As a kid, I grew up reading books like Harriet the Spy and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Being a country girl, I thought New York sounded like one amazing place to grow up. The idea that there were schools with numbers instead of names and friends who lived in the same building as you sort of blew my mind. Now, I’m raising little city boys, only in a completely different, much lower rise city, but a city nonetheless. Unlike New York, there isn’t a slew of books about growing up in D.C., but I am starting to discover a few local authors.
First, I’ve found the Lucy Rose books by Katy Kelly. Lucy Rose moves to Capitol Hill after her parents get divorced and must find new friends and a new life. D.C. locations, especially around Capitol Hill, get lots of mentions, as does the Metro, as Lucy Rose’s mother decides to live without a car. Lucy Rose’s friends, Melonhead and Jonique, are great characters. Unlike some series where the main character seems to dominate and boss around their friends, they are more than just complements to Lucy Rose. Lucy Rose’s grandmother, Madam, is a local parenting advice columnist and gives wise advice to her granddaughter. Katy Kelly’s own mother was a local parenting advice columnist many years ago on Capitol Hill, which helps explain why the character of Madam shines through especially well.
I like Lucy Rose’s individuality and quirks, such as her love of palindromes. I’ve just glanced at the later volumes (and the spinoff about her friend Melonhead). However, the first book lacked a certain something. The resolution of the plot and the way Lucy Rose befriends Melonhead after a lot of animosity were very expected. I don’t expect a lot of surprises in this type of children’s book, but it did feel a little too pat. Still, I’m going to read it to the kids. I think they’ll enjoy seeing their city turn up in a book.