Night Fires

( 2 )

Overview

It's 1922, and thirteen-year-old Woodrow Harper has moved with his widowed mother to his father's hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma. Perhaps here he will be able to find the closeness to his father that eluded him when his father was alive. He is befriended by his new next-door neighbor, a powerful state senator who becomes the father figure Woodrow always wanted, who understands him in a way his own father never did. The senator introduces Woodrow to the "best" people in town, but Woodrow soon realizes the "best" ...

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Night Fires

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Overview

It's 1922, and thirteen-year-old Woodrow Harper has moved with his widowed mother to his father's hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma. Perhaps here he will be able to find the closeness to his father that eluded him when his father was alive. He is befriended by his new next-door neighbor, a powerful state senator who becomes the father figure Woodrow always wanted, who understands him in a way his own father never did. The senator introduces Woodrow to the "best" people in town, but Woodrow soon realizes the "best" people have some terrible secrets, and to be accepted by them he has to do things that make him abandon his own values, culminating in a terrifying act of violence close to home.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Heather N. Kolich
The man in the house next door really seems to understand thirteen-year old Woodrow Harper. They have a lot in common. Woodrow's father, distant while alive, recently died in a car crash. George Crawford's son was killed a few years ago in France, while fighting in the Great War, and his wife died shortly after. Woodrow wants a father. Crawford wants a son. Furthermore, Crawford is a powerful man, a State Senator who knows all the right people in Woodrow's new home, his father's childhood home in Lawton, Oklahoma. In Crawford's company, Woodrow finally feels at home. Through Crawford, Woodrow gains acceptance and respect in the community. Woodrow takes uncharacteristic actions to please the Senator. His mother avidly opposes their association. There are other tensions in Lawton. Young black men go missing in the night. The son of the Harper's maid, Joshua, a boy Woodrow's age, is one of them. What does Crawford know about that, and how far will Woodrow go to gain his acceptance? Well paced and well written, Stanley's novel paints a plausible picture of the motivations, rationalizations and indoctrination methods of a 1920's era Ku Klux Klan. Reviewer: Heather N. Kolich
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—A thought-provoking novel about racism in rural Oklahoma. It's 1928, and Woodrow and his recently widowed mother relocate from Washington, DC, to Lawton, his father's hometown. The 13-year-old misses his father but hopes that his neighbor, Senator Crawford, who had lost his own son, will fill that void. Crawford takes Woodrow under his wing and introduces him to "the right kind of people." However, before long, the town's ugly secrets are revealed. Woodrow discovers that the senator is the imperial wizard of the local Ku Klux Klan and witnesses Crawford whipping a "Negro man" during a nighttime meeting. Afterward, the senator pressures Woodrow to commit to this way of life, and the boy struggles between wanting the acceptance and love of this father figure and following his own moral compass. Tensions build to a fever pitch, positioning Woodrow to make complicated decisions and perform hurtful actions that have consequences beyond his understanding. Eventually, he learns that knowing the "right people" and doing the right thing are not necessarily the same. Stanley's highly charged, emotional story tells of a very dark period in this country's history and can perhaps be incorporated into American History classes so that students can better understand racism and its ugly by-products.—Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK
Kirkus Reviews
In 1928, after his father died in a car crash, 13-year-old Woodrow Harper and his mother move from Washington, D.C. to Lawton, Okla., where Woodrow is befriended by Senator Crawford, his next-door neighbor. The senator lost his son in World War I, so Woodrow becomes a surrogate son while Crawford becomes the father Woodrow has lost. However, when Woodrow realizes that his new friend is involved with the Ku Klux Klan, he is torn: The Klan offers a way for a newcomer to belong and meet the "right people," but at a price. Woodrow's first-person narration is immediate and appropriately naive, the plot compelling enough to keep readers going to see if Woodrow can extricate himself from the Klan's clutches. While not a subtle novel by any means, the theme of individual conscience versus mob mentality plays out well, though characterization and setting are not as developed as they might be. Still, a solid work for the intended audience. (Historical fiction. 9-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416912507
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 1/4/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 183
  • Sales rank: 1,400,566
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


George E. Stanley
is professor of African and Middle-Eastern languages and linguistics at Cameron University. He has written numerous chapter books as well as several titles in Aladdin’s Childhood of Famous Americans series. He lives in Lawton, Oklahoma, the setting for Night Fires.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2013

    Elder's Den

    Elder's Den

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2012

    AMAZING!!!!!!!

    I am a huge fan of this book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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