Monday, January 25, 2021

January Diversity Reading: One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia was a National Book Award Finalist, a Newbery Honor Book, and won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction as well as the Coretta Scott King Award. Lots of times I read award winning books and think, Why? Not with this one. One Crazy Summer is fantastic.

Three sisters, the oldest being only eleven-years-old, head out from the east coast to California in 1968 to spend some time with the arty mother they've never known. These very traditional young girls expect to see the ocean and go to Disneyland. Imagine their surprise when they discover that mom, who doesn't seem to want to have much to do with them, is involved with the Black Panthers! 

What a terrific premise. How did I miss this book all these years?

Narrator Delphine has heard of the Panthers and turns a somewhat jaundiced eye on some of their more benign community work. She has been well brought up by her father and grandmother and tries to keep those younger sisters, upon whom she also often turns a jaundiced eye, in line while they are eating breakfast each morning at a children's day camp the Panthers run in their neighborhood. The book is fascinating and funny.

And there are two more books about Delphine and her sisters.

As an adult and a mom, I felt the kind of anxiety reading this book that I often feel when I'm reading books for children. The father and grandmother seemed way too conscientious and attentive to send the girls into a situation they knew so little about. No, no! They wouldn't have done that! Also, I wanted to snatch Delphine and the sisters away and take care of them. Realistically, three kids is one more than I know how to manage. But I would have fed them! Their mom wouldn't even feed them! She kept sending them out for takeout or to eat with the Black Panthers. Who did a good job with providing breakfast, by the way.

This is one of the books I read this month, because Multicultural Children's Book Day is coming up later this week. An excellent read.

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