Summary: One Crazy Summer is the story of three African American girls who were abandoned by their mother at a young age. Fortunately, they still had their father and Big Ma. One day, it is decided that they must go visit their mother, who lives in Oakland.Their mother is not to enthusiastic to have her daughters around. She doesn’t really care for them and lets them do whatever they want as long as they don’t bother her. Throughout the summer, they meet the Black Panthers and that’s when they realize their crazy summer just began!
Cultural Markers: This book is set in the summer of 1968, so the Civil Rights Movement is well underway and this book revolves around it. The main thing we see is the involvement of the Black Panthers that the sisters come across. Another cultural marker are the names of the characters. The three girls names (Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern) come from African descent. The dialect spoken by the characters is one that is attributed to African Americans. The girls grandma is referred to as “Big Ma,” which is another attribute to African American culture. There is also some references to their religion, which is common for African Americans during that time period. The last cultural marker can be seen in the front cover of the book. This book does not have many illustrations, but the way the three girls are illustrated works well with the African American culture and the setting of the 1960s. Their clothes and hairstyle is all of the time period and their culture. The skin color of the girls is dark and well portrayed without any exaggerations.
Awards: 2011 Coretta Scott King Award.
Personal Reflection: This historical fiction novel was a bit different than what one is used to because we are seeing things through the eyes of an eleven year old girl. She gets sent to spend some time with her mother only to find out that her mom has more important things to deal with. Then you have the involvement of the Black Panthers, it is like this girl and her sisters are just overwhelmed. I still feel like that this is a novel that should be in any reading and social studies teachers library because it is well written, clever, and it puts you right in their spot so you can imagine everything that is going on at that point in history.
From School Library Journal: “Emotionally challenging and beautifully written, this book immerses readers in a time and place and raises difficult questions of cultural and ethnic identity and personal responsibility. With memorable characters (all three girls have engaging, strong voices) and a powerful story, this is a book well worth reading and rereading.”
From Booklist: “Set during a pivotal moment in African American history, this vibrant novel shows the subtle ways that political movements affect personal lives; but just as memorable is the finely drawn, universal story of children reclaiming a reluctant parent’s love. Grades 4-7.”
Lesson Plans: https://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?tid=17070&a=1