One Crazy Summer
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One Crazy Summer

4.3 176
by Rita Williams-Garcia

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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.

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


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.

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. When they arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with her, 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.

Readers who enjoy Christopher Paul Curtis's The Watsons Go to Birmingham will find much to love in One Crazy Summer. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern's story continues in P.S. Be Eleven.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

Editorial Reviews

Monica Edinger
“In One Crazy Summer Williams-Garcia presents a child’s-eye view of the Black Panther movement within a powerful and affecting story of sisterhood and motherhood.
Booklist (starred review)
“Regimented, responsible, strong-willed Delphine narrates in an unforgettable voice, but each of the sisters emerges as a distinct, memorable character, whose hard-won, tenuous connections with their mother build to an aching, triumphant conclusion.”
Horn Book (starred review)
“The setting and time period are as vividly realized as the characters, and readers will want to know more about Delphine and her sisters after they return to Brooklyn...”
Mary Quattlebaum
…Rita Williams-Garcia has a fine ear for the squabbles and fierce loyalties of siblings and a keen eye for kid-centered period details, including collect phone calls, go-go boots and the TV dolphin Flipper. With authenticity and humor, she portrays the ever-shifting dynamics among ultra-responsible Delphine, show-off Vonetta and stubborn Fern. As the first-person narrator, Delphine proves to be a wry, thought-provoking observer of the need for societal change…it's refreshing to read a novel that resists easy sentiment. Williams-Garcia serves up a nuanced tale of family love that's also a lively valentine to the revolutionary '60s and the people—adults and children—who helped define that era.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Williams-Garcia (Jumped) evokes the close-knit bond between three sisters, and the fervor and tumultuousness of the late 1960s, in this period novel featuring an outspoken 11-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y. Through lively first-person narrative,readers meet Delphine, whose father sends her and her two younger sisters to Oakland, Calif., to visit their estranged mother, Cecile. When Cecile picks them up at the airport, she is as unconventional as Delphine remembers (“There was something uncommon about Cecile. Eyes glommed onto her. Tall, dark brown woman in man's pants whose face was half hidden by a scarf, hat, and big dark shades. She was like a colored movie star”). Instead of taking her children to Disneyland as they had hoped, Cecile shoos them off to the neighborhood People's Center, run by members of the Black Panthers. Delphine doesn't buy into all of the group's ideas, but she does come to understand her mother a little better over the summer. Delphine's growing awareness of injustice on a personal and universal level is smoothly woven into the story in poetic language that will stimulate and move readers. Ages 9–12. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
A flight from New York to Oakland, Calif., to spend the summer of 1968 with the mother who abandoned Delphine and her two sisters was the easy part. Once there, the negative things their grandmother had said about their mother, Cecile, seem true: She is uninterested in her daughters and secretive about her work and the mysterious men in black berets who visit. The sisters are sent off to a Black Panther day camp, where Delphine finds herself skeptical of the worldview of the militants while making the best of their situation. Delphine is the pitch-perfect older sister, wise beyond her years, an expert at handling her siblings: "Just like I know how to lift my sisters up, I also knew how to needle them just right." Each girl has a distinct response to her motherless state, and Williams-Garcia provides details that make each characterization crystal clear. The depiction of the time is well done, and while the girls are caught up in the difficulties of adults, their resilience is celebrated and energetically told with writing that snaps off the page. (Historical fiction. 9-12)
