Kelly was a story artist and director for Walt Disney Feature Animation for twelve years before earning an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College, after which she began writing full time. She is the author of the young-adult poetry novel Shark Girl, which was nominated for state book awards in seven states. Among these awards are the Rebecca Caudill Book Award, the Truman Readers Award, and the Golden Sower Award. Shark Girl was also nominated for Best Book for Young Adults by ALA, was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her Kids’ Book Club Reading List, had starred reviews in the School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly, and won the Teen Choice award in Iowa. Kelly is also the author of the picture book Z Is for Moose, which has won an Oppenheim Award and received five starred reviews.