Sunday, January 1, 2012

One Crazy Summer Review

Book talk: This was not how their trip to California was supposed to go.  They were supposed to go to Disneyland and meet Tinkerbell instead of being stuck in Oakland eating breakfast with the Black Panthers.  Delphine knew it was a bad idea to go see the mother who abandoned them as children.  She barely even glanced at her and her sisters when they arrived in the airport and she won't let them anywhere near her kitchen where she makes her poetry.  Now Delphine is stuck watching after her younger sisters, yet again and keeping them safe is no easy task.  They all want to go to the Black Panther rally, but she's read about people being arrested or even killed at them.  What's more important: fighting for what she believes in or keeping her sisters safe?

Rocks my socks: Williams-Garcia does a great job re-creating a pivotal era and populating it with layered and endearing characters that make you care about their problems like they were your own.  They get into a lot of the issues and present some questions to sink your teeth into, while remaining appropriate for a young audience.  I enjoyed seeing the Black Panther movement from the perspective of their summer camp program.  I also loved the local color, of course, being a bay area resident.  I cracked up when they took a trip to San Francisco and were excited about seeing a real flower girl.

Rocks in my socks: The ending was a bit too neat for me, especially considering what a messy period it was. The character we didn't like got his deserts and the girls made a kind of peace with their mother.  They also didn't get as deep into the lives of some of their summer school classmates as I would have liked.  There was a romantic subplot that seemed tacked on to the end as an afterthought.  But those are all rather minor complaints.  This was a great book.

Every book its reader: I'd give this to students grades 4 to 6 who want to learn more about the 60's in general or the Black Panthers specifically.  For older students I'd recommend The Rock and the River which is another excellent novel on the subject that's a bit older and grittier with more complexity to it.  The book has appeal beyond that subject area though, and would be fun for any student in those grades looking for a good summer story.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Buy it or check it out today!

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