Derby, Ken 1956-

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Derby, Ken 1956-


Born January 25, 1956, in Denver, CO; son of Roland (an educator) and Geraldine (an educator) Derby; married Valeria Marton (an entrepreneur); children: Alisha, Anthony. Education: Southwest Baptist University, B.A., 1978; Drury University, M.Ed., 1983. Hobbies and other interests: Fishing, rock music, fitness, reading.


Home—Budapest, Hungary. Office—American International School of Budapest, P.O. Box 53, Budapest 1525, Hungary. Agent—George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc., 65 Bleecker St., 12th Fl., New York, NY 10012.


Teacher in public schools in Bolivar, MO, 1978-84; Saudi Arabian International School, Riyadh, educator, 1984-89; American International School of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary, educator, 1990—.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Authors Guild, Authors League of America.


Children's Choice Novel citation, Children's Book Council and International Reading Association, 2005, and Children's Alabama's Choice Book Award, Alabama Department of Education, 2006, both for The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of 5th Grade.


The Ghost Memoirs of Robert Falcon Scott (juvenile historical fiction), Royal Fireworks Publishing (Unionville, NY), 1999.

The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of 5th Grade (juvenile humor), Holiday House (New York, NY), 2004.

The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of School, (juvenile humor), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.

Other writings include Dracula: The Real Story, a biography of the historical figure Vlad Tepes; The Mystery of Tutankhamun; The Fourth Grade Loony Bin, (juvenile humor); and My Week with Hernando, (historical fiction). Contributor to periodicals.


Ken Derby told CA: "I was born and raised in Colorado. I taught for several years in Bolivar, Missouri, and then I went on to instruct students in Saudi Arabia. I am a progressive teacher who is willing to take risks and make changes in my personal educational practices in my classroom. I currently teach at the American International School of Budapest. I enjoy teaching abroad because it offers me the opportunity to experience an entirely different country and culture. I have taught in Hungary since 1990, and each year my class includes children from several different countries. This makes for a very rich, diverse, and rewarding atmosphere.

"It was from my son that I drew the inspiration for my novel The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of 5th Grade. My children and I had been planning a visit to New York City when I asked them what they wanted to do during the trip. My son, who was eight years old at the time, badly wanted to attend The Late Show with David Letterman. I explained that he was too young to watch the show live because there was an age restriction. My son didn't like this and complained about it for several days. I explained that the only way to see the show at such a young age was to be invited as a guest. A few days later, my son suggested that I write a story about a kid who would do anything to be invited to be a guest on The Late Show and—bingo!—a story was born. What would you do if you were a fifth-grader desperate to meet David Letterman? How could a young kid manage to snag Mr. Letterman's attention and receive an invitation to be a guest on his show? What kind of craziness would ensue? These are the types of questions that fueled my creative powers. The book tells the story of Anthony Madison, a fifth-grader from Kansas City.

"I plan to continue teaching, but I would like to write full-time someday. I have a special connection with children. It's hard to explain. It's simply a matter of the soul. I wish to make a difference in their lives and guide them in their quest to step out and take intelligent risks in life and ultimately teach themselves."



Booklist, February 1, 2005, Kay Weisman, review of The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of School, p. D8.

School Library Journal, January, 2005, Terri Dorio, review of The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of School, p. 90.

Washington Post, August 27, 2006, review of The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of School, p. D8.