Kizzy is little girl from a gypsy family, not quite sure of her actual age and looked down upon for being diddakoi (mixed gypsy heritage -- Irish and Romany -- rather than a pure parentage of one or the other). Orphaned, she lives with her great-great grandmother in a small, traditional gypsy wagon on the land of Admiral Tiss. When the grandmother dies, Admiral Tiss takes in Kizzy temporarily but knows that it cannot be a permanent situation. The meddling Mrs. Cuthbert wants Kizzy put into a children's home, so she takes Admiral Tiss to court to prove he is too old to take on the care of a small girl. While the court agrees that the admiral raising Kizzy on his own would be improper, instead of going into a home, Kizzy is taken in by Miss Brooke, who isn't turned off by Kizzy's wild ways. Rather than change Kizzy, Miss Brooke just wants to finesse Kizzy's wild spirit so that she can also successfully move about polite society. It's a tough road for Kizzy but she eventually finds her place in the world in this inspiring story.
I liked how this story takes on the topic of bullying and gently offers realistic methods for battling against bullies and prejudice. As this book says, "different does not mean bad". I also liked how Miss Brooke takes on a group of bullies and puts them in their place with mere shaming, exclaiming "Fourteen against one. You cowards! Bullying little cowards." Miss Brooke, the way she is gentle with Kizzy, never judges her or yells at her, she reminded me of the teacher from Matilda. :-)
There isn't a ton of excitement or action, at least until the night of the fireworks show near the end of the story. It's more like a soft paced easy read highly recommended for middle grade readers, that should inspire them to embrace their different-ness.
My favorite line in the story: "Enough of your lip, saucepot." X-D
Rumer Godden, (picture above from a feature in Vogue magazine, 1947)
author of The Diddakoi