Friday, November 10, 2017

Michigan Kidlit Advocate: Bridget and the Books
Bridget and the Books is a popular blog run by a Michigan elementary school student, Bridget, and supervised by her mom, Melissa. I'm not sure how I first discovered the blog, but I think it came from several directions at once, including a librarian's recommendation and this Detroit News article. And then I was delighted when Bridget herself showed up at Book Beat's 35th anniversary party this summer. She stopped at every table and asked each of the authors to sign the back of her t-shirt. She was still there hours later with her arms full of books. I was even more delighted when Bridget and Melissa later emailed me to request an author interview. Now it's my chance to turn the tables and interview them. Introducing Bridget and the Books!

I’m amazed that you blog nearly every day. (I find it hard to keep up with the every Friday posts here on the SCBWI-MI blog.) Now that you’ve started third grade, is it getting harder to keep up?

Well, kind of but I am not too sure. One reason it is not hard is because I am always reading. Picture books are short so when I don’t have a lot of time, I can do the picture books. I also read a chapter book fairly fast – if I like it, I have a hard time putting it down. Interviews help fill posts too – sometimes we keep those until we need to fill days. In fact, I could use more people to interview.

Question for Bridget's mom, Melissa: I know you supervise all of Bridget’s communication and posting. How have your duties changed/increased as the blog continues to grow?

As the blog has grown in readership, the engagement on Bridget’s posts and social media has also increased. We once had a day we received responses from 30 librarians interested in being interviewed. That was a busy email night.  Thanks to smart phones, I can stay on top of everything where ever I am (which is very helpful as I balance this with my full-time job that involves regular business travel).

Bridget, besides reading and blogging, what else do you like to do for fun? Your mom is a quilter - I love seeing her projects on Instagram. Do you help her with any of the quilts, or do you have your own art projects that you enjoy?

Annoying Little Brother and I are both quilters. We have our own machines. I am trying to improve my sewing skills to include clothing and other items. Mom helps us experiment but she doesn’t usually let us help on her projects.

I also like to draw, ride my bike, play with dolls and use legos. I like to go hiking and I recently got into geocaching. I also ran my first race this fall. I like running.

That's great you have so many different interests. Your blog has quickly gained quite a following, and publishers are sending you books to review. Authors too? Do you receive more books than you can possibly read? You must have an amazing bookshelf (or several) at home. And you also have a Little Free Library in your front yard?

Yea, the free books are pretty awesome. I work with a couple publishing houses (primarily Scholastics/Graphixs, First Second & National Geographic Kids). They either send me the reviewer catalog to pick from or sometimes they email and ask me to review a particular book. We have also received inquiries from an author, illustrator or publisher to review a book. A few authors have me set to receive their new books since they know I am a fan.

I don’t accept all offers because I just can’t read all the books. We also made a rule that the book has to be available online or in a bookstore.

Reviewing books can be the funnest thing but it does take up a lot of time.

How do you choose which books to review and which authors to interview?

Uh, um, pretty much anything I want to read is up for review. I am starting to get a little more picky on chapter books.

As for authors and illustrators, if I review their book and we can connect with them online, we ask if they would be interested in an interview. Newer authors and illustrators are more likely to say yes. I try to highlight new authors and illustrators because they usually don’t have a lot of people who know about them.

I do illustrators because I want to see how creative they are. I think people forget about them sometimes but without them, the book isn’t the same.

You’ve interviewed many authors and librarians, and met many of them in person. Are there any memorable moments you’d like to share? Maybe someone said something especially nice or funny or gave great advice?

  • Nick Tapalansky tweeted I was his favorite literary critic.
  • I was live on air with Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas and I told Guy he was wrong about something. I love Guy!
  • I was interviewed on TV and recently, I interviewed an author for the local cable channel.
  • I was able to help bring Salina Yoon to my school and town. It was really fun to share one of my favorite authors with my classmates. Did you know she helped launch my blog by sharing about it with her author and illustrator friends?

That's wonderful! What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be an author, illustrator, penguinologist, architect and artist. Ok, I might have to only be a few of these but I don’t know yet.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know? Or is there a question you wish I would ask?

A question for Mom, from Bridget: why do you let me do this?
Mom: Bridget needed an outlet to express her voice. I saw she loved reading and was very curious about everything. She was asking to do a vlog, but I knew that wasn’t feasible. I suggested a blog since I had previously managed a few and knew we could manage the time.

As we have been doing this, I am seeing the positive impact it is having on Bridget and her communication skills (as well as confidence). I also finding out how valuable her voice is to the kidlit realm. We really do need to let kids have more say in how they engage with books. I have noticed adults encouraging books that don’t fit the kid or discouraging things like graphic novels as not good enough. Kids need to be able to read whatever interests them.

We let Bridget and her brother pick what they want to read. Bridget has never been too interested in Dr Seuss, so we don’t push it. A lot of people are encouraging her to read Harry Potter right now, but she isn’t interested in it. I wasn’t a fan of Harry Potter, so I understand her hesitance. Her brother leans towards non-fiction which can be a little harder with a 6 year old but we make it work.

A question for Bridget, from Mom: what is something you really hope comes out of your blog?
Bridget: First, I really really really want to meet Mike Mahaick (author of Cleopatra series), Aimee Bissonette (fingers crossed we will in March), Nick Tapalansky and Grace Lin. I would like to do an interview for TV with Vordak the Incomprehensible.

We hope your wishes come true, Bridget!

Keep up with Bridget and the Books here:

Coming up on the Mitten blog: the making of a book trailer, a picture book idea turned art installation, create your 2018 marketing plan, and much more!

Have a great weekend!
Kristin Lenz


  1. Thank you for this! It was fun being in the other interview seat!

  2. Fascinating post. Keep up the good work, Bridget!

  3. So fun to see what Bridget's been up to! Great interview.

  4. This is so awesome! Go Bridget and Mom Melissa! :)

  5. Thanks for being a shining star in this special community, Bridget (and Mom).

  6. Love having your voice out there, Bridget. I totally agree that kids need more say in books. Books they like to read, books that interest them (whatever type and whatever supposed "age range"), and also books they want to read that haven't been written yet. I asked child readers to read drafts of my manuscript, and they had some excellent reactions and ideas. Keep on reading! And keep on writing the blog as long as it stays fun. I know you'll be an author someday, as well as a penguinologist and all the other ones.

  7. What an awesome Young Lady! And thanks to her super mom for nurturing her love of books. Parenting skillzzzz.

    Great interview KL. Thanks for the link.

  8. Bridget, you are the reason why we do what we do. Thank you for reading our books and sharing our stories and thank you, Melissa for raising such a wonderful little girl.

  9. Best post EVER! Well, best post EVER from a 3rd grader and her mom. Love it! Keep on, keeping on, with your great teamwork Bridget and Melissa!