One Crazy Summer

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Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.

When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.

Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, one crazy summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls in search of the mother who abandoned them—an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of books for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia.

Curriculet Details
46 Questions
37 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 4th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining point of view, figurative language, and separating history from fiction in an historical fiction text. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos and images about the 1960s in Oakland and the Civil Rights era. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of family dynamics, racial identity, and revolution. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Cassius Clay Clouds

Muhammad Ali, who changed his name from Cassius Clay, is a boxer famous for his graceful, clever fighting style and his work for the civil rights of African-American people. (This annotation contains an image)
Big Ma is 
The word "Negro," now considered a hurtful term, was once a common way to refer to African-American people. The fact that the narrator calls herself this shows that this story takes place when this word was common: the 1960s. 

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge, a famous red bridge from San Francisco to Marin County. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this phrase show about the narrator? 
The narrator feels that her behavior  
Oakland, California today. (This annotation contains an image)

Secret Agent Mother

These two lines, combined with the fact that the girls call their mother "Cecile," shows that 
It's clear that Delphine (the narrator) gets different ideas from her grandmother and her father. Why do you think she doesn't want the lady to give her money? (This annotation contains an image)
This line from Cecile shows that 
Mata Hari, a performer and courtesan later convicted of being a spy. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the purpose of these questions? 

Green Stucco House

Why did 6-year-old Delphine picture her mother living in a hole in an abandoned building? (This annotation contains an image)
What is most surprising to the girls about Cecile's house? 

Mean Lady Ming

Delphine thinks of a mother bird because it is everything that Cecile is NOT. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Delphine think ordering shrimp lo mein and Pepsi is wrong? 
A go-kart like the one the boy is riding. (This annotation contains an image)
This introduction to "Mean Lady Ming" shows that 

Collect Call

Afro haircuts in the 1960s. (This annotation contains an image)

For the People

When did the sisters overhear this conversation? 
The Black Panther Party, started in Oakland in 1966, was an activist group that was formed as part of the civil rights movement and to provide help and support to African-American people in their communities. They were often photographed armed with rifles and had an unofficial "uniform" of black berets and panther symbols. (This annotation contains an image)
Briefly describe the argument. What do the Panthers want from Cecile? Why doesn't she want to give it? 
The Black Power salute used by the Black Panthers and their supporters. (This annotation contains an image)

Glass of Water

Delphine's watch has appeared twice in this story now. When objects reappear frequently in a story, it often means they are symbolic, or stand for something important.Delphine's watch probably represents 
The phrase "Fern had been a loaf of bread in Cecile's arms" is an example of a metaphor, where two unlike things (in this case, baby Fern and a loaf of bread) are compared to each other. What do you think the author meant by this phrase? 
Why does Cecile call Fern "Little Girl?" 


The Black Panthers Free Breakfast Program for Schoolchildren was one of its most popular and appreciated programs.  (This annotation contains an image)
Which meaning of the word buckle is used in this sentence? 

Breakfast Program

Below is one of many images showing the Black Panthers looking armed and dangerous. How is this different from the way they are shown at the breakfast program? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Kelvin say that Fern is carrying "self-hatred" around in the form of Miss Patty Cake? 

Even the Earth Is a Revolutionary

Traditional African fabrics are distinctive and brightly patterned. (This annotation contains an image)
The words "revolving" and "revolution" are connected.  How is revolution like something revolving?  Think about the passage that you just read and include evidence in your answer. 
Quiz #1 

Crazy Mother Mountain

"One Crazy Summer" is a historical fiction book, which means that it's a fictional (made-up) story in a real historical time. Historical fiction blends real characters and made-up characters. For example, Fern, Vonetta, and Delphine are fictional, but the Black Panther Party, and its leaders and supporters were real. As you read, think about which parts of the story are historical and which parts are fictional. (This annotation contains an image)
Why did Cecile change her name to Nzila? 

Everyone Knows the King of the Sea

In the play "Romeo and Juliet," Shakespeare wrote the famous lines, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." He meant that names are not important and changing your name doesn't change who you are. Delphine feels differently. How do you feel? Who do you agree with? (This annotation contains an image)
Why do the other kids tease Delphine about Flipper? 

