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A Girl Named Zippy: A Small-town Seventies Childhood Paperback – 5 Jun 2003

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Paperback, 5 Jun 2003
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; New edition edition (5 Jun. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091892406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091892401
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,391,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Parenting experts would gag, but Zippy’s parents must have done something right to produce a girl who could write such a simple, lovely book.’ -- USA Today

‘Sly, evocative, gentle, wry and dead-on funny.’ -- Martin Clark

From the Publisher

A witty, charming memoir of a child growing up in a small Indiana town. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
If you look at an atlas of the United States, one published around, say, 1940, there is, in the state of Indiana, north of New Castle and east of the Epileptic Village, a small town called Mooreland. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Luanne on 3 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel is the story of a young girl (named Zippy because of the way she rushed about the house as a child) growing up in the small American town of Mooreland during the Sixties and Seventies. Each chapter begins with a photograph, which is a delightful reminder that the book is actually a biography and not fiction, and I loved being able to put pictures to the characters introduced in the book.
The book itself could actually be described as "zippy" as it seems to zip from one thing to another, from one time to another. Rather than a criticism, this "zippyness" actually makes the book more appealing because instead of being a run of the mill biography, the book comes across as a sparky series of anecdotes and memories from childhood, seemingly remembered in no particular order.
This is a delightful, light-hearted book. Kimmel's prose captures the mood perfectly, both innocent yet sly, and always quirky. It is a lovely refreshing read and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in reading childhood memoirs, particularly American ones.
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By Xenia on 9 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read this before and loved it so much, I put it on my syllabus for my first creative writing class. It was a huge hit. Funny and engaging, with an authentic voice. One of my all time favorites.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 352 reviews
89 of 93 people found the following review helpful
Utterly beguiling and wonderful. Deeper than it appears 12 Dec. 2003
By Peggy Vincent - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is proof that each of us has plenty of material in our `ordinary' lives to use as material for writing a memoir. What most of us DON'T have, however, if Haven Kimmel's ability to write so well that what was really a very simple small-town childhood can be elevated to a 280-page book that utterly captivates. Kimmel achieves what many others have attempted to do and failed: she writes entirely from the child's voice without losing her audience, without becoming cloying, without making us want to smack her and say `get on with it.' By turns wickedly witty, humorous, poignant, sweet, heart-wrenching, wise, A Girl Named Zippy is simply one of the best books I've read this year, a poem to a happy childhood.
I resisted it for over a year, fearing it was going to be a sappy, feel-good story. Wrong. It's utterly original, utterly uplifting, utterly hilarious, utterly wonderful. Do NOT fail to read this book.
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
One of the best memoirs ever... 20 Nov. 2002
By Dianna Setterfield - Published on
Format: Paperback
I just read the last page in A Girl Named Zippy, and now I'm at a loss. I want Zippy back! Normally, I'm not a fan of memoirs or non-fiction in general, but I had heard nothing but praise about this book. Thankfully I listened...
Haven Kimmel, or Zippy as she's come to be known due to the fact she used to zip around the house as a toddler, has opened her life to us. The laughter begins on page 2 when Zippy's sister comments on the type of people who would be willing to read a book about life in teeny Mooreland, Indiana. Well, count me in! Reading this book was such pure, emphatic joy. Zippy reminds me a bit of a female Dennis the Menace -- little bit of a pest, but sweet, mostly innocent, and a lot curious. The stories inside are told with a poignant tone, a wistfullness for the days when life was simple, despite how big it all seemed when you were only 3-feet-tall.
A happy childhood -- a breath of fresh air if you ask me. Stories like this make me grateful I grew up in a small town, and that if I thought hard enough I could come up with some stories of my own. A Girl Named Zippy has something for everybody, and a book that I will forever hold in high regard. Wonderful!
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
One of the funniest books I've ever read! 12 Jun. 2001
By Bonnie Barber - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A friend of mine opens to any page of "Bridget Jones' Diary" when she needs a laugh, but I prefer to do this with "A Girl Named Zippy." For anyone who grew up in a small town, Haven Kimmel's hilarious memoir is bound to strike a chord and elicit a grin. The stories of her father maniacally packing their camper to bursting for camping trips, his imaginative tormenting of their dog-hating neighbors, and the young Zippy giving haircuts to hippies in exchange for a dog had me in stitches! Aside from being a gifted storyteller, Haven is also a talented writer; her vivid descriptions and characterizations make this book read like a novel or short story collection. As I read this book, I couldn't help but think that if Scout of "To Kill a Mockingbird" had been a real girl, she would've grown up to write a memoir a lot like "A Girl Named Zippy." For anyone who wants to read a book that will make you laugh out loud and also give you a glimpse of an American life in simpler times--when a vacation either meant going out of town to visit relatives or taking a camping trip with your family--this is the book for you. Thanks for bringing back so many fond memories of my own rural Maryland upbringing, Haven!
43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Am I missing something? I didn't see much humor here... 8 Oct. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
My aunt and mother asked me to read this to see what I thought. It was billed as a thoughtful, hilarious memoir of a girl growing up in a small mid-western town. Sounded good to me. However, what I found were a few chuckles, some very good writing, but mostly I was taken with the sadness of her story. Her father gambled away her mother's wedding rings. Her mother was depressed and spent all her time reading sci-fi and convincing her she was adopted (cruel). Her neighbors were creeps that threatened to kill her pets. Her friend and her mother had to flee in the middle of the night from an abusive husband and father. Graphic detail of animals being killed, butchered, dying and rotting under houses, etc. All I know is that if this is what people are describing as a funny, heartwarming childhood memoir, I'm sorry for us all. It was nicely written and I'd love to see her try again, but this just wasn't my cup of tea.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A lot of fun to read! 9 Jan. 2005
By Ratmammy - Published on
Format: Paperback
A GIRL NAMED ZIPPY by Haven Kimmel

January 8, 2005

One of my favorite books read in 2004 was this one, A GIRL NAMED ZIPPY by Haven Kimmel. I'm not one to read memoirs, but the front cover caught my eye. The photo of this nearly bald headed little girl in a ruffled blue dress and huge eyes and big ears was something that I couldn't walk away from. And with enough recommendations from other readers, I finally picked up the book at the end of 2004.

Zippy was the nickname of Haven Kimmel, because of the way she used to zip around the room. The book is told from her point of view, but through her eyes as a young precocious girl. We see things as they happened years ago, starting from how she thinks (in her humorous way) her mother and the rest of her family saw her. One of the funniest sections of this memoir was Zippy recalling her mother's journal and writing about Zippy, and the fact that she hadn't spoken a word until the age of three. When Zippy finally spoke her first words and they were "I'll make a deal with you", spoken to her father, her mother's journal entry was "Now that we know she can talk, all I can say is `dear God. Please give that child some hair. Amen'". There were lines like this and many more that had me laughing out loud as I read.

A GIRL NAMED ZIPPY is told in little vignettes, and goes back and forth in time. The reader is reliving Kimmel's childhood through flashes of memory, one leading into another, and not necessarily in chronological order. Although this style doesn't always work, I felt it was perfect for this book. The short chapters made this book a fast read. Each succeeding chapter added a little bit more to the memories of Kimmel's childhood, giving the reader an idea of what her life must have been like in the late 60's and early 70's growing up in that small town of Mooreland, Indiana. It is a town in which (her sister claims) no one sane would have any interest in hearing about, but obviously Melinda was wrong. Kimmel did write that book about their small town lives in Mooreland, and it was interesting enough to get published. I would love to read a sequel, and see what other escapades our dear little Zippy got herself into.
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