• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Giveaways > The Summer of Moonlight Secrets–Giveaway and Interview!
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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:
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    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:
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    November 9, 2013:
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    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.
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    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:
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    July 2, 2013:
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    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

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    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,


    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

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    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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The Summer of Moonlight Secrets–Giveaway and Interview!

Giveaways, New Releases, Writing MG Books

Welcome! We’re excited to have you here today as we celebrate the book release of one of our own contributors. Danette Haworth’s The Summer of Moonlight Secrets launched a couple of weeks ago to favorable reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and even made Scholastic Instructor’s list for “Teachers’ Picks: 18 Road Trip Reads.” Danette’s first book, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, is now available in paperback.

We caught up with Danette for an interview and a bonus—a giveaway for The Summer of Moonlight Secrets hardcover. From the jacket flap, here’s the book description:

Welcome to The Meriwether, Florida’s once-grand hotel built on Hope Springs, where nothing is quite as it seems. Hidden staircases give way to shadowy servants’ quarters, and old-fashioned speakeasies make for the perfect hide-and-seek spot.

Allie Jo Jackson knows every nook and cranny of The Meriwethershe’s lived there her whole liveand nothing surprises her. Nothing, that is, until she spots the beautiful Tara emerging from the water of the springs. Tara’s shimmery skin, long flowing hair, and strange fondness for moonlight swins hint at a mysterious secretand once Allie Jo and her friend Chase uncover Tara’s secret,  nothing will ever be the same.

Leave a comment to be entered! Tweets and Facebook posts earn you more entries; give us the link in the comments. The winner will be announced Saturday.

Welcome to From the Mixed-Up Files, Danette! Since we’re all about middle-grade, we would love to hear why you write for middle-grade readers.

Thank you, and it’s good to be here. It’s very exciting to see the response this site is already receiving-it’s surpassed all of our expectations!

I didn’t start out writing for middle-grade. I started out writing for myself. This covered a hodge-podge of genres—murder, short stories, interviews of unusual people. In college, I’d taken this sort of test to help you determine what kind of writer you were, and the results came back that I was best at factual writing, where I could make observations, analyze them, and back them up with figures and statistics. I was insulted by that test! It was akin to saying I wasn’t imaginative enough to make things up. That paper went straight to the trash.

The whole time I was growing up, from first grade through college, I wrote stories on my own time. In college, a professor suggested I submit an interview I’d done for class. I was thrilled! I was even more thrilled when the magazine accepted the piece, then devastated when, a few weeks later, they withdrew their offer. But the die had been cast—I knew now that the world of publication was something that could open for someone as common and unconnected as myself.

From there, I regularly submitted short stories, articles, interviews—whatever caught my interest—and I submitted them with very little research on the market. It was only after I took the time to get to know certain magazine that I began to have pieces published here and there. The real market I was trying to tap was the literary short story market.  I loved short stories for their profundity, their melancholy. I wanted to write that sort of story.

When I sat down to write my first novel, I knew it would be a literary novel. My first idea spanned generations and was epic and unwieldy. I had to pin it to a piece of paper and chisel it down to fit into an outline. When I considered the rough form, I knew it was a children’s book I was looking at. And I was thrilled. I loved being able to create the emotions of that age and have my characters express them, sometimes to the anger or irritation of the other characters. I spent months in the woods running behind them like a cameraman, watching what they did, recording it. What I love most about writing middle-grade fiction is that if I write honestly, I can trust my readers to respond honestly. There’s a lot of satisfation in that.

You had a lot of reader response to Violet Raines, especially after Scholastic picked it up for their Book Fairs. Is The Summer of Moonlight Secrets a sequel to Violet Raines?

I do get emails asking for a sequel to Violet, and many of these emails have lots of good ideas for what could happen to Violet in the next book (if there is one). Violet was a fun character to work with. She had no artifice; she didn’t have the wiles to disguise her feelings and I loved that about her. So, although I don’t have immediate plans for a sequel, Violet is nearly always on my mind. She’s just that kind of person.