"Regimented, responsible, strong-willed Delphine narrates in an unforgettable voice, but each of the sisters emerges as a distinct, memorable character, whose hard-won, tenuous connections with their mother build to an aching, triumphant conclusion."
Horn Book
"The setting and time period are as vividly realized as the characters, and readers will want to know more about Delphine and her sisters after they return to Brooklyn..."
Children's Literature - Cherie Ilg Haas
Readers will quickly come to adore Delphine, the eleven-year-old protagonist. Abandoned by her mother and raised by her grandparents, she has developed a naturally protective attitude toward her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. Now, for the first time, they are sent from Brooklyn to Oakland, California to visit their birth mother, Cecile. It happens to be the height of the Black Panther revolution. Although set in summer during the late 1960s, this is a story that today's teen girls are likely to relate to on several different levels: the confusion of beginning to like boys, the complicated relationships with parents and siblings, and the innate responsibility that girls easily take for their younger brothers and sisters. On a broader level, it gives a unique perspective of a part of history not often seen in youth literature. The Black Panther aspect is thought-provoking, adding depth to the theme of Delphine's family situation. Aside from the plot, the natural writing makes this a smooth read from start to finish, and the characters and situations are realistic. It's a "must" for library collections. Reviewer: Cherie Ilg Haas
VOYA - Jennifer McConnel
Despite her creative name, Delphine is a steady soul, old for her age at eleven-going-on-twelve. Her mother, Cecile, abandoned the family years ago, leaving Delphine with the weight of caring for her two younger sisters. After all this time, Delphine and her sisters are sent to California to spend the summer of 1968 with a mother they can barely remember and who still appears to have no interest in her children. Expecting a summer of Disneyland and movie stars, the girls get a rude awakening when they see Cecile. On their very first morning there, Cecile gives the girls directions to a community center and makes it clear she doesn't expect to see them until dinner. The center turns out to be run by the Black Panthers, and the siblings spend their summer in revolutionary day camp. Preconceptions are shattered and the summer comes to a close with surprising results. Told in first person, this novel skillfully invites readers into the organized, responsible mind of Delphine, and as her worldview expands, her character becomes all the more genuine and engaging. The historical details sprinkled throughout the book do not seem forced; rather, they lend authenticity to the setting, and the portrayal of the Black Panthers breaks with the harsher stereotypes. All in all, this is a great read for fans of both modern and historical works. Reviewer: Jennifer McConnel
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—The tumultuous summer of 1968 is the setting for this splendid story (Amistad, 2010) by Rita Williams-Garcia. Delphine, almost 12, along with her sisters Vonetta and Fern, fly across the country to visit their mother, Cecile, who long ago abandoned the family to pursue her poetry. The girls ache for hugs and kisses but desperately try not to hope too much. Good thing. When they arrive at her green stucco house in poor, mostly-black Oakland, California, their mother constantly mutters "didn't want you to come." Cecile fobs the sisters off on the local Black Panther community center, and the girls spend their summer days eating cold eggs and learning that the Black Panthers are more about serving their community and protecting the rights of black citizens than shoot-outs with the police. While U.S. politics roil and boil in the background, Delphine seethes over her crazy mother. Their final confrontation is both poignant and satisfying as we come to understand Cecile. Sisi Aisha Johnson infuses each character with a distinct personality and the tone is upbeat and even humorous. She perfectly captures each character's voice, and her delivery is silky smooth and perfectly paced. Seeing the historic summer of '68 through the eyes of sensitive, intuitive Delphine is a treat. Featuring flawless writing and narration, this is storytelling at its finest. Sure to garner numerous awards.—Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.48(d)
750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

