Smoky Night is a great example of a book that is beautifully illustrated, incredibly socially significant, and needs to be used judiciously with children. Smoky Night is about what happens during a riot and a young boy's attempts to understand what's going on around him. In the chaos, the boy loses his cat; ultimately, the cat brings the boy and a neighbor together in a way they didn't expect, so something good came out of all the negativity around them.
When I started Illustrated Friday, I led off with the statement that illustrated books are not automatically books for children (just like cartoons and animated shows aren't automatically shows for children, but that's a whole other kettle of fish.) Books are a great way to communicate ideas, and this book does just that. The mixed media illustrations by David Diaz are a great match for the concepts of the book; Eve Bunting doesn't shy away from difficult issues. I can totally see this book being a great way to introduce a discussion of race and violence with older kids; it's definitely a book to preview before you share it, and that's not a bad thing at all. Happy Friday!