This One Summer

thisonesummerBy Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki


I really hated this book. Since it won a Caldecott Honor award, it is one that I would normally purchase, sight unseen, for my elementary school library. Lucky for me, I was able to read this one before I wasted my money. It was only a waste of my time. I think I am open-minded. I believe we need to prepare children for the real world, and not shelter them. Even then, I find this book goes too far. I am from a very conservative community. One where I believe parents would be horrified to discover their child, even a high-schooler, had access to this from a school.

This One Summer is a graphic novel about two girls who meet every summer when their families go to their summer cabins. Some of their conversations include talking about boobs, lesbians, sluts, sex, and pregnancy. The language in the book includes plenty of “F bombs” and other words, making it extremely inappropriate for children.

The Caldecott is awarded for pictures however, not text. I guess for a graphic novel it is interesting that it is done in blue ink only. The illustrations are very detailed. That is the only good I can say. Oh, the cover is appealing. It leads you to think this is going to be a cute, innocent little story. Very deceptive.

In short, I believe the Caldecott should be awarded to a book that is intended for children. Young children. I don’t believe we should put restrictions on anything a child wants to read. But adults should be aware of what this book really contains. If they consent for their children or teens to read this then let them get it from a public library.

Review by Terrie Bishop, Academy Park Media Center
Rating: ★✩✩✩✩ (1 star)
Interest Level: Grades 9-12

This One Summer
By Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
First Second
320 pages
Release Date: May 6, 2014

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9 thoughts on “This One Summer”

  1. Christine Fotheringham

    From the ALA website: The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
    I guess they forgot about the “for children” part. How distressing that it contains adult content that even some adults find distasteful.

  2. I’m actually kind of more interested in reading this one now than before. Divisive titles like this always intrigue me. Caldecott Honor, Printz Honor (first and probably last time ever that a book gets both of those,) and it racked up starred reviews from nearly all the journals last year.

    Interesting, like Christine mentioned, that the Caldecott is intended for “the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” The official terms and criteria go on to define a “picture book for children” as

    ‘A “picture book for children” is one for which children are an intended potential audience. The book displays respect for children’s understandings, abilities, and appreciations. Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen and picture books for this entire age range are to be considered.’

    http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottterms/caldecottterms

    So, up to 14 years old. The Printz criteria for “young adults” I believe has their age range set as age 12 and up. So there is an interesting 3 year overlap there, and according to the Caldecott terms, even if something was determined to be for an audience of only 13 and 14 year olds it is still technically eligible for the Caldecott. I’m thinking that’s probably how this one got in there.

  3. Thanks for the heads up Terrie! Good grief, what are they thinking?!? You would definitely think a Caldecott Medal is safe for kids. I am NOT getting this one!

    1. Terrie, I don’t doubt for a second that you are correct in your judgement that it is not appropriate for an elementary school library. I’m just curious to see what value it might have with teen readers in mind, or to try to figure out just what it is that all these other reviewers/committee members saw in it. I actually thought it looked like kind of a nice but boring book when it sat on my desk last year, and that’s why I never got around to reading it. We had it in our YA graphic novels review section and no one else ever took it to review, either.

  4. Terrie, thanks so much for the review and heads up on this book. I get really concerned about some of the “content” in children’s books…my personal opinion. Since we can’t read every book before we order for our libraries, it’s good to look out for each other.

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