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Writers Against Racism: ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia

I’m so excited! I was asked to moderate SLJ’s Day of Dialog, which they host prior to  the opening of Book Expo America, on May 23; details to follow. Interestingly enough and later that day, I am hosting another panel at The Hewitt School: A Conversation About Books Pt2.

One of the SLJ panelists (hopefuls) is Rita Williams-Garcia.  (Coming events must cast a shadow because a month ago, I wrote a short post about my reaction to ONE CRAZY SUMMER.)


Don’t judge a book OR a mother by her cover.  Lessons I Learned after reading One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad/Harper Collins,  NY 2010).  And NO, I did not read the reviews or the award announcements until AFTER I read the book.


The book jacket says it all: a pensive looking black girl, wearing cornrows (like I used to wear), and a loving – or what appears to be – a mother, in the background – holding her baby tightly.  WOW! I thought.  I’m in for an adventure with some black folks I can relate to.  Little did I know that I would be catapulted back in time to the summer of 1968.  My birth year. Back to when technology, as we know it, was non existent.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad/Harper Collins,  NY 2010) was one book where I avoided reading the reviews. I wanted my pure reaction. 

Words, opinions, and thoughts from others have a tremendous  impact on me.  I might, however, have to change that because I can’t afford crying over a book, on a NYC subway train with no Kleenex available. People look at you strangely.

Such was the case, when I neared the ending of One Crazy Summer. I refused to give away the ‘story’ per se but I will reveal just why this book is the perfect book for ALL grade school students.  In some schools, books by authors of color are not always checked out because of the demographics. Come on! Let’s teach our students HOW to relate to the characters!

1) Having four older sisters, I can relate to the love AND possessiveness Delphine felt for her two younger sisters. My sisters STILL think they mothered me.

2) Mothers! Wow!  Rita Williams-Garcia forces her readers to analyze the role of mothers. What does it mean and to whom? The children have a viewpoint. What is the extended family’s perception. And then there’s the mother. Why does she, or why do WE do what we do?  To what end? And from what experiences are the ingredients for motherhood?

3) I started out JUDGING Cecile. I actually hated her at times. I also hated myself because I saw some of me in her. As mothers, we are not always ‘on’ and we’re judged for that. Cecile gave herself permission to disappear leaving Delphine (in her mind) as the caretaker.  

One Crazy Summer is a book  that would indeed enhance a history curriculum in the middle grade years.  Are there any school teachers or librarians out there who are reading this with their classes?

Let me know.

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  1. I read this aloud to my 4th grade class last year with great success and later reviewed it for the NYT. Here is a blog post after Rita and her editor visited my class along with some excerpts from emails my kids wrote to me about the book: I recommend it highly as a teachable book.

  2. Once I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any approach you’ll be able to remove me from that service? Thanks!