Guest Chick: Fleur Bradley

Becky here. I’m so happy to introduce you to Fleur Bradley, who writes really fun mysteries for kids. Fleur and I have known each other for 20 years, give or take, meeting way back when I wrote for kids. Fleur found her niche in the kidlit world, having garnered a ton of awards and accolades along the way. She’s a fantastic resource for teachers and librarians, as well as being one heck of a writer! If you have kids in your life you’d like to be avid readers, Fleur’s books should be at the top of your gift-giving list.

It’s the holiday season! I know, with it being December and all, you probably didn’t need me to remind you. And if you’re anything like me, the consummate organizer with checklists and a neat calendar, worried about supply chain issues, you may already have your gifts sorted. Maybe you even have them wrapped and ready to go (you uber organizer, you).

But in case you still have room for a gift or two, especially if it’s for a kid in your life… May I suggest giving a book?

If you hang out here at Chicks on the Case, you’re likely a reader of mysteries, like me. But sometimes, you may also share that feeling that giving a kid a book for Christmas is pushing your love for reading (mysteries, of course) on this child you love. Maybe the parents/guardians of said child even warned you: (s)he doesn’t like reading very much

So, I’m here to make the case for the book giving aunt/grandma/uncle/neighbor/whatever-your-title-is. Wear your book giving proud, I say!

Here’s my reasoning*:

1. Reading = Brainpower

As a writer of mysteries for reluctant readers, I often encounter kids who say they don’t like to read. I even do a talk for librarians and teachers on why kids don’t like to read, and how to reach them. I won’t step on my soapbox here, other than to mention that reading affects everything. If you get kids reading, they’ll do better in math, science, you name it. There are statistics (if you want to talk nerdy with me)** to back this up, but in short: give a kid a book and you jumpstart their brain on all levels.

2. Reading Fosters Connection

When was the last time you read a mystery for kids? And don’t stop at the Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mysteries of your day—as much as those books are fun, there are so many great new mysteries for kids out there today. Consider reading the same book together and talking about what you liked, didn’t like. If you’re a grandparent, aunt, or uncle, this is such a great way to have something to talk about, and not fall into asking the dreaded, “So, how’s school?” For less than twenty bucks, you can buy two copies of a paperback mystery, and the connection is priceless.

3. Books Can Make Lifetime Memories (remember that book you got?)

I still remember being gifted a (cheap) paperback mystery when I was about ten, one of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven. I tore through that book—it was nothing like the hardbacks (regarded as ‘better’ reading) I knew from school. This little paperback was pure fun mystery, and I’ll never forget receiving it as a gift (my great-uncle Herman, on a sunny summer afternoon in our garden). When a book hits you just right, it’s a memory you have forever. And mysteries don’t always make it to the classroom reading list, so be the Book Giver who ignites a kid’s love for mysteries.

4. Books Get Kids Off Their Phone/ Electronics

Do I need to explain this one? Probably not. And kids want to get off their electronics sometimes, just like we adults do. You’d be surprised.

Books are a great present. And you can buy a paperback for eight, nine bucks, sometimes even less. So go ahead, buy that mystery for kids. Be a proud Book Giver. You may just make a difference in that kid’s life.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject: here is a list of independent mystery booksellers who can tell you just what mystery to buy (courtesy of Sisters in Crime): Mystery Bookstores – Sisters in Crime

*Truth in advertising: I’m slightly biased, as I write mysteries for kids.

**If you’re into statistics, here’s my source: 6 more minutes: Struggling readers, daily reading practice, and growth (renaissance.com)

Readers … what book were you gifted as a kid that you remember (and probably still have)? Were you an avid or reluctant reader?

Fleur Bradley has loved puzzles and mysteries ever since she first discovered Agatha Christie novels. She’s the author of many short mysteries and mysteries for kids, including Midnight at the Barclay Hotel (Viking Children’s) and the Double Vision trilogy (as F.T. Bradley, Harper Children’s). Midnight at the Barclay Hotel was shortlisted for the Reading the West, Agatha and Anthony Awards, and recently won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award and the Colorado Book Award. Her next MG mystery, Daybreak on Raven Island is due out from Viking in August 2022. Fleur’s story The Perfect Alibi appears in Mystery Writers of America’s middle-grade anthology Super Puzzletastic Mysteries, edited by Chris Grabenstein. She regularly does author school and virtual visits, as well as librarian and educator conference talks on reaching reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, she now lives in Colorado with her family, and entirely too many rescue animals. Find out more about Fleur at http://www.ftbradley.com

38 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Fleur Bradley

  1. I was an avid reader as a kid and loved receiving books as gifts. Back then I mostly enjoyed the Trixie Belden series. I bet I would have loved your books too, Fleur, if they had been around back then!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. What? Not familiar with Trixie Belden????

