Browsing the blog archives for June, 2010.


  • OhMG! News

    New-Oh-MG-critter



    July 11, 2014: Apply for a Thurber House residency!

    Thurber House has a Children’s Writer-in-Residence program for middle-grade authors each year and  guidelines and application form for the 2015 residency were just released.

    This unique residency has been in existence since 2001, offering  an opportunity for authors to have time to work on their writing in a fully furnished apartment, in the historic boyhood home of author and humorist, James Thurber. Deadline is October 31, 2014. For details, go to READ MORE

    July 10, 2014:

    Spread MG books in unexpected places 7/19
    Drop a copy of your own book or of another middle-grade favorite in a public place on July 19 -- and some lucky reader will stumble upon it.
    Ginger Lee Malacko is spearheading this Middle Grade Bookbomb (use the hashtag #mgbookbomb in social media) -- much in the spirit of Operation Teen Book Drop.  Read more ...

June 16, 2014:
Fizz, Boom, Read: Summer reading 2014

Hundreds of public libraries across the U.S. are celebrating reading this summer with  the theme Fizz, Boom, Read! Find out more about this year's collaborative summer reading program and check out suggested booklists and activities. Read more ...
 

April 30, 2014:
Join the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and help change the world

The conversation on diversity in children's books has grown beyond book creators and gate keepers to readers and book buyers. What can you do? Take part in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign May 1 though 3 on Tumblr and Twitter and in whatever creative ways you can help spread the word to take action. Read more ….

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 ...

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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.

    16 Comments

    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.

    16 Comments

    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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