school, kicked out of her home, and rejected by her girlfriend, she finds herself and her community in this hilarious debut novel with an all-Latino cast.

Dunnion, Kristyn. Big Big Sky. 2008. 244p. Red Deer Press, $14.95. (978-0-88995-404-5). Gr. 10-12. When a pod of five young well-trained female warrior assassins starts falling apart, each must show her strength in the outside real world to avoid being captured and unplugged.

Ford, Michael Thomas. Suicide Notes. 2008. 295p. HarperTeen, $16.99 (Trade); $17.89 (Lib. Binding). (978-0-06-073755-9; 978-0-06-073756-6). (978-0-06-073755-9). Gr. 9-11. After he wakes up in a psychiatric hospital, 15-year-old Jeff describes the events that led up to his attempted suicide and how his life is changed during his 45-day stay.

Geerling, Marjetta. Fancy White Trash. 2008. 257p. Viking, $16.99. (978-0-670-01082-0). Gr. 9-11. Fifteen-year-old Abby struggles with her highly dysfunctional family while her best friend Cody deals with the challenges of coming out to himself and his friends.

Goldman, Steven. Two Parties, One Tux, and a Very Short Film about the Grapes of Wrath. 2008. 272p. Bloomsbury, $16.99. (978-1-59990-271-5). Gr. 8-10. Eleventh-grader Mitchell’s life suddenly changes when his best friend David comes out of the closet.

Grant, Stephanie. Map of Ireland. 2008. 197p. Scribner, $22.00. (978-1-4165-5622-0/ 1-4165-5622-2). Gr. 10-12. Ann’s junior year is complicated by the forced busing of Black children to her formerly all-white high school, forcing Ann to deal with her racist environment while coping with being a lesbian in an inter-racial relationship.

Hardy, Mark. Nothing Pink. 2008. 109p. Front Street/Boyds Mills Press, $16.95. (978-1-932425-24-6). Gr. 8-10. Tormented with thoughts about his own homosexuality, Vincent, son of a Pentacostal preacher, fights his impulses until he meets Robert, a church friend, who is much more accepting.

* Harmon, Michael. Last Exit to Normal. 2008. 275p. Knopf, $15.99. (978-037584-982). Gr. 9-11. Ben and his two dads move to rural Montana where Ben absolutely does not fit in and finds it harder to deal with having two dads than he did in their previous urban home.

Hegamin, Tonya Cherie. M+O 4EVR. 2008. 165p. Houghton Mifflin, $16.00. (978-0-618-49570-2). Gr. 7-10. After the death of Marianne, Opal’s best friend, and more, Opal deals with her loss through the life of Hannah, a runaway slave who died in 1842.

Juby, Susan. Another Kind of Cowboy. December 2007. 344p. HarperTeen, $16.99 (Trade); $17.89 (Lib. Binding). (978-0-06-076517-0; 9780060765187). Gr. 8-10. Sixteen, gay, and closeted, Alex has dreamed of riding dressage since childhood, although his father wants him to be a “real” cowboy.

Kluger, Steve. My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park. 2008. 403p. Dial, $16.99. (978-0803732278). Gr. 8-10. Three high school friends, including a fun, proud, and just about out-of-the-closet gay young man, tell about their ‘excellent’ ninth-grade year.

Konigsberg, Bill. Out of the Pocket. 2008. 264p. Dutton, $16.99. (9780525479963). Gr. 9-11. Bobby’s skills as a top high-school quarterback also serve him well off the field when he is outed in the school newspaper and deals with the consequences in an honest and realistic way.

Levithan, David. How They Met, and Other Stories. 2008. 256p. Knopf, $16.99 (Trade); $19.99 (Lib. Binding). (978-0375848865; 9780375948862). Gr. 9-11. Find the answer to “what is love?” in this diverse collection of short stories.

Lieberman, Leanne. Gravity. 2008. 245p. Orca, $12.95. (978-1-55469-049-7). Gr. 9-11. Brought up as a strict Orthodox Jew to believe that homosexuality is an abomination, 15-year-old Ellie struggles with her sexual feelings for another girl.

