Eve Bunting is a spellbinding storyteller, both in conversation and in writing. In this exclusive video interview with Reading Rockets, Eve Bunting relates amusing stories from her childhood in Ireland and offers insights into her books, some of which are unflinching in tackling tough subjects.
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.
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.