Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One Crazy Summer

One Crazy SummerTitle: One Crazy Summer
Author: Rita Williams-Garcia
Publisher: Amistad
Publication Date: January 2010
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Novel
Summary: Delphine was forced to grow up quicker than an eleven year old should. Her mother left her and her 2 sisters 7 years ago and since then, Delphine has been in charge. This doesn't change when the girls finally get to see their mother in Oakland, CA Cecile for a month during the summer of 1968- she wants nothing to do with them and Delphine, once again, has to take care of her sisters. The only guidance Cecile gives the girls is where the Chinese take-out restaurant is and how to get to the Black Panthers's summer camp where they have to spend most of their time. This summer makes Delphine and her sisters grow up even more.
What Kellee Thinks: Rita Williams-Garcia is a genius when it comes to characterization. The two books I've read by her have been VERY different, but the strength of the writing of characters was a constant in both stories. Each character is uniquely written, holds up in dialogue and are completely immersed in the story that Williams-Garcia has put them in. It is a beautiful thing and translates into fluid and poetic narrative. While reading and searching for snatches of text to share, I marked at least 17 different passages that I wanted to share. All in a novel that has a great story and history lesson rolled into one. You want to know what is going to happen to Delphine. You want to learn more about the Black Panthers. You have to keep reading because you want to know more.
What Jen Thinks: I agree that the writing was great in this book. I have to say this is a book that is historical fiction and portrays a time in history but it was hard for me to relate to not knowing much about the topic. It reminded me of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson because I felt somewhat disconnected from both of them because it was really hard for me to relate to them. I wonder if a student who reads either of these books might need to gather up some background knowledge before reading them? Or at least have an adult to talk to about the historical aspects of the books.
From a mother's standpoint it was hard for me to read One Crazy Summer knowing how the mother treated Delphine and her sisters. I do like the story of sisters, though.
Read Together: 3-8
Read Alone: 5-8
Read With: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, The Gold Cadillac by Mildred D. Taylor, Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kahohata, The Watsons Go To Birmingham- 1963 by Paul Christopher Curtis, Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
Snatch of Text: "Mother is a statement of fact. Cecile Johnson gave birth to us. We came out of Cecile Johnson. In the animal kingdom that makes her our mother. Every mammal has a mother, dead or alive. Ran off or stay put. Cecile Johnson- mammal birth giver, alive, an abandoner- is our mother. A statement of fact... Never Mommy, Mom, Mama, or Ma. Mommy gets up to give you a glass of water in the middle of the night. Mom invites your friends inside when it's raining. Mama burns your ears with the hot comb to make your hair look pretty for class picture day. Ma is sore and worm from writing your wet clothes and hanign them to dry; ma needs peace and quiet at the end of the day. We don't have one of those. We have a statement of face." (p. 14)

"Even the seagulls were seagullier than the ones that flew and squawked around Coney Island. These wide-winged birds seemed bigger and majestic, both close-up and far away. Or maybe it was that we could see and smell the ocean and the tar, salt and wood from the wharf. I breathed in deep to get it all. Too bad there was no way to capture the wharf sell in a jar to take with me." (p. 164)

"At night I talked to myself to stay awake. I said the poems of Homer and Langston Hughes. I liked the words. They comforted me. Their rhymes. Their beats. They made a place for me. They kept me strong." (p. 208)

Fabulous examples of similes in the text on pages 1, 2, 85, 161, 163, 174, 190, 191
Some beautiful pieces of poetry on pages 148-149, 196-197
Reading Strategies to Practice: Characterization, Making connections, Poetry
Writing Strategies to Practice: Descriptive, Dialogue, Figurative language, Sensory details
Writing Prompts: The Black Panthers were trying to change something about society they thought was an injustice. If you could change one thing about the world today, what would it be?
Topics Covered: Integration- Social Studies, Civil Rights, Black Panthers, Poetry, Family, Prejudice, Tolerance
Translated to Spanish: No
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