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One crazy summer

by Williams-Garcia, Rita.

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Where To Find It

Call number: Y Fiction / Williams-Garcia, Rita, R Newbery Honor 2011

Available Copies: Downtown Youth, Malletts Youth

Additional Details

In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

Community Reviews

strong historical fiction

Sisters Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern were abandoned seven years ago by their mother and have been raised by their father and grandmother. Pa and Big Ma decide in the summer of 1968 that it is time for them to travel from Brooklyn to Oakland to meet Cecile, their mother. Narrated by eleven year old Delphine, One Crazy Summer is both a story about intensely private relationships and about a particularly turbulent time in American history. Cecile is not interested in mothering the girls, and sends them to a summer program run by the Black Panthers. Over the course of the summer, Delphine makes peace with the mother that she has, and grows into her identity. Few books about the Black Panthers have been written for children, and Garcia-Williams does a wonderful job giving an even-handed account. The book is fully-realized historical fiction but never feels heavy handed, and at 215 pages is a manageable read for middle schoolers. Readers might enjoy reading this book alone, but it can also be used as a start for important conversations about our country’s history and further exploration into the time period.

Good Historical Fiction for the Period

The voice of the narrator, Delphine is honest, caring and thoughtful. The idea behind this trio of young sisters traveling across the country to meet their estranged mother did have me concerned. The mother, Cecile, was rude, selfish and inconsiderate. I couldn't stand the thought of these loving girls being stuck with this uncaring woman for a month. But the girls prevailed and seemingly got their birth mother to at least recognize what intelligent, compassionate children she left behind. the book did end abruptly and left some questions in my mind. But all in all it was a good read.


Delphine doesn't need a mother. She and her two sisters, Vonetta and Fern, and her father and grandmother, Big Ma, are doing just fine on their own. So imagine Delphine's surprise when Pa insists that she and her sisters travel all the way across the country to visit Cecile, their estranged mother who walked out them seven years ago. To make matters worse, once the girls arrive, Cecile isn't happy to see them and reminds them at every turn that she never asked for them to come. She sends them to the Black Panther Community Center and tells them to keep out of her way. How will Delphine and her sisters survive one day, let alone an entire month with this woman?

As long as you can overlook the fact that otherwise loving and protective guardians allow their children to travel alone to 1968 Oakland to stay with a mentally-ill woman, you're likely to enjoy this book. Williams-Garcia is a gifted storyteller. She achieves the rare feat of creating an entire cast of characters that come alive on the page. Delphine's voice in particular is a strength. At once practical, thoughtful, precocious, and age-appropriate, she's a heroine of Scout Finch caliber. Like Countdown, also out this year, Summer will nudge readers to reconsider their perceptions of the sixties. Delphine and her younger sisters navigate a complex world; although they are familiar with the changes being brought about by the Civil Rights Movement, they live in constant fear of making a "a great Negro spectacle" of themselves. This book has the potential to be a catalyst for discussion in middle grade social studies classrooms. For example, ask students what they knew about the Black Panthers before reading Summer and how their knowledge was or was not reflected in the story. A minor complaint is that the story ends abruptly and without a satisfying conclusion. Williams-Garcia would have been well-advised to add more denouement.

good storyline

finished all tappan top ten titles and won!!!!


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