Eve Bunting likes to write "stories for little children that make them think." The author of more than 200 books for young readers, she is best known for picture books that address difficult topics in heartfelt ways. Her 1995 book, Smoky Night, for example, is a story of tolerance and friendship set amidst the chaotic violence of the Los Angeles riots. Bunting's Fly Away Home, about a homeless man and his son living in the Chicago airport, received the "Heal the World Award" from schoolchildren.
A number of Eve Bunting's books deal with the hopes and hardships of immigrants coming to the United States. That topic is especially close to her heart because Eve Bunting, her husband, and their three small children left Northern Ireland in 1958 to start a new life in California.
Eve Bunting gave a delightful interview to Reading Rockets, filled with amusing stories from her childhood and insights about her books. To learn more about this Irish author who isn't afraid to tackle tough subjects, click on the links below.
From Northern Ireland to Los Angeles
Eve Bunting grew up an only child in the village of Maghera, Northern Ireland. Her father was a "tough, gruff, old Irishman," who would read poetry to her while she sat on his lap. Bunting's mother, also an avid reader, started a community lending library out of their home. When Eve was seven, her parents sent her off to boarding school, where she received a good education and made close friends who became like sisters.
During college, Eve met and married Ed Bunting. The couple lived for a number of years in Belfast, where Ed worked as a personnel manager for an American company and Eve stayed home to take care of their three children. At the time, Ed's brother lived in the United States and encouraged them to move overseas. It was a tempting offer, because they had been frustrated with Ireland's depressed economy, religious discrimination, and rainy climate. In 1958, the Buntings packed up and moved their life to California.
Eve Bunting began writing in 1969 when she took a writing class at Pasadena City College. In 1972 she published her first book, the retelling of an Irish folktale from her childhood. Since then, she has published over 200 books for young readers, ranging from picture books to young adult novels. Bunting's books have received numerous awards, including the Caldecott Medal and the Golden Kite Award.
Eve Bunting and her husband have been married for over 50 years. For the past 40 years, they have lived in the same house in Los Angeles. Every so often, the Buntings travel back to Northern Ireland and inevitably visit her hometown of Maghera, which has grown from a village into a town with a true public library. An entire section of the library is dedicated to the books of Eve Bunting, whom townspeople still consider a local author.
Books by This Author
Tony is not looking forward to his family's annual picnic at Liberty Island in October. Nevertheless, his grandmother insists that they maintain the tradition of celebrating her birthday with Lady Liberty. At first it doesn't seem like much fun — until Tony finally begins to understand why the Statue of Liberty means so much to his grandmother. Lovely colorful acrylic paintings bring this special tribute to life.
After the soldiers come, Papa tells his family that they must leave everything behind and set sail for America. The journey across the Caribbean is dangerous and long, and our narrator and his little sister keep asking — just how many days is it to America? Prolific children's author Eve Bunting, herself an immigrant from Ireland, shares the story of a new generation of pilgrims who are willing to risk their lives to look for freedom in America.
In this heartwarming story, Farah is trying to get used to a new country and language. She knows what's happening around her, but without the words to say what she's thinking in English, she feels alienated from her classmates. A trip to the apple orchard helps her begin to bridge those gaps, however, and she realizes that "Laughs sound the same as at home." As she practices her first "outside-myself word," she knows that she will be able to say more in time. Beautiful watercolor illustrations bring Farah, her classmates, and the apple orchard to life.
S is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet gives readers a guided A-Z tour of this small island country whose influence extends far beyond its sea borders. Famous landmarks such as the Blarney Stone and Finn McCool's Giant Causeway speak to the land and history that shaped Ireland and its inhabitants.
All the more moving in its restraint, this picture-book account of a fictional family reveals, with gentle dignity, a sad chapter in American history. Laura Iwasaki and her Japanese-American family will soon move from California to Boston, so they are making one last visit to Laura's grandfather's grave, which lies near the Sierra Nevada Mountains, so far from the sea he loved. Before World War II, he was a fisherman. Then, along with Laura's father, her grandmother, and 10,000 other Japanese Americans, he was sent to the Manzanar War Relocation Center.