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  • Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing About Me
  • Written by Katy Kelly
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  • Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing About Me
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  • Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing About Me
  • Written by Katy Kelly
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Written by Katy KellyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Katy Kelly
Illustrated by Adam RexAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Adam Rex



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On Sale: December 18, 2008
Pages: 160 | ISBN: 978-0-307-53798-0
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books

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Read by Tara Sands
On Sale: September 14, 2004
ISBN: 978-1-4000-9152-2
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AWARDS AWARDS
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

I’m Lucy Rose and here’s the thing about me: I am eight and according to my grandfather I have the kind of life that is called eventful, which means NOT boring. According to my mom and my grandmother, I’m what they call a handful. And according to my dad, I am one smart cookie.
I say I am one girl who is feeling not-so-sure about things on account of my parents got a separation. Plus my mom and I just moved to Washington, D.C. Plus I haven’t met any friends yet, but I do know someone who is not one and that is Adam Melon, who I call Melonhead.
Here’s another thing about me: Most of the time, I am plain hilarious.

Excerpt

SEPTEMBER 14

Here is the thing about me: According to my dad, I am one smart cookie. And according to my grandfather, I have the kind of life that is called eventful, which means NOT boring. That is probably because my whole family is not boring, except for maybe my baby cousin, Georgie, but I don't think it's fair to judge if a person is boring until after they know how to talk. My grandmother is extremely not boring.

Here is the thing about my grandmother: She acts like her dog can tell time. When she is getting ready to go out she says, "Gumbo, I am going out to give a speech and I'll be back home at six-thirty." Then Gumbo, who is the biggest kind of black poodle you can get, clomps around making toenail noises on the hall floor. Then my grandmother says, "His behavior has been much better since I started telling him my schedule." I think this is wacko but it does tell you something about my grandmother. And just so you know, I mean wacko in a good way.

Another thing about her is that she has the exact same name as me: Lucy Rose. She is 58 and I am 8. We are both short for our age. Plus she is a writer and starting today, I am too. I am writing about my eventful life. But I am skipping the days that are not so interesting. That way there will be no dull parts.

The reason, by the way, that my grandmother makes speeches is that she is an expert on children. She has a column in the newspaper and people write her letters and ask how they can make their kids shape up and she tells them what to do. I am not a bragger so I do not tell that my grandmother is an expert but a lot of grown-ups guess, because the name of her newspaper column is "Dear Lucy Rose" and there is a picture of her at the top plus she comes to pick me up after school when my mother is working overtime. The problem with having an expert for a grandmother is that some people, when they see me doing something that she would definitely NOT recommend, like on the second day of school when I poked Adam Melon with a stick which he deserved, they tell her and then she tells my mother and then I am in for it.

When that happens my mom and I have to have a BIG CHAT and she says, "What came over you, Lucy Rose?"

Then I make my shoulders go all shruggy.

And then she says, "Let's talk about your feelings."

Then if I am in a sassy mood I say, "I am feeling like I would like to watch a little TV."

And then she says, "This is serious, Lucy Rose."

So I say, "Seriously, I am feeling fine."

And she says, "Really, Lucy Rose, tell me your true feelings."

And that conversation can go on for quite a little while.

My mother's name is Lily Reilly and she has light brown hair that is straight as string and she is five feet and one inch tall and she weighs one hundred and ten pounds exactly. She is fond of doing yoga, which is one boring sport if you ask me. Also she is an artist who works for a TV station that mostly shows the news. So a lot of times she draws maps. She would rather be an artist who draws children's books but we have a mortgage to pay. Most kids don't know about mortgages but I do because my mother is a big one for explaining things and one thing she explained is that a mortgage is how you pay for your house. "You have to send a check for it every single month," she told me. But that is A-OK with my mother because she is wild for our house.

We moved to Washington, D.C., this summer from Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is where we used to live before my parents got separated. My true feelings about that are NOT fine. They are yuck. My mom says that is to be expected but I am telling you one thing, I didn't expect it at all.

