Margate author creates joyous book out of melancholy
moment as child
By WALLACE McKELVEY, Staff Writer | Posted: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 12:01 am
On the drive home from a summer vacation in Cape May when she
was 10 years old, Melanie Lippincott Zappone wrote of her sadness
about leaving the sea.
"So far from me, the sand and the sea breeze all seem to fade," she
began. "All I remember are the waves."
"I was all depressed," said Zappone. "I didn't want to leave the
The lines stuck with the Margate author through high school and
college and, now, onto the pages of her first children's book, "The
Sounds of Summer Sank in the Sea."
"It was kind of bittersweet," she said. "I wrote that when I was 10, and
now I'm 34. It was 24 years ago, and yet it still works.
"It was sweet and cute and fun. That was me missing something I
loved so much, and I still love it the same way."
While much in Zappone's life has changed since she wrote that first
poem, she said the two constants have been the beach and writing.
And most of her writing, she said, revolves around the former.
Every summer as a child, the young Zappone would visit the beach
her family or friends. Then, when her parents bought a house near
Cape May, she'd spend long weekends and whole summers in the
At 17, she worked at a lobster house each summer. During summer
breaks from college, she'd spend her free time away from a
pharmacy job at the beach.
Now, she lives in Margate with her husband and 3-year-old twins. She
said she eats lunch on the beach with her children three or four times
The beach has an almost magical draw, Zappone said.
"Sometimes I sit on the beach and feel so alone, even when so many
people are around you," she said. "It's a calming kind of serenity I feel
on the beach."
Zappone said the book emerged from the free time she had after
leaving a job in sales to become a full-time mom.
The poem, which she had recited to her children many times, was a
natural jumping-off point.
Now that it's an illustrated book, she continues to read it to Marina
and Mitchell, although they know it by heart, she said.
"I don't even have to open the book; they chant the whole thing along
with me," she said.
Indeed, Zappone said her children are the reason she sought an
illustrator and self-published the book.
"If it's a success, great," she said. "If not, it's a great thing I did for my
Zappone's mother, Sylvia Lippincott, of Woodstown, said her
daughter latched onto writing in grammar school and never relented.
"Whenever she would have a problem or strong feelings about
something," she said. "It was a way for her to experience them
without having to share it, although she did share some of her poetry."
Lippincott said she remembers the family vacations, and the
sometimes difficult drives home, fondly.
The book, she said, managed to turn a somewhat melancholy
emotion into a joyous experience.
"The book's not quite about the feelings she had when writing the
poem, leaving the beach," she said. "She's taken that and put a
positive spin on it for her children, which is adorable."
Contact Wallace McKelvey:
To learn more
For more information about "The Sounds of Summer Sank in the
Sea," visit melaniezappone.com.