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One Crazy Summer (Gaither Sisters #1)

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  19,137 Ratings  ·  2,725 Reviews

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

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Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published January 26th 2010 by HarperCollins (first published 2010)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Read the blurb up there under the title. Better yet, read the book.
Joan This book is listed as being for young readers. However, I found it very enjoyable, and informative, and I am a senior citizen.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Wilhelmina Jenkins
I do not ordinarily read middle-grade books unless I am sharing them with my grandson, but I was drawn to this beautiful book initially because of its subject matter - children in Oakland during the early days of the Black Panther Party. But this book is so much more than its historical setting. I fell head-over-heels in love with the narrator of this book, Delphine, and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. With a group here on Goodreads, I recently reread the wonderful short story collection ...more
Rincey
Jul 23, 2016 Rincey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, poc-author
Well, that gave me a whole lotta feels.
Betsy
Jan 02, 2010 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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? ...more
Ivonne Rovira
May 24, 2014 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ivonne by: Amazon
It’s 1968, and 11-year-old Delphine Gaither has her hands full playing mother to her two little sisters, 9-year-old Vonetta, and 7-year-old Fern. She lives in Brooklyn with her father and his prim, old-fashioned mother, called Big Ma. Where’s the girls’ mother? Cecile Johnson abandoned the family before Delphine turned 5. Now Pa thinks the three Gaither girls should spend a month this summer with their long-lost mother in Oakland, California. And it will be one crazy summer.

You see, Cecile, now
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Afton Nelson
Oct 09, 2010 Afton Nelson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile
Important topic? Yes
Writing? Fabulous
Characters? Engaging
Newbery material? Well, I suppose since adults are the ones to vote, then yes. Probably. But if kids were voting, I'm not sure this book would make the Newbery radar. I started reading it to my kids and ended up finishing it myself. Normally when kids have an awful, self-centered mother or parent figure in children's literature, there is a candy house or 7 little men to make up for it. Not so in this book. Cecile never seemed to come aroun
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Beth Knight
Sep 16, 2011 Beth Knight rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
This is one of those "one more chapter and then I'l...(clean the kitchen, throw some clothes in the washer, take a shower, etc...)" kind of books. I loved it. I think Rita Williams-Garcia is a fantastic writer and she derserves all the awards and honors she got for this book. This is the first book of hers book I've read but it won't be the last. The story is fascinating (3 girls travel to California during the summer of 1968 to stay with the mother who abandoned them years before) and the setti ...more
Robin
Mar 07, 2013 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mcba-2013
I have mixed feelings about this book. It does several things successfully: Sister relationships, kids who have to take on extra responsibility at a young age, homeless teens, and political action in America in the 1960s. And all within a palatable mid-elementary storyline. I worry, though, that kids far removed from that time and place will somehow get the picture that the black panthers condoned abandoning your children. The panther characters in this book seem angry, dogmatic, and tone-deaf t ...more
Raina
Aug 21, 2012 Raina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j, urban, historical, feminist
Delphine is growing up under tough circumstances. She is the de facto leader of her little family. Her sisters look up to her. Her mom left the family years ago, but now Delphine and her sisters are going to stay with her for the summer.

I kind of loved the depiction of this very nontraditional mother. Delphine's mom is politically active, professional, creative, stylish, and not particularly interested in her children. The neglect is awful, of course, but I think it's healthy to see moms who do
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Nnedi
Jul 03, 2011 Nnedi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
loved it. fun read and perfect for young girls and boys. i wish i had this kind of book when i was a kid. but i'm content knowing that my daughter does. by the end, as an adult reader, i had the warm fuzzies.
Ashley
Update! Here's my full review: http://www.bookishrealmreviews.com/20...

