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SMOKY NIGHT by Eve Bunting Kirkus Star


by Eve Bunting & illustrated by David Diaz

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-15-269954-6
Publisher: Harcourt

A noted author (Fly Away Home, 1991) brings all her empathy and creative skill to another timely topic: an inner-city riot. Standing well back from their window, Daniel and his mama watch looters steal TVs and break into Kim's market. When it quiets down the two fall asleep, only to be roused: their building is burning, so they escape, through ravaged streets, to a shelter. Though Bunting offers no reasons for the violence, she succinctly describes the mob's psychology. Mama explains, "...people get angry. They want to smash and destroy. They don't care anymore what's right...After a while it's like a game," while Daniel observes, "They look angry. But they look happy, too." The story is rounded out with a touch of reconciliation: Mama has't patronized Kim's market ("'s better if we buy from our own people") but, after Daniel's cat and Mrs. Kims' make friends at the shelter, the people realize that they, too, could be friendly. Diaz's art — rough-edged acrylic paintings mounted on collages of paper, burnt matches, and materials that might be found blowing on a California street — is extraordinarily powerful. Defined in heavy black, the expressionistically rendered faces are intense with smoky shades and dark, neon-lit color. An outstandingly handsome book that represents its subject realistically while underplaying the worst of its horrors; an excellent vehicle for discussion. (Picture book. 4+)