Checking Out Eve Bunting
Eve Bunting was born and educated in Northern Ireland. In 1958 she journeyed to the San Francisco with her husband and three children and settled in California. Content to raise her family she soon found herself with a husband with a busy career and children growing older and more independent. At a loss for something to do she enrolled in a local junior college. There she signed-up for Writing For Publication. As Bunting relates it,
Writing for publication? I remembered how I'd loved to write essays in school. How I'd joyfully embarked on short story assignments. I decided I'd just check out this Writing for Publication class. What could I lose?
Now she is the author or more than 150 books. It's easy to believe that ideas come to her all day long and at all times. No, Bunting says, "I write every day when I can, and many days when I shouldn't." She does write with a pencil and paper, so that she can write anywhere at anytime. She readily relates that she always has one book in progress, one just finished, and another one in mind.
Her first book was The Two Giants, published in 1972. She has tackled real themes and issues that impact children's lives. What follows is some of her books that have touched people's lives, caused controversy, and are some of my favorites:
Smoky Night earned the Caldecott Medal for illustrator David Diaz. Here Bunting addresses the Los Angeles riots from a child's point of view. There are lessons learned by the child and adults as well. Some parents have criticized this book, and other of Bunting's books, as dealing with themes they deem to be too harsh.
How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story > is one of my favorite books. It is the touching story of a family who has to flee thier home and country (an unnamed island) because they do not agree with the government. As the family travels by sea the children ask, "How many days to America." They suffer hardships along the way, but finally land in Florida on Thanksgiving day. A wonderful story to remind us of the real meaning of this holiday. The illustrations by Beth Peck are hazy and appropriate to the story. Warning: Keep a box of tissues handy.
In Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust Bunting attmepts to put the Holocaust in a format that children (and adults) can understand. Just as many great teachers in the past have done she utilizes a parable. In this tale the Terrible Things come to the forest and begin taking away the animals in nets. Finally only Little Rabbit is left to bear witness to the event. Stephen Gammell's stark use of color is compelling.
Lest you think that Bunting is a depressing person with no sense of humor take a look a one of her more lighthearted books. Eve Bunting and Jan Brett teamed up to bring us the delightful Happy Birthday Dear Duck. Duck opens each present to find a swimming suit, a diving board, and a slide. The problem? They live in the desert! Finally Tortoise arrives with an inflatable pool. The colorful illustrations and verse will capture the heart and attention of every young child. A delightful real aloud book for kindergarten and first grade.
Eve Bunting has received many accolades for her books. In 1997 she was awarded the Regina Medal for her "continued distinguished contribution to children's literature" by the Catholic Library Association. When she was presented with the award she stated that she already had books prepared for release through 2001. Since 1997 she has been writing and adding to our world of quality literature. With over 250 books by Eve Bunting we can count on years and years of books to share.
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