Books by Ronald Kidd

Released: Sept. 1, 2018

"A solid, worthwhile read. (Historical fiction. 10-13)"
With the birth of country music as his backdrop, a boy searches for music's place in his troubled family. Read full book review >
ROOM OF SHADOWS by Ronald Kidd
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

"An introduction that might tempt readers to explore Poe's own nightmares. (Fantasy. 9-13)"
What kind of horror might Edgar Allan Poe perpetrate in today's world? Read full book review >
DREAMBENDER by Ronald Kidd
Released: March 1, 2016

"There are plenty of novels about kindly-but-oppressive dystopian societies in which a child has a designated future path; skip this one. (Fantasy. 10-13)"
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a society in which 13-year-olds are assigned careers must be in want of a savior. Read full book review >
NIGHT ON FIRE by Ronald Kidd
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

" Beautifully written and earnestly delivered, the novel rolls to an inexorable, stunning conclusion readers won't soon forget. (Historical fiction. 9-13)"
In 1961, riding a Greyhound bus was more than a way to get from one place to another. For some, the destination was freedom. Read full book review >
Released: June 9, 2009

Ever-so-aptly billed "Stand By Me meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers," this multilayered historical novel features a quartet of quarrelsome—but loyal in the crunch—13-year-olds responding to the anxieties of the McCarthy-era Cold War. Being horror-movie addicts, Paul and buddies Oz, Arnie and Crank are over the moon when the crew filming the abovementioned SF classic-to-be sets up in their small California town. Better yet, the four hook up with a beautiful extra, an FBI agent who claims to be investigating the filmmakers for Communist connections—and a troubled young scientist named Richard Feynman, whose odd behavior and chancy friends lead the lads to the exciting suspicion that he's a spy. Kidd folds in good measures of comic relief and period detail, separates fiction from fact in an afterword and lets his characters develop in credible ways. He also gives Paul plenty of food for thought about the hazards of rushing to judgment, of taking people at face value and, most profoundly, of living in a pervasive climate of fear—all decidedly relevant topics for today's readers to mull, too. (Historical fiction. 11-13) Read full book review >
ON BEALE STREET by Ronald Kidd
Released: June 17, 2008

Fifteen-year-old Johnny Ross straddles the racial divide of 1954 Memphis, living in an affluent white neighborhood, sneaking into all-black blues clubs on Beale Street and getting a job at Sun Records, where he befriends a young white singer named Elvis Presley. Kidd portrays the music scene with the enthusiasm of a blues fan while mining the layers of racism in a town where "there was black. There was white. But there was never gray." Johnny has an affinity for the gray, and Sun Records begins to feel like home, "a place where people didn't care if you were black or white." Johnny's journey of self-discovery is rooted in a vividly described setting and well-drawn characters, and if the "we're all black, we're all white" message gets a bit heavy-handed, it's in the context of a strong story overall. Racist language and references to violence mark this one for older readers. (author's note) (Fiction. YA) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2006

Drawing incidents, dialogue and all but a few minor members of the cast from the historical record, Kidd views the Scopes trial through the eyes of a teenaged local—weaving in a thoughtful coming-of-age tale in the process. Nursing both a strong crush on handsome teacher/coach "Johnny" Scopes and a conviction that the sun rises and sets on her businessman father, Frances rides an emotional roller coaster as the trial—engineered by her father and some cronies as a publicity stunt, with the reluctant cooperation of Scopes—quickly turns into a circus, with undertones of hostility and violence coming to the fore. Frances meets all the major players—hard-bitten journalist H.L. Mencken, for instance, coming across as particularly complex and memorable—and gradually comes to realize that the world is not as simple as she had always thought: "There are lots of people out there," she tells her father. "They don't believe the same things we do." Readers who found Jen Bryant's novel-in-poems The Trial (2004) (which is built around another notorious American trial but shares many of the same themes and plot points) superficial will be pleased by the depth of character and ideas here. (afterword) (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 1991

An antic, lightweight tale about suburban sixth-graders in pursuit of the opposite sex. At 4'2'', Sammy Carducci has decided that he's ready to date; as he learnedly lectures his featherbrained buddy Gus about Women and Love (``Giggling is one of the ten early warning signs''), he surveys the available females and settles on voluptuous, 5`6'' Becky Davidson. The two, who narrate alternate chapters, actually hit it off, though (unbeknownst to Sammy) Becky is already being chased by prep school hunk Kevin. Sammy tries to come on as a swaggering, sharp-dressed Italian lover, but Becky is cleareyed enough to see past this front to the good heart underneath. Amid pratfalls, comical plot developments, and quick, funny dialogue, the two share some good times, have a falling-out, and finally mend matters (after a macho, gratuitous fight with Kevin) when Sammy acceptd the fact that he's not as sophisticated as he'd like to think. Readers who enjoy comedies of embarrassment will laugh through this while absorbing the author's suggestion that they needn't rush to maturity. (Fiction. 11-14) Read full book review >