Last spring, I reviewed a delightful and hilarious book, Melonhead by Katy Kelly. When I discovered there was a previous series about one of Melonhead's friends, Lucy Rose, I just....well, I feel like there are an awful lot of spunky girl series. Piper Reed, Clementine, Allie Finkle, Junie B. Jones, Amber Brown, Pain and the Great One, Judy Moody...see what I mean? Other than Horrible Harry, where are the boy books? Not counting spin-offs of the girls' series, like Stink. Anyways. I just wasn't interested in yet another spunky girl series. But as I was nominating Melonhead for a Cybils, I thought I'd check out Lucy Rose. And, well, I fell in love. She's more than just a spunky girl, and she's definitely not (as some publicity blurbs say) the successor to Junie B. Jones. Frankly, Junie B. is an irritating brat. Lucy Rose is, clearly, Fancy Nancy in a few years. Things go wrong sometimes, but she means well. She has a definite sense of style, loves words, and is always eager for new experiences. Friendly and exuberant, she's that energetic little girl who's the life of the classroom and is always coming up with new ideas.
In her first story, Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing About Me, she and her mom have just moved to Washington D. C. She's feeling worried about her parents' separation, misses her dad, old school, and old friends, but she's ready as ever for new experiences. She makes a new best friend, Jonique McBee, and a new enemy, Adam Melon (yep, it's Melonhead's first appearance!). And, which makes the story perfect, there's a guinea pig! Yep, Lucy Rose's driving ambition is to take the class guinea pig, Jake, home for spring break. This is a funny and well-written story that sticks out head and shoulders above the other spunky girl middle grade fiction out there.
Lucy Rose's second story, Lucy Rose: Big on Plans, is a fun summer adventure. Lucy Rose is now good friends with both Jonique and Melonhead, but there's a new girl in town - Ashley - and she quickly becomes Lucy Rose's nemesis. But despite Ashley's nastiness, Lucy Rose sticks to her summer plans and has fun at summer camp. Unfortunately, she doesn't manage to get one of her plans to work; keeping her parents from getting a divorce.
Pause for long digression.
This is the only aspect of the Lucy Rose stories that strikes me as a bit, well, wishful thinking. Lucy Rose's parents are still friends. Good friends. He compliments her cooking, they get along well, they work together to parent Lucy Rose, and there's no indication they were fighting or having any issues before they separated. That just seems...weird. So one day Lucy Rose's parents just decided they didn't love each other any more and separated but they're still good friends and they promise Lucy Rose they will never be mean to each other. If I was Lucy Rose, that would totally freak me out. (personal interjection of me - I am majorly not in favor of divorce "because we just don't love each other anymore" especially when you have kids.) That always drives me nuts in divorce books for kids. Kids are not dumb. If you can love someone enough to marry them, make promises, live with them, and have kids with them, then just stop loving them, break your promises and get divorced, there's no logical reason you are going to keep loving your kids and not break your promise to keep loving them. Like I said, kids are not dumb. Of course, there may be some other major reason they have gotten divorced which they are not telling Lucy Rose. An affair, her dad is really gay, her mom wants to pursue a career elsewhere, they went in different directions in their life, blah de blah. But I'm also majorly in favor of being honest with kids, even when it's only to say "you're not old enough to hear that now". Anyhow, as I said, this aspect of the story really bothers me, although I am sure there are stories of amicable divorces out there. Sure.
This has been an adult digression and peeve which I do not think will affect kids' reading of the story at all.
On to the third story. Lucy Rose: Busy Like You Can't Believe. Lucy Rose's big project and excitement of 4th grade is the coming class play. She's absolutely sure she is going to be the star, Annie. Lucy Rose is also dealing with gossip and eavesdropping and learning some important - and sometimes hurtful lessons - about respect. Ashley is still a pain, and Lucy Rose has a big disappointment at the end that she has to deal with in a mature fashion. Being Lucy Rose, with the help of friends and family she manages to see the silver lining and come out on top!
The fourth - and apparently final - Lucy Rose story, Working Myself to Pieces and Bits - is all about friendship. Lucy Rose's best friend, Jonique, and her family are starting a new business and need some good friends to get it off the ground. Ashley is causing Lucy Rose some serious problems that affect her friendship with Melonhead. And Lucy Rose has to deal with some sad facts about her friendship with the folks at the nursing home.
Verdict: Lucy Rose is an unforgettable, lovable, and hilarious series that's a great addition to any middle grade collection. I'm looking forward to the new Melonhead book this spring and hoping for further stories - maybe about Jonique?
Lucy Rose, Here's the thing about me
ISBN: 978-0385732031; Published September 2004 by Delacorte; Borrowed from the library
Lucy Rose, Big on plans
ISBN: 038573204X; Published June 2005 by Delacorte; Borrowed from the library
Lucy Rose, Busy like you can't believe
ISBN: 978-0440421085; Published June 2007 by Yearling (paperback ed.); Borrowed from the library
Lucy Rose, Working myself to pieces and bits
ISBN: 978-0385734080; Published September 2007 by Delacorte; Borrowed from the library