Imagine flying across country from New York to California to spend your summer vacation with a mother you barely know, and who doesn't want you or your two sisters. That's the situation for 11-year-old Delphine, whose father puts her in charge of 9-year-old Vonetta and 7-year-old Fern.
No hugs, no kisses at the airport. The woman who abandoned Delphine when she was 4, says, "Ya'll have to move if you're going to be with me." Delphine quickly learns that she's on her own. Mother doesn't cook, so supper is take-out Chinese from mean Lady Ming's shop down the street. Breakfast is at the People's Center where food is handed out to the poor. "It don't make me no difference," says Mother about what the girls do during the day.
Delphine and her sisters have landed in the middle of the Black Panther Movement of the 1960's, in which their mysterious mother is heavily involved. Children (and adults) will enjoy reading about how Delphine negotiates with humor and wisdom her summer of emerging (and scary) black power.
There are two sequels to this book: P.S. Be Eleven, and Gone Crazy in Alabama.
Students might enjoy a word search activity based on One Crazy Summer. You can find this activity at my Website: www.ToniBRhodes.com. Please feel free to copy this activity for your students (however, no commercial use, thanks!).