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  • Lucy Rose: Busy Like You Can't Believe
  • Written by Katy Kelly
    Illustrated by Adam Rex
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  • Lucy Rose: Busy Like You Can't Believe
  • Written by Katy Kelly
    Illustrated by Adam Rex
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On Sale: December 24, 2008
Pages: 192 | ISBN: 978-0-307-49663-8
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
Lucy Rose: Busy Like You Can't Believe Cover

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I'm Lucy Rose, and here's the thing about 4th: that grade is busy like you can't believe! Especially if you are a person who is already PLENTY busy on account of having RESPONSIBILITIES and I am that kind exactly. I am already collecting a vocabulary, plus I have to think up new palindromes and now I have to do the most P-U thing which is the MULTIPLICATION tables, which I would say is a thing I hate, if I was allowed to say hate, which I am not.
PLUS I have to do the greatest thing and that is be in the play of Annie and I'm sure I will get to be Annie because 1. I have red hair and 2. if I don't I will absolutely perish to death.
PLUS there is another thing I have to do absolutely constantly and that is what my mom calls eavesdropping but I call LISTENING VERY QUIETLY SO I CAN KNOW THINGS. But that turns out to be halfway sickening because now I know a thing about my mom and it's that she has a FRIEND that is a MAN and I think they are having DATES. That makes me feel like I'm horrified to pieces and part of me doesn't want to know a single more thing but the other part does because how else can I figure out how to keep those 2 apart?
And here is the thing about that: it can make a girl exhausted.

From the Hardcover edition.



August 31

Here is what I am supposed to be doing: sleeping.

Here is what I am doing: standing on my bed on top of a tower that's made out of my folded-up pink dotty bedspread plus 4 pillows which is what I always do when I need to see my whole self in my rather teensy mirror and check if I look divine which, luckily, most of the time I do. Actually, that was what I was doing 2 minutes ago. But right when I was making positive sure that I was looking gorgeous in my tomorrow outfit, my tower collapsed every which way and I went flying and klonked my elbow and 1 cowgirl boot zwooped off my foot and crashed into my alarm clock and knocked it off my night table. That made a bouncing, clunking sound that made my mom holler up the stairs, "Lucy Rose Reilly! I REALLY hope your lights are OUT and your eyes are CLOSED."

I did not answer but I did think. What I thought was that since she was just HOPING and not actually EXPECTING, I could stay up for a few or maybe 13 more minutes, if I was quiet in the extreme. Usually I'm not one for stretching rules but I seriously needed 1 minute to put on my Washington Nationals sleeping shirt, which I just did, plus 12 more because I have to write all my thoughts in this deluxe book that my grandfather, who's named Pop, gave me on account of I'm starting 4th grade tomorrow. That's also why I want to look divine because I am planning to make an impression on my new teacher who I don't know 1 thing about except for her name and it's Mrs. Timony.

Pop gives me a fresh book whenever I have an occasion. It's always red on the outside with lines on the inside. Pop says that when you are an original thinker, and I am original in the extreme, you should write about your life and I do because I have the kind of life that is mostly hilarious. This new red book has sequins on it. Melonhead, who is my friend that's a boy but NOT a boyfriend, called it "girly."

I said, "Of course it is. Sequins are the exact thing that they put on movie star dresses so they can sparkle when they walk."

Melonhead rolled his eyeballs at that.

Here's what I am wearing on the first day of 4th:

1. My red cowgirl boots that my dad gave me that were made in the country of Brazil but he bought in the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, because that's where he lives.

2. A skirt that my Michigan grandma named Glamma sent me by Parcel Post. My mom says it's not the most appropriate for school on account of it's shiny pink and has a petticoat that makes it stick out, which is exactly the reason I love to wear it. Also because when I do twirls in that skirt, I feel confidence.

3. My orange T-shirt that's the same exact color as my hair.

4. My yellow bandana, of course.
If I had pierced ears like my absolutely greatest friend, Jonique McBee, I would look ultra-divine. Ultra means super and I learned it from my toothpaste tube and it's my Word of the Day. I'm collecting a vocabulary. Also palindromes, which are words that are the same backward as forward. Pop is one.

Now I am going to try to go to sleep but I will not be surprised if I stay awake until 3:27 AM in the morning because thinking about 4th grade is making my nerves feel like they are jangling. My outfit is lying on my floor next to my bed looking like a flat person with no head. I did that for organization.


