Publisher: Amistad, 2010
Genre: Children’s Books, Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook, Narrated by Sisi Aisha Johnson
Source: Public Library
My Rating: A
Awards Won: Coretta Scott King Award Winner, 2011; Newberry Honor Book, 2011; Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction, 2011; National Book Award Finalist, 2010
Reason for Reading: I’m working on a project called Diversify Your Reading. I’ve been looking for books that have won the Coretta Scott King Award for Young People. There are so many excellent books to choose from but I decided to start with this one, the most recent award winner. In addition, I couldn’t resist the cover art.
What the Story Is About:
It’s 1968 and eleven-year-old Dephine and her two younger sisters have been sent from their Brooklyn home to Oakland to visit a mother they basically don’t know. Their mother, Cecil, left them right after the youngest sister was born. But now their father believes it’s time for the girls to know their mother and vice versa.
When they arrive, it’s clear they are not welcome. It’s a good thing Delphine knows how to take care of herself and her sisters, because their mother has no intention of caring for them. When they complain of hunger, she sends them up the street for take-out Chinese food. In the morning she tells them to go to the People’s Center for breakfast. They are to stay there all day and join the Black Panther Day Camp.
Delphine had high hopes of getting to know this mother she barely remembers. But, within a few days, Delphine believes she’s just crazy. Cecil has changed her name and calls herself a poet. Gradually Dephine changes her mind about her being crazy. But it’s not until the end of the story that Delphine, and the reader, get a glimpse into the background of Cecil.
The other thing Delphine learned was a first-hand education in black history, black pride, and specifically the Black Panther movement. It’s all seen through the eyes of a child. It’s dnot a heavy handed political statement.
Delphine is the narrator of the story and the reader sees every thing through her eyes. She’s fair and understanding of her sisters and the other people she meets. She’s such a little adult that I wanted to step in and teller to go play. I’d take over from here. She and her two sisters are so loveable you want to hug them and give them special treatment.
Don’t let the fact that the story was written for middle readers deter you from reading this story. It’s a sympathetic and honest look at life for a set of children in turbulent Oakland in 1968. Of course, if you have a young reader to read the story with, that’s even better. I strongly recommend the audiobook version. Sisi Aisha Johnson does a superb job reading the story with all thevarious voices.
About the Award:
The Coretta Scott King Award is an annual award presented by the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table, part of the American Library Association. Named for Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., this award recognizes outstanding African American authors and illustrators, and is awarded for books about the African American experience, that are written for a youth audience (high school or below). From the website of American Library Association.
Check your local library or your local bookstore for copies of this book. One Crazy Summeris also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)