This book was phenomenal. I really enjoyed it. It definitely weaves in some interesting aspects of history! I had no idea how involved children were in the Black Panther Party. I knew about it's origins and it's most prominent members; however, I had no idea that children played such a significant role in doing small things for the party such as coloring in protest signs, organizing party newspapers, and protesting and perfor
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Jessica
Simply wonderful. A truly beautiful book, and sadly, the issues of racism, poverty, and inequality are still current. An important book that I will be having my 10yo read next so that we can discuss it.
Lata
This book was terrific! I've never read anything by this author, and decided to check it out based on its cover. The girls looked so strong and I had to know where they were going.
I found myself pulled immediately into the narrative. Delphine, the eldest of three sisters, has such a mature voice for an 11-year old, and her sense of responsibility and integrity shine through her words. I liked how she managed her two younger sisters' moods and behaviours, and functioned as their mother, essential
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Lisa Vegan
Oct 25, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kids who enjoy historical fiction stories & stories with a girl narrator
Wow, what a trip, as we used to say back in ’68. Did this ever bring me back to the summer of 1968! I was not an African-American eleven year old girl visiting Oakland, but I was a fourteen year old white Jewish girl across the bay living in San Francisco. There was a chapter that takes place in San Francisco.

So, the author got one thing wrong about Oakland (no, there are no hills at all in that part of town) and maybe one thing about San Francisco wrong: I don’t think there were palm trees in t
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Saejean
Jan 08, 2014 Saejean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has one of the rarest characters in literature, especially among children's stories: Cecile, self-named Nzilla, is a poet, an artist, a printer, a Black Panther, and a "crazy" mother who abandoned her three children.

I personally loved this book. Delphine is easy to empathize with, through her confusions and her pride. Nzilla is a beautiful artist that refuses to play by the rules called out for her, and instead transforms herself to become who she wills herself to be. The writing is r
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Marjorie Ingall
This didn't just blow my socks off; it blew them through space and time. This book was a TOTAL SOCK-OBLITERATING EXPERIENCE.

11-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters are sent to Oakland from Brooklyn for a month during the summer of 1968 to meet their mother, Cecile, who walked out when the youngest was a newborn. Turns out Cecile, who now goes by Nzila, wants nothing to do with her daughters (who live with their dad and grandmother) -- she's now a poet and an associate of the Black Panth
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Laura
Maybe 2 1/2 stars because I really liked the relationship between the three sisters. The book takes place in 1968 and three sisters are sent from Brooklyn, NY to Oakland, CA to stay with their mother, who left when they were babies. Their mother doesn't want them there, so I can't imagine why their father thought this was a good idea. She's a bad mother. That's it. No redeeming qualities at all (unless you count that she's a poet who cares more about her poetry than anyone around her... and tell ...more
Hallie
Mar 16, 2015 Hallie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was so great - it's going on to the (virtual) shelf of MG books that present difficult, even painful family dynamics with a light and humorous touch. Delphine is wonderful, and the time and place beautifully depicted. It was also great to learn about the type of summer camp the Black Panthers ran in many communities. I especially loved the way we see Delphine finally able to voice her anger at her mother for leaving, and know that's not the end of it. Just one small quote:
I wouldn't be exa
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Mary Ronan Drew
Nov 25, 2010 Mary Ronan Drew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Absolutely no one.
This book is a dramatic revisionist history of the Black Panther Party. The book is not particularly well written and most of the "facts" are incorrect. There is a sudden, sentimental, and entirely unbelievable character change at the end. Serious, hard-working and loving characters are disparaged. A mother who abandoned her husband and three children to become a poet and find herself is presented positively.

I read this children's book as a potential Newbery winner. I think, unfortunately, it ma
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Katie Lalor
I really enjoyed this historical fiction novel because of the history I learned. It centered mostly on the Black Panthers in the late 1960s, which I knew little about. The author incorporated many tools to really show/teach the time period. As for the fiction side, I liked that it came from the perspective of children who knew little about the Black Panthers, and also went on an adventure to discover more about their mother. Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the many historical people t ...more
Phil Jensen
Oct 20, 2015 Phil Jensen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am reviewing the author instead of the book.

Rita Williams-Garcia is deeply committed to her work and her readers. I offered this book to my students because it had strong reviews and my students seemed interested in it. When we started reading it, my 6th grade students raised some questions about the words "colored," "black," and "Negro" that appear in the book. I answered the questions as best I could, but then I thought, hey, what does the author think these words mean?

