This One Summer

Well-observed graphic novel charts transition to adolesence.
ALA Best and Notable BooksCaldecott Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

Educational value

This One Summer presents a very realistic picture of how it feels to be on the cusp between childhood and adolescence, fascinated by older teens but not sure how to engage with them. The graphic novel presents opportunities to talk about such topics as teen sex, dealing with arguing parents, and maintaining friendships.

Positive messages

This One Summer emphasizes the importance of family and friendship. Rose and Windy's families face various challenges, but they're able to find reasons to be hopeful by the end of the book.

Positive role models

In This One Summer, Rose and Windy are interested in pushing boundaries: watching R-rated horror movies, learning hip-hop dance moves, and trying to figure out the troubled romance between the boy behind the counter at the convenience store and his girlfriend. But they're basically good kids, struggling to understand the world around them and treat others with compassion. The strength of their friendship shines through, even though it may change in the future.


The girls watch violent horror movies such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Jaws. Snatches of dialogue and sound effects are presented, but no actual scenes are pictured. An older teen tries to drown herself, but she's rescued.


An older teen becomes pregnant, and the young father and his friends treat her cruelly. Rose and Windy refer to the pregnant girl as a "slut." Mention is made of "blow jobs," though the term is not explained. Rose overhears her mother's conversation about her miscarriage.


Dialogue in This One Summer contains about a dozen instances each of "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole." "Boobs," "prick," "douche bag," and "butt" are used a few times each.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Rose's mother drinks wine with a friend. The older teens hold a party where they smoke and drink beer.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 2015 Caldecott Honor and Michael L. Printz Honor book This One Summer is a frank and engaging exploration of how friendships and family connections can change over the course of one season. This graphic novel expertly captures what it feels like to be on the cusp between childhood and adolescence. An unwanted teenage pregnancy is an integral part of the story, as do a miscarriage and a suicide attempt. Dialogue in This One Summer contains about a dozen instances each of "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole." "Boobs," "prick," "douche bag," "slut," and "butt" are employed a few times each. Adults are shown drinking wine, and older teens drink and smoke at an outdoor party.

What's the story?

Rose and Windy look forward all year to their summer family vacations at Awago Beach. But this year is different for the best friends, as Rose's mother is sad and withdrawn, and she and Rose's dad fight often. Rose develops a crush on "Dud," the older boy who works behind the counter at the local convenience store, and Windy is fascinated by the problems Dud is having with his girlfriend. The year-and-a-half age gap between Rose and Windy feels wider than it used to. When near-tragedy strikes, the girls get a glimpse of what lies beyond childhood.

Is it any good?


THIS ONE SUMMER perfectly captures the awkward transition from childhood to adolescence. Author Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Jillian Tamaki (who are cousins) are perfectly attuned to each other, with the expressive blue-washed artwork conveying both the unfocused energy of the protagonists and the subtlety of their story. The narrative is not action-packed, but the creators achieve powerful effects with economy and grace. It's also gratifying to find a graphic novel that speaks directly and realistically to the lives and dreams of girls in their early teens. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how comics and graphic novels tell stories differently from other media. What kinds of effects are available through the combination of words and pictures that aren't available from either method alone?

  • How do friendships change over time? Why do some people remain friends forever, while others drift apart?

  • How do you feel about "slut-shaming"? What does it mean when a young woman is called a slut?

Book details

Authors:Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki
Illustrator:Jillian Tamaki
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:Friendship, Great girl role models, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:First Second
Publication date:May 6, 2014
Number of pages:320
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Awards:ALA Best and Notable Books, Caldecott Medal and Honors

This review of This One Summer was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator and Parent Written bythompson805 February 13, 2015
age 18+


I am truly blown away and appalled! This is completely inappropriate for students and children on the "cusp of adolescence" We have become a society that accepts such language and inappropriate behavior but there is no way this should be suggested for students to read younger than 17. If this were a movie it would be rated R. I am frankly quite disturbed that Common Sense Media would not be more restrictive in it's recommendations. This book has been suggested for purchase by librarians in elementary and middle schools because of it's nominations for awards. I would ABSOLUTELY not allow my child on the "cusp of adolescence" to read this book. It sends the wrong message and reinforces negative, dangerous and illegal behavior. There are many beautifully written books that help children during that transition time in their life, this is not one of them.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educator and Parent Written byjcarlyle February 4, 2015
age 18+

Not appropriate for a Caldecott Honor Book

Really no stars based on content. Please read the excerpts before purchasing this based on the Caldecott Honor. Very surprised that this is receiving such positive reviews and award for Children's books. This material is not appropriate for children under 17. The topics discussed would get an R rating at the movies. The age range listed is 5-17, should not be included in an elementary library. The subject matter is not appropriate 1)references to porn, oral sex 2) language. Very discouraging as an educator and a parent.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written bynutellagirl May 29, 2015
age 12+


It is a good book. Characters are interesting. You get hooked with the story. It's a good book to read in summer. I'm not sure about the age though. They don't show much about sex. There's a teenager who gets pregnant. But that isn't that bad in the story. The thing is that the girls in the story talk a lot about sex. Like, a lot of doubts they have about it and this is typical of girls/boys who are just entering this world, who just know a little bit about sex and have a lot of doubts about it. They would identify with the characters.


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