Both books are about troubles between neighbors and dealing with conflict. The first book takes place in the Middle East in the country of Lebanon, the second in the US city of Los Angeles. In The Olive Tree, Muna and her family return after a long absence during the “troubles” aka the “civil war” in the Lebanon. Sameer, her neighbor, enjoyed olives that fell into his yard from their tree during her family’s long absence. Muna reminds him the tree and olives belong to her family and refuses to share them. But through a catastrophic event involving the tree they both love, they come together to try to save it despite their differences. In Smoky Night it is the search for their cats that bring two neighbors together during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Although the neighbors do not get along, they demonstrate the importance of looking beyond their own ideas about differences in a time of need.
The Olive Tree; Elsa Marston (Author) Claire Ewart (Illustrator) Published by Wisdom Tales (2014) Age Range: 5-10 years
Smoky Night Even Bunting (Author) David Diaz (Illustrator) Published by HMH Books for Young Readers (Reprint edition 1999) Ages 7 and up
Resources: The Olive Tree, See the author’s website here.