Interview about Night on Fire
The popular book website Q&A with Deborah Kalb features an interview with Ronald Kidd about his Freedom Rider novel, Night on Fire. Here’s a preview:
“I imagined the Freedom Riders coming through my town, and I watched as people I loved stood by and did nothing when the riders were beaten up and their bus burned.
“What would I do? How could I try to make it right? As I pondered these questions, a 13-year-old girl named Billie came to life, asking these same questions and determined to do something about them.”
Night on Fire was named co-recipient of the 2016 Paterson Prize, awarded by the Paterson Poetry Center in Paterson, New Jersey, to the year’s best novel for middle grade readers.
A Bank Street Book of the Year
Night on Fire has been chosen as a 2016 Bank Street Book of the Year by the children’s book committee of the Bank Street College of Education. Committee members “consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes.”
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award
Night on Fire was nominated for the 2016-2017 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award. The award is designed to acquaint Vermont’s fourth through eighth grade students with the best children’s literature available. “Our committee could not stop talking about Billie’s incredibly nuanced and convincing portrayal as a young white girl of privilege. Her moral awakening and journey to activist and advocate couldn’t be a more timely story to be sharing with kids.”
Night on Fire Named to Kirkus Best of 2015
Kirkus Reviews honored Night on Fire by naming it one of the best children’s books of 2015.
American Library Association Midwinter Meeting (Boston, January 9)
Ronald Kidd signed copies of Dreambender and Night on Fire for teachers and librarians at the Albert Whitman & Company booth.
Skype Session for Night on Fire (New York, January 14)
A group of excited fourth graders at Village Community School quizzed Ronald Kidd on his middle grade historical novel about the Freedom Riders.
School Appearance for Open Books (Chicago, February 11)
At the Ruben Salazar Bilingual Center, Ms. Moffat’s third-grade class welcomed Ronald Kidd for an appearance sponsored by Open Books, a nonprofit social venture that provides literacy experiences for young readers. Kidd worked with the class to build a story together, then signed Dreambender and Night on Fire.
Reading at Parnassus Books (Nashville, March 5)
Ronald Kidd presented and read from his new novel Dreambender, dystopian fiction for middle grade readers.
Southern Festival of Books
At the 2015 Southern Festival of Books, Ronald Kidd discussed and read from his middle-grade novel Night on Fire on a panel called “Steps Toward Equality: Stories of Civil Rights in the 60s.” Other participants were Margaret McMullan and Etta Wilson. The annual festival was held in Nashville on October 9-11.
Two-Book Contract with Albert Whitman
Ronald Kidd has signed a two-book contract with Albert Whitman & Company, the Chicago-based publisher of quality children’s books since 1919. Best known for the classic series The Boxcar Children Mysteries, Whitman published Kidd’s historical novel Night on Fire in September 2015, about the Freedom Riders in 1960s Alabama. The new contract is for two titles: a dystopian novel Dreambender, on the power of dreams in an uncertain future, to be published in Spring 2016; and The Raven and Me, concerning a boy’s anger and the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe, to be published in Fall 2016.
Night on Fire Receives Kirkus Starred Review
Ronald Kidd’s novel Night on Fire (September 2015) has received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.
NIGHT ON FIRE [STARRED REVIEW]
Author: Ronald Kidd
Review Issue Date: July 15, 2015
Online Publish Date: June 29, 2015
Price (Hardcover): $16.99
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
ISBN (Hardcover): 978-0-8075-7024-1
In 1961, riding a Greyhound bus was more than a way to get from one place to another. For some, the destination was freedom. Told through the eyes of a white teen with a thirst for adventure, the novel takes readers on an aching journey of self-discovery at a time when figuring out the world meant facing devastating truths about where you lived and what you loved. Thirteen-year-old Billie Sims loves watching the sleek, silver Greyhound buses pass through Anniston, Alabama, reading the bus schedule the way some kids read the funny papers. She loves home, but she yearns for more, hoping and dreaming about taking the bus into her future. However, with parts of the South refusing to enforce segregation laws and civil rights activists refusing to back down, Billie soon learns that seeing the world is not as important as seeing what is right in front of her. Kidd writes with insight and restraint, creating a richly layered opus that hits every note to perfection. Readers who know the history will cringe at Billie's naiveté; those who do not will surely find themselves re-evaluating their worlds. For them, Billie's coming of age could serve as a cautionary tale about where America once was and why we all need to stay vigilant, lest we return—as current headlines attest. Beautifully written and earnestly delivered, the novel rolls to an inexorable, stunning conclusion readers won't soon forget. (Historical fiction. 9-13)
Ronald Kidd presented his novels Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial and The Year of the Bomb to fifth graders at Meigs Middle Magnet School in Nashville TN, as part of a unit on twentieth-century American history. He read from his picture book Doorway to the World to a group of younger students at Drexel Preparatory Academy in Whites Creek TN. Doorway to the World is part of a four-book series commissioned by Habitat for Humanity International and includes Grandpa’s Hammer, Raising the Roof, and Building Friends.
