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Smoky Night
     

Smoky Night

4.1 20
by Eve Bunting
 

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During a night of rioting, a young boy and his mother are forced to flee their apartment in this Caldecott Medal-winning book. Full color.

Overview

During a night of rioting, a young boy and his mother are forced to flee their apartment in this Caldecott Medal-winning book. Full color.

Editorial Reviews

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
Hazel Rochman
Bunting says she wrote this story after the Los Angeles riots made her wonder about what riots mean to the children who live through them. A boy and his cat look down from the window at people rioting in the streets below. His mother explains that rioting can happen when people get angry: "They want to smash and destroy. They don't care anymore what's right and wrong." The boy says that they look angry, but they look happy, too. He sees them looting Mrs. Kim's grocery store across the street; his mother never shopped there. That night, the apartment building burns, and everyone has to rush out to the shelter. The boy's cat is gone, and so is Mrs. Kim's cat, but a kind fire fighter finds both animals; they were hiding together. Then Bunting overstates her message: maybe the people, like the cats, need to get to know each other, so the boy's mother and Mrs. Kim agree to visit. Diaz's art is powerful--pulsating and crowded; part street mural, part urban collage. In each double-page spread, the background is a photograph of found objects and debris in a variety of textures and jagged shapes. On the right-hand page is an acrylic painting like a view through a heavy window, with thick lines and bright neon colors showing a multicultural cast. In fine contrast, the story is told quietly from the child's point of view, safe with his mother despite the fear, reaching out to the neighborhood community within the chaos.
From the Publisher

"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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152015411
Publisher:
Harcourt Children's Books
Publication date:
06/28/1996

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 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

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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