September 1

This day started at the crack of 7:32 AM in the morning. Luckily, I am a speed dresser because at 7:38 AM there was knocking on the door and I had to slide down the banister for added quickness and when I opened it, there were Pop and Madam, who is my palindrome grandmother, and their maniac poodle named Gumbo, which is actually the name of a soup.

"We're here for the 1st Annual Back-to-School All-You-Can-Eat Family-Breakfast Extravaganza!" Pop said. He is one who loves an extravaganza. I am another one.

The other thing we go for is demonstrations. By the time my mom got downstairs Pop was doing egg juggling and singing a song to Madam called "Don't Go Bacon My Heart, You're Eggs-actly the Girl for Me." That song is homemade by him and it had us laughing our lips off but it made Gumbo leap around in a poodle panic and that made Pop drop an egg on his foot and it broke. The egg, not the foot. That egg caused Gumbo to think in his brain, which Pop says is not the biggest, "Free food!" So he started licking Pop's toes and leg and wouldn't stop until there was only shell left and Pop's leg was slimy with dog spit.

"Luckily raw eggs make dogs have shiny hair," Pop said.

"Maybe dog spit will make you have shiny leg hair," I said.

"That has been my lifelong dream," Pop said.

He might have been kidding.

Inside, Pop cooked pirate eggs while Madam cut up pineapple boats and my mom poured milk and I set the table. But then there was more knocking and more barking and my mom said, "It sounds like we'll need 2 more plates."

"Yippee-yi-yo, cowgirl!" I said. "I bet it's Jonique and Melonhead!"

"Adam," my grandmother said. She calls him Adam on account of that's his name.

Then my mom said, "That nickname has got to be bad for his self-esteem."

Those 2 ladies are in love with self-esteem.

"If Melonhead gets any more esteem he'll be the Number 1 know-it-all in America," I said.

Even though he's our friend, sometimes Melonhead acts like he's the only one in charge. Right away, one second after he came inside, he started rushing me like mad, saying, "Let's go-go-go, Lucy Rose!"

I think anybody would agree that is a bothersome attitude.

"We have time galore," I said.

From the Hardcover edition.
Katy Kelly

About Katy Kelly

Katy Kelly - Lucy Rose: Busy Like You Can't Believe

Photo © Matt Mendelshon

What made you want to write?
I come from a family of storytellers. My parents are both writers. Our dinner table has always been where the events of the day are reported with great hilarity or drama, sometimes both at once. That taught us about pacing, delivery, what works and what doesn't. We read a lot. Possibly because we had no TV.

So dinner was a long series of teachable moments?
We didn't know we were learning and my parents didn't know they were teaching. It was just dinner. My siblings and I were brought up to value original thinking, honorable behavior, laughter, and books. Our passions were taken seriously. They didn't dwell on our shortcomings–math, science, Latin. We were never described as aspiring. Michael was a writer, Meg an actress, Nell a scientist. I was an artist. Our titles expanded as our interests grew. Ultimately, three out of the four of us became writers. My parents became the models for Lucy Rose's grandparents, Madam and Pop.

How did you get into writing professionally?

I was working as an illustrator and walking the floors with our darling, relentlessly colicky baby when a friend called to ask if I would like a two-day-a-week job doing basic research and phone answering at People magazine. I would have done it for free.

I started covering parties for People and graduated to bigger stories. Six years and another baby later, I was hired as a feature writer for USA Today's Life section. Reporting taught me to write fast and to be frugal with words, and it let me ask questions that would be rude under any other circumstances. I spent time in Hollywood with movie stars, in Washington with the president, and in Mississippi with people who lived in houses that rented for $60 a month. No plumbing, no electricity, one good wind from toppling over. I learned to listen to what people were (and weren' t) saying, to understand what they cherished and what they feared. I can't imagine that I could write good fiction without having reported on so many real lives.

Where do you get your ideas?

In schools, on the subway, in the market. Something happens and it triggers an idea. My first book, Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing About Me, came about when, one night at family dinner, my mom said about her dog, "Poppy has been so much better since I've been telling her where I'm going and what time I'll be back." That struck me as hilarious. After they left, I typed the words: "My grandmother thinks her dog can tell time." The story took off from there. Until my mom said that I hadn't thought about writing a children's book. I tell aspiring writers to eavesdrop. It's a great way to get ideas and to get a sense of how people really talk. When you have something, write it down as soon as you can.

