Growing up Zany in Indiana

A Girl Named Zippy    

276 pp., Doubleday 2001 ....   reviewed 12 April 2004 by David P. Stern


      This is a story of growing up in Mooreland, a town of 300 in eastern Indiana, center to farms and home to some industrial workers. Who would care to read about Mooreland? At most, the author's sister Melinda felt,

        " a person lying in a hospital bed with no television and no roommate. And then here comes a candy striper with a squeaky library cart and on that cart is only one book--or maybe two books, yours and Cooking with Pork."

    Give that lady this book and brighten up her gloomy day; but not if she's recovering from abdominal surgery, or she will bust every stitch in her body laughing. This Mooreland is a funny, sunny place, the Lake Wobegon of Indiana, especially when viewed by a little girl with an eye for the weird aspects of life.

    It is is a story of the 1970s, in a working class family, far from any big city. Loving parents with a wry sense of humor, an elder sister with a gift for sarcasm, girlish jealousies and on-off friendships, old (and odd) neighbors for whom washing was an option, church services which were never optional and a mentally handicapped cat named PeeDink:

        "While we were talking PeeDink had climbed up a pine tree next to Edythe's house and was walking around on her roof. We watched helplessly as he jumped on her chimney and looked curiously inside, then took one step too many and went straight down. Vanished.

        "Ooh, I can't watch" I said, pulling my knees up in front of my eyes.

        "On the count of three--ready? One. Two. And three!"

        And PeeDink came sailing out of Edythe's front door. He did a little somersault, then stood up and shook himself off, as he had done the last six times he had fallen down her chimney. He was sooty and a little crooked, but my cat, alive, all the same.

        Dad stood up. "I'll go get a towel."

    It's that kind of a book. Now and then you may stop and wonder--do such things really happen, or is this just a story dreamed up by an overactive imagination? For one moment you are unsure, and then you stop and tell yourself--"naah, no one could ever invent such stuff!" Whatever it is, you will love it.


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Author and Curator:   Dr. David P. Stern
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Last updated 12 April 2004