Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: Kizzy Ann Stamps

Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts
Publisher: Candlewick (August 14, 2012)

I am a big fan of any book pertaining to the Civil Rights era, so I jumped at the chance to review Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts. Watts is a school teacher and a published children's author. This is her first middle grade novel which will be released on August 14, 2012, by Candlewick Press.

It's 1963, Kizzy Ann Stamps, is a girl growing up during the integration period of the South. Until now, she has only attended a one room black school, where Mrs. Warren is the only teacher she has ever kown. In letters to her new teacher, Kizzy Ann gives an honest account of her feelings about sharing a classroom with the white kids. As she struggles with the insecurities of her scarred face, and not knowing how she will fit in at a new school, she clings to her loyaly border Collie, Shag. As Kizzy enters Shag into the local dog trials competition, the reader learns just how deep the roots of racial tension have grown, as well as how just a small change can impact the masses.

The author wrote a profounding story in Kizzy Ann Stamps. When I'm reading a story and I can feel real emotions through the characters, I know the story is going to be great.  In one of Kizzy's letters to her teacher she writes, "Sometimes, Miss Anderson, it feels like a part of me has given up on being treated equal-on seeing the world get better for me than it was for my parents or grandparents. And yet I've had glimpses, from you and from Doc Fleck, of what it is like to be treated equal, and I've liked it, and that is part of what makes things not easy anymore. Seeing what life could be like is hard. What if I'll always be coming in the back door, always be separate, always take a backseat? I don't think that will be okay with me." In this statement, I could deeply feel Kizzy Ann's hurt and frustrations.

When Kizzy Ann enters Shag in the dog trials competition, she realizes that even her dog is discriminated against, because of its master's skin color. Mr. McKenna, the dog trainer, encourages Kizzy with these words, "The world can't change unless we start making it change." I think this quote sums up the authors purpose for this story. Someone has to make the firsts steps toward change. Overall, I loved the story of Kizzy Ann Stamps and believe it will be highly revered for years to come.


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