Monday, November 20, 2017

Middle Grade Monday: One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia


Title: One Crazy Summer
Author: Rita Williams-Garcia
Publisher: Amistad, 2010. 217 pages.
Source: Library

Publisher's Summary:

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.

In a humorous and breakout book by Williams-Garcia, the Penderwicks meet the Black Panthers.

My Review:  
Before I start my review, I'm going to share the list of awards this book has received: 

With that much confirmation that it is a good book, what can I say? I read this because I stumbled on the sequel, P.S.: Be Eleven and was intrigued by the characters, the setting, and a view into a different world from my own. Of course, being me, I had to read the books in order, so I sent for this one through the library.

So do I think it's worth all those awards? Probably maybe. I like the description above, of "the Penderwicks meet the Black Panthers," because it does have some of that feel. There is a huge potential weight in this book, but it is kept at bay by a good grip on humor, and maybe the absurd (did the Black Panthers run summer camps for kids? I am not completely sure about that, but they did invent the free breakfast program). It's good to be shown another side of something that the media painted with a pretty broad brush at the time, and maybe ever since.

Like many children's books, this is also about family, and what it means. I think Delphine and her sisters get some lessons there, but not as big a lesson as their mother does.

My Recommendation:
Definitely worth reading, for both an engaging story and an historical education. I will be reading the sequel(s) soon.

FTC Disclosure: I checked One Crazy Summer out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  


  1. To what extent do you think these awards are about reaction to our political situation, and bandwagon works for various political correctness themes? Having got Willoughby tasked to do stories for the populace to engage them with what the kings are doing, you know where I'm coming from.
    It's a bit like the Oscars, really. Sometimes (especially in uncertain times) they seem to be about affirming (or opposing) a policy, rather than merit in the film itself.
    Hm... a bit heavy for first thing in the morning (for me)

    1. I wondered a bit about that myself. The book does shed some light on a period of history that is seeming more relevant all the time (though it actually came out before Black Lives Matter and all the racial ugliness that the US is experiencing right now [which was always there, but has become more blatant and more talked about]). The fact that I'm still giving some thought to what all it was about suggests that it's worth some awards.

      I think we have noticed before in GMGR that sometimes the awards seem more based on what the adults like than what the children will read, but in this case, I think the book has appeal for both (and it has to be nice for African American kids to have books with characters who look like them).


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