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One Crazy Summer Paperback – December 27, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad; Reprint edition (December 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060760907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060760908
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4–7—It is 1968, and three black sisters from Brooklyn have been put on a California-bound plane by their father to spend a month with their mother, a poet who ran off years before and is living in Oakland. It's the summer after Black Panther founder Huey Newton was jailed and member Bobby Hutton was gunned down trying to surrender to the Oakland police, and there are men in berets shouting "Black Power" on the news. Delphine, 11, remembers her mother, but after years of separation she's more apt to believe what her grandmother has said about her, that Cecile is a selfish, crazy woman who sleeps on the street. At least Cecile lives in a real house, but she reacts to her daughters' arrival without warmth or even curiosity. Instead, she sends the girls to eat breakfast at a center run by the Black Panther Party and tells them to stay out as long as they can so that she can work on her poetry. Over the course of the next four weeks, Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, spend a lot of time learning about revolution and staying out of their mother's way. Emotionally challenging and beautifully written, this book immerses readers in a time and place and raises difficult questions of cultural and ethnic identity and personal responsibility. With memorable characters (all three girls have engaging, strong voices) and a powerful story, this is a book well worth reading and rereading.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Eleven-year-old Delphine has only a few fragmented memories of her mother, Cecile, a poet who wrote verses on walls and cereal boxes, played smoky jazz records, and abandoned the family in Brooklyn after giving birth to her third daughter. In the summer of 1968, Delphine’s father decides that seeing Cecile is “something whose time had come,” and Delphine boards a plane with her sisters to Cecile’s home in Oakland. What they find there is far from their California dreams of Disneyland and movie stars. “No one told y’all to come out here,” Cecile says. “No one wants you out here making a mess, stopping my work.” Like the rest of her life, Cecile’s work is a mystery conducted behind the doors of the kitchen that she forbids her daughters to enter. For meals, Cecile sends the girls to a Chinese restaurant or to the local, Black Panther–run community center, where Cecile is known as Sister Inzilla and where the girls begin to attend youth programs. 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. Set during a pivotal moment in African American history, this vibrant novel shows the subtle ways that political movements affect personal lives; but just as memorable is the finely drawn, universal story of children reclaiming a reluctant parent’s love. Grades 4-7. --Gillian Engberg --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

I read this for a book report, and ended up really liking it.
hailstorm
Excellent book about three sisters who travel from Brooklyn to Oakland one summer to visit the mother that abandoned them when the youngest girl, Fern, was a newborn.
Kaui
The characters are well written with interesting characteristics.
Reading in Color

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
When I heard that teen author Rita Williams-Garcia had written a middle grade novel for kids I wasn't moved one way or another. I don't read teen books. Couldn't say I knew much of the woman's work. When I heard that her book was about the Black Panthers, however, my interest was piqued. Black Panthers, eh? The one political group so difficult to write about that you can't find them in a single children's book (aside from "The Rock and the River" by Kekla Magoon, of course). So what was her take? How was she going to do it? But the thing is, "One Crazy Summer" is more than merely a historical tale. It's a story about family and friendships and self-sacrifice. There are so many ideas floating about this little novel that you'd think it would end up some kind of unholy mess. Instead, it's funny and painful and just a little bit brilliant. "One Crazy Summer" is a book that's going to earn itself a lot of fans. And a lot of them are going to be kids.

Eleven going on twelve Delphine has always kept a sharp eye on her little nine and seven-year-old sisters Vonetta and Fern. That's because their mother left them seven years ago and never came back again. "Cecile Johnson - mammal birth giver, alive, an abandoner - is our mother. A statement of fact." So when their father packs them on a plane and sends them to Oakland, California to see Cecile, their mom, the girls have no idea what to expect. Certainly they didn't think she'd just leave them in a kind of daycare over the summer run by members of the Black Panthers. And they probably didn't expect that their mother would want near to nothing to do with them, save the occasional meal and admonishment to keep out of her kitchen.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By D. Merrimon Crawford VINE VOICE on February 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In 1968, the world is in the midst of a great change. In April, Martin Luther King. Jr. is assassinated, and President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act. The Black Panthers organize to promote Black Power in Oakland. All the news reports and history books rarely talk about the silent witnesses to these great societal changes. Who were the children? How did history change their lives?

In the summer of 1968, eleven year old Delphine and her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, take a plane from Brooklyn to visit their mother Cecile in Oakland, California. Her father and Big Ma don't exactly approve of crazy Cecile, but keeping the children from their mother forever is not the solution either. As every good sister does, Delphine takes care of her younger sisters, especially now on this new journey and under instructions from her family to do so. Cecile isn't exactly a fairy tale mother. Rather than cook homemade meals, she gives them money to buy Chinese take-out. Cecile's kitchen is off limits. Strange men in Afros and black berets knock on her door demanding her assistance. Cecile sends her three daughters to a summer camp headed by the revolutionary Black Panthers. Delphine's summer in Oakland isn't exactly the kind of experience her teachers back home would expect in a "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essay!

In ONE CRAZY SUMMER, readers see the historical changes through the eyes of Delphine. With humor, honesty, and innocence, Delphine comments on the events unfolding before her in the way only a child can. Delphine is quite conscious of the differences between blacks and whites in society, yet she is also a girl who responds from her heart rather than from slogans or mandates from others.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on May 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Gold Star Award Winner!

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.
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