Browsing the blog archives for June, 2010.


  • From the Mixed-Up Files... > 2010 > June
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    April 11, 2014:
    Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
    A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

    April 9, 2014:
    How many Newbery winners have you read?
    You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

    March 28, 2014:
    Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

    For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

    February 14, 2014:
    Cybils Awards announced
    Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

    January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
    Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

    November 12, 2013:
    Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

    Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

    November 9, 2013:
    Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

    Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

    October 14, 2013:
    Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

    Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
    Read more ...

    September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

    Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

    September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

    Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

    September 16, 2013:
    National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

    For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

    Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
    Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

    August 21, 2013:
    Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

    Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

    August 19, 2013:
    S&S and BN reach a deal
    Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

    August 6, 2013:
    NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
    NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

     
    July 2, 2013:
    Penguin & Random House Merger

    The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...

     

    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...

     

    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories, read more...

     

    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...

     

    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...

     

    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…

     

    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...

     

    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...

     

    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...

     

    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...

     

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Unleashing Your Inner 12-Year-Old

Uncategorized

I know, I know – middle-grade books are for EIGHT-to-twelve year olds. Myopic cretin that I am, however, I’ve chosen to focus on 12 for…no particular reason, really. I suppose because “finding your inner 8-12 year old” just looks kinda silly to me. Or maybe it’s just because my book’s protagonist is 12. I’m 40, by the way, soon to be 41, so it’s been quite some time since my twelfth birthday. What tools and techniques can a leathery old human saddlebag like me use to effectively capture the voice of a character whose tenure on the planet is so much more brief than mine?

If you ask me (I know you didn’t literally ask me, but you metaphorically did by coming to this blog, so just settle down, buckaroo), it always comes back to memory. I followed assorted tweets from the Caldecott & Newbery Awards banquet on June 27 (with only a soupcon of envy to poison my voyeuristic enjoyment), and Kate Messner reported that Rebecca Stead described her sublime MG novel WHEN YOU REACH ME as “an impossible mystery played out on the streets of my own childhood.”  In a recent blog post, Nova Ren Suma said seventh grade “…was a very painful time for me personally, family-wise, socially, and more. But it’s so vivid—and I keep wanting to write it.”  In this interview on Vivian Lee Mahoney’s blog Robin LaFevers candidly talks about how her childhood forms the basis for one of her signature characters, 11-year-old Theodosia Throckmorton.

So yeah, personal memories. Personal memories are big. That having been said, I also agree with cartoon memoirist Tracy White, who mentions the unreliability of memory in this Washington Post article.  We do indeed forget some things, enhance some things, and diminish others. So! How to combat the memory slippage?

An obvious  tactic is to hang out with 8-to-12 year old kids. That’s not a real easy tactic for me, since my own kids have a few years to go before hitting that age range, and I’m not a librarian like Nan Marino (although I do have a Slinky just like Nan does). I didn’t keep diaries like Sarah J. Stevenson did, although I am trying to take her advice and hone my skills at eavesdropping. Tricky, though – I don’t want to be creepy. Creepy is bad. Author Jodi Moore is also an inveterate eavesdropper, bless her heart, and for added value she watches the TV show “Degrassi.” Incidentally, this demonstrates one of the absolute greatest things about writing for children: a built-in degree of legitimacy for the consumption of sweet, fizzy pop culture. That is the very definition of bliss, yo.

Mnemonic devices? I gotcha mnemonic devices right here.

Still, there’s a really obvious answer to the question of “how to best spur those 8-12 year old memories in order to crowbar them into a book.” It’s elementary, Watson. One of the prime ways to push a tap into those spongy, nerveless brain tissues and drain out some useful memories for your MG novel is to read a whole lot of other MG novels. There’s a reason why the entire kidlit industry goes on and on and on about the need to both write and read – the reason is because it’s true, babies.

The books I loved during my own middle-grade years are stunningly effective at evoking the sensations, thoughts and feelings I had back then, so I try and check back in with old favorites like DRAGONSONG or THE MERRY ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD or A WRINKLE IN TIME every once in a blue moon, although that gets harder as I continue to get older. Reading newer books like THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY and THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA, on the other hand, massages different places within the folds of my cranium – they don’t have the pure evocative magic of those old favorites, but that’s okay, because they stir up swirls and eddies of other memories that have been sitting on the shelf, undisturbed by other provocations.  There’s a certain amount of distance when that happens – it becomes more about the adult me observing the childhood me, in a way – but hey, whatever works, right? Dude, this writing stuff is hard, and transmogrifying one’s self into a state of twelvishness is not exactly the easy part. Populating your desk with action figures, eating pop rocks, listening to the same Beach Boys records your cousin used to like, and especially reading books…you do what you gotta do, am I right?

