Smoky Night
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Smoky Night

4.1 20
by Eve Bunting, David Diaz

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Eve Bunting’s heartfelt story and David Diaz’s dramatic illustrations create a compelling child’s-eye view of urban violence. A young boy and his mother are forced to flee their apartment during a night of rioting in Los Angeles. Fires and looting force neighbors—who have always avoided one another—to come together in the face of


Eve Bunting’s heartfelt story and David Diaz’s dramatic illustrations create a compelling child’s-eye view of urban violence. A young boy and his mother are forced to flee their apartment during a night of rioting in Los Angeles. Fires and looting force neighbors—who have always avoided one another—to come together in the face of danger and concern for their missing pets. David Diaz was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his bold acrylic paint and photo-collage illustrations.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of the Caldecott Medal
An ALA Notable Children's Book
An American Bookseller Pick of the Lists
A Hungry Mind Review Book of Distinction
A Publishers Weekly Children's Bestseller
A Parents' Choice Award Winner
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

“Diaz has not been afraid to take risks in illustrating the story with thickly textured paintings against a background of torn-paper and found-object collage. Without becoming cluttered or gimmicky, these pictures manage to capture a calamitous atmosphere that finally calms. . . . Both author and artist have managed to portray a politically charged event without pretense or preaching.”  —The Bulletin

"Monumental.”  —The New York Times Book Review

"Visually exciting.”  —Publishers Weekly

"A memorable, thought-provoking book.”  —The Horn Book

"Outstandingly handsome . . . an excellent vehicle for discussion.”  —Kirkus Reviews

"[A] powerful story.”  —School Library Journal

"A remarkable book.”  —The Hungry Mind Review

"Bunting takes a serious subject . . . and makes it understandable for children.”  —Instructor
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bunting addresses urban violence in this thought-provoking and visually exciting picture book inspired by the Los Angeles riots. Although they're neighbors, Daniel's cat and Mrs. Kim's cat don't get along. Nor do Daniel and his mother shop at Mrs. Kim's market. ``It's better if we buy from our own people,'' Daniel's mother says. But when Daniel's apartment building goes up in flames, all of the neighbors (including the cats) learn the value of bridging differences. Bunting does not explicitly connect her message about racism with the riots in her story's background, but her work is thoroughly believable and taut, steering clear of the maudlin or didactic. Diaz's dazzling mixed-media collages superimpose bold acrylic illustrations on photographs of carefully arranged backgrounds that feature a wide array of symbolic materials--from scraps of paper and shards of broken glass to spilled rice and plastic dry-cleaner bags. Interestingly, Diaz doesn't strongly differentiate the presumably Asian American Mrs. Kim from the African American characters--even the artwork here cautions the reader against assumptions about race. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Daniel and his mother are witnesses to urban riots. From his window, Daniel watches the dark streets in confusion as his mother tries to explain looting, mob anger, and neighborhood animosities. When fire makes them seek refuge in a shelter, a Korean neighbor becomes a real person and personal prejudice begins to heal. Diaz conveys the strong message by placing dramatic insets in his powerful collages.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
This book, the Caldecott Award winner for the year's finest illustrations, is a story of tolerance placed in the violent setting of the LA riots. The illustrations are collages that add intrigue and extend the story. Shattered glass surrounds a picture of looting; spilled multi-colored cereal accents items spilled from grocery store thieving; and plastic bags describe the senseless stealing from a dry cleaner. The young hero is confused by the chaos and frightened by fire, smashed glass, and his missing cat. His protective mother calmly explains every part of the night's madness. But it is the boy who is the agent of change when he notices how his cat has made friends with another cat; an enemy cat belonging to the Korean woman who owns the grocery down the street. The Korean woman, who had always seemed different and separate becomes a friend in the shelter during the smoky night. This book would be incredibly helpful for children who have shared the protagonist's experience. It is a meaningful book to talk about the violence that surrounds today's children. Unfortunately, I don't think its a book that will profoundly affect children over broad geographic areas or over time.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Daniel and his mother watch through their window as an urban riot is in progress. She tries to explain what is happening as he sees the laughing people break into the neighborhood stores and rob them. One of the victims is Mrs. Kim, whose cat is the enemy of his cat, Jasmine. Daniel's mother doesn't shop at Mrs. Kim's store because she feels it's better to ``buy from our own people.'' Later, their building is set on fire and he and his mother go with their neighbors to a shelter. The boy worries about Jasmine, and is relieved when a fireman brings her and Mrs. Kim's cat to the shelter. The felines have learned to get along in their shared danger. Bunting skillfully uses the voice of the child narrator. His innocent view of the riots makes the destructive behavior of the rioters more abhorrent. His suggestion that the cats were enemies only because they did not know each other well enough enables the adults to reach out to one another and bridge the distance their prejudice has kept between them. Diaz illustrates the story with bold, dark, stylized acrylic paintings framed by collage backgrounds of various textured objects usually reflecting the text. When the rioters loot a dry cleaners, for example, the background is wire hangers and plastic film. The pictures are more arresting than appealing, but they invite discussion and will stimulate thoughtful responses to this quietly powerful story.-Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.12(d)
360L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Monumental.”—The New York Times Book Review
"Visually exciting.”—Publishers Weekly
"A memorable, thought-provoking book.”—The Horn Book
"Outstandingly excellent vehicle for discussion.”—Kirkus Reviews
"[A] powerful story.”—School Library Journal
"A remarkable book.”—The Hungry Mind Review
"Bunting takes a serious subject...and makes it understandable for children.”—Instructor

