What You Need to Know:|
• One Crazy Summer is the story of Delphine, Vonetta, Fern, and their mother Cecile, during the summer of 1968 in
• During the summer of 1968, Oakland was the center of the Black Panther movement.
• This is a work of historical fiction, told from the unique point of view of an eleven year old girl.
• This book has garnered a mass of awards this year, including: 2011 Coretta Scott King Award, 2011 Newbery
Honor Book, 2011 Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction, and 2010 National Book Award Finalist.
Delphine is our young narrator and in her brief eleven years she has seen a lot. She has watched her mother up and leave. She has learned how to make and keep Pa (their father) and Big Ma (their paternal grandmother) happy and to take care of just about every need of her two strong-willed younger sisters. Many times, while reading this book, I forgot just how young she was. During the summer of 1968, Pa decides it's time for the girls get to know their mother, Cecile, and puts them on a plane to Oakland, CA. With Big Ma's words in mind, "...Now don't go making a big, old Negro spectacle of yourselves", Delphine keeps the girls happy on the plane. Their dreams of Disney and Hollywood are quickly dashed when they arrive at Oakland airport and meet their mother, Cecile. As they wait and wait to be picked up, they finally notice a tall woman behind a large hat and sunglasses. She is looking at them but not approaching them. That is Cecile. The girls tell the flight attendant they have found their ride, and off to Cecile's house they go.
Upon arrival, Cecile tells the girls to hand over the money their father gave them and to get lost. Delphine remains ever vigilant, taking care of her sisters during their four week stay, while making sure they stay out of Cecile's hair so she can write her poetry. The girls end up spending most of their time at the Black Panther Center, where they attend camp and get free breakfast. The reality of this movement is very different than what the girls saw on TV about the Black Panthers back in Brooklyn. Delphine wonders why they never showed the generosity of this group on the television, and only showed the protests that inevitable turned violent. Without even realizing it, the girls get a valuable lesson in their identity and culture.
Williams-Garcia tells a story of a time that I, as a forty-one year old woman, knew not enough about. She has created an engaging, beautifully written story, that teaches and entertains. The characters are drawn so authentically. Delphine is currently my favorite heroine in all of children's literature. This is a must read story for children and adults of all races and creeds. It is the universal story of the triumph of the human spirit. This would make a terrific book club selection. There is so much to learn and so much to discuss.
2010, 224 pages
Friendship, Family Life, Growing Up, History, Diversity, Good Book Club Selection
• What do you think of Pa forcing the girls to go to California?
• Do you think it was a good idea in the beginning? Did your view of that change by the end of the girls' story?
• Of the three sisters, Delphine, Vonetta and Fern, whom did you most relate to? Why?
• Do you think Cecile was horrible? Did she have any reasons to behave the way she was behaving?
• Do you think the girls got an education in Oakland they otherwise would not have gotten in Brooklyn? Why
or why not?
• How do you think each sister changed during their four weeks abroad?
• What do you think happened when they got back to Brooklyn? Do you think they were different?
• Do you think they saw Cecile again? Why do you think they would or wouldn't want to see her again?
• How did the final scene in the airport affect you? Did it change your opinion of Cecile?
• What kind of a mother was Cecile? Did you like her?
• Do you think she should have left her daughter's and gone away? Why? Why not?
• How do you think the children felt?
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