Reviews for Kizzy Ann Stamps

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #1
Segregation may no longer be legal in Lynchburg, Mississippi, in 1963, but from the viewpoint of Kizzy Ann, 12, the struggle is far from over. Not that she is into "all that integration business." She does not want to leave her one-room schoolhouse for the white school. Her deepest bond is with her border collie, who is always there for her, including when a white boy's farm accident caused a sizable scar on one side of her face. Her personal narrative--first in letters exchanged with her teacher; then in her classroom journal in her new school--is simple and direct as if she is speaking ("You know what I mean. . . . Anyway"). But would a child really be so relaxed in writing? Along with the moving pet story, what will hold readers is the girl's on-the-ground account of the political struggle. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 July #1
With the abundance of stories about a boy and his dog, it's refreshing to see a tale of a girl and her dog. Outspoken Kizzy Ann Stamps is used to overcoming difficulties, from navigating the prejudice in her town to coping with the attention brought on by the scar on her right cheek. Now a new hurdle has arisen for Kizzy Ann: integration. Armed with a belief in facing problems head-on, Kizzy Ann writes to her new teacher, sharing that much of her strength comes from her extraordinary border collie, Shag. So Kizzy Ann is disheartened when she finds that Shag is ineligible to compete in dog shows. But hope unexpectedly comes in the form of neighbor Donald McKenna. Under his guidance, they train to enter a dog trial--a perfect choice for a "no-bow" girl and dog like Kizzy Ann and Shag...if Kizzy Ann can enter, despite the discrimination that would block her path. Through Kizzy Ann's letters to her teacher (from July 1963 to May 1964), Watts weaves a powerful story of strength and self-acceptance in the face of injustice. Though her introspective narration slips in and out of an adult voice, it always presents a strong, thoughtful and likable protagonist. The vivid historical setting of this short and satisfying read will leave readers feeling they have experienced life in Kizzy Ann's world. (Historical fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 June #3

Watts, author of the picture book Keepers, displays sure footing in this strong foray into middle-grade fiction, about a 12-year-old black girl from Virginia navigating significant life changes. Set over the course of a year starting in the summer of 1963, Watts's epistolary novel consists of candid letters Kizzy writes to Miss Anderson, her soon-to-be teacher at a newly integrated public school, and journal entries addressed to her teacher during the school year. Kizzy is apprehensive about sharing a classroom with white students: she wears the hand-me-down dresses of one white girl, and another classmate is responsible for the accident that left her with a prominent facial scar. Prevalent racism threatens Kizzy's aspirations, as well as those of her athletic older brother, but with help from within and without--as well as the support of her beloved border collie, Shag--Kizzy prevails, and does so triumphantly. Watts offers an evenhanded, insightful evocation of a turbulent time and of a girl's perseverance, with Kizzy's writing exposing both widespread prejudice and the determination and will that countered it. Ages 9-12. (Aug.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 August

Gr 5-8--During the summer of 1963,12-year-old Kizzy Ann Stamps writes letters to the teacher who will instruct her at the new, integrated school. Kizzy is forthright in her first letter; she does not want to go to a school with white children. Miss Anderson is understanding, and as Kizzy begins to trust her, she shares stories about Shag, the stray border collie her family adopted. Through her love of Shag, Kizzy reveals what she understands about integrated life. When classmates tell her that blacks can't participate in dog shows, she writes, "I made a mistake and let down my guard. I let them in, and now I feel a fool." Kizzy is sensitive yet sassy, and she bounces back with fierce determination. Her brother, on the other hand, suffers from discrimination at the upper school. When he causes trouble, a neighboring white boy fixes the problem, and Kizzy learns to see each person as an individual. Yes, there are whites who hate her, but she learns to trust herself and her feelings. Some passages go on about border collie herding, but they don't overwhelm the novel. This is a touching story with a sharp and insightful protagonist. One hopes that it will find its way into the hands of feisty girls looking for a strong role model.--Pamela Schembri, Newburgh Enlarged City Schools, NY

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