Module 5 Other Award Winners
One Crazy Summer
by Rita Williams Garcia
In the summer of 1968 three sisters named Vonetta, Fern, and Delphine travel to Oakland to reunite with their estranged mother. Life with their father and grandmother in Brooklyn is sheltered and they surprised by the differences on the west coast. The are excited to spend time with their mother, but she sends them to community center. In this new community the girls are introduced to Black Panther members. They find themselves questioning why things are so different back in Brooklyn as they volunteer their time to help the Black Panthers.
Williams-Garcia, R. (2010). One Crazy Summer. New York: Amistad.
My Impressions of the Book
Fern, Vonetta, and Delphine all have very different personalities and they interact well together throughout the novel. Delphine questions more than her sisters, but together they make a great team. The girls do a good job speaking up for themselves in a strange place where they have no one to lean on as they build a relationship with their mother. It is delightful to see their courage grow as begin to find a place for themselves. The bond they form between themselves and their mother in the end is heartwarming and it proves important things are worth fighting for whether it’s family or rights.
It is 1968, and three black sisters from Brooklyn have been put on a California-bound plane by their father to spend a month with their mother, a poet who ran off years before and is living in Oakland. It's the summer after Black Panther founder Huey Newton was jailed and member Bobby Hutton was gunned down trying to surrender to the Oakland police, and there are men in berets shouting "Black Power" on the news. Delphine, 11, remembers her mother, but after years of separation she's more apt to believe what her grandmother has said about her, that Cecile is a selfish, crazy woman who sleeps on the street. At least Cecile lives in a real house, but she reacts to her daughters' arrival without warmth or even curiosity. Instead, she sends the girls to eat breakfast at a center run by the Black Panther Party and tells them to stay out as long as they can so that she can work on her poetry. Over the course of the next four weeks, Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, spend a lot of time learning about revolution and staying out of their mother's way. 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.-Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
Markson, T. (2010). One Crazy Summer [Review of the book One Crazy Summer, by R. Williams-Garcia]. School Library Journal, 170.
Ideas for Library Use
One Crazy Summer would make a great addition to a diversity workshop. It is a great example of how we can all work together and it’s important to fight for that.
Where Things Come Back
by John Corey Whaley
Brothers, Cullen and Gabriel Witter are very close, but just as the town is over come with interest in an extinct bird Gabriel vanishes. Cullen’s friend Lucas stands by his side during Gabriel’s disappearance. Together they try to force the community to focus on Gabriel rather than the Lazarus bird. Cullen finds love, but he is left with a sense of emptiness without his brother.
Whaley, J. C. (2011). Where Things Come Back. New York: Antheneum Books.
My Impressions of the Book
Whaley cleverly writes the novel from multiple viewpoints and guides the stories together in an intermingled catastrophe. Two very different stories allow for a surprise trigger that sets the entire event of Gabriel’s disappearance into motion. The relationships are a true testament to friendship and brotherhood. There couldn’t be more detail packed into a short novel. This is an absolute must read.
Cullen observes the events unfolding around him with the lyrical voice of a writer; he looks for connections among the details of the frayed lives of his family and friends and weaves his fantasies in with his narration of actual events. . . . Thoughtful readers will appreciate this coming-of-age story overlaid with a ripped-from-the-headlines mystery and enfolded in a larger narrative about great expectations, loss, and acceptance of the ordinary. -Karen Coats
Coats, K. (2011). Where Things Come Back [Review of the book Where Things Come Back, by J. C. Whaley]. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 64, 445.
Ideas for Library Use
Where Things Come Back could be used as a challenge book for a high school reading list. As a Michael Printz winner it would help broaden young adult reading skills and encourage lifelong reading.