This is a story about cats -- and people -- who couldn't get along until a smoky and fearful night brings them together.
The Los Angeles riots made author Eve Bunting wonder about what riots meant to the children who live through them -- and what we can all learn from such upheavals. She has written more than 100 books for children and young adults, including Night Tree and Summer Wheels, and many deal thoughtfully with difficult issues.
Smoky Night was the winner of the 1995 Caldecott Medal; an American Library Association Notable Children's Book; a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year; and a Parent's Choice Award.
From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.