Mike Jung has not yet conquered the galaxy with his mildly snarky MG manuscripts, but he’s working on it.

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The Care and Feeding of Young Library Patrons

Interviews

Photo credit: The Consortium via Flickr

Fairfax County, a heavily-populated Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., could arguably be the epicenter of young reader-dom. When Amazon held its “Harry-est” city in the country contest to celebrate the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, two cities in Fairfax County were in the top five spots.

Georgia Chirieleison is responsible for keeping these young readers well-supplied. As the Children’s Selector for the Fairfax County Public Library system, Georgia selects all titles for patrons from birth to age 18 at 22 branches. She has also worked as the head of information at the Centreville Library and was a children’s librarian for 20 years.

Like libraries across the country, the library here is facing cutbacks in staff, hours and materials. However, it is still in the business of buying books, and Georgia was gracious enough to spend some time with Mixed-Up Files and answer some questions about the behind-the-scenes workings of the largest public library system in Virginia and what makes her buy a middle-grade book.

Q: Since your job consists of buying books, how has your work been affected by budget cuts?
A: We are buying fewer titles, all across the board. We have also raised our hold-to-copy ratio. It used to be that we would by an additional copy of a book when there were more than 4 holds on the title; now it’s been changed to 6. It’s harder to spend money. We spend a lot of time being careful.

Q: So, out of all the middle-grade titles you’re looking at right now, what percentage, roughly, would you say do you purchase?
A: It’s hard to say – probably 25-40%.

Q: Approximately how many new titles do you acquire each year (as opposed to copies of each title)?
A: In 2009, for titles labeled “JFIC,” we purchased 667 titles. This excludes Young Adult and Picture Books, but may include different formats of the same title, such as the same book in a different language or on CD. (Interviewer’s note: Just as an example of why it might be important to distinguish between copies of a title and different formats of a title, I checked on the blockbuster Diary of Wimpy Kid. The library alone had 179 copies of the original English language version, in addition to 4 copies in Korean and 8 audio copies!)

Q: My 10-year-old son recently read his first e-book, thanks to the FCPL system. How do you see e-books fitting in with the needs of your middle-grade readers?
A: I expect the demand for e-books among middle-graders to go up. We are seeing more holds showing up in our system for e-books all the time. The advantage to us is that e-books take up no shelf space. It’s an interesting time.

Q: How do you decide to acquire a new middle-grade fiction title?
A: We order based on reviews. Looking at preview copies is prohibitive because of the sheer volume and workload involved in handling them. We order from companies such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and BWI. They provide lists of genres I’m interested in, and they provide links to interviews to the titles. Patrons and branches can also suggest a title, and we will respond based on reviews and availability.

Q: If there’s a book with mixed reviews, what factors would push you to buy the book?
A: The author’s reputation would make a difference. We would consider customer demand, the setting and the subject of the book – if it were something customers would find interesting or relevant in some way.

Q: You mentioned earlier that you purchase your book through book companies. What do these companies do? Why do you choose to go through these book companies instead of book stores?
A: Companies like Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and BWI are book wholesalers that provide many time-saving services to libraries. They provide discounts and we can request certain processing, such as a barcode, specific jacketing or heavier binding to stand up to circulation. They carefully monitor what is published and provide alerts, suggested titles lists, and powerful selection software. We also have the ability to go outside the book companies if there is a book we want. In addition, we have standing orders with certain titles or series.

Q: Do you ever look for specific books in a particular genre or with a certain type of character?
A: We do occasionally scout for books, but generally, it’s what looks good that year. Some years are a bumper crop; not so much other years.

Q: Are there books you feel are needed but not being published?
A: Sometimes I can’t find books in some non-fiction areas. Right now there is a lot of demand for fantasy and science fiction. Vampires are still hot, and we are seeing more angel stories, too.

Q: What is the best part of your job? The worst?
A: The best part of this job is that I like all kinds of books, especially picture books. I like seeing new books as they come out, knowing people will enjoy them. The hardest part is sitting at a computer for long periods of time – I think part of me never grew up!