Meet the Author

EVE BUNTING has written over two hundred books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning Smoky Night, illustrated by David Diaz, The Wall, Fly Away Home, and Train to Somewhere. She lives in Southern California.

David Diaz has illustrated numerous award-winning books for children, including Smoky Night by Eve Bunting, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal; The Wanderer by Sharon Creech, which received a Newbery Honor; and Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, a Pura Belpré Honor Award winner. An illustrator and graphic designer for more than twenty-five years, he is also a painter and an accomplished ceramic artist. Mr. Diaz lives in Carlsbad, California.

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Smoky Night 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 1st grade son brought this book home from the library at school...he loves cats and the picture on the front drew him to the book. As parents, we should always try to keep our children’s' innocence as long as possible. I do not let my children watch the news, or any inappropriate television shows, we bring them up to respect and accept everyone, no matter of race, religion, sexual preference, etc. We teach them right from wrong and that taking things that do not belong to you is always wrong. With that being said, this book is not meant for young readers! I only got through the first 2 pages with him when I told him that this book was inappropriate and that it's for older kids. I read the whole thing after he went to bed and while if offers a very important message & lesson, I would have to say it is not suitable for most kids under age 10. Riots, violence, looting, murder, arson, and racism are not things I want to be discussing with my 6/7 year old.
AnniDominguez More than 1 year ago
I have mixed feelings regarding this book. Although it is a children's book and the illustrations were done with such beauty and what looks like watercolor of all sorts. This book is written with such thought-provoking words and the story it tells is a story of hard time, hate, love and togetherness all in one. Eve Bunting told a story from a child's point of view when riots broke out in Los Angeles. If I were a child reading this I would have a few questions of my own to add on to it. As an aspiring teacher, I think this would be a story to leave to a parent to decide on. Although the author wrote this book in the perspective of a child, this story brings the past to life in such a way that it may be hard for a child to follow on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While beginning with a realistic view of how a mother might explain the riots to a young child the author ends with an unrealistic and very PC closing. There is no mention of the fact that the behavior of the rioters is unacceptable. There has to be a better way to teach tolerance...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Smoky Night This book is about a riot that breaks out in urban Los Angeles. A young boy and his mother and the boys cat see all that happens. The young boy wants to know what they are doing, and why they are acting like that. The mother tries to explain to the young boy that a riot is when ¿ people get angry and like to smash things no matter if it is things some else, or even if it is right or wrong. Daniel become frightened read the book to see how and what he does next. Bunting, Eve. Smoky Night. San Diego: Harcourt, Inc, 1994.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Caldecott Book Title: Smoky Night Reading Level: Third Grade Genre: Fiction About the Author: Eve Bunting has written more than 100 books for children and young adults, including Night Tree and Summer Wheels. She lives with her husband in Pasadena, California. The Los Angeles riots made Eve Bunting wonder about what riots mean to the children who live through them, and about what we can all learn from such upheavals. Book Review: Smoky Night is a story about cats and people who couldn¿t get along until a night of rioting brings them all together. Daniel and his mother look out their window and observe looters on their street, and people smashing everything, windows, cars and street lights. Daniel is confused by what he sees and wonders why it is happening. ¿They look angry. But they look happy, too, I whisper.¿ ¿After a while it¿s like a game,¿ Mama says. Mama lets Daniel sleep in her bed that night. She has him brush his teeth and wash his face, but has him sleep in his clothes. Later that night, they are awakened by a terrible smell of smoke and someone pounding on their apartment door. ¿Fire! Fire!