Kizzy Ann Stamps

By Jeri Watts
(Candlewick Press (MA), Hardcover, 9780763658953, 192pp.)

Publication Date: August 14, 2012

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Taking things in stride is not easy for Kizzy Ann, but with her border collie, Shag, stalwart at her side, she sets out to live a life as sweet as syrup on cornbread.

In 1963, as Kizzy Ann prepares for her first year at an integrated school, she worries about the color of her skin, the scar running from the corner of her right eye to the tip of her smile, and whether anyone at the white school will like her. She writes letters to her new teacher in a clear, insistent voice, stating her troubles and asking questions with startling honesty. The new teacher is supportive, but not everyone feels the same, so there is a lot to write about. Her brother, James, is having a far less positive school experience than she is, and the annoying white neighbor boy won’t leave her alone. But Shag, her border collie, is her refuge. Even so, opportunity clashes with obstacle. Kizzy Ann knows she and Shag could compete well in the dog trials, but will she be able to enter? From Jeri Watts comes an inspiring middle-grade novel about opening your mind to the troubles and scars we all must bear — and facing life with hope and trust.

About the Author
Jeri Watts worked as a public-school teacher for twenty-seven years before becoming a professor. She has written numerous short stories, as well as Keepers, a picture book. Kizzy Ann Stamps is her first middle-grade novel. About the inspiration behind it, she says, My first six years, in the early sixties, were spent on a farm in Bedford County, Virginia, which was, of course, part of the inspiration for Kizzy Ann. I was excited to be a part of integration, seeing people strive for the best in themselves and others and learning to look at things from a different point of view that was an important part of the humanity of integration, to think outside yourself. Jeri Watts lives in Lynchburg, Virginia, with her husband.
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