Rita Williams-Garcia

One Crazy Summer (Hardcover)

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In this Newbery Honor novel, New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. "This vibrant and moving award-winning novel has heart to spare."*

Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She's had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. But when the sisters arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile is nothing like they imagined.

While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer.

This moving, funny novel won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the Coretta Scott King Award and was a National Book Award Finalist. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern's story continues in P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama.

Readers who enjoy Christopher Paul Curtis's The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming will find much to love in One Crazy Summer.

This novel was the first featured title for Marley D's Reading Party, launched after the success of #1000BlackGirlBooks. Maria Russo, in a New York Times list of "great kids' books with diverse characters," called it "witty and original."

*Brightly, in Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich's article "Knowing Our History to Build a Brighter Future: Books to Help Kids Understand the Fight for Racial Equality"

Specifications

Series Title
Gaither Sisters
Publisher
HarperCollins
Book Format
Hardcover
Number of Pages
218
Author
Rita Williams-Garcia
Title
One Crazy Summer
ISBN-13
9780060760892
Publication Date
January, 2010
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
9.00 x 6.00 x 1.50 Inches
ISBN-10
0060760893

Customer Reviews

Average Rating:(4.2)out of 5 stars
5 stars
33
4 stars
33
3 stars
11
2 stars
0
1 star
1
Most helpful positive review
2 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
It is stunningly, supe...
It is stunningly, superbly written. It impact haunts long after the last page is read. Eleven year old Delphine has a story to tell, unsure of the ending, she is ever ready to vocalize her thoughts and feelings. She is upset, confused, angry, spunky and self righteous. Her mother Cecile left seven years ago, slamming the door as she never looked back. Abandoning Delphine, tiny little baby Fern, and two year old Vonetta was effortless. While their father and grandmother provided love and security, young Delphine became mother to her siblings. In the summer of 1968, they were sent to Oakland, California to stay with a mother who was none too happy to see them. Instead of embraces, they received neglect. Instead of a welcome, they were once again reminded they were not wanted. Instead of spending time with her children, Cecile sent them to a summer camp run by members of the Black Panthers. Deftly weaving this important historical time frame with the poignancy of three struggling little girls, the author does a superb job of depicting both the turmoil of the civil rights movement and the internal tumult of the children. This is more than a coming of age story of a young girl; It is also a tale of a movement struggling to succeed against incredible odds. During one crazy summer Delphine learns more than she bargained for, including the fact that, like the Black Panthers, her mother's beginning was filled with complicated obstacles. The author is a master of telling a poetic tale of three little girls in search of a mother's love and the difficult struggle of anything in life that is worth fighting for. Read, laugh, weep and sigh at the sheer beauty of a complicated situation filled with the contradictions of anger, hurt and understanding leading to forgiveness. Highly recommended.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(1.0)out of 5 stars
Summary:I didnt get in...
Summary: I didn't get into this book very well. It never really grabbed my interest. This is the story of three sisters who fly to California in 1968 to be with their mother. They are left to fend for themselves during a time of civil unrest. The story is told through the voice of the oldest sister. Personal Reaction: This book never really grabbed my attention. I kept reading and hoping for it because I do love to read about civil unrest and slavery. Classroom Extensions: 1. This book would be best read during Black History Month. 2. There are several passages from the book that I might read and have the students draw a picture to describe their feeling on the subject.
Most helpful positive review
2 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
It is stunningly, supe...
