A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
The Jarvis family lived in Mooreland, Indiana, a town of 300 people, three churches, and one four-way intersection with stop signs. Just what they were doing there isn’t clear, but the author’s portraits of her hot-tempered, gambling father and her sedentary, depressive mother are vivid. While young Zippy did not see her parents’ quirks as failings, the adult author makes their shortcomings abundantly clear. Through her eyes, the reader also meets the scary old woman who lives across the street and is believed to eat puppy stew; her friend Rose, remarkable for being not only left-handed but Catholic; the neighboring Hicks family with their eight children (“all excellent”), who leave their aged dog in Zippy’s care; and her grandmother Mildred, whose house was once picked up by a tornado and moved twenty feet, landing on the family graveyard. All the ordinary stuff of childhood—building a bicycle with her father, throwing up in the local diner, fighting with schoolmates, going to Easter services. Nicknamed “Zippy” for her energetic interpretation of a circus monkey, she lived in a world filled with a loving family, peculiar neighbors, and multitudes of animals, including a chicken she loved and treated like a baby. Her story is filled with good humor, fine storytelling, and acute observations of small town life.unrise services with her mother—is recalled and told in the appealing voice of a scrappy, naïve kid.
–Reviewed by Jamie