Richard Kidd (1952-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights
Born 1952, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England; Education: Attended Newcastle University, 1970-74.
Agent—Caroline Walsh, David Higham Associates, 5-8 Lower John St., Golden Square, London W1F 9HA, England.
Artist and author. Exhibitions: Exhibited regularly with the Rowan Gallery, London, England, 1977-93, in San Francisco, CA, and New York, NY, 1981-87, and in Europe.
Prize winner, John Moores 9 (painting exhibition), 1974; Abbey scholarship to British School in Rome, 1975-76; Mother Goose Award shortlist, 1997, for Almost Famous Daisy!; Branford Boase Award for first novels shortlist, for The Giant Goldfish Robbery.
Almost Famous Daisy!, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.
Monsieur Thermidor: A Fantastic Fishy Tale, illustrated by Lindsey Kidd, Francis Lincoln (London, England), 1997, Blackbirch Press (Woodbridge, CT), 1998.
Are We Nearly There Yet?, illustrated by Philippe Dupasquier, Bloomsbury (London, England), 1997.
Lucinda Snodd-Gibbon's Scottish Collection, illustrated by Alex de Wolf, McDonald Young Books (Hove, England), 1998.
The Giant Goldfish Robbery, Corgi (London, England), 1999.
Deadly Famous, Corgi (London, England), 2001.
Lobsters in Love: A Whirlpool Romance, illustrated by Lindsey Kidd, Francis Lincoln (London, England), 2001.
The Tiger Bone Thief, illustrated by Peter Bailey, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
The Last Leg, illustrated by Peter Bailey, Corgi (London, England), 2003.
The Giant Goldfish Robbery was adapted as an audiobook, Chivers Audio Books, 2002; Deadly Famous was adapted as an audiobook, Chivers Audio Books, 2003.
Richard Kidd is a celebrated British artist who specializes in drawings and oil paintings. Kidd is also the author of several well-received children's books, including Monsieur Thermidor: A Fantastic Fishy Tale, The Giant Goldfish Robbery, and The Tiger Bone Thief.
Kidd's self-illustrated debut, Almost Famous Daisy!, was shortlisted for the Mother Goose Award. In the work, young Daisy spies an advertisement for an art competition that encourages the participants to paint their "favorite things." Hoping to spur her imagination, Daisy begins a world tour with her dog, Duggie, visiting the sites that inspired history's most famous artists. The itinerary includes stops at Saint-Remy, France, where Daisy and Duggie gaze upon Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night," and Vitebsk, Belarus, where they admire Marc Chagall's "Poet Reclining." After returning home, Daisy fills her painting with the things that are closest to her heart: her parents, her room, and Duggie.
Although Almost Famous Daisy! received mixed reviews for its text, praise for Kidd's illustrations was unanimous. Jennifer Fleming, reviewing Almost Famous Daisy! for School Library Journal, remarked that the tale lacks a "coherent story line or a sympathetic, believable character," and a Publishers Weekly contributor observed that "Splashy visuals that play off of famous paintings give this book a strong surface appeal, but undeveloped themes and a host of tangents muddy the text." However, according to Kay Weisman in Booklist, "Kidd's mixed media and collage artwork pays homage to the masters within the framework of an entertaining story that never seems didactic." A critic for Kirkus Reviews was also enthusiastic about the book, noting that Almost Famous Daisy! "explores how mood, senses, and location are all part of an artist's work."
Kidd's Monsieur Thermidor: A Fantastic Fishy Tale was published in 1997. Illustrated by Kidd's wife, Lindsey Kidd, the book follows the adventures of the title character, a lobster who owns an undersea restaurant renowned for its seaweed soup. One day Thermidor is caught and placed on the menu at a bistro run by Chef Henry. Henry is so moved by the lobster's sad mood that he spares Thermidor's life, and Thermidor returns the favor by sharing his recipe for seaweed soup. Lindsey Kidd's brightly colored, salt-dough characters "transform this somewhat perplexing story of a lobster chef into a charming entrée," wrote a contributor to Publishers Weekly. DeAnn Tabuchi, reviewing the work in School Library Journal, felt that while the storyline is intriguing, Kidd's "text is heavy for the intended audience."
Lobsters in Love: A Whirlpool Romance, another tale featuring Monsieur Thermidor, appeared in 2001. In this work, Thermidor's curiosity is piqued after he reads his birthday horoscope, which promises mystery and adventure. Trapped by a fisherman while collecting seaweed for his famous soup, Thermidor manages to escape from his captor and begin a romance with a lovely female lobster. Lobsters in Love was also a collaboration between Kidd and his artist/wife Lindsey Kidd.
In addition to penning picture books, Kidd has also written a number of mysteries for older readers. His The Giant Goldfish Robbery, which was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award for first novels, was published in 1999. The novel focuses on Jimmy Stoker, a newcomer to town who meets an elderly neighbor, Major Gregory. Gregory raises koi carp, a relative of the goldfish, and Jimmy, the son of a fisherman, becomes
fascinated with the giant carp and learns everything he can about them. When Jimmy hears of a plot to steal the major's prized fish, he resolves to stop the thieves.
Jimmy Stoker returns in The Tiger Bone Thief. In this work, Jimmy lands a weekend job at the local zoo. When the zoo's great Siberian tiger dies, rumors start flying, because tiger bones are reputed to have healing powers and they can fetch a hefty price on the black market. Jimmy grows concerned when he sees the tiger's body being smuggled out of the zoo. Determined to solve the mystery, he enlists the help of his classmate, Billy, as well as neighbor Major Gregory. Writing in the Japan Times Online, Payal Kapadia called The Tiger Bone Thief an "unpretentious adventure story" that is "wittily written" and "straightforwardly told."
Other thrillers written by Kidd include Deadly Famous and The Last Leg. Deadly Famous concerns Stanley Buckle, a lonely, introverted boy who is befriended by Neville, a local artist. When Neville suddenly disappears and is presumed killed in a flood, the value of his paintings skyrocket. Stanley is convinced that Neville is still alive, however, and he believes that greedy art dealers are behind his friend's disappearance. In The Last Leg Claude discovers what appears to be dismembered bodies washed up on the beach. The "bodies" turn out to be shop-window dummies, and the mystery deepens when a pair of Italian men show an unusual interest in the mannequins.
Biographical and Critical Sources
ARTnews, December, 1983, Ronny Cohen, "Richard Kidd," p. 158.
Booklist, April 15, 1996, Kay Weisman, review of Almost Famous Daisy!, p. 1446.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1996, review of Almost Famous Daisy!
New York Times Book Review, May 19, 1996, J. D. Biersdorfer, review of Almost Famous Daisy!, p. 28.
Publishers Weekly, April 29, 1996, review of Almost Famous Daisy!, pp. 71-72; February 2, 1998, review of Monsieur Thermidor: A Fantastic Fishy Tale.
School Library Journal, September, 1996, Jennifer Fleming, review of Almost Famous Daisy!, p. 182; July, 1998, DeAnn Tabuchi, review of Monsieur Thermidor, p. 76.
Big Toe Radio Show, http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbc7/bigtoe/ (March 8, 2004), "Richard Kidd."
David Higham Associates Web site, http://www.davidhigham.co.uk/ (March 8, 2004), "Richard Kidd."
Japan Times Online, http://www.japantimes.com/ (November 6, 2003), Payal Kapadia, "On the Book Trail."
National Museums Liverpool Web site, http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ (March 9, 2004), "Richard Kidd."
Northumbria University Art Gallery Web site, http://online.northumbria.ac.uk/gallery/ (March 8, 2004), "Richard Kidd."*
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