It is stunningly, superbly written. It impact haunts long after the last page is read. Eleven year old Delphine has a story to tell, unsure of the ending, she is ever ready to vocalize her thoughts and feelings. She is upset, confused, angry, spunky and self righteous. Her mother Cecile left seven years ago, slamming the door as she never looked back. Abandoning Delphine, tiny little baby Fern, and two year old Vonetta was effortless. While their father and grandmother provided love and security, young Delphine became mother to her siblings. In the summer of 1968, they were sent to Oakland, California to stay with a mother who was none too happy to see them. Instead of embraces, they received neglect. Instead of a welcome, they were once again reminded they were not wanted. Instead of spending time with her children, Cecile sent them to a summer camp run by members of the Black Panthers. Deftly weaving this important historical time frame with the poignancy of three struggling little girls, the author does a superb job of depicting both the turmoil of the civil rights movement and the internal tumult of the children. This is more than a coming of age story of a young girl; It is also a tale of a movement struggling to succeed against incredible odds. During one crazy summer Delphine learns more than she bargained for, including the fact that, like the Black Panthers, her mother's beginning was filled with complicated obstacles. The author is a master of telling a poetic tale of three little girls in search of a mother's love and the difficult struggle of anything in life that is worth fighting for. Read, laugh, weep and sigh at the sheer beauty of a complicated situation filled with the contradictions of anger, hurt and understanding leading to forgiveness. Highly recommended.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(1.0)out of 5 stars
Summary:I didnt get in...
Summary: I didn't get into this book very well. It never really grabbed my interest. This is the story of three sisters who fly to California in 1968 to be with their mother. They are left to fend for themselves during a time of civil unrest. The story is told through the voice of the oldest sister. Personal Reaction: This book never really grabbed my attention. I kept reading and hoping for it because I do love to read about civil unrest and slavery. Classroom Extensions: 1. This book would be best read during Black History Month. 2. There are several passages from the book that I might read and have the students draw a picture to describe their feeling on the subject.
It is stunningly, superbly written. It impact haunts long after the last page is read. Eleven year old Delphine has a story to tell, unsure of the ending, she is ever ready to vocalize her thoughts and feelings. She is upset, confused, angry, spunky and self righteous. Her mother Cecile left seven years ago, slamming the door as she never looked back. Abandoning Delphine, tiny little baby Fern, and two year old Vonetta was effortless. While their father and grandmother provided love and security, young Delphine became mother to her siblings. In the summer of 1968, they were sent to Oakland, California to stay with a mother who was none too happy to see them. Instead of embraces, they received neglect. Instead of a welcome, they were once again reminded they were not wanted. Instead of spending time with her children, Cecile sent them to a summer camp run by members of the Black Panthers. Deftly weaving this important historical time frame with the poignancy of three struggling little girls, the author does a superb job of depicting both the turmoil of the civil rights movement and the internal tumult of the children. This is more than a coming of age story of a young girl; It is also a tale of a movement struggling to succeed against incredible odds. During one crazy summer Delphine learns more than she bargained for, including the fact that, like the Black Panthers, her mother's beginning was filled with complicated obstacles. The author is a master of telling a poetic tale of three little girls in search of a mother's love and the difficult struggle of anything in life that is worth fighting for. Read, laugh, weep and sigh at the sheer beauty of a complicated situation filled with the contradictions of anger, hurt and understanding leading to forgiveness. Highly recommended.
Summary: I didn't get into this book very well. It never really grabbed my interest. This is the story of three sisters who fly to California in 1968 to be with their mother. They are left to fend for themselves during a time of civil unrest. The story is told through the voice of the oldest sister. Personal Reaction: This book never really grabbed my attention. I kept reading and hoping for it because I do love to read about civil unrest and slavery. Classroom Extensions: 1. This book would be best read during Black History Month. 2. There are several passages from the book that I might read and have the students draw a picture to describe their feeling on the subject.

Frequent mentions

1-5 of 78 reviews
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

It is stunningly, supe...

