Cover image for One crazy summer
One crazy summer
Publication Information:
Prince Frederick, Md. : Recorded Books, p2010.
Physical Description:
5 sound discs (5 hr., 15 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:

Compact disc.
Added Author:
In the summer of 1968, after travelling 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.


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One Crazy Summer

Author Notes

Rita Williams-Garcia graduated from Hofstra University. She has written several books including Blue Tights, Every Time a Rainbow Dies, Fast Talk on a Slow Track, One Crazy Summer, and No Laughter Here. Like Sisters on the Homefront was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. She won the PEN/Norma Klein Award. She currently teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children and Young Adults Program. She won the Coretta Scott King awards in 2016 with her title Gone Crazy in Alabama in the author category.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

Horn Book Review

It's the summer of 1968, and eleven-year-old Delphine reluctantly shepherds her two younger sisters on their trip from Brooklyn to Oakland, where the mother who deserted them now lives. Thoroughly coached by her grandmother about how little Negro girls should behave to avoid scenes, Delphine maintains her own sensibility about what is appropriate and makes sure her sisters toe the line. Their mother Cecile is far from welcoming, sending them each day to the People's Center run by the Black Panthers to keep them out of her way while she writes her poetry. At the center, the girls get free food and an education in revolution. Williams-Garcia writes about that turbulent summer through the intelligent, funny, blunt voice of Delphine, who observes outsiders and her own family with shrewdness and a keen perception of why they each behave the way they do. Never afraid to stand up to anyone or anything, Delphine copes with her equally strong-willed mother calmly, "because that's how you treat crazy people." She takes over when she has to, and during the course of their month-long visit she refines her understanding of her mother and herself. 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 with their radical new ideas about the world. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Set in the tumultuous summer of 1968, Rita Williams-Garcia's splendid Newbery Honor-winning novel (Amistad, 2010) starts off with Delphine and her sisters visiting their mother, who abandoned them years earlier to pursue poetry. When they arrive at her house in a poor, mostly black neighborhood in Oakland, CA, their mother constantly mutters, "didn't want you to come." The sisters are soon fobbed off on the local Black Panthers' community center, where they learn that the group's primary mission is to serve the community and protect the rights of African Americans. Narrator Sisi Aisha Johnson infuses each character with a distinct personality and her tone of voice is upbeat and often humorous. This is storytelling at its finest. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

*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.--Engberg, Gillian Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

MOTHERS. Can't live with them. Can't live without them. Yet 11-year-old Delphine and her younger sisters Vonetta and Fern have done just fine without theirs. Cecile, a poet, walked out on them just after Fern was born. Now, in the summer of 1968, their father, with the reluctant agreement of their grandmother, has decided that the three girls need to leave their Brooklyn home to spend a few weeks with their mother in Oakland, Calif., to get to know her. Turns out she doesn't want to get to know them. After barely acknowledging them at the airport, Cecile brusquely takes them to her sparsely furnished stucco house; sends them to pick up a Chinese take-out dinner, which they eat on the floor; and then pretty much ignores them. The next day, wanting them out of her way, she directs them to the Black Panther People's Center. "Can't miss it. Nothing but black folks in black clothes rapping revolution and a line of hungry black kids." The girls are shocked; their mother is sending them on their own to a bunch of militant strangers? However, they need breakfast, so they find their way to the center, where they meet and learn about the Black Panthers, make friends and, as the summer goes on, contribute their own part to the movement. Surprising though it may be to those old enough to remember 1968, this is a work of historical fiction. The author - a National Book Award finalist for her young adult novel "Jumped" - is also old enough to remember, and she skillfully slips in wry period touches like Delphine's beloved Timex watch, "The Mike Douglas Show" on television and the picture - on the classroom wall at the People's Center - of Huey Newton "sitting in a big wicker chair with a rifle at his side." 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. "Papa didn't keep any pictures of Cecile, but I had a sense of her. Fuzzy flashes of her always came and went." THE only one of the three old enough to have memories, it is Delphine who tells their tale. Acting older than her age, she fusses over Vonetta and Fern, seeing they eat properly, reading them bedtime stories, filling in for the mother they never knew. But by the end of their visit that mother has, in spite of herself, begun to know her daughters, and wisely advises her oldest, "Be 11, Delphine. Be 11 while you can." 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. Monica Edinger, a teacher at the Dalton School in New York City, writes the blog Educating Alice.

Kirkus Review

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) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.