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)