I searched for William
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R.J.
Mar 15, 2015 R.J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've heard so many wonderful things about this book since it won the Newbery Honor, I'm embarrassed to admit it's taken me this long to read it. However, as I'd avoided any reviews that seemed spoilery I had no clear idea of what the story was about, except for the story of three sisters growing up in the 1960's and having some sort of summer adventure.

In short, I had no idea what a fascinating, surprising, soul-searching story was ahead of me, and I'm even more happy now that I went in unspoile
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Laura
Delphine(11), Vonetta(9), and Fern(7) are sent to spend a month in the summer with their mother, Cecile, who abandoned them when Fern was just an infant. Delphine is in charge of herding the girls across country from Brooklyn to Oakland and making sure the younger sisters behave and don’t act like a “big Negro spectacle”. Upon arrival Cecile immediately lets the girls know that she doesn’t want them there and that they better not bother her peace and quiet. Instead of spending time with them, sh ...more
Didi
Jul 03, 2013 Didi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent novel for middle grade readers in particular to learn about the sixties and the Black Panthers. Fast enjoyable read and full of a lot of sentiment and humour. Check out my in-depth review http://didibooksenglish.wordpress.com...
Lindsay
So fantastic the second time around. I am excited to discuss this with my kids at the library!
Eva Mitnick
There's something so refreshing to me about books in which the parents aren't perfect, earnest, cookie-cutter, or generic. Often in children's books, the parents are by far the least interesting characters, which is just not right considering the huge importance parents have in a child's life. And even though children may often take their parents for granted, that doesn't mean the reader must.

In One Crazy Summer, 11-year-old Delphine sure doesn't take her mom for granted. Cecile left Delphine, h
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Michael
Despite taking place in the context of a dysfunctional family in the volatile and violent Civil Rights era of the late 1960's, this was actually a sweet, almost sentimental tale, wrapped in tender care for its young African American protagonists as they try to make their way in a confusing world. And a confusing world it is: their mother left them when they were all under four years old, and they are visiting her for the first time in Oakland, CA, during the summer of 1968, right after Martin Lu ...more
Sarah BT
May 05, 2010 Sarah BT rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really fell hard for this book-I reviewed it for TeensReadToo.com and it recieve a Gold Star award from me-I loved it that much. It’s hard to express how wonderful this book is and how much I adored it. I was pretty sure I would enjoy since I had been hearing a positive buzz around this book. But I was completely unexpected 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
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Jennifer
Mar 12, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tweener-lit
When Rita Williams-Garcia visited the Tween Media Literacy class I co-taught this past fall as a guest speaker, she dubbed her latest effort "The Penderwicks meets The Black Panthers," and I can't think of a more apt description than that!

The world of 1960's activism and the Black Power movement is seen through the eyes of eleven-year-old Delphine, who, along with her two younger sisters, are visiting their mother for the first time in the summer of 1968. Cecile abandoned the family when the gi
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Megan
Audience: Intermediate
Genre: Historical Fiction

Discussion Questions:
Remembering: What are the names of the three sisters traveling to meet their mother for the first time?
Understanding: While the girls were waiting in the airport for their plane to leave for Oakland, what is meant by "There weren't too many of "us" in the waiting area, and too many of "them" were staring."?
Applying: What questions would you want to ask your mother if you were just meeting her for the first time?
Analyzing: What
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"I was born in Queens, N.Y, on April 13, 1957. My mother, Miss Essie, named me 'NoMo' immediately after my birth. Although I was her last child, I took my time making my appearance. I like to believe I was dreaming up a good story and wouldn’t budge until I was finished. Even now, my daughters call me 'Pokey Mom', because I slow poke around when they want to go-go-go.

"I learned to read early, and
...more
More about Rita Williams-Garcia...

Other Books in the Series

Gaither Sisters (3 books)
  • P.S. Be Eleven (Gaither Sisters, #2)
  • Gone Crazy in Alabama (Gaither Sisters, #3)

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“We all have our la-la-la song. The thing we do when the world isn't singing a nice tune to us. We sing our own nice tune to drown out ugly.” 24 likes
“It was a strange, wonderful feeling. To discover eyes upon you when you expected no one to notice you at all.” 16 likes
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