I had such a blast chatting with Manzo’d With Children star Chris Manzo (who is just as charming as he is on the show) at Amanda’s Restaurant in Hoboken, about his brand new children’s book, Oliver Brightside: You Don’t Want That Penny (see, I got it right this time, Chris!).
Chris, who just turned 27, has been gracing our Bravo TV screens for years now. We first met him on the Real Housewives of New Jersey way back in 2009, his mother Caroline Manzo was an OG Housewife. Caroline left the show after Season 5, and the Manzo family (there’s also Chris’ siblings Albie Manzo and Lauren Manzo, plus patriarch Al Manzo) got their own spin-off, Manzo’d With Children, which will be coming back for Season 3 later this summer. In addition to starring on a popular reality show, Chris has also owned a slew of successful restaurants with his older brother Albie, and he has now ventured into the world of literature (and you thought you were busy, phew).
His first book follows the journey of a boy named Oliver, who finds a lucky penny, and goes around Manhattan on an adventure trying to find out how to spend it. You can watch our fun chat below.
Chris tells me he’s always loved children’s books, and writing a book has been on his bucket list, so he decided to go for it. He says he fell in love with writing during the process of penning Oliver Brightside, but he humbly adds, “I have a hard time using the word writer and author. I think those are things you have to earn. I’ve always loved the idea of writing, and I like the idea of making people laugh.” Chris says it is a learning process, and he’s taking classes and working with a mentor, to grow as a writer.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering why he chose children’s literature, and not another genre. He says he has a big imagination, and “there’s something about the kid’s space that’s a lot more fun for me.” He also adds that he loves the fact that he can teach children good life lessons like, “don’t give up, and don’t listen to someone just because they say you can’t do something.”
Ultimately he would like to write for a slightly older audience, ideally the 8th to 12th grade, middle-school age, because he says, “you can be a little bit more risky and funny, and I like telling a longer story.”
Chris say the best part for him, is reading his book to the kids at schools. He says, “You can have fun with it. This is what I did it for, to talk to the kids, and answer their craziest questions.”
Chris tells me he would love to write a second book, “I don’t know what I would want to do for a second, maybe another Oliver. I want to write something a little longer next. My first priority is working on Oliver to make people want a second one.”
Oliver Brightside: You Don’t Want That Penny is available online and in bookstores now.