August 6, 2007

Local creates fairytale story

Diane Gasch of Cokato helped aunt create Zikitykins characters and storybook

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Puppeteer and teacher Diane Gasch of Cokato has stepped into the land of Snik Patch with the new Zikitykins characters she helped to create.

Zikitykins are wooden toy animals that bounce and swing. They each have their own names and personalities that are portrayed in a corresponding storybook.

Gasch’s aunt, Shirley Kuhloie of Denver, designed the characters and began running a business to make and market the Zikitykins toys.

A year ago, Gasch was asked by her aunt to write a book to tell the tale of the Zikitykins characters and help come up with the names of the characters.

“It’s been fun trying to create a collectible set of toys and the stories to go along with them,” she said.

The book, “The Misadventures of Zikitykins in the Snik Patch,” explains the characters in the beginning, tells a short story, and provides a “Snik-tionary of Terms” to guide the reader through “Snickish,” the language of the Zikitykins.

There are currently six characters in the Zikitykins collection including, Kayka the Crow, Frannie the Horse, Marcheeno the Mouse, Lewbe the Ladybug, Jipper the Frog, and Marble the Moose.

Coming in November will be a new set of Zikitykins with a holiday theme. The characters are called the Krinklekins.

After that will come the SportsKins characters, who play a variety of sports and are already in the making, according to Gasch.

To create the story, character names, and Snik Patch, Gasch used a mixture of her childhood memories, family members, and pure creativity.

For example, one of the Zikitykins character names, Frannie the Horse, was the name of a workhorse that brought Gasch’s grandmother to school every day.

In the story, Frannie the Horse gets stuck in what is called the Gluck Pile. Gasch created this mud pond from her memories of growing up on the Mississippi River. There was a corner on the bank that was full of silty, soft mud. Gasch would play in this as a child and have mud fights.

Her favorite part was making Kayka the Crow, which she hopes to make into one of her giant puppets some day.

Keaveny Drug in Cokato is now the home, and the only home in Minnesota, for the fairytale collectibles. They sell for $13.95, with the book sold separately for $2.95.

Owner Kelly Keaveny is happy to help support Gasch by selling them at his store.

“It also influences reading, which is always good for the kids to do,” he said.

For more information about Zikitykins, check out the web site at www.zikitykins.com.

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