In Ann Arbor we lived in the suburbs and our house had a big yard and a garage and a family room. My dad still lives in it. He says my room will always be my room and I am glad about that because even though it still has the circus wallpaper from when I was a little kid, and even though some of it is a little peeling where I picked at it when I was supposed to be taking a nap, I feel fond of that room.

Our Washington, D.C., house is a city house. It has a little white porch with a swing big enough for two people and a pig-shaped weather vane on the roof and no garage because when you live in the city you can walk to a lot of places and take the subway which is called the Metro. I am not one who likes waiting around for rides but I do think it's odd not having a car which we don't because my mom thinks they are expensive and not necessary. Plus, she says, if we need to drive someplace far away we can always borrow my grandparents' station wagon.

Our city backyard is puny but it has a blackberry bush and last month when it was August we got enough of those berries to make one pie big enough for two people and when it was cooked my mom and I sat on the swing and ate it all up.

At my new house I got to pick the color for my room and I picked red which my mother and my grandmother said would drive me crazy but doesn't. Plus it's original and according to my grandfather I am an original thinker.

When I talked to my dad on the phone yesterday, I told him what my grandfather said and my father told me, "It's true, Lucy Rose. You have a one-of-a-kind mind." That is a good compliment, I think.

It's because of my original thinking that I got this book that I am writing in right now. Yesterday afternoon Pop came in from a walk and gave me a little bag from the Trover Shop and inside it was this book that is red on the cover and white on the inside and on the edge is a loop that has a golden pen in it. I think most people who would get a book like this would be at least twenty years old and probably in college. Pop told me that I should write in my red book whenever I think of something that is important or funny which I do a lot of the time.

My grandparents live three blocks away from me in a three-story-tall house that my grandfather has lived in since he was born which was an extremely long time ago. It has NINE porches, some of them on the second floor that you can only get on if you climb out of the window which is something I get to do a lot because my grandmother is on a campaign against pigeons and she sends me out to stomp around and scare them away.


From the Hardcover edition.
Katy Kelly

About Katy Kelly

Katy Kelly - Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing About Me

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.
Awards

Awards

WINNER 2006 Kentucky Bluegrass Master List
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide



NOTE TO TEACHERS

ABOUT LUCY ROSE
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!

ABOUT THIS BOOK

In the opening book in the series we meet Lucy Rose: She’s spunky, a smart cookie, and maybe just a little bit of a handful! She’s just moved to Washington, D.C. but only with her mom since her parents have decided to separate. She’s not thrilled about that idea, at all. But Lucy Rose is making the best of it with her one-of-a-kind spark.

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

Grades 3–5


ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES

PRE-READING ACTIVITY
Let students know that Lucy Rose has just moved and lead a class discussion. Have you ever had to move? What do you think are the most difficult things about moving away? Is there any way to make it easier on new kids in your neighborhood and school?

COMPREHENSION
Encourage students to complete these activities as they read:
• List five things that you think are most important to know about Lucy Rose.
• Create a character map with these parts: family, friends, description, what she says, what she does. At the end of each chapter add more to the chart and then discuss it with a partner.
• Write a letter to a friend (or to your teacher) about the story. Would you like to be friends with Lucy Rose?

POST-READING ACTIVITIES
• Have students brainstorm a list of things Lucy Rose learns during her first year in Washington, D.C. Make a list of things they’ve learned this year at school, too.
• Lucy Rose writes e-mails and letters to her dad and grandmother. Instruct the class to write an e-mail or letter to someone in their family about Lucy Rose or some other topic that is important to them.

BEYOND THE BOOK

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

OTHER TITLES OF INTEREST

Lucy Rose: Big on Plans
Yearling
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: Busy Like You Can't Believe
Yearling
PB: 978-0-440-42108-5
Delacorte Press
HC: 978-0-385-73319-9
GLB: 978-0-385-90338-7

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

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

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