How do you write?
I follow the advice of that old Nike ad: Just Do It. Lots of people think about writing a book but say, "I don't have time," or "I'm waiting for inspiration," or "I want to get it worked out in my head first." If you want to write, carve out the time. If you write a page a day in a year you'll have the first draft of a novel.

What are the biggest writing mistakes people make?
Thinking bigger words are better words, becoming wedded to every word so they can't bear to throw anything out. Many writers repeat themselves. Say it once. Readers are smart. They remember.

How do you sharpen your work?
What works best for me is to write a bit, edit, make changes, write some more, and repeat from the beginning. When I finish a piece, I go through it once just to find and banish clichés. Then I run a search for the words very and really. They take up space and almost never help the writing. I read my work out loud. That is the surest, quickest way to tell if the voices ring true or the writing is lumpy.

Who are you favorite writers?
I have many. Katharine Patterson, Judy Blume, Lois Lowery, Dick King-Smith, P. G. Wodehouse, Ian Falconer, S. E. Hinton, Harper Lee, Daniel Wallace.

Your favorite book?
I can't pick a favorite. But I am in awe of Ernest Hemingway's six word short story: "For sale: Baby shoes, never worn."

Do you start with an outline?
No. But I do make a list of five or six things that are going to happen. Sometimes I change my mind, but the list gives me some direction.

Are Washington, D.C., and Capitol Hill like they are in the Lucy Rose and Melonhead books?
The neighborhood has been gentrified, but it is still full of families and dogs and shops and adventures. (Almost all of the places in the book are real.) When we were young, my brother and sisters and I spent our days roaming around the Capitol, playing pick-up soccer on the Library of Congress lawn and dropping in on the Smithsonian museums. We regularly climbed the 897 steps to the top of the Washington Monument and took so many tours of the FBI that the guides recognized us. When my dad was a young reporter, he used to meet Harry Truman at Union (train) Station and they' d do the interview while they walked. Washington is less free-wheeling now. Security is tighter, kids can't tour the FBI without an adult, you have to go through your Congressperson to get a White House ticket, and you have to take the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument.

Your family has lived on the same block of Constitution Avenue for generations.

It's been a good place to chart change. My dad was born at home in 1923. One of his earliest memories is seeing the KKK march past the house in 1925. He was two years old. In August 1963, when I was seven, thousands of people in the March on Washington walked the same route to hear Dr. King deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech. My mom was days away from having my sister Nell, and her obstetrician wouldn't allow her to walk that far. Instead she, my brother Michael, my sister Meg, and I passed out free lemonade and cookies all day. (My dad was reporting on the March for the Washington Daily News.) In January 2009 all of us, including my eight-year-old nephew watched hundreds of thousands of people walk past the house on the way to see President Obama get inaugurated.

Out of four Kelly kids, three became writers. What do they do?

My sister Meg is a screenwriter. For years she wrote for soap operas. Until recently she was the co-headwriter for Days of Our Lives.

My brother Michael reported for the New York Times, the New Yorker and the National Journal. He was a syndicated columnist, the author of Martyr's Day and the editor of the Atlantic Monthly. It is the great heartbreak of our lives that Michael was killed while reporting on the first days of the war in Iraq in 2003.

My sister Nell has the most important job in the family. She teaches kindergarten and first grade.

What do you tell kids who want to be writers?
Do it! I've met a lot of artists and singers and writers who were going to college to study business or teaching or dental hygiene. People, often parents, have convinced them that their passion is too risky for real life. Pursue the practical, they say, you can always sing in the church choir, paint on the side, write in your off-hours. Though said with love, this is lousy advice. Passions almost always stem from talent. And when you're talented and work hard, you get jobs.

How did you get your book published?
After I finished, I sent it to four agents. I have still not heard back from them. It was my great good fortune to have a friend who passed my manuscript on to his editor. That said, I do believe good books get published, just not as fast as one hopes.

What can a children's book writer do to find a publisher?
Join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. They have groups all over the country. Go to their workshops. Make contacts. Have faith.

Fun facts about Katy Kelly:

She has two children, Emily and Marguerite.

She married her college sweetheart. His name is Steve.

She has a dog named Ellie. When Katy was a kid, she had a big, black French Poodle named Gumbo. He appears in the Lucy Rose and Melonhead books.