The new book, SOMS, is set in Florida but no one almost gets struck by lightning! Allie Jo and Chase (a boy) narrate the story in alternating chapters as they meet, explore the hidden spaces of the hotel, and discover a beautiful teenage runaway and her mysterious secret. This book was different to write because of the alternating viewpoint, which was fun because Allie Jo and Chase weren’t always together and yet their separate accounts push the story together toward a single climax. Also, SOMS is part mystery, part magic realism (if you believe Allie Jo), and part every day realism.

How could teachers use The Summer of Moonlight Secrets to touch on and further topics their classes are already studying?

SOMS is set in more or less contemporary times, but because of the nature of the hotel, a lot of history is involved. One big thing that underlies the setting is something you wouldn’t even think of—transportation. In the 1800s, Florida was cattle pasture and little else. With blistering heat, insects, snakes, alligators and no air conditioning to speak of, Florida didn’t lend itself to easy settling.

All that changed when Henry Flagler laid railroad tracks to Florida. Suddenly, people with money could escape the harsh northern winters, and many grand resorts went up to accommodate them. It was the birth of a tourist state. You can trace America’s history from that point on: tourism declined during the Depression, leaving many of these beautiful resorts abandoned. The government leased some of them during World War II, turning guest rooms into barracks or sick bays. Other resorts became derelict, often housing vagrants, runaways, or criminals. Many people didn’t care about preserving the past.

Yet it was an interesting past. A behind-the-scenes tour at most historical hotels or mansions is a lesson on the class system as it existed in America’s late 19th century. Grand staircases and beautiful woodwork grace the public areas. Narrow, angular staircases accessed by hidden doors took servants up and down, allowing them to accommodate the guests without being seen. Whole networks of underground tunnels, staircases, and secret quarters housed an army of workers, keeping them at bay from society’s elite. If there was ever any question about class distinction in the United States, the very architecture of these resorts cries out with the answer.

How did you choose the setting for your book? Is it a real place?

The settings for all my stories are inspired by places I love to be. The Summer of Moonlight Secrets is set in a once grand hotel that sits on the edge of a spring. The Meriwether is not a real place, but it feels real to me. For the record, I LOVE visiting old houses, historic forts, mansions and hotels that housed people of days gone by. It’s a wild feeling to know, when I put my hand on the rail going upstairs, that a woman wearing a hoopskirt and corset once held the same rail, walked over the same floorboards.

What kind of books did you like to read when you were a middle-grade reader?

Oh, I was never without a book! I was consummate book orderer, counting out the pennies and nickels from my allowance to buy as many books as I could whenever the book form came around. Generally speaking, I very much enjoyed Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, but I also loved Alfred Hitchcock’s The Three Investigators series. My tastes haven’t changed that much; beside my bed right now sits a stack of mysteries with middle-grade and adult realistic fiction mixed in.

Thank you, Danette, and Happy Book Release! Readers, we hope you enjoyed the interview! If you’d like to a chance to win a hardcover of Danette’s new book, make sure you post in the comments section. Tweets and Facebook posts earn you more entries. The winner will be announced Saturday! Also, Danette will be checking in from time to time, so feel free to leave questions for her.

Don’t forget to check out Danette’s books, The Summer of Moonlight Secrets and Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, available in bookstores and online. To read reviews or excerpts from her books, visit Danette’s website: www.danettehaworth.com



  1. Tami Lewis Brown  •  Jun 10, 2010 @6:19 am

    Congratulations on Moonlight Secrets, Danette! I love the idea of a middle grade novel built around mysterious building with many rooms to explore– kind of reminds me of The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler!

  2. Heather Kelly  •  Jun 10, 2010 @6:30 am

    Thanks so much for the great interview, I loved when you said “their separate accounts push the story together toward a single climax”–I’m wondering if I’m doing that effectively in my dual POV MG ms! I’m so glad that you threw away that test! Danette, do you have plans to write other genres as well, or are the stories that are begging you to write all MG right now?