¿ Daniel and his mother, along with the others leave their apartment in a rush. They are forced to go to a shelter. Unfortunately, Daniel is unable to find his cat, Jasmine. He reluctantly leaves without his cat and he and his mother, along with all the others, go to a shelter for the night. Daniel asks the fireman when he gets outside if he has seen his cat, but no one has seen Jasmine. When they get to the shelter, they find that Mrs. Kim, their neighbor, her cat is missing as well. People keep coming in the shelter that night. Some are crying and one woman is screaming. Daniel is scared. ¿I hide under my blanket.¿ Then his mama says, ¿Daniel! Look!¿ The firefighter that was at their building is standing in the doorway holding two cats under each arm. ¿Jasmine¿ The blanket¿s caught on my foot and I¿m trailing it. ¿Oh, thank you!¿ Thank you for finding her!¿ The other cat is Mrs. Kim¿s. She is very grateful as well. The fire fighter went on to say that the cats were found together in the fire. This tragic night brought together cats and neighbors who couldn¿t get along before, but suddenly are all brought together by one tragic night. This story demonstrates how good can come from tragedies and is a story that everyone should read. However, due to the mature subject manner, I would recommend this book for older readers. Bibliographic Information: Bunting, Eve. Smoky Night. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Smoky Night¿ by Eve Bunting and illustrated by David Diaz was published in 1994 and won the Caldecott Medal in 1995. Bunting grew up in Northern Ireland. Storytelling has always been important to Bunting, and it was a tradition where she grew up. She is an author of more than 200 books for preschoolers to teenagers. She and her husband currently live in Pasadena, California. Diaz began his illustration work California, and over time, he has gotten over 5,000 design and art jobs, many for national publications and corporate clients. ¿Smoky Night¿ is about a young boy, Daniel, his cat, Jasmine, and his mother who are watching a riot take place on the streets through their window. These riots are breaking into stores and smashing everything. Daniels mother explains to Daniel about rioting saying that ¿it can happen when people get angry. They want to smash and destroy. They don¿t care anymore what¿s right and what¿s wrong.¿ Soon after they watched a little more, they went off to bed. Daniel was scared that the riots would come to his home, but his mother comforts him and he soon falls asleep. Out of no where, his mother shouts at Daniel in the middle of the night saying ¿Quick, Daniel! Get up! Daniel wakes up in a instance, and hears someone pounding and at the door yelling ¿Fire! Fire!¿ Daniel couldn¿t find his cat Jasmine anywhere. He had no more time to look for his cat, because he and his mother had to exit the building where they live. Will Daniel ever see his cat again? This book has amazing illustrations. They are very creative and unique. There are several lessons implied in this story. It teaches a child to not judge others for how they look and to get to know others first before you decide if you like them or not. It teaches the value of getting along no matter how different a person may look or be. It also brings a message to the reader that it sometimes takes a tragedy to get people to realize that everyone is equal. This is definitely a heart-warming story that many children will enjoy and learn from. This book is filled with emotions and the plot is unpredictable, which will keep children in suspense. The reading level for this book is three, and the age rage is 5 to 8. Bunting, Eve. Diaz, David. Smoky Night. New York: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1994.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The picture book titled Smokey Night is commendable as a Caldecott Medal Award Winner in many aspects. First of all, the illustrations in this picture book are completely creative and unique. The plot of the story is incredibly articulate and evokes strong emotions that range from heartrending to suspense to being glad and appreciative. For instance, the beginning of the story presents a gloomy setting which strikes the mood as being poignant to the audience and reader. The characters in the story are dynamic and change because of their experiences. The age appropriate level of this picture book is ages five to eight. The plot of this picture book is linear. The plot is also well written and easily understood by young readers. The story presents an unpredictable plot that keeps the audience and readers in suspense and anticipation. Another noteworthy feature this picture book presents is its realistic plot which is attention-grabbing as well as educational. The author of Smokey Night, Eve Bunting, is well known for her children`s books. The message that the story is trying to get across to the reader is sometimes it takes a tragedy to get people to realize that everyone is equal and have feelings too. The distressing fact is. In addition, Eve Bunting has remarkably written over one hundred books for children. Eve Bunting currently resides with her husband in Pasadena, California. Bunting, Eve. Smokey Night. San Diego: Harcourt, Inc. 1994.