She lives in Washington, D.C.

She loves visiting schools.

She spends much of her money at bookstores.

She is wild for ice cream and chocolate and especially chocolate ice cream.

She is anti-cauliflower.

She draws and paints.

Her office is in her house. It is pink and green and jazzy.

If she could choose one extra talent, it would be singing.

Her mom, Marguerite Kelly, is the author of The Mother's Almanac.

Madam and Pop are now celebrities in their neighborhood.

About the author
Katy Kelly is the daughter of writers. She and her siblings grew up on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., five blocks away from the U.S. Capitol, four from the Senate buildings, and three from the U.S. Supreme Court.
She was a reporter and editor for 20 years before becoming an author.
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide


Lucy Rose is very unique, except she’d be the first to tell you that is not the right thing to say because you either are unique or not but you can’t be very unique–though if someone would qualify Lucy Rose would be it. First, there’s Lucy Rose’s fashion sense. She likes color–pink, orange, yellow, green it all looks good on her, especially on the same day. Plus, she likes words. Lucy Rose collects palindromes and words that knock her colorful socks off. But Lucy Rose is worried about some things too, like the fact that her parents are separated and how she lives in Washington, D.C., 500 miles away from her dad and old friends. Plus it’s not easy being the new girl or trying to make new friends, but Lucy Rose is a girl that will face the challenge with her red boots on!


It’s the beginning of fourth grade for Lucy Rose and that comes with lots of new adventures, including trying to get along with Ashley and trying out for the play Annie. And while she’s certain she’ll get the lead in the play (she has red hair, after all, not to mention wads of talent), she’s not sure she can get along with that Ashley! One thing Lucy Rose is sure of is that she wants to know what is going on and she has figured out a most excellent way of knowing: eavesdropping.

Family & Relationships
Friendship • Growing Up
Emotions & Feelings • Humor • School

Grades 3–5


Here’s the thing about Katy Kelly: If you look at Lucy Rose’s life and then look at Katy’s, you’ll see that in some ways they’re very similar. Katy grew up on Capitol Hill and had a dog named Gumbo. Her parents are very much like Madam and Pop . . . and she’s an original thinker, at least according to her dad. Now working as a writer, Katy Kelly has worked as a reporter for People magazine, a feature writer for the Life section of USA Today, and was a senior editor at US News & World Report. She comes from a family of writers. Katy’s mom, Marguerite Kelly, is the author of The Mother’s Almanac and the syndicated column, The Family Almanac. Her father, Tom, wrote for the long-gone Washington Daily News and her brother, Michael, was a syndicated columnist and the editor of the Atlantic Monthly. Her sister, Meg Kelly, is an Emmy Award-winning television writer. Katy, her husband, and their daughters, Emily and Marguerite, now live in Washington, D.C.


Ask the class: Do you know what eavesdropping is? Do you think it is a good idea or not?

Encourage students to complete these activities as they read:
• Good readers make predictions about what will happen next in a story. At the end of each chapter write a prediction about what you think might happen next. Remember that it is not important that you’re right but it’s important to try to figure it out!
• Create a bookmark by folding a piece of paper in half lengthwise. On it list all the things Lucy Rose learns while she’s eavesdropping on her mom and friends. At the end of the novel, go back through and decide what Lucy Rose learned in the end about all those pieces of information!
• After testing out Jonique’s trick for the nine times table, write the steps out as a how-to for others struggling with the table. Include pictures like the ones in the back of the book.

• In groups, have students write a short reader’s theater script from their favorite scene in the book and then act it out.
• Have the class create posters about the book like the one Lucy Rose made about the play. They should use the poster to attract new readers.


Do your students have questions for the author about her writing and characters? Have them e-mail her at AskKatyKelly@gmail.com today!


Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing About Me
PB: 978-0-440-42026-2

Lucy Rose: Big on Plans
PB: 978-0-440-42027-9
Delacorte Press
HC: 978-0-385-73204-8
GLB: 978-0-385-90235-9
CD: 978-0-307-20713-3

Lucy Rose: Working Myself to Pieces & Bits
PB: 978-0-440-42186-3
Delacorte Press
HC: 978-0-385-73408-0
GLB: 978-0-385-90425-4

Delacorte Press
HC: 978-0-385-73409-7
GLB: 978-0-385-90426-1

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