‘The Magic Rainbow’

Frankie and Grandpa Ben huddled under Grandpa’s big, black umbrella. They could hear tiny raindrops pitter-pattering above their heads like little cats’ feet. Raindrops dripped from Frankie’s tennis shoes, as he and Grandpa strolled toward the house.

“Watch the puddle!” Grandpa cautioned, walking around the little pool of water. Frankie followed carefully, watching water drops bounce off the puddle and sail into the air like little spaceships.

“Where does the rain come from, Grandpa?”

“Rain comes from gray nimbus clouds that cover the entire sky and carry a lot of water droplets,” Grandpa replied. “They’re called rain clouds. When these dark clouds become real heavy, it rains.”

“I like rain.”

“I do too,” Grandpa said.

Suddenly the rain stopped.

“Look! A rainbow!”

“A rainbow, indeed,” Grandpa replied, closing the umbrella. “Light is bouncing off the raindrops in a rainy part of the sky. See, the sun is behind us.”

Frankie said, “My teacher says that raindrops in the air are like tiny prisms. Light enters the raindrop and reflects off the side. Then it breaks into colors. And you have a rainbow. What are the colors of the rainbow?”

“First of all, there are seven colors of the rainbow. You can remember the colors and the order in which they appear by remembering this made-up name, ROY G. BIV - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Everyone sees their own personal rainbow, depending on where they are standing.” Grandpa Ben had a faraway look in his eye. “My Grandpa Jack loved making up stories about rainbows.

“He said that when a rainbow begins to appear, the sun peeks out from behind a cloud, grabs a jar of ‘rainbow red’ from his paint box, and paints one arc red.

“The orange arc, he said, comes from all the carroty-colored poppies growing wild in the meadow. Sunbeams swoop up their dazzling color and carry it to the rainbow.” Grandpa was having fun. Frankie was too.

“See those yellow daffodils dancing over there beneath the trees? A billowy breeze gathers up their gowns of yellow and dresses the rainbow with it.”

Grandpa sighed, looking up at the trees. “The leaves on the treetops are like little paintbrushes, swishing back and forth, coloring the green arc in the sky.”

“How did the blue color get there?”

“Well,” he said, trying to recall what Grandpa Jack had said. “Where the blue of the ocean meets the blue of the sky, a horizontal line appears that looks like a long, blue ribbon. That ribbon wraps the rainbow in a blue bow.

“And then there’s the color indigo,” Grandpa pointed out. “It’s the shade between blue and violet, like the color of twilight.”

Frankie and Grandpa walked by patches of violets growing beside the road.

“I bet the violet arc comes from the violets,” Frankie exclaimed, very proud of himself.

“Of course, it does,” Grandpa declared. “Of course, it does.”

It was getting late, and the rainbow was disappearing into the evening sky. Frankie and Grandpa finally arrived home.

“Can we sit on the porch for a while, Grandpa?”

Frankie and Grandpa liked sitting on the porch at night, gazing up at the stars in the polka-dotted sky. “I want to be a scientist when I grow up. The story about rainbows isn’t very scientific,” Frankie observed.

“That’s true. But remember this: The best scientists have the best imaginations.”

Frankie hoped he would see another rainbow soon. And he hoped Grandpa Ben would tell him the magical tale of the rainbow’s colors again.

“And now it’s time to go to sleep,” Grandpa said. Frankie grabbed Grandpa’s hand tightly, as they headed into the house. Frankie was tired. It had been a very colorful day, indeed.

Special thanks to Patricia Cantor for this week’s illustration. To view more of her art work, visit