It is stunningly, superbly written. It impact haunts long after the last page is read. Eleven year old Delphine has a story to tell, unsure of the ending, she is ever ready to vocalize her thoughts and feelings. She is upset, confused, angry, spunky and self righteous. Her mother Cecile left seven years ago, slamming the door as she never looked back. Abandoning Delphine, tiny little baby Fern, and two year old Vonetta was effortless. While their father and grandmother provided love and security, young Delphine became mother to her siblings. In the summer of 1968, they were sent to Oakland, California to stay with a mother who was none too happy to see them. Instead of embraces, they received neglect. Instead of a welcome, they were once again reminded they were not wanted. Instead of spending time with her children, Cecile sent them to a summer camp run by members of the Black Panthers. Deftly weaving this important historical time frame with the poignancy of three struggling little girls, the author does a superb job of depicting both the turmoil of the civil rights movement and the internal tumult of the children. This is more than a coming of age story of a young girl; It is also a tale of a movement struggling to succeed against incredible odds. During one crazy summer Delphine learns more than she bargained for, including the fact that, like the Black Panthers, her mother's beginning was filled with complicated obstacles. The author is a master of telling a poetic tale of three little girls in search of a mother's love and the difficult struggle of anything in life that is worth fighting for. Read, laugh, weep and sigh at the sheer beauty of a complicated situation filled with the contradictions of anger, hurt and understanding leading to forgiveness. Highly recommended.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

It is stunningly, supe...

It is stunningly, superbly written. It impact haunts long after the last page is read. Eleven year old Delphine has a story to tell, unsure of the ending, she is ever ready to vocalize her thoughts and feelings. She is upset, confused, angry, spunky and self righteous. Her mother Cecile left seven years ago, slamming the door as she never looked back. Abandoning Delphine, tiny little baby Fern, and two year old Vonetta was effortless. While their father and grandmother provided love and security, young Delphine became mother to her siblings. In the summer of 1968, they were sent to Oakland, California to stay with a mother who was none too happy to see them. Instead of embraces, they received neglect. Instead of a welcome, they were once again reminded they were not wanted. Instead of spending time with her children, Cecile sent them to a summer camp run by members of the Black Panthers. Deftly weaving this important historical time frame with the poignancy of three struggling little girls, the author does a superb job of depicting both the turmoil of the civil rights movement and the internal tumult of the children. This is more than a coming of age story of a young girl; It is also a tale of a movement struggling to succeed against incredible odds. During one crazy summer Delphine learns more than she bargained for, including the fact that, like the Black Panthers, her mother's beginning was filled with complicated obstacles. The author is a master of telling a poetic tale of three little girls in search of a mother's love and the difficult struggle of anything in life that is worth fighting for. Read, laugh, weep and sigh at the sheer beauty of a complicated situation filled with the contradictions of anger, hurt and understanding leading to forgiveness. Highly recommended.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

One summer in the late...

One summer in the late sixties, Delphine and her sisters, Vonetta and Fern, fly to Oakland to visit their mother, Cecile, who left them when Fern was just a baby. The girls have grown up in Brooklyn with their grandmother and father raising them, and eleven-year-old Delphine had to grow up fast. Cecile doesn't seem to want them now, either, and sends them to a Black Panthers breakfast and summer school every day to get them out of the house so she can work on her poetry. If you were following the Mock Newbery Awards before the official announcement of the ALA youth media awards, you've probably heard this title bandied about. A lot of people predicted it would win, so I was not surprised to see it on the Newbery Honor list this year. When I needed an audiobook for my commute and saw it available at work, I snatched it up. I wasn't really sure what to expect. At first I was a little disappointed by the lack of action in the story. The tight focus on Delphine, our first person narrator, and her family made this extremely character-centric. Though 1968-69 was a very intense time, the plot of this story is much more subdued and introspective. The number of historical details expertly laced into the story struck me only after I'd finished the book and started looking in to some of the events and people mentioned. We learn naturally, as Delphine mentions things like her uncle being away, or sorting newspapers. The family interactions, especially between Delphine and her sisters, ring true and were made all the richer by Sisi Aisha Johnson's narration. While I'm not sure it's the type of story that many children would choose on their own (and I'm pretty sure I may not have picked it up without prompting), it would make an excellent read-aloud and discussion starter.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

One summer in the late...