Tennessee Association of School Librarians
Ronald Kidd discussed and read from his novel The Year of the Bomb at the annual meeting of the Tennessee Association of School Librarians. The novel, on the subject of fear, takes place in 1955, during the filming of the horror classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Discussion topics following his presentation included fear of the bomb, the McCarthy era, and teaching history through fiction.
Bank Street Books Honors The Year of the Bomb
The Year of the Bomb has been named one of the best books of the year by the prestigious Children's Book Committee of Bank Street Books. The committee was founded almost 100 years ago “to help parents, teachers, and librarians choose the books that children will find captivating and transforming.” It comprises some 35 members--all volunteers--from various professions and backgrounds concerned with children and books: writers, illustrators, editors, librarians, teachers, and parents.
Kidd Delights 4th Graders at USN
Ronald Kidd recently spent an entertaining and informative morning with the fourth grade at the University School of Nashville. The students, who had just finished reading Theodore Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major, were treated to a reading of the first chapter of his most recent book, the hilarious Unleashed! The Secret Lives of White House Pets. Delighted to hear about Kidd's newest book, The Raven and Me, the students wowed the author with their knowledge of the main character, Edgar Allan Poe, and cheered when Kidd invited them to read the story before it hits the bookstores.
Southern Festival of Books
At the 2009 Southern Festival of Books, Ronald Kidd discussed and read from his middle-grade novel The Year of the Bomb on a panel called “Brains or Brawn? How a Hero Is Born.” The other panelist was Marc Tyler Nobleman, with his book Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman. The annual festival was held in Nashville on October 10-12.
Junior Library Guild Selects The Year of the Bomb
Ronald Kidd's middle-grade novel The Year of the Bomb was named by the Junior Library Guild as one of its 2009 selections, one of the book industry's most highly esteemed accolades. Past selections have included most of the major award winners in children's books, including the 2009 winners of the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Medal, and the Horn Book Awards.
Reading at Davis-Kidd Books
On January 21, Ronald Kidd spoke about and read passages from his young adult novel On Beale Street at Davis-Kidd Books in Nashville. The crowd of thirty listeners included a group from Vanderbilt's Peabody School of Education, who had just read the book as part of a master's degree course in children's literature.
Kidd Named to Annual “Best of Nashville” List
Best Person to Introduce Your Kids to Tennessee History
Most kids think studying history is only marginally better than getting the flu. Fortunately, Ronald Kidd writes young-adult novels that make Tennessee’s past accessible and fun: His youthful protagonists pull the reader into lives as complicated as the times in which they live. In Monkey Town, he told the story of the 1925 Scopes evolution trial through the eyes of a thoughtful 15-year-old girl. With this year’s On Beale Street, Kidd presents the segregationist 1950s as witnessed by a troubled Memphis teenager who has a front-row seat at the birth of rock
’n’ roll. From Clarence Darrow to Elvis Presley, Kidd keeps the past—and its still-relevant issues—alive.
—Chris Scott, Nashville Scene
Southern Festival of Books
At the 2008 Southern Festival of Books, Ronald Kidd discussed his new book On Beale Street, and actor Brian Hull did an “audio book” reading of a passage that featured the young Elvis Presley. The annual festival was held in Nashville on October 10-12.
On Beale Street featured in BookPage
Ronald Kidd was interviewed in the July 2008 issue of BookPage, discussing his new young adult novel On Beale Street and his upcoming middle grade novel The Year of the Bomb.
Kennedy Center Books
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in cooperation with the White House Historical Association, has commissioned three plays about children of sitting Presidents, and Ronald Kidd was asked to adapt the plays as middle-grade novels. The first, Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2008. The second, Chasing George, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2009.
Tennessee State Book
Monkey Town was named the official selection of the state of Tennessee for the National Book Festival, which was held in September 2007 on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and was hosted by First Lady Laura Bush.
Monkey Town Award
Monkey Town was named in Books for the Teen Age, the New York Public Library's list of the best young adult books of 2006.
Audio Book Produced by Random House
Monkey Town is now an audio book. Random House Audio, the producer of the award-winning Harry Potter audio books, recorded the book in New York. The producer was Brian Smith of Seeing Ear Theatre, and the narrator was Ashley Albert.
Kidd at Scopes Festival
Ronald Kidd took part in the 2006 Scopes Festival in Dayton, Tennessee. Speaking at the Rhea County Courthouse, where the famous trial took place, Kidd discussed his historical novel Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial and afterward signed books. Appearing with him were the children of Frances Robinson Gabbert, the real-life narrator of his novel: Leona Gabbert Taylor, Craig Gabbert, and Ann Gabbert Bates, pictured here with Kidd (on right) in front of the historic courthouse.