So after finishing it in a few sittings, I can honestly say what a strange and unusual choice This One Summer is for a Caldecott. We aren't talking the sweetsie cuties territory of Officer Buckle and Gloria or My Friend Rabbit here, that's for sure. As a graphic novel, I suppose it's technically eligible for the Caldecott, but it's not a traditional picture book (I'm not sure if other graphic novels have won a Caldecott or if this is the first). I'd argue this book isn't really for kids; which probably makes me an old fuddy duddy. In discussing this with a colleague, she said it was marketed as a YA graphic novel, and I can see that, but I also think it reads like an adult's view of YA-dom. I'm not sure how you can separate the text from the pictures either. The art work is certainly engaging and draws you in, although I thought it was like "reading a movie", if that makes sense. I don't feel qualified to judge art, and I certainly don't feel qualified to judge graphic novels, because it is a genre I'm ambivalent about at best. So did I like it? Yes. It's disturbing in parts, and the main character's mother pissed me off in another part, which means I was invested in the story. The artwork, sure it's great. Like all art, I know what I like, and I liked this. But Caldecott material? I'm still not so sure if this was a Caldecott or a statement about the validity of graphic novels as literature and art (that old argument).
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I upped my stars on this one, because I finished it, something unique in my personal graphic novel reading. I'm usually ambivalent about the genre (format?). I'm not head over heels doing cartwheels in love with this book, but I think it will stick with me for a while. It's a strange choice for a Caldecott, which I will argue elsewhere. I'm going to stick to its merits. It's illustrated in an interesting way, almost like "reading a movie" if that makes sense. I was invested in the characters; the mother of the main character Rose pissed me off towards the end, so I was coming to view them as real people rather than illustrations in a comic book (excuse me, graphic novel). Coming of age, blah blah blah. It's actually not a quick read, which I sometimes think graphic novels are; it's pretty deep, sometimes disturbing, and contains Truth, particularly about relationships and young adulthood. Some it's very cute and funny though; a nice mix. Heavy, but not too heavy. Did I like it? Yes!