        Actually, it’s not that surprising. It’s a kids mystery series like the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, only not nearly as well known. Which is sad. The characters are more realistic and the plots slightly more realistic as well. At least some of the time. Some of the books are better about that than others, but the characters seem so real when they are done well.

        Sadly, they are out of print again, but the early ones especially are worth tracking down.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m so happy to “meet” you! I bought Midnight at the Barklay Hotel for my 11 year old nephew. His birthday was last month, and he always gets a book with his other gifts. He’s loving it! Thank you for adding to his reading pleasure. (And I fully plan to borrow the book when he’s done!)

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Welcome Fleur! For me it’s a tie between Encyclopedia Brown (a recommendation from the local librarian) and Nancy Drew (a gift from my aunt). I was an avid reader – my siblings were not. I have one of each of my own, now (college age).

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I was an avid reader as a kid. My mom was really sick from the time I was 4 years old so we spent a lot of time commuting several days a week from home to the hospital. I was also an only child and was expected to keep myself occupied when my parents were both busy.

    Like others, the first books I remember reading were Encyclopedia Brown.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks, Fleur. My mom got her life-saving kidney transplant when I turned 8, so the hospital commutes ended. And yes, that early start in reading has made my a life-long reader. I have 22 bookcases at home, filled with thousands of books.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Fleur!! We are big fans, of course—and love all the reasons here to get kids reading. Very fortunate that Dash likes to read, and family reading time is a cornerstone of every evening. Looking forward to your next book!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Thanks for your post, Fleur. I’ve been a mystery reader all my life, starting with the Hardy Boys, Rick Brant and Ken Holt. Unfortunately, my own kids, not so much. My oldest, now 24, wasn’t interested in reading until he discovered Harry Potter. I don’t think he reads at all, now. My youngest, 17, has finally decided to give the Lord of the Rings a try. Neither one likes mysteries.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fleur, so lovely to meet you, and welcome to Chicks! Your books sound fantastic. As a mom of 3 grown kids (and now 3 reading grandkids–the 19-mo-old is ON it, or he thinks he is) and a former kids’ mystery editor (yup, I knew Nancy on what even she might admit was a personal basis), I am especially appreciative of the chance to learn more about your books. Barclay Hotel, here we come! Plenty of time left for holiday shipping.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lisa, your 19mo made me remember my daughter, Jessica. She was barely talking, but we had some childless friends over and Jess “read” them Hop on Pop. Perfect pronunciation, inflection, pauses. They marveled at her “genius” and told everyone at work the next day how she could already read. I didn’t have the heart to explain it was just mimicry.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Fleur, glad to have you here on the Chicks today! Our family has enjoyed your books, starting with the Double Vision series.

    Anyway, I remember earning a set of L.M. Montgomery books as a kid for reading the most books in my class! (We got to read anything from the library in the classroom, including these neat Sherlock Holmes stories.)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fleur, thanks so much! Both my parents were huge readers, and I followed their lead. I read Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy, Encyclopedia Brown, etc. But the book that really changed my life was Little Women. Forty years after receiving the book, I tracked down the woman who gave it to me. She said, “I thought you hated it!” I was going through a hard time then – I was almost 10 and we had just moved – and I’m so glad I got to set the record straight.

    As to giving gifts, in my hallway are two wonderful books for my housekeeper’s 3 year-old grandson. Let other people give kids toys. I will give books and only books!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My family lived in South America for a year, traveling around the continent, when I was in first grade (my dad was on a sabbatical/Ford Foundation grant), so my mom taught us three older kids via a correspondence school. As a result, my reading skills were not up to par when I returned to regular skill (not Mom’s fault–the two older kids, as well as my one-year-old sister, took up a lot of her time, too).

    To try to alleviate this problem, once I showed an interest in horse-themed books, my folks bought all of them that I wanted, and I spend my youth devouring Marguerite Henry, the Black Stallion books, and every other horse book known to man (or, rather, pre-teen girls). I’ve been an avid reader ever since.

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Fleur, and thanks for this fabulous essay on the wonders of reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I still have some Hardy Boys books I was given as a child. And my Little House books. And Encyclopedia Brown.

    I know I already talked about Trixie, but I got lots of those as a kid as well. Well, more a teen since I found her in Jr. High.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks so much, Fleur, for visiting Chicks today! First book of my own that was a “big kid” book ( in my mind, at least) was a Bobbsey Twins book from my Aunt Dot!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Fleur! Thanks so much for visiting us. What a great post.

    I love this, especially: ” If you get kids reading, they’ll do better in math, science, you name it. There are statistics (if you want to talk nerdy with me)** to back this up, but in short: give a kid a book and you jumpstart their brain on all levels.”

    And I was a bona fide bookworm from the moment I learned how to read. Giving credit for that to my parents, who read to us every night when we were little! Thanks, Mom and Dad.

    And everybody should go read Fleur’s latest amazing book! We had a wonderful time discussing it Sisters in Crime-Colorado book club.

    Liked by 1 person

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