Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Kizzy Ann Stamps
14 August 2012, Candlewick Press (ARC from Netgalley.com)
In 1963, Kizzy is very concerned about starting a new school in the fall, especially since her class is being transferred to a predominately white school. Her teacher, Miss Anderson, has the children write letters to her to ease this transition, and since Kizzy loves to write, she sends huge epistles about her dog, Shag, how she got the sizable scar on her face, her difficult relationship with neighbor and schoolmate Frank, and her older brother's growing dissatisfaction with the lot of blacks during this time. Once school starts, Kizzy keeps a journal that Miss Anderson reads from time to time. Shag is a border collie, and Kizzy would very much like to train him for AKC competition, but it is hard to find books on the topic. The librarian puts her in contact with a Scottish man who helps train him. While this is going on, Kizzy also writes about the challenges of being in a white school, including an episode where she wins the school spelling bee but is prevented from competing on the next level because she is black. Problems also arise when she tries to show Shag, but things are changing slowly, and Kizzy hopes that she will be able to have more opportunities to shine in the future.
Strengths: It is great to have a book set during this time about a black student rather than a white one. The range of experiences that Kizzy has sheds a lot of light on the treatment of blacks at this time, and the inclusion of her interest in dogs will give this a wider audience.
Weaknesses: The letter and journal format of this book made it less effective for me. It made the plot difficult to discern because of the anecdotal quality of Kizzy's narration and seemed oddly omniscient for a first person narrator. What I really wanted to know more about was Kizzy's brother's experience. A book about an increasingly unhappy black teenage boy during this time would be great.
Library Notes: The students have their first day today! I was thrilled that both my Follett and Baker and Taylor orders came in early enough that I could process the books. All of the 6th graders will be in today-- I have parent back up and have put as many new books up around the library as I can, including tables full of different genres. Hopefully this will make it slightly easier for kids to grab and go!