Author Spotlight no.118 – Melissa Harker Ridenour

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and eighteenth, is of Melissa Harker Ridenour.

Melissa Harker Ridenour, formerly a teacher and librarian, is now a children’s book author and freelance writer. Her first book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, was published by Headline Kids, a division of Headline Books, Incorporated and has been honored as a USA Best Book Award Finalist sponsored by USA Book News, and as a Readers’ Favorite Five Star Reviewed book. In addition, the book has received numerous other very positive book reviews. She has published essays, poetry, magazine articles, and web articles as well.

And now from the author herself:

Sometimes people ask me why I wrote a children’s book on such a subject as protecting children against the risks of abduction or predator harm. I have a couple of reasons for writing What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, beginning with a traumatic memory from my childhood. My very good childhood friend and classmate was abducted, raped and murdered by a predator. Adding to the tragedy of the story is the fact that her mother, the next year, committed suicide. She was never able to cope with the loss of her daughter, especially in such a violent way.

That haunting memory has always affected me, even as I became a mother myself. One of my greatest fears as a young mother, and even now that my children are grown with children of their own, is that something similar could happen to my children or grandchildren. That fear, combined with the alarming statistics regarding missing and exploited children is the second reason that prompted me to write a book that would teach children to take a pro-active role in staying safe from abduction, and to help parents and other caregivers learn how to keep children safe from abduction or harm.

My book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers offers a kid-friendly, parent-friendly, reassuring solution to parental fears. The book is targeted to elementary – aged children, but, ideally, it is meant to be a shared learning experience with parent and child / teacher and student.

Protecting one’s children from harm and teaching them how to take an active role in staying safe, without frightening them or making them distrustful of people in general, is a delicate balancing act. But it can be done. That’s why I included a chapter in my book specifically for parents / grandparents / teachers, and other child caregivers.

The concept of “stranger” is difficult for children to understand. What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers explains to children the concept of strangers in a very kid-friendly way and teaches them a method for determining whom they should and should not trust.

The book also presents an interactive format of multiple-choice solutions to potentially dangerous situations involving strangers. It creatively engages both children and parents and presents effective strategies for taking precautions and staying safe at home or in any public arena. It presents the most common predator lures and empowers children to become street smart and not fall for such lures.  There are self-defense techniques and reinforcing games and puzzles as well.

An invaluable book, I’d say. Thank you, Melissa. You can find more about Melissa and her writing via… her book website – Her book is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Boos-A-Million, Follett, Baker & Taylor and Ingrams.


The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with historical action adventure novelist and blogger Tom Rizzo – the four hundred and eighty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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