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A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana (Today Show Book Club #3)
by Haven Kimmel

Published: 2002-09-03
Paperback : 304 pages
8 members reading this now
31 clubs reading this now
6 members have read this book
The New York Times bestselling memoir about growing up in small-town Indiana, from the author of The Solace of Leaving Early.

When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet of three hundred people. Nicknamed "Zippy" for the way she would bolt around the ...
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Introduction

The New York Times bestselling memoir about growing up in small-town Indiana, from the author of The Solace of Leaving Early.

When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, 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.

Laced with fine storytelling, sharp wit, dead-on observations, and moments of sheer joy, Haven Kimmel's straight-shooting portrait of her childhood gives us a heroine who is wonderfully sweet and sly as she navigates the quirky adult world that surrounds Zippy.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

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 time. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions from the Publisher:

1. Zipp's numerous pets include Sam the Pig, Speckles the Chicken, dogs Kai and Tiger, a pony named Tim, cats PeeDink and Smokey, and Skippy the Hamster. How does Haven Kimmel develop the animals as sympathetic characters or villains (such as Chanticleer, the abusive rooster)? How does a child’s bond with animals differ from that of an adult? Which of Zippy's pet stories was the most memorable for you? Discuss the significant animals of your own childhood.

2. At first glance, A Girl Named Zippy appears to be a collection of assorted scenes, almost like a scrapbook. Yet the chapters unfold as if they were part of novel. What themes thread their way through the work as a whole? What recurring predicaments are resolved as Zippy gets older?

3. Haven Kimmel introduces us to a slew of eccentric Mooreland residents, from the grumpy drugstore owner to the postman who only delivers the mail he approves of. How do various communities--big cities and small towns alike--define eccentricity? Were Mooreland’s attempts at homogeneity and clean living successful? How does Mooreland compare to your town?

4. The introductory quote from Emerson asks, "Is there no event...which shall not, sooner or later, lose its adhesive, inert form?" Which portions of A Girl Named Zippy do you perceive as being precisely accurate, and which ones seem slightly embellished by the process Emerson calls "soaring from our body into the empyrean"?

5. Consider Zippy’s family: her gun-toting but sensitive dad, bookish mother, adored big brother, and mercurial big sister. In what ways is the Jarvis family dynamic both typical and unusual?

6. Does Haven Kimmel seem to approve or disapprove of her upbringing?

7. Zippy often discusses religion. How does her mother’s Quaker community differ from her father's "church in the woods"? Is he really as godless as his wife thinks he is?

8. Numerous memoirs have been published that expose deeply painful childhoods. Haven Kimmel alludes to a few dark aspects of life in Mooreland, such as poverty, a lecherous teacher, and her father’s gambling problem. How do Zippy's coping skills compare to those of other children you've read about?

9. The chapter entitled "The World of Ideas" introduces us to Zippy's maternal grandmother, described as "a moneyed old woman in a small, depressed city." What insight does this section give us into Zippy's mother, who was raised in an environment that was very different from Zippy's?

10. How was Zippy changed by her friendship with Dana, whose parents worked in a factory, were atheists, and seemed uninterested in their child?

11. A few aspects of Zippy's childhood would be hard to find in today's households. Which of her recollections best represent the late 1960s and early 1970s?

12. Zippy had an unusual bond with Julie, her snaggletooth friend. How do you suppose Zippy was able to interpret Julie's silence, even over the phone? Why did Julie hit Zippy three times in the chapter by the same name?

13. Petey was Zippy's nemesis, abusing animals and even raising a carnivorous rabbit. Discuss the grade-school bullies in your past. What sort of adults did they become?

14. What is it about Haven Kimmel's tone that makes even everyday events seem compelling? How does she balance humor and poignancy?

15. Were the Jarvises poor?

16. In light of the book’s beginning, what is the significance of the story in the final chapter, in which Zippy receives a piano from Santa? What do the closing sentences "thank you for not losing faith" and "thank you for being so brave tonight" reveal about Zippy and her parents?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by jfitzgerald (see profile) 05/08/18

 
  "Irreverent and quirky"by joyfulpie (see profile) 03/31/08

I prefer the cover art with Haven Kimmel's photo as a child. It's much more appropriate and shows her as the large eyed, sparsely haired, inquisitive representative of her memoir.
'Zippy's'
... (read more)

 
  "Worthwile reading"by sklewis (see profile) 11/30/06

Great memoirs of childhood!

 
  "This is a story of a girl's chilhood memories."by dstevens (see profile) 07/19/06

This is a nice quiet story about a little girl's childhood memories. It was very slow reading and not really much of a story unless you are from the midwest and can relate to some of the happenings. I... (read more)

 
  "Imaginative Storyteller"by Scarlett (see profile) 07/18/06

I find Haven Kimmel to be a a gifted storyteller. We all have stories from our childhood that we can identify with some of Haven's. She shares the internal dialogue that children have but may be unable... (read more)

 
  "Mixed reviews"by judejude (see profile) 07/18/06

We had mixed feelings about this book, with some not liking it and some loving it. We had a longer discussion with this book than any others and it was good to see how it affected each person in so many... (read more)

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