Q: Final question – who are some of your favorite middle-grade authors?
A: For fantasy, I like C.S. Lewis and Ursula K. LeGuin, J.K. Rowling, Jonathan Stroud, Maryrose Wood, Trenton Stewart and many others. In terms of realistic fiction, I like Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and Gordon Korman, Andrew Clements and Kimberly Willis Holt’s “Piper Reed” books. I also like Mary Downing Hahn – she’s a local author who writes historical fiction as well as suspense.

After speaking to Georgia, a quick peek into the library catalogue revealed that for 2009, in addition to the 667 middle-grade titles, Georgia also purchased 693 picture books and 588 young adult titles, bringing the number of titles (and formats) she purchased to 1,948! That’s not including non-fiction titles, or the fact that based on her own estimates, Georgia is probably looking at upwards of six or seven thousand titles to get to her selections. Whew!

Wendy Shang’s debut novel, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, comes out January 2011.  She is a Ready-to-Read volunteer with Fairfax County Public Library.

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Audiobooks: Great sounding middle-grade books

Audiobooks, Book Lists

Heard any great middle-grade books lately?

If not, you’re in for a treat. With long road trips to vacation destinations looming ahead, or just endless days filled with proclamations of “I’m BORED!”, summer is the perfect time to get hooked on great middle-grade audiobooks.

High angle view of a boy listening to music on headphones

Content © 2010 Newscom All rights reserved.

Listening on the road: Audiobooks are a great alternative for kids who feel carsick while reading. They also make a nice change from DVD’s and endless games of “Bumper Stumpers”.  You can listen to audiobooks on your car CD player or they can be uploaded as playlists on your middle grader’s MP3 player.

image from http://www.playaway.com/

Listening at home: Audiobooks can help augment your middle grader’s everyday book-reading too. Listening to the first book in a series, for instance, can encourage kids to check out later volumes in print form too. Audiobooks can also encourage kids to try books at a higher reading level. Once they’ve heard a book read out loud, it may encourage them to seek out other books by the same author.

Listening at the library: Check out your local library’s audiobook selection. Often, popular titles are more readily available in audio than in print form. Some libraries allow users to download the sound file directly from the Internet. It really doesn’t get any easier than that!

Oh, wait a sec. Yes, it does…

Listening on the go: Ask your school or local librarian whether they have PLAYAWAYS. These self-contained MP3 players are pre-loaded with an audiobook. Great to grab-and-go.

Everything old is new again: Even old favorites seem new-to-you when read by a great narrator.  The HARRY POTTER series by JK Rowling, read by Jim Dale, A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle, read by the author and A SINGLE SHARD by Linda Sue Park, read by Graeme Malcolm, are all oldies but goodies. (Click on the image to hyperlink to a sound sample.)

       

Newer titles like WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead, read by Cynthia Holloway, OPERATION YES by Sara Lewis Holmes, read by Jessica Almasy and GOOD MASTERS!  SWEET LADIES!: VOICES FROM A MEDIEVAL VILLAGE by Laura Amy Schlitz, read by Christina Moore and a full cast, are also great bets.

       

A few more top picks from our Mixed-Up authors:

THE BOXCAR CHILDREN by Gertrude Chandler Warner, read by Phyllis Newman

BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katherine Paterson, read by Robert Sean Leonard

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Roald Dahl, read by Eric Idle

THE GET RICH QUICK CLUB by Dan Gutman, read by Angela Goethals

THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX by Kate DiCamillo, read by Graeme Malcolm

THE RED BLAZER GIRLS series by by Michael D. Beil, read by Tai Alexandra Ricci

NORY RYAN’S SONG by Patricia Reilly Giff, read by Susan Lynch, and the sequel, MAGGIE’S DOOR read by Fionnula Flanagan

BUD, NOT BUDDY by Christopher Paul Curtis, read by James Avery

And there’s more!: Here are a few more lists to get you started…

The Booksource

Renaissance Reading

Audible

WHAT ABOUT YOU?  Have you listened to any great middle-grade audiobooks lately? Care to share?

**Oh, and don’t forget to enter our second summer giveaway – one lucky reader will win three amazing middle-grade books!

Hélène Boudreau listened to the whole HARRY POTTER series (close to 100 hours worth!) while training for her latest half marathon walk, and appreciated Jim Dale’s company and fabulous narration through it all. You can visit her at www.heleneboudreau.com

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