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One Crazy Summer

(Gaither Sisters #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  27,289 ratings  ·  3,721 reviews
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 ca ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 26th 2010 by Quill Tree Books
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Joan This book is listed as being for young readers. However, I found it very enjoyable, and informative, and I am a senior citizen.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Read the blurb up there under the title. Better yet, read the book.

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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  27,289 ratings  ·  3,721 reviews

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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
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, poc-author
Well, that gave me a whole lotta feels.
Afton Nelson
Oct 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
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
Ivonne Rovira
May 24, 2014 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
Beth Knight
Sep 16, 2011 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
Lisa Vegan
Oct 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 03, 2011 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.
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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
I love when I stumble upon young adult fiction that I, an adult, can not put down. This is historical fiction, set in the tumultuous times of racial disharmony, 1968. This book was particulary interesting for me, just having read Roots. It was painful to be reminded of what little progress our nation had made toward racial equality in the 100 years that had passed since the Civil War.
This is a gem of a book, with rich, developed characters and a great use of dialogue and voice to move the story
Phil Jensen
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Update! Here's my full review:

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
I enjoy books 📚 when a child is the protagonist. Taken place during the 1960’s. This book was different I’ve never read anything about black panthers and how much adults and children where involved secretly. I love the girls personality they were so funny and sassy and all so different. Want to read more from this author.
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.
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminist, urban, j, historical
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
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Marjorie Ingall
Apr 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mary Ronan Drew
Nov 25, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Read this on my daughter's recommendation when I was home sick and was not disappointed! Author has a wonderful style of writing drawing characterizations of the sisters through their dialogue and age appropriate reactions to the setting and situations throughout their "crazy summer." I especially liked how the main character's first impression of her mother slowly evolves through the summer and the experiences she has while in San Francisco. The book left a lasting impression. Topics that were ...more
Brown Girl Reading
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 ...more
Mar 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 16, 2015 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
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars rounded down

The number 1 reason I don’t like when books are a series is b/c the endings always feel rushed and leave me dissatisfied and confused. I don’t want to have to read another book when everything can be said in this one! But I digress...

One Crazy Summer was a quick, well-written middle grade novel about 3 sisters who get shipped across the country to Oakland, California and end up spending the summer at a Black Panther Day Camp. It was cool seeing the Panthers depicted in a wa
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
Three young girls are sent to visit their estranged mother in Oakland during the summer of 1968. The mother is despicable, which makes any reader question why their father and paternal grandmother thought this was a good idea. She makes Delphine, 11 years old, hand over all of their money when they arrive. This may be okay as a story about their summer adventure, but it sorely lacked any meaningful development of prevalent issues from that pivotal time in social issues and race relations. The si ...more
Chapter Chat
“Cecile made it sound like it was no big deal. "I've been fighting for freedom all my life." But she wasn't talking about protest signs, standing up to the Man, and knowing your rights. She was talking about her life. Just her. Not the people.”
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Lauren Stoolfire
One Crazy Summer is a refreshing, beautifully written middle grade historical fiction novel set in 1960s Oakland, California. The characters are incredibly well-written and unforgettable, and not without their flaws - Delphine, our leading character is fascinating, as is Cecile/ Nzila, her estranged mother. This story also deals with pretty heavy subjects, primarily involving racism in a turbulent time and place - and it does a good job of handling the topic and not sugar coating difficult situa ...more
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Play Book Tag: (Poll Ballot) One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia - 3 stars 1 8 Feb 02, 2020 04:55PM  
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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

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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