One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer

4.3 175
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

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Overview

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

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Editorial Reviews

Monica Edinger
The story is tightly centered around the three sisters. In spare, poetic prose Williams-Garcia layers nuanced descriptions and brief, evocative scenes to create three utterly distinctive characters—Fern, the youngest, looking out a bus window and singing to herself; the usually brazen Vonetta freezing up with stage fright at a rally; and the stoic Delphine remembering her mother before she left them…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.
—The New York Times
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)
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...”
Booklist
"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

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061966675
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/26/2010
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
49,757
Lexile:
750L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
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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