Without batting an eye, I responded, “Try the Brady Brady series. My sons love those books.”
I never thought that just a few months later I would have a chance to talk to Mary Shaw, the author and co-creator of the Brady Brady series, about her latest book, Brady Brady and the Missed Hatrick. Together with Chuck Temple, the duo has seen remarkable success and now have 15 Brady Bradybooks in print. For those of you who are not familiar, Brady Brady is a loveable, hockey obsessed child who faces many adventures and learns many lessons through sport.
My family’s introduction to the Brady Brady series occurred a few years ago through a Hockey Mom/Teacher who suggested the books to get my own sons reading. Both of my sons picked out a Brady Bradybook at our schools’ bookfair; Brady Brady and the Great Exchange and Brady Brady and the Super Skater. My kids were hooked, and we’ve been reading the books over and over ever since.
So where did the idea for Brady Brady books come from? I got a chance to to ask author Mary Shaw questions you had sent in, and my own burning questions when I reached her on the phone St. Louise. When she answers the phone, I can hear a dog barking in the background. Mary politely calls out to Brady (yes, the Brady that the Brady Brady books are based upon) to please keep the dog quiet. The dog, by the way, happens to be a stray that Brady found in Northern Quebec, and that the Shaw family later adopted. Sounds like something Brady Brady would do, doesn’t it?
Within the first few minutes of our conversation I get a sense of why the Brady Bradybooks are so popular. I think it’s owing to their authentic origin in Canadian hockey. Mary, a current hockey mom, grew up playing ringette in Waterloo, Ontario. A true rink-rat, she spent her childhood on the ice or being dragged to her brothers’ hockey games. She later married Cambridge, Ontario native Brad Shaw, who is a former NHLer with several teams, including the Hartford Whalers, Ottawa Senators, Washington Capitals, and St. Louis Blues, where he currently acts as assistant coach. So, between spending her youth at the rink, and her adult life married to a professional hockey player turned coach, Mary knows hockey.
And Mary knows kids. Mary is the mom to three children, Taylore, currently in second year university, Brady, who is now 18, and Caroline, 10, who plays on a girls’ hockey team in St. Louise. Together, the family has lived the nomadic lifestyle common to professional hockey families, moving from city to city, following Brad through his NHL career. Mary says that the constant in her kids’ lives has been hockey, and she is thankful that each time her family moved, her kids had a hockey team in their new city. Being part of a hockey team meant that Mary’s kids had instant friends wherever they went.
How did Mary come up with the idea for the books? The answer may be the key to why the books resonate with so many moms, and kids (especially boys), across Canada. The idea for the Brady Brady books came from Mary’s efforts to get her son reading but feeling frustrated at not finding any books that he could relate to. Mary used to make up and tell stories to her children as the family traveled in the car to hockey games, and it was Brady who finally suggested, “why don’t YOU write a book, Mom?”
The rest is history. Mary started writing, and was later introduced to Brady Brady Co-creator and illustrator Chuck Temple from Waterloo, Ontario. If you’ve ever seen a Brady Brady book, you know that the illustrations are original, colourful, eye catching, and funny, and are as much a part of the Brady Brady experience as the stories themselves. Mary tells me that she still laughs out loud when she sees the initial drawings that Chuck provides her to go along with the story. While success didn’t come overnight and it took Chck and Mary few years to get the first book, Brady Brady and the Great Rink published in 2001, the books are now popular across Canada and the US. Mary’s message to aspiring authors is that, “if you believe in your book, you have to be persistent and keep trying to get it published”. She acknowledged that it may take a while, but that if you believe in it, it will happen.
I’ve been lucky enough to check out the entire 15 Brady Brady books, 12 of which are based on hockey, plus the two books that are baseball themed, and one with a football storyline. The stories in each book are based on real life experiences, and the characters are based on real people. Mary’s two daughters are featured in the books (see Brady Brady and the Superskater and Brady Brady and the Twirling Torpedo). Even Kev from “Brady Brady and the MVP” is based on one of Brady’s real life friends who happened to be flying in to St. Louise on the day that I chatted with Mary. These personal touches, plus the hockey details (from tape balls, to stinky equipment, to that kid who always comes in late to practice) make the books more authentic to young hockey-playing readers and their parents. Adding to the authenticity are the endorsements by big hockey names, like Bobby Orr, who has endorsed the entire series, and Mark Messier who endorsed the most recent book after his wife called Mary to tell her how much the Messier family loves the books.
Brady Brady and the Missed Hatrick, like all Brady Brady books, incorporates an important lesson into the storyline. In The Missed Hatrick, children will relate to Brady’s obsession with hockey, and how sometimes the obsession means that other things, like chores, get forgotten with dire consequences. What more can a hockey mom ask for; a book that her child is actually interested in, AND that reinforces all those messages that we are trying to embed in our children day after day?
So how does Mary feel about knowing she is having an impact on the literacy of children across Canada? She says that when she does book tours and school visits in Canada, she hears “thank goodness these books are starting to arrive”. Brady Brady books continue to fill a void for young, especially male, readers, something that Mary Shaw and Chuck Temple should be proud of. These are really great books for kids.
So, I’m pleased to announce that thanks to the good folks at Brady Brady Inc., we’ll be having a Brady Brady giveaway where one team will win a team set of Brady Brady and the Missed Hatrick books. All you need to do is to ENTER HERE and answer a few short qustions. And, to learn more about the Brady Brady series, check out www.bradybrady.com .
Comments or questions? Email Contactus@canadianhockeymoms.ca, or enter a comment on our Facebook Page.