Ship Bottom Author’s Children’s Book Is a Guide to Making Friends at the Beach

Jul 04, 2018
Photo by: Pat Johnson Ship Bottom author and artist Bridget Sprouts reads her Shore Buddies picture book at the Tuckerton Seaport.

Children’s book author/illustrator Bridget Sprouls knows how hard it is to make friends on vacation when you have just a week or so to spend at the beach because she spent her childhood vacations on LBI. So she wrote a book to tell other kids how she did it, Shore Buddies: A Guide to Making Friends at the Beach. Last Saturday she read her book to a clutch of little ones in the children’s art and craft section at the Tuckerton Seaport.

Just as you might expect, there was a shy little one who didn’t want to join the others on the rug for story time, but her grandmother and Sprouls knew just how to handle it: let her be until she was acclimated, start the activity but occasionally entreat her to come closer.

Sprouls also knew how to engage all the children’s senses as she read the story of a child alone on a summer beach and wanting to join in with others in play. First she ran a tape recording of a familiar sound –did they know what it was? Yes, the sound of the ocean waves hitting the shoreline. She passed around a whelk shell and instructed them to listen for the same sound. She had a Tupperware of beach sand that she had warmed by leaving it on the roof of her car. They tested the tactile feel of the sand as she read from her book, entreating her characters to “flop down and get breaded in toasty dune sand.” By this time, the shy one had joined the group.

Sprouls’ book also reminded the children how important it is to swim within the life-guarded zone and to wear lots of sunscreen. One page suggested, “Before you head home for supper and a rest, thank your watchful lifeguards, tell them they’re the best!”

“I was a lifeguard in Harvey Cedars last summer,” said Sprouls. “I watched so many kids playing – it was the best part of the job.”

Sprouls said she was born in New Jersey to a poet mother and an illustrator father, and “My life has become a prime example of that proverbial apple falling – bonk – right at the base of the tree.”

After a childhood of journaling, drawing and music-making, she moved to Canada to study English literature at McGill University and started contributing articles and illustrations to the McGill Daily newspaper.

​She completed her M.A. in creative writing from the University College Cork in Ireland, and has had her poems published in The New YorkerField and The Stinging Fly. She received Eyewear Publishing’s Fortnight Prize. Her debut poetry collection The Remaining Years is forthcoming from Alabaster Leaves, an imprint of Kelsay Books.

Her previous children’s books are Troll at the Train Station and Gnome at the Laundromat (a finalist in the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia’s Atlantic Writing Competition). She illustrated all of them in her favorite media, ink and watercolor, and self-published them.

Sprouls is also a former adjunct writing instructor at Stockton University, and at Atlantic Cape Community College, she taught English as a second language. “At one time I had 19 different nationalities in my class!”

She currently lives between New Jersey and New Zealand.

Sprouls will be signing her books at the weekly Surf City Farmers Market, Mondays from 4 to 7 p.m., and will give another story time at the Seaport on Saturday, July 21. She will also be at the Beach Haven Library on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at 10:30 a.m. Her books are available on Amazon, at The Bookworm in Surf City, and through her website BridgetSprouls.com.

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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