One summer in the late sixties, Delphine and her sisters, Vonetta and Fern, fly to Oakland to visit their mother, Cecile, who left them when Fern was just a baby. The girls have grown up in Brooklyn with their grandmother and father raising them, and eleven-year-old Delphine had to grow up fast. Cecile doesn't seem to want them now, either, and sends them to a Black Panthers breakfast and summer school every day to get them out of the house so she can work on her poetry. If you were following the Mock Newbery Awards before the official announcement of the ALA youth media awards, you've probably heard this title bandied about. A lot of people predicted it would win, so I was not surprised to see it on the Newbery Honor list this year. When I needed an audiobook for my commute and saw it available at work, I snatched it up. I wasn't really sure what to expect. At first I was a little disappointed by the lack of action in the story. The tight focus on Delphine, our first person narrator, and her family made this extremely character-centric. Though 1968-69 was a very intense time, the plot of this story is much more subdued and introspective. The number of historical details expertly laced into the story struck me only after I'd finished the book and started looking in to some of the events and people mentioned. We learn naturally, as Delphine mentions things like her uncle being away, or sorting newspapers. The family interactions, especially between Delphine and her sisters, ring true and were made all the richer by Sisi Aisha Johnson's narration. While I'm not sure it's the type of story that many children would choose on their own (and I'm pretty sure I may not have picked it up without prompting), it would make an excellent read-aloud and discussion starter.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Delphine is old for an...

Delphine is old for an eleven-year-old. You've met these kids before - serious girls who seem to take the weight of the world onto their small shoulders. When her mother was still around, she taught Delphine to be unselfish, silent, and self-sufficient - not the most childlike qualities. And ever since her mother took off and left Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern alone with their father, Delphine has taken on a lot of responsibility for her younger sisters. And now, in the summer of 1968, the three girls are on their way across the country to Oakland to spend a summer with their absentee mother. The younger girls arrive with dreams of hugs and kisses from mom, sunny days on the beach, and trips to Disneyland. Those hopes are dashed pretty quickly - instead it's going to be greasy take-out food, a mother who resents their presence in her house, and days spent at the free summer program led by the local Black Panthers. As a historical novel, one of the strengths of this story is that it makes the political into the personal. Instead of dropping these three girls into a major historical moment from the history of the Black Panthers, as is the temptation in historical fiction, Garcia-Williams instead gives us a family story that takes place within the context of day-to-day life among the people who made up the movement. The story shows a side of the Black Panthers that doesn't get a lot of attention now, and as Delphine points out didn't get noticed even at the time - the free community breakfasts and peaceful rallies instead of the confrontational tactics that are usually remembered. Their sudden relationship with the Black Panthers does change the girls significantly, making them take a closer look at their own identity as well as the social change that is happening around them, but never in a way that is didactic. It just grows out of the story. Williams-Garcia also manages to make the late-sixties setting always present, slipping in details about television shows or clothes, without making it feel too distant. The details she chooses are evocative enough to give a sense of time, but relatable enough that kids won't feel alienated in that capital-H Historical Fiction kind of way. As with any great historical fiction, the center of the novel is not the history, but instead a universal story, in this case a family story about both the struggle for the love of a parent and the search for a personal identity. Cecile is not like any mother that these girls have ever seen - her kitchen is used for writing and printing poems, not for laundry and making dinner. In a children's story where three little girls are sent to stay with their distant, uncaring mother, it is easy to expect the kind of trite sea-change that would lead to Cecile suddenly turning into a maternal figure. Instead, she seems to develop a grudging respect for the three girls - a growth arc that is both more interesting and more true to the character than what could have been a stock character reversal. The family dynamic between the three sisters is a treat to read. These are three very different girls - responsible almost-grown-up Delphine, dramatic and needy Vonetta, and set-in-her-ways Fern who notices things around her. While they bicker and argue between themselves, as siblings do, they are also fiercely loyal to each other, especially any time that they step outside of the primarily-black community where they live. When they go on the offensive they present a hysterical united front to the world - these girls will batter down any takers with a wall of little-girl patter coming from three sides. Their relationship is a big part of what makes this book such a delight.


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