“Kizzy Ann Stamps” Jeri Watts

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published August 14, 2012. Candlewick Press. 183 pp.

Using a series of letters, then journal entries to her teacher, 12-year-old Kizzy draws readers into the world of segregation in 1963 Virginia.

With the black school closed so children can integrate the white school, Kizzy and the few classmates who dared to attend the school face a completely different world. She struggles to make sense of the integrated, yet segregated, world in which she now finds herself. Her new teacher is kind and understanding and, through writing down her feelings, Kizzy hopes to figure out her role in this new world. While struggling to understand those around her, Kizzy gains solace from Shag her faithful companion and friend. Shag is a border collie, and readers learn terms and expressions about herding sheep, similar to what are in the book “Babe.”

“Kizzy Ann Stamps” is an easy read, and teaches a lot from the point of view of a black child during 1963. The frustrations felt by Kizzy and her older brother Joseph were real emotions of the times, including some of the experiences both faced. Reading about Kizzy Ann’s struggles will help students aged 9-12 understand some of what went on during this period of American history. The book also includes an Author’s Note.

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