Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrator: David Diaz
Publisher: Voyager Books Harcourt Inc.
Audience: Ages 8-10
Summary: The book was written to portray the experience of a young boy and his mother during the riots in Los Angeles in 1994. The main characters watch as angry people destroy property, steal, and hurt each other. As the boys’ home is burned during the night, he and his neighbors escape to the safety of a church. It is here that the boy’s mother and Mrs. Kim who are of different races realize that they can indeed live together as they watch their two cats befriend each other and share food.
Literary elements at work in the story: The setting of this story is vividly portrayed through the illustrations which make the author’s words about what happens when a mob of people become angry even more powerful. The underlying theme of coming together in times of trouble is another critical element in this story.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economic ability: he author shows how people of different races/cultures can change their attitudes toward one another in times of fear and suffering. The boy’s mother comments near the beginning of the story that she only doesn’t go to Mrs. Kim’s store because she only buys things from “her own people.” By the end of the story the mother has changed her attitude and offers the hand of friendship to the same person that she previously would not associate with.
Scripture: Psalm 37:8, Psalm 145:8-9, Romans 14:19, Galatians 3:28
Theology: God’s people are called to restrain themselves from anger and wrath because they produce evil. God is full of unconditional love for all of God’s children and is slow to become angry. We are called to pursue peace. We are all one in Christ Jesus.
Faith Talk Questions:
- What can happen when a lot of people become very angry?
- What does mama mean when she says “it is better if we buy from our own people?”
- Where in the story do you observe people loving their neighbors as themselves? (Allow the children to actually point out where they see this on specific pages in the book.)
- How does mama change from the beginning of the story to the end of the story?
- How do you understand or interpret the final two illustrations in the story?
Review prepared by Marcia Rauch, MACE, Entering cohort Fall 2006
Smoky Night by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.