This One Summer


This One Summersummer

Written by Mariko Tamaki

Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Published by First Second, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-626-72094-7

Format: Graphic novel

320 Pages ~ Ages 12-15

Brief Summary

Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer is the coming-of-age story of prepubescent Rose and her best friend Windy. She and her parents vacation annually in their cottage in Awago Beach. Every summer, when Rose is not partaking in family BBQs or collecting rocks with her dad, she is spending her time being a kid with Windy – a year and a half her junior. The two are typically found swimming in the lake, digging holes in the sand, playing MASH, and (this summer) watching horror movies. Yet, the inseparable pair of preteens – one basking in childhood and the other on the cusp of adolescence – seem to be growing slightly distant; evident in Windy’s silly banter and Rose’s periodic disinterest in it, focusing instead on a summer crush. Rose accepts Windy as a pleasant distraction from her parents incessant arguing and her mother’s depression, yet becomes intrigued with the drama of local teens. This summer looks to prove whether or not Rose is outgrowing her younger best friend and if her family can find a way to heal from the hurt of unsuccessfully having a new baby.

Review

I’m doing a book talk for a junior English class this week and my initial thought was to do this book. I would love to book talk it simply because it’s a graphic novel. I’ve noticed there’s a dedicated group of students in my school who immediately navigate to the graphic novel section (which could use some growth…we’re working on it), so I really want to push the new titles that are deserving. On the other hand, there are we have quite a few reluctant readers. Putting worthy material in their hands – especially for DIR purposes – that will take away their disdain for reading is what I live for most. And this book is one I’m definitely going to push. It is so well-written! I love the wordless panels because they require the reader to become engaged with the material and decide what’s taking place at that moment. There aren’t too many sections in the book like this, but when they arise, they are so powerful. Just the ink color of the art alone expresses so much about the story. My only reservation about book talking this one for juniors is the age of the protagonists. I’m leaning toward introducing it via book talk because there are so many themes relatable to teens in the story. I also want to encourage reluctant readers by offering them material that is quick and easy to read, yet still provides intense text. If they are reluctant to choose this one because of the protagonists’ age, at least I’ve peaked their interest in graphic novels and can suggest other titles.

Strengths

  • panels are easy to follow
  • beautifully illustrated
  • good balance between dialogue and illustration

Weaknesses

  • rich, heavy themes that are potentially objectionable (language, miscarriage, teen pregnancy, alcohol)
  • the younger protagonist can sometimes be annoying

Awards

  • Caldecott Honor (2015)
  • Printz Honor (2015)

Read-Alikes

  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
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