McMahon, Jennifer. My Tiki Girl. 2008. 246p. Dutton, $16.99. (978-0-525-47943-7). Gr. 9-11. After once-popular Maggie, 15, is left with an injured leg after a car accident that kills her mother, she finds solace with Dahlia, the new girl at school, and her unconventional family, including a mentally-ill mother.

Penny, Patricia G. Belinda’s Obsession. [Not Just Proms & Parties series]. September 2007. 134p. Lobster Press, $7.95. (978-1-897073-62-9). Gr. 7-10. After she discovers that her mother is having an affair, Belinda’s obsession with saving her parents’ marriage damages her growing relationship with her last summer’s fling, Candace.

Rosen, Selina. Sword Masters. 2008. 313p. Dragon Moon Press, $19.95. (978-1-896944-65-4). Gr. 9-12. Determined to avenge her father’s death, Tarius pretends to be male and non-Katabull to study with the Sword Masters but finds more than she bargained for when she falls in love with the headmaster’s daughter, Jena, who thinks that Tarius is a man.

Rud, Jeff. Crossover. 2008. 170p. Orca, $9.95. (978-1-55143-981-5). Gr. 7-10. Sixteen-year-old Kyle gets caught in the middle between his basketball team and drama club when he opts to join both and re-establishes an old friendship with Luke, who is the frequent target of gay-baiting.

Ruditis, Paul. Entrances and Exits. [Drama series]. 2008. 242p. Simon Pulse, $8.99. (978-1-4169-5906-9). Gr. 7-10. A first time director and high school junior, Bryan has to learn to cope with a temperamental playwright, the leading actress’s jealous boyfriend, competition from a new girl on the drama scene, and his yearnings for Drew, his ex-best friend who kissed him and then ran.

* Tamaki, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. Skim. 2008. 140p. Groundwood Books, $15.00. (0888997531/9780888997531). Gr. 9-12. Would-be Wiccan and goth Skim, aka Kimberly Keiko Cameron, is revealed in this graphic novel as a sometimes target for the popular students at her all-girls private school in Toronto, where she falls in love with her English teacher Ms. Archer.

Wilson, Martin. What They Always Tell Us. 2008. 293p. Delacorte, $15.99. (9780385735070). Gr. 9-11. Isolated and unsure of his place in his family and at school after an attempted suicide Alex is encouraged to try out for cross-country by his brother’s friend, Nathen, and discovers more than just a supportive teammate.

Wittlinger, Ellen. Love & Lies: Marisol’s Story. 2008. 256p. Simon & Schuster, $16.00. (1416916237) (978-1416916239). Gr. 9-11. When Marisol takes a year off between high school and college to write a novel, she falls in love with her creative writing teacher, Olivia.


Alsenas, Linas. Gay America: Struggle for Equality. 2008. 160p. Amulet/Abrams, $24.95. (978-0-8109-9487-4). Gr. 7-12. The fascinating story of gay people throughout America’s history is told with clear text and lots of photography.

Leleux, Robert. The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy. 2008. 272p. St. Martin’s Press, $23.95. (978-0-312-36168-6). Gr. 10-12. Hilarious stories of a comically dysfunctional family describe growing up gay in Texas.

Passet, Joanne. Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster. 2008. 448 p. Da Capo Press, $27.50. (0786718226/ 9780786718221). Gr. 10-12. Foster’s roller-coaster life and studies defined lesbian history in the twentieth century.

Schofield, Scott Turner. Two Truths and a Lie: A Memoir. 2008. 127p. Homofactus Press, $15.00. (978-0-9785973-2-0). Gr. 11-12. The fluidity of gender shines in these three performance scripts by a transgender man from the Deep South who describes growing up in a world of debutante balls and homecoming proms.

Schrag, Ariel. Awkward and Definition. 2008. Touchstone (Simon & Schuster), $15.00. (978-1-4165-5231-4). Gr. 10-12. Pen and ink comic drawings about Schrag’s early high school years illuminate her funny and touching journey toward a sexual identify amidst concerns about school, sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

3 Responses to "2009 Rainbow Book List"

Thank you Rainbow Project for putting this list of amazing books together!

Jan Kamiya
Young Adult Librarian,Manoa Public Library
Hawaii State Public Library System

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