What People are saying about this

Monica Edinger
“In One Crazy Summer Williams-Garcia presents a child’s-eye view of the Black Panther movement within a powerful and affecting story of sisterhood and motherhood.

Meet the Author

Rita Williams-Garcia's Newbery Honor-winning novel, One Crazy Summer, was a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, a National Book Award finalist, the recipient of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and a New York Times bestseller. The sequel, P.S. Be Eleven, was also a Coretta Scott King Award winner and an ALA Notable Children's Book for Middle Readers. She is also the author of six distinguished novels for young adults: Jumped, a National Book Award finalist; No Laughter Here, Every Time a Rainbow Dies (a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book), and Fast Talk on a Slow Track (all ALA Best Books for Young Adults); Blue Tights; and Like Sisters on the Homefront, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Rita Williams-Garcia lives in Jamaica, New York, is on the faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children & Young Adults Program, and has two adult daughters, Stephanie and Michelle, and a son-in-law, Adam.

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One Crazy Summer 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 176 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
It's 1968 and Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, are being sent to California to visit the mother that abandoned them soon after Fern was born. The girls have grand ideas about a mother who will hug them and take them to Disneyland. Instead, their mother, Cecile, doesn't want anything to do with them, cares more about her poetry, and sends them for Chinese take-out every night. She's more concerned about her work and sends the girls to a Blank Panther-run summer camp during the day. The girls learn about revolution and family in a summer they will never forget. It's hard to express how wonderful this book is and how much I adored it. I was pretty sure I would enjoy it, since I had been hearing a positive buzz. But I was completely unprepared for how much this book would pull me in and not let go. I couldn't put it down. This is a quiet book. It's not an action filled book, and there wasn't any suspense that made me keep turning pages. It was just the beautifully written story of three sisters discovering their mother and themselves. There was just something about it that really resonated with me as a reader and I had to keep reading this one; I couldn't stop. The writing is superb. This is a middle grade novel, but the author never writes down to her audience, and the characters are beautifully realistic and the dynamics between the sisters is spot-on. I loved Delphine - I think she's one of my new favorite characters in children's lit. In many ways, she is wise beyond her years, being the oldest sister and having to care for her younger sisters and mediating their quarrels. But she's also a child herself, and she lets herself finally be a child during this summer. The reader gets to know Delphine so much during the course of the story that the reader ends up growing with her - and Ms. Williams-Garcia pulls it off beautifully. I really could keep gushing about this book, but instead you should get yourself a copy. Highly recommended for tweens and up.
Balina More than 1 year ago
this book is amazing. enjoyed it a lot and would recommend to everyone.
JAH99 More than 1 year ago
This book is the first book i have ever read with the Black Panthers in it. Ms.Rita Williams-Garcia i thank you for writing this wonderful book because it taught me a lot about what African Americans were going through. To me this book is both educational and entertaining. My favorite part of this book was when Cecile was questioned by Delphine on why she abandoned Vonetta,Fern and herself. Cecil remembered what it was like needing a female figure to help grow up. That was when Cecile realized that they were going to find out anyway so it was best to find out from her. Also Delphine got sick of being curious of why she did it. Surprisingly, Cecile told Delphine and what also slipped out was Fern's real name,Afua. This book is filled with curiosities that everyone will like.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best book i wish they had a series
gauravpatel More than 1 year ago
i would recomend this book to a friend. i would recommend this book because i like this book. also it is written by Rita wiliams Garcia .when I ask my other friends is the book one crazy summer good they say that the book is good. this book has earned lots of awards. This book is for 7th and 8th graders and most of my friend are from those grades. Now i will tell you about the book one crazy summer. In this book there is 3 sister ,Mom ,Dad, and a Grandmother. There dad and the grandmother sends the sisters to California for a cople weeks to live with there mother. when they were in the plane they were imagining about California , how fun it is. But when they got there the mother would not hangout with them and she would take them to a Chines takeout
BY-EDWIN More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book to a friend because this book is very touching. I liked that it made you feel like you were really there. This book is about three girls that went to visit their mother in Oakland. Their mother had abandoned them because she wanted to name Fern Afua. The good thing was that Nzlia realized that she wasn't acting like a mother. I liked when Delphine defended Afua when the three other sisters when are calling Afua a little baby because she carried a toy doll around with her when they where in the summer camp of The Blank Panthers. When Delphine told Fern that her name was Afua, Delphine and Vonneta were teasing her and then Nzila acted like a real mother and told them to cut it of.The good thing was that Nzlia realized that she wasn't acting like a mother. The good thing was that Nzlia realized that she wasn't acting like a mother. I really loved it when Afua read the poem about crazy Kelvin and when Nzila and when did you write that poem she said I didn't write it i read it. Even though Vonetta went to the other three sisters to play Delphine and Afua stuck together.One of the other sisters and Vonneta liked a boy that was in the summer camp so they were always competing and playing with him. Vonneta was very nervous when they were going to read their mothers poem when Delphine noticed she was nervous on the stage she said Horothio is watching and she said Janice hopes you trip.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good!! I recimmend it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book! It was a insperation! I loved it!
Paulette lawrence More than 1 year ago
I read this book in school and loved it
lauren_21 More than 1 year ago
This book is a touching story about a young girl and her siblings being sent to live with their mother that abandoned them when they were younger. This story is told in such a manner that you begin to feel yourself in the story. The author does a fantastic job with describing scenery and new characters introduced. You will find that this book is hard to put down. The story takes place in two different states. In the beginning the characters are in New York, and then move to California to be reunited with their mother. There is so much more to this story that I am dangerously close to saying, but it would give the whole story away. This is one of my favorite books that I have read.
Lawral More than 1 year ago
