Summary and book reviews of A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

A Girl Named Zippy

Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana

by Haven Kimmel

A Girl Named Zippy
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2001, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2002, 240 pages

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Book Summary

This witty and lovingly told memoir takes readers back to a time when small-town America was caught in the amber of the innocent postwar period--people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards.

When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965 in Mooreland, Indiana, it was a sleepy little hamlet of three hundred people. Nicknamed "Zippy" for the way she would bolt around the house, this small girl was possessed of big eyes and even bigger ears. In this witty and lovingly told memoir, Kimmel takes readers back to a time when small-town America was caught in the amber of the innocent postwar period--people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards.

To three-year-old Zippy, it made perfect sense to strike a bargain with her father to keep her baby bottle--never mind that when she did, it was the first time she'd ever spoken. In her nonplussed family, Zippy has the perfect supporting cast: her beautiful yet dour brother, Danny, a seeker of the true faith; her sweetly sensible sister, Lindy, who wins the local beauty pageant; her mother, Delonda, who dispenses wisdom from the corner of the couch; and her father, Bob Jarvis, who never met a bet he didn't like.

Whether describing a serious case of chicken love, another episode with the evil Edythe across the street, or the night Zippy's dad borrowed thirty-six coon dogs and a raccoon to prove to the complaining neighbors just how quiet his two dogs were, Kimmel treats readers to a heroine who is wonderfully sweet and shy as she navigates the quirky adult world surrounding Zippy.

Baby Book

The following was recorded by my mother in my baby book, under the heading milestones:

First steps: Nine months! Precocious!

First teeth: Bottom two, at eight months. Still nursing her, but she doesn't bite, thank goodness!

First says "mommy": (blank)

First says "daddy": (blank)

First waves bye-bye: As of her first birthday, she is not much interested in waving bye-bye.

At age eighteen months, the baby book provided a space for further milestones, in which my mother wrote:

She's still very active and energetic. Her daddy calls her "Zippy," after a little chimpanzee he saw roller-skating on television. The monkey was first in one place and then zip! in another. Has twelve teeth. I'm still nursing her - she's a thin baby, and it can't hurt - but I'm thinking of weaning her to a bottle. There's no sense in trying to get her to drink from a cup. Still not talking. Dr. Heilman says she has perfectly good vocal cords, and to give it...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

A Guide for Reading Groups (or for Anyone Who Wants to Ponder Zippy Further)

Whisking us to a simpler time and a much, much simpler place, A Girl Named Zippy provides a refreshing escape from twenty-first century woes. If your reading group has decided to treat itself to a Mooreland sojourn, you'll discover that there's plenty to say about the town's most imaginative little girl (even if she did remain speechless until age three). We hope that the following questions will enhance your discussion, spotlight memorable passages, and make your reading experience even livelier.

About This Book

When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet of three hundred people. Nicknamed "Zippy"...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Author Blurb Lee Smith, author of Oral History and Family Line
Here is a rarity a completely original book, narrated in the freshest, most compelling child's narrative voice since Ellen Foster. Often hysterically funny, sometimes wrenching, A Girl Named Zippy is filled with revelations. Haven Kimmel has penned a lovely poem to her heartland hometown.

Author Blurb Martin Clark, author of The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living
A Girl Named Zippy is sly, evocative, gentle, wry and dead-on funny. Haven Kimmel is perfect on the details and spins graceful stories that sink in and stay with you for a good long time. This is, simply put, a masterful piece of writing--imagine pouring a highball, settling into a comfortable seat, and being entertained on a summer porch by a charming old friend.

Author Blurb Lawrence Naumoff, author of Rootie Kazootie and Silk Hope, NC
The prose in this book is lovely and wise and witty and sings as beautifully as Somewhere Over the Rainbow, but it seems to be have been written by Dorothy's wild and irreverent sister, the one you never saw in the movie, the one who locked Dorothy outside when the tornado was coming, sold Toto, set fire to the scarecrow, ate the flying monkeys for lunch, and painted all the blacktop roads in Mooreland, Indiana, the colors of the rainbow, the colors of imagination and heart and laughter.

Author Blurb Kaye Gibbons, author of Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman
Phenomenal. This is just perfectly written and right on target and she doesn't miss a beat.

Reader Reviews

meaghan

I'm a 16 year old girl who was pleasantly surprized by the resonace of this particular peice. I would recomend it to anyone who misses stories about the time when childhood was full of adventure and good clean pure fun.

Mark_Bledsoe

Very funny, very touching, you could fall in love with Zippy

Kristine

I laughed myself stupid. What a beautiful story! Zippy describes growing up in such terms that its not baffeling anymore, like it was when I was small. I am interested in more!!!! A must read!

Conni C.

I loved this book. A must read.

Conni

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