6. The Nicest Gift.
This picture book is set in East Los Angeles, an unincorporated area five miles east of downtown. Politi was charmed by Monterey Hills' narrow winding streets, which probably reminded him of the central Italian hill towns of his youth. The neighborhood's rural character was also a reminder of the city's agricultural past and its inhabitants' Mexican roots. Long regarded as the heart of the Hispanic community, East Los Angeles was relatively diverse until Serbs, Japanese, Jews, and Italians left for the suburbs when the Stack, the downtown interchange connecting the Hollywood, Pasadena, and Harbor freeways, was finished in 1948.