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Smoky Night is a touching story of a young boy, his mother and his cat, Jasmine, whose lives are touched by a rioting city. ¿Mama explains about rioting. `It can happen when people get angry. They want to smash and destroy. They don¿t care anymore what¿s right and what¿s wrong.¿ The things Daniel sees in his very own neighborhood frightens him and just when you think everything is over, the worst is yet to come, or is it? Sometimes it¿s very difficult for us to understand the things that we see on television or read in the newspapers, especially if it¿s not happening to us. Smoky Night is a story that pulls you in and takes you to a place that many of us have never been.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A boy named Daniel and his mother are watching as rioters cause chaos in the street below their apartment. His mom tells him that rioting ¿Can happen when people get angry and they want to destroy, they do not care about what is right or wrong.¿ Daniel and his mom go to sleep but are awake to find that their building is on fire. They leave and go to a shelter but they cannot find their cat or its enemy Mrs. Kim¿s cat. Later a fireman brings in both cats and the fireman says, ¿The two of them were under the stairs, yowling and screeching.¿ No one can believe that the cats were together because they hate each other so much. But in the end the cats are not the only ones who are getting along, for the first time. The city and the people in the shelter are getting along also.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Shawna Wyatt Book Review Smoky Night Authored By: Eve Bunting Illustrated by: David Diaz This is a true story told through the eyes of a little boy named Daniel this story is abot he Los Angeles riots. This is a great book that is informative. The book also deals with the issue of not judging people by the way they look. This book teaches children to get to know someone before you decide you don¿t like them. Great book for children. Eve Bunting was born and educated in Northern Ireland. In 1958 she came to the United States with her husband and children and settled in California. David Diaz and his wife moved to California where he began getting illustration work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a scary night of riots and fire. Daniel and his mother live in an apartment building with their cat, Jasmine. One night they have to leave their apartment because of a fire. Jasmine is missing. Mrs. Kim owns a market close by. Her cat is missing too. This story shows how an emergency can bring different cultures together. Everyone can get along and be friends. Eve Bunting does a wonderful job bringing us this heartfelt story. The illustrations are unique because they are placed on top of real photos of items in the drawings. I highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a story about a community of people in a Los Angeles neighborhood who couldn't get along until they were brought together by a tragic situation. The main character is Daniel, a young boy who lives in a racially diverse neighborhood with his mother. There is rioting on the streets of their neighborhood every night. From their window, Daniel and his mom observe the people rioting in the street below. Daniel is confused by what he sees and wonders why it's happening. The rioters appear happy as they destroy and steal. 'I've never heard anybody laugh the way they laugh', Daniel says. Later that night Daniel is awakened by his mother who informs him that the apartment building is on fire. Unfortunately, Daniel is unable to find his pet cat, Jasmine. He reluctantly leaves without Jasmine and he and his mother go to a shelter for the night. He finds out that his neighbor, Mrs. Kim, is missing her cat as well. Daniel and his mother do not shop at Mrs. Kim's market. 'It's better if we buy from our own people,' Daniel's mother says. Later at the shelter, a fireman comes in holding two cats in his arms which were found together in the fire. The cats belong to Daniel and Mrs. Kim. It is surprising that the cats were found together because they always hated each other. Now they are getting along well. The neighbors are forced to interact with each other and they learn the importance of focusing on similarities instead of differences. Through this story, the author demonstrates how good can come out of difficult experiences and struggles. Smokey Night is a thought provoking book which, due to the mature subject matter, I would recommend to upper level readers. It brings up complex subjects and issues about prejudice and racism while teaching valuable lessons.