One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garica

Williams-Garcia, Rita. One Crazy Summer. Amistad, 2010. Hardcover $14.49, ISBN 978-0-06-076088-5; Tr. $4.54, ISBN 978-0-06-076090-8; PLB 1 $12.81, ISBN 978-0-329-96783-3; PLB 2 $16.89, ISBN 978-0-06-076089-2


TL;DR: Do I recommend this? YES! Absolutely.


Genre: Historical Fiction


Part of a series? Yes — Gaither Sisters series.


Plot Summary:

Delphine Gaither and her sisters Vonetta and Fern are in for a rough summer. Their father has decided it’s time they got to know their mother who left the family seven years before. In order to get to know her, they have to fly cross-country by themselves to Oakland where she now lives. It’s 1968, and their grandmother, Big Ma, is not thrilled about sending her granddaughters to “a pot of trouble boiling.” Even so, they go. Cecile — called Sister Nzila by the members of the Black Panther Party who visit her home and run the People’s Center — wants nothing to do with her daughters’ visit. She sends them to Black Panther summer camp a few blocks away. Will Delphine be able to protect her sisters from the trouble around them? Will she become part of the revolution?


Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This story is completely engaging. Delphine is a fantastic narrator, utterly relatable and forced to be wise beyond her eleven years. She doesn’t take trouble from other people, and she is a wonderful filter for the events of the summer of 1968. I really enjoyed reading this book


Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

It would make a strong book club choice or reading to go along with a unit in American History or literature. Activities for this book could include ones that were listed in the “Extras and Activities” section at the back of the copy I received from the library. Each of the activities looks interesting, but I would perhaps choose the first activity in which students would put together a playlist of songs from the 1960s that reflect the era as well as scenes from One Crazy Summer. As the activity directs, I would have students play a minute of their songs and explain A) what moment it’s for, B) what aspect of the era it is meant to convey, and C) anything else about the music they like. I might also try activity two in which kids “adopt” a poet of the sixties and read their poetry as well as writing poetry themselves. I would skip the last performative prompt, however, as I am not comfortable directing kids to do that one their own (even asking for parental permission).


Grade Level: 5-8


Awards and Starred Reviews:

ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2011

Booklist starred 2/1/10

Christian Library Journal starred 11/1/14

Horn Book Magazine starred 3/1/10

Library Media Connection starred 3/1/10

Parents’ Choice Gold Award 2010

Newbery Honor, 2011

School Library Journal starred 3/1/10


Program Ideas from:

Williams-Garcia, R. (2010). One crazy summer. New York: HarperCollins Children’s.


Reviews referenced:

Breck, K. (n. d.). One crazy summer (Review of the book One Crazy Summer). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from

Bird, E. (2010, Feb. 2). Review of the day: One crazy summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (Review of the book One Crazy Summer). School Library Journal. Retrieved from

Kirkus Reviews. (2010, Dec. 22). One crazy summer (Review of the book One Crazy Summer). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from



Booked by Kwame Alexander

Alexander, Kwame. Booked. Puffin Books, 2016. 336 pages. Hardcover $14.49, ISBN 978-0-544-57098-6; PLB $18.51, ISBN 978-1-51817-158-1


TL;DR: Do I Recommend This? YES


Genre: Novel in Verse


Part of a series? No, but very similar to another Alexander novel, The Crossover.


Plot Summary:

Nick has a lot on his plate — he’s a superstar soccer player in his club, he wants desperately to ask out April from his etiquette class (which will be difficult, since all he has managed is a strangled “hello”), and he is being forced to read and memorize his father’s dictionary of obscure words. Life gets more exciting as his soccer team receives an invitation to play in a major tournament in Dallas … as does his best friend, co-captain of his rival team. Then his parents announce they are separating. Mr. Mac the librarian tries to recruit Nick for the book club, and Nick keeps getting into trouble for zoning off in English class. When a medical emergency forces Nick to stay home from the tournament, life as he knows it is over. Or is it?


Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This is a marvelous novel in verse about soccer, middle school life, and reading.

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

The action flies — the poems capture Nick’s feelings, thoughts, and actions on the soccer field. It’s a great read for anyone — bookworms, soccer fans, and reluctant readers. This could be a fun book club book or poetry unit read. (Idea from myself)


Grade Level: 6 and up


Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred 2/1/16

Horn Book Guide starred 10/1/16

Horn Book Magazine starred 3/1/16

Kirkus Reviews starred 1/15/16

Publishers Weekly Annex starred 3/7/16

Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) starred 4/1/16


Review referenced:

Kitsap (WA) Regional Library YA Book Group. (2016, Apr. 12). Teens review the latest from Kwame Alexander, Deb Caletti, and more (blog post). School Library Journal. Retrieved from