This is a book that I want to tell you all about in quotes, because even in soundbites, it's so so good. My sisters and I had stayed up practically all night California dreaming about what seemed like the other side of the world. We saw ourselves riding wild waves on surfboards, picking oranges and apples off fruit trees, filling out autograph books with signatures from movie stars we'd see in soda shops. Even better, we saw ourselves going to Disneyland. p.3 But they don't go to Disneyland. They go to Black Panther Summer Camp. Delphine, Vonetta and Fern learn about the movement, about the Panthers themselves (who they've only seen in news stories), and about each other. Delphine, the only of the three who remembers her to begin with, also gets to learn about the mother that abandoned them. But this isn't necessarily a book about the Black Panthers or the 60s or even finding a mother. This is mostly a sister book. There's Fern, the baby, who has carried around a (white) baby doll for as long as anyone can remember and is always ready to throw out a "surely" in support of her sisters. Vonetta who constantly seeks attention like the middle child she is, and is desperate to make friends with the most fashionable girls at camp, even at the expense of her sisters. Then there's Delphine. She promised her Pa she would take care of her younger sisters, like she always has, and it's her job to keep them out of trouble (and keep them from killing each other). She's saved up money to pay the fines on the books she checked out from the library to read to her sisters each night before bed. She plans activities for the three of them to do in order to make the most of their trip to California. She tries to stand in between her sisters and her mother; she remembers how crazy her mother can get. She's the leader. It's Delphine, Vonetta and Fern, their relationship and interactions, that drive the story. They help each other get through what looks like a horrible situation until it becomes kind of fun. Together they're the Gaither sisters. They finish each others sentences, each knows just how to get under the other two's skin, and though they take sides two against one all the time, they all always stand up for each other in the end. As the story progresses, the girls' mother becomes more of a real person than the dismissive, nervous woman who picked them up (late) from the airport. We also find out just how much Delphine remembers about her and how much she misses having a mother (even if she won't admit it). The relationship between Delphine and Cecile (their mother) is built on more understanding than either of them want to admit, and watching it unfold was one of the most moving parts of this story. Overall, One Crazy Summer was a wonderful book and totally deserving of it's numerous awards! It has it all: history, humor, emotion, drama, and annoying but lovable little sisters! Book source: Philly Free Library
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVE THE BOOK!BUY THE BOOK! PS:I read the book 6 times!
Sweetonbooks More than 1 year ago
. One Crazy Summer is the story of Delphine, Vonetta, Fern, and their mother Cecile, during the summer of 1968 in Oakland, California. . During the summer of 1968, Oakland was the center of the Black Panther movement. . This is a work of historical fiction, told from the unique point of view of an eleven year old girl. . This book has garnered a mass of awards this year, including: 2011 Coretta Scott King Award, 2011 Newbery Honor Book, 2011 Scott O'Dell Prize for Historical Fiction, and 2010 National Book Award Finalist. ------------------------------------------------------------ Delphine is our young narrator and in her brief eleven years she has seen a lot. She has watched her mother up and leave. She has learned how to make and keep Pa (their father) and Big Ma (their paternal grandmother) happy and to take care of just about every need of her two strong-willed younger sisters. Many times, while reading this book, I forgot just how young she was. During the summer of 1968, Pa decides it's time for the girls get to know their mother, Cecile, and puts them on a plane to Oakland, CA. With Big Ma's words in mind, "...Now don't go making a big, old Negro spectacle of yourselves", Delphine keeps the girls happy on the plane. Their dreams of Disney and Hollywood are quickly dashed when they arrive at Oakland airport and meet their mother, Cecile. As they wait and wait to be picked up, they finally notice a tall woman behind a large hat and sunglasses. She is looking at them but not approaching them. That is Cecile. The girls tell the flight attendant they have found their ride, and off to Cecile's house they go. Upon arrival, Cecile tells the girls to hand over the money their father gave them and to get lost. Delphine remains ever vigilant, taking care of her sisters during their four week stay, while making sure they stay out of Cecile's hair so she can write her poetry. The girls end up spending most of their time at the Black Panther Center, where they attend camp and get free breakfast. The reality of this movement is very different than what the girls saw on TV about the Black Panthers back in Brooklyn. Delphine wonders why they never showed the generosity of this group on the television, and only showed the protests that inevitable turned violent. Without even realizing it, the girls get a valuable lesson in their identity and culture. Williams-Garcia tells a story of a time that I, as a forty-one year old woman, knew not enough about. She has created an engaging, beautifully written story, that teaches and entertains. The characters are drawn so authentically. Delphine is currently my favorite heroine in all of children's literature. This is a must read story for children and adults of all races and creeds. It is the universal story of the triumph of the human spirit. This would make a terrific book club selection. There is so much to learn and so much to discuss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book! Super good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book i ever read.
Cayman Watson More than 1 year ago
i read this book many times. so worth your money go u must buy it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cant wait to read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was such a good read!
Haleigh Allario More than 1 year ago
My absolute favorite book ever!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not like this book even though it has like 4 medals but read it urself u might like it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awsome book! Reading it in class.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing way to teach us 9 year old kids about how life was not too long ago. I as a 9 year old girl recommend this book to all children and adults. Based in 1968. I am doing a book jacket on this amazing book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a 5 book thing for massachutes with my school and loved it it has won 4 MEDLELS and much more please write another book this one was amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Soo good it was great i read this fir school and i hate reading but this was a great book
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
Review title: The People's Center Summer Camp. How would you like to go back in time to the late 1960s and see the world through the eyes of three young girls? Well, you can. Go back to 1968 with an eleven year-old, a nine year-old, and a seven year-old to experience a summer they would remember for a lifetime. Many exciting adventures are in store for the three, and you will learn all about the sights and sounds they discovered as they traveled from the East coast to the West coast. *Informative. *Revealing. *Insightful. **Gives a look into childhood from different perspectives.