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We all remember or have read about the anger and fear that prejudice and racism have unleashed. In the book, Smoky Night, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by David Diaz, a mother and her son come face to face fear. They watch from their apartment window as mobs of people below for riots, destroying everything in sight. The boy doesn't understand the riot, he tells his mother after she explains the riot, 'they look angry. But they look happy too. His mother replies, 'After a while it's like a game.' Soon readers will discover the mother's own prejudice against Kim who owns a market. A fire breaks out in the apartment, and families are forced to leave their home. In turn bringing them only closure together. Eve Bunting won the 1995 Caldecott Medal for Smoky Night. She was born in Northern Ireland, where storytelling was a tradition. She has written over 200 books including THE WALL, FLY AWAY HOME, and TRAIN TO SOMEWHERE. She now resides in Pasadena, California where she continues to write. The illustrations in this book where very unique using collages, paint, and pastels. The artwork in the book seem like native paintings that also tell a story. I really like this book, it is a child's perspective of the fear and confusing of prejudices. The illustrations were beautiful and captivating. This book, although fiction, seemed realistic, it reminds readers of what prejudices can cause. Grade Level: 3rd Bunting, Eve. Smoky Night. Singapore: Voyager Books, 1994.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What happens when people get angry and start rioting? People who couldn¿t get along before, finds themselves coming together after the rioting. Not sure what rioting means, then you need to read this children¿s picture book ¿Smoky Night¿ that won the 1995 Caldecott Medal. This story is based on the Los Angeles riots. A little boy named Daniel is home along with his mother and his cat Jasmine. His mother tries to explain why people are rioting and she tries to protect her son from what is going on outside. Thinking that the worse is over, Daniel and his mother go to bed, but during the night someone sets their apartment on fire and they have to evacuate. Everyone leaves the building safely, but Daniel cannot find his cat. He is upset when they go to the shelter and is afraid he will never see his cat again. Daniel soon learns that Mrs. Kim, who owns a market across from their apartment cat, is also missing. Mrs. Kim asks Daniel, ¿Did you see my cat, He is orange.¿ ¿He¿s the color of carrots,¿ Daniel says, and almost adds, ¿and he¿s fat and mean.¿ But he doesn¿t. Will Daniel or Mrs. Kim find their cats? To find out what happens to their cats, and how something good can come out of something bad read this story by ¿Smoky Night¿ by Eve Bunting. Eve Bunting was born and educated in Northern Ireland. In 1958 she came to the United States with her husband and three children and settled in California. She has written more than 100 books ranging from picture books to young adult novels. Other books you might enjoy by this author are: Dandelions, and Fly Away Home. Bunting Eve, ¿Smoky Night¿, Harcourt Brace & Company: New York, NY, 1994
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ever been completely caught up in a situation that you wanted out of or didn¿t even understand to begin with? That is the case for the young boy in this story he is caught up in the middle of the Los Angeles riots with his mother, and has no clue what is happening. This story is told from his standpoint as he sees it from his window. Down below him in the streets he sees people running around everywhere robbing and plundering from the stores. His mother throughout his observations is trying to explain to him what is going on. Also in a memorable part of this book that sets the stage for later, you hear undertones of racial prejudice as a woman runs out of her store and the boy makes the comment, ¿My Mama and I don¿t go in Mrs. Kim¿s market even though it¿s close. Mama says it¿s better if we buy from our own people.