Kizzy was a diddakoi, a half-gypsy, but the more the children at school tormented her, the more determined she was not to become one of 'them' - gorgios. And as long as she had her Gran, and Joe the old horse, she would be all right. But then Gran died and faithful old Joe was sent to the knackers - and Kizzy to the gorgios. Luckily, in the midst of all this misery and interference, there were some people who loved Kizzy as she was - and with them this lonely little outcast found a true home at last.
Read by Lynda Bellingham.
©1972 Rumer Godden Productions Ltd (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd
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Rumer Godden's book for children (around age 10, I think) is a lovely story about difference, bullying, and kindness. Kizzy Lovell, the main character, is about 6 years old, an orphan who lives with her great-grandmother in a dilapidated Gypsy wagon in the orchard of Admiral Twiss. Local authorities demand that she begin school in the nearby village, where she is teased for being half-Gypsy--a Diddakoi--whose father was a "Traveller" (as Gypsies are known in Britain and Ireland) and her mother Irish. When her grandmother dies, Kizzy was not expecting her relatives to perform the traditional rites of breaking up her grandmother's posessions and burning the wagon. Suddenly she is bereft of the only home she has known, and to make matters worse, her rather mean cousin informs her that the old horse, Joe, will surely be sent to the knackers. In the middle of the cold night, she harnesses Joe and takes him to the home of Admiral Twiss, whose servants find her sleeping the snow the next morning. Admiral Twiss agrees to provide for Joe, and when he realizes Kizzy is ill, calls a doctor and he and his men nurse her back to health. As her relatives didn't want to take her in, Kizzy becomes the ward of Miss Brooks, a retired magistrate who is familiar with Gypsy life, and accepts her as she is; Kizzy definitely has her flaws, not all of them in response to the teasing she has endured. What is surprising in this book is that when Kizzy is physically attacked by the local school girls, Miss Brooks is determined that the children have to settle the matter for themselves, and how they do this is the subject of the story until the end.
Nowadays, of course, an army of social workers, police officers, teachers, and general do-gooders would have descended to "help" the girls discuss their feelings. I don't know what time period the story is set in, but the resolution of the bullying problem in the novel makes a wonderful contrast with today's nanny state pattern of interference in such matters. A lot depends on the coolheadedness and sensible thinking on Miss Brooks' part, and her patience in allowing the children to work it out for themselves.
I liked the depictions of the characters. Kizzy is shown with her own flaws, and the interaction between the characters is not just black-and-white. Everyone changes in this story, but in a way that shows growth and the development of character. Even the unsympathetic characters have bright moments.
The reading by Lynda Bellingham is well-done. I would definitely recommend this audio book to children old enough to listen all the way through, and to adults as well. Rumer Godden was a talented writer who covered many different topics in her books with deep spiritual insight. This story is definitely one of them.
"A Sweet Book About Lifestyles, Horses, Respect"
I am a Rumer Godden fan, and this book did not disappoint! The general plot is classic: a misfit kid that nobody really understands or wants, do-gooders, "social services," prejudice and preconceived notions of the good life and how kids should be brought up. The little girl is a gypsy in England many years ago. Gypsies continue to challenge people all over the world! In Spain they beg pitifully, whining on the subway stairs, holding a sedated half-grown "baby" in their lap. I have heard of kidnapping and medical imprisonment of an adult in Northern California where the alleged gypsy perps have obscure foreign names, light skin and impressive credentials. Pretty scarey! In this story, it would be easy to judge the "nice" people who try to take charge of the child without contaminating their own lives. I enjoyed learning some of the different attitudes of the gypsies -- cleanliness rules akin to keeping kosher! This would be great family listening, maybe on a road trip. There's a little girl whose precious grandmother has died, rough and disgusting relatives who steal the treasures and burn the grandma's caravan, a rich and handsome Englishman, a dear old horse named Joe, way too many new clothes, nice people at the school, and one brave young woman who actually has an extra bedroom and agrees to give the child a home. And a delicious slowly-emerging romance that will take care of everything for this little girl. In the listen, we learn that men can indeed cook and clean very well -- and not to pour gasoline on a fire. Also that brown people aren't dirty -- a loving God made them that way and it won't wash off! -- and differences are just that, differences, not better or worse. But Rumer Godden doesn't preach; she didn't say all that; I did. Rumer Godden wrote a very nice book. Enjoy!
Lynda Bellingham does a nice job reading the story and giving life to the characters. There were a few times, however, when her voice dropped to a whisper and it was hard to hear in the car.
The book made me laugh and cry. It was a sweet, sweet story of a little girl overcoming many trials, including the death of her grandmother and racial prejudices because of her gypsy heritage. Ultimately, she finds a family and a home.
The story was a little predictable for me, because I've read many books, but listening to it with my two daughters, age 11 and 8, allowed me to enjoy the story for the sake of the story and not be critical of things like predictability.
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