Coloring and La-La

The word militant comes from the same root as military and militia.  Militant probably means 
Huey P. Newton was one of the co-founders of the Black Panther Party. He was jailed several times during his activist years. (This annotation contains an image)
In this sentence, what do the words "take up" mean?  
Chatty Cathy was a popular talking doll in the 1960s. What does it mean that Fern "became Chatty Cathy?" (This annotation contains a video)

Counting and Skimming

Why did Vonetta color Miss Patty Cake black?  What point was she trying to make? Use details from the text in your answer. 
An image of one copy of the Black Panther newspaper. Find Huey Newton's face. (This annotation contains an image)
Briefly describe what happened to Delphine while folding the papers. Why did she decide to give up the two dimes? Use details from the text in your answer. 

Big Red S

"Papa's voice poured out of my mouth like warm, steady tap water" is an example of a simile, a comparison between two things using the word "like." In this example, a voice is compared to water. This song gives more examples of similes and metaphors, a related comparison. (This annotation contains a video)
People fed up with police brutality against African-Americans and white activists used "pig" as a slang term for policemen. Below, a cartoon from the era.  (This annotation contains an image)
"Cecile was fixed in prayer" means 
A yoke is a thick piece of wood laid over the backs of oxen or horses to attach a plow for farming. What does Cecile mean when she says, "We're trying to break yokes. You're trying to make one for yourself?" (This annotation contains an image)

China Who

Why is Delphine suddenly so mean to Hirohito? 

Expert Colored Counting

Ray Charles and James Earl Jones on the Mike Douglas show. (This annotation contains an image)
This is a cover of Jet magazine in the 60s. Why do you think the girls count the appearances of African Americans so carefully? (This annotation contains an image)
Describe the reasons and evidence the girls use to argue for a television set. Use details from the text in your answer. 

Civic Pride

Contrast the "civics lessons" the girls learned in school with the lessons they learn with the Black Panthers.   
What happened to Hirohito's father? 

Rally for Bobby

Bobby Hutton standing armed in front of the Oakland police station. He is commemorated each year in Oakland's DeFremery Park and immortalized in many songs and poems. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Delphine wish she "hadn't opened up that newspaper?" 
Bobby Hutton's memorial at DeFremery Park, now known as Lil' Bobby Hutton Park, in Oakland. (This annotation contains an image)
Why doesn't Delphine want to go the rally? 

Eating Crow

What would you do in Delphine's place? Would you continue to go to the center and the rallies? Or would you refuse? (This annotation contains an image)
The saying "eat crow," as in, "I had to eat crow the day of the rally" means 
Why does the author include the Ankton girls in the story? 

Itsy Bitsy Spider

This is the entire poem called "We Real Cool," by Gwendolyn Brooks. What do you think? Is this a good poem? What connection does it have with the story? (This annotation contains an image)
What surprising thing does this passage show about Delphine's feelings toward her mother? 
Quiz #2 

Movable Type

The stool in the kitchen symbolizes (shows) that 

San Francisco Treat

Women and girls with naturally curly hair have used all kinds of products to straighten it, from rollers to chemicals to tools like the hot comb, below. Cecile doesn't own anything to straighten her hair, saying "Your hair. . . is doing what God meant it to do."  (This annotation contains an image)
Fern's changing attitude toward Miss Patty Cake probably reminds Delphine of 

Wish We Had a Camera

Hippies in San Francisco, 1967. (This annotation contains an image)
San Francisco's Chinatown, in the 1960s. (This annotation contains an image)
This sentence is an example of a simile.  What does it mean? 
The girls come back to see Cecile getting arrested. How did the author make this scene particularly powerful? 

The Clark Sisters

Cecile says the girls are not hers because 
What does Delphine mean when she says, "The broken stool told me more than I wanted to know?"  (This annotation contains an image)

I Birthed a Nation

This section shows which theme of the story? 
Why does Mrs. Woods say, "We know the same things?" 

Stores of the No Sayers

Describe why Delphine doesn't want to tell her father and grandmother about Cecile's arrest. Use details from the text in your answer. 
The Shabazz Bakery in Inglewood, CA. (This annotation contains an image)

Glorious Hill

The go-kart is important to Hirohito because 

The Third Thing

This phrase is an example of a 
What is the meaning of Fern's poem? What is she accusing Crazy Kelvin of? 

Be Eleven

These sentences summarize which theme of the story? 
A homeless woman sleeping in the subway station.  (This annotation contains an image)
Briefly summarize what happened to Cecile. Does it excuse the way she treated her daughters? Support your writing with examples from the text. 


Why doesn't Cecile want people taking pictures of the girls? 
Quiz #3 
The sequel to this book is called, "P.S. Be Eleven." Predict what might happen next in the sequel. (This annotation contains an image)