¿ Next, the young boy realizes that the rioters have set the buildings on fire. With the fire every one of all peoples is forced out of their homes and into a common place, read this book to see who the unlikely beings are that bring this group together, and erases away the prejudices. The author of this book Eve Bunting was born in Northern Ireland but moved to the United States with her husband. After arriving to the United States she has written countless picture books and also some young adult novels. Most of her books have centered on socially conscious themes, such as prejudices in this book in the midst of the Los Angeles riots. She is an excellent writer and story teller and is not afraid to tackle controversial topics.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bunting, Eve. Smoky Night. Illustrated by David Diaz. New York: Voyager Books. 1994. Smoky Night is a thought provoking tale of people rioting while a mother and her young son Daniel watch from their apartment window. Daniel whispers to his mother, ¿They look angry. But they look happy too.¿ Mama says, ¿After a while it¿s like a game.¿ Daniel¿s mother understands the purpose and the dangers of the riot. Through this dark story a mother and son come closer to each other while trying to understand racial tensions in their town. David Diaz uses wonderful, eye catching collages to depict scenes in this story throughout his illustrations. Smoky Night is a story for parents to share with their children to help them understand the important lessons of prejudices. Eve Bunting was born on December 19, 1928 in Magnera, Ireland. She immigrated to the United States in 1958. Bunting has written more than 100 books for children. The Two Giants was the first story she had published. It is a favorite folktale she knew from her childhood. Smoky Night won a Caldecott Medal in 1995. Bunting writes for all ages. She has addressed issues from racial prejudice, troubled families, to death and war.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Caldecott This book has fires and people rioting very exciting. Daniel and his mom are watching the people rioting in the street below. Daniel is confused by this, and rightly so. These people are taking an odd joy in what they do. Even as they destroy and steal they act happy with what they're doing. Says Daniel, 'I've never heard anybody laugh the way they laugh'. That night Daniel is woken up out of his bed by the shaking of his mother. The apartment building is on fire, and the boy cannot locate his pet cat Jasmine. In the panic he's forced to leave without her. Eve Bunting was born Ireland and grew up in a tradition steeped in the art of storytelling and the magic of words. In 1958 Eve Bunting moved to California. She lives with her husband in Pasadena, California. Bibliography Bunting, Eve. Smoky Night. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1994.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author of this book Eve Bunting was enrolled in Writing for Publication class at her local junior college. She is the author of more than 100 books for young readers and her first published story, The Two Giants, was a retelling of a folktale she knew from her childhood. The books theme Smoky Night is about a young boy named Daniel and his mother whom look out the window one night and see looters on the street, burning and destroying everything in the neighborhood. Soon the two must exit the building but Daniel can not find his cat Jasmine. As they go to a local shelter to spend the night all Daniel can think about is his cat Jasmine being found. But Mrs. Kim¿s cat is missing to and she is also worried like Daniel. This story is about people and cat¿s who can not get along until one night a riot brings them together. This is a great book for children of all ages to read to learn about helping each other and how to get along with others
Guest More than 1 year ago
As someone who lived through the LA riots and who worked in the downtown area that was burned and looted, I found this book oddly comforting. I wasn't a mother when the riots occurred but I've explained what happened during the riots to my son (who is now 6 years old and the love of my life) and we found this book to help with the topic. The book didn't accurately reflect the chaos and anger that I remember but it was a softening way to introduce the topic to young children who are often more frightened by reality than by visual effects that they know to be 'pretend'. The ending was nice, although it's a false lesson-- no one that I know ended up loving their enemy. In fact, the riots made them grow further apart. Still, for children, this is a good lesson and a good book to introduce a topic as ugly as racism and the hatred that often comes with many races living in such a populated area as inner-city LA.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this was a very well written book. The ending was very happy and it seems that lessons were learned. I liked the book.