  3. Heather Kelly  •  Jun 10, 2010 @6:31 am
  4. Laura Pauling  •  Jun 10, 2010 @7:11 am

    They both sound like great books! Enter me in the contest!

  5. Courtney  •  Jun 10, 2010 @7:18 am

    Sounds like a great book, I love good middle grade fiction, it’s such a crucial time to build readers!

  6. Jennifer@5 Minutes for Books  •  Jun 10, 2010 @7:34 am

    This is my first time here. Love it!

    I thought that Violet Raines was a nice old-fashioned kind of novel, which are my favorite MG picks (and my daughter usually likes them too).

    I’d love to read Danette’s new book.

  7. JenP  •  Jun 10, 2010 @7:48 am

    COngrats! I’d love to enter.

  8. Kim  •  Jun 10, 2010 @8:20 am

    This sounds like something my 9-year old would like to read! I will do–the mention of speakeasies caught my attention, as I’ve been reading about the 1920s recently.

  9. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Jun 10, 2010 @8:42 am

    Great interview, I loved it, Danette! And my copy arrived just the other day! I’ll definitely be sharing it with my nieces, too. Congratulations!

  10. Karen Schwartz  •  Jun 10, 2010 @9:02 am

    Ooh, I look forward to reading it! Thanks for sharing some of your writing process!

  11. Danette  •  Jun 10, 2010 @9:04 am

    Yes, multiple POVs are challenging! Here are two MG books I thought did a nice job with it: Greetings from Nowhere and Bird Lake Moon. As far as genres, I do see MG in front of me, and maybe YA.

    I love your description of Violet Raines. I think you’ll get a similar sense from SOMS.

    Don’t you love the cover–it’s absolutely beautiful!

  12. Larissa  •  Jun 10, 2010 @9:49 am

    Great interview, Danette! I can’t wait to read SOMS!!!

  13. Bridgette  •  Jun 10, 2010 @9:54 am

    Great interview! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Jennifer  •  Jun 10, 2010 @10:02 am

    SOMS sounds awesome! Wonderful interview, Danette!

  15. Laura Marcella  •  Jun 10, 2010 @10:13 am

    Terrific interview! It’s clear that Danette Haworth is very passionate about what she writes and for whom she writes. Her novels look excellent! *fingers crossed to win a copy!*

  16. Cindy  •  Jun 10, 2010 @10:13 am

    I can’t wait to read it! Great interview.

  17. Kristen Overman  •  Jun 10, 2010 @10:18 am

    This sounds like my favorite sort of mg novel… history, mystery, dual perspectives… not to mention speakeasies! I look forward to reading it, and posted the review to my facebook profile… and then messaged it to our local indy children’s book store, the Blue Bunny.
    Enter me in the contest, please!

  18. Charles Gramlich  •  Jun 10, 2010 @10:44 am

    Violet Raines was a wonderful book, even for this fifty something reader. I’m looking forward to the newest one.

  19. Annette Gulati  •  Jun 10, 2010 @11:22 am

    Can’t wait to read Moonlight Secrets, Danette. I loved Violet Raines. Congratulations!

  20. Amie Borst  •  Jun 10, 2010 @11:44 am

    I love to hear the perspective of other writers…where their inspiration comes from…and to see their passion. thanks for sharing yours with us!

  21. Tracy Abell  •  Jun 10, 2010 @11:55 am

    I loved Violet Raines, too, and am so happy you chose fiction over analytical writing. Bleh. Congratulations on the launch, Danette, and I look forward to exploring the old hotel with your characters.

  22. Jennifer Duddy Gill  •  Jun 10, 2010 @12:53 pm

    What a great interview. My favorite line from Danette: “What I love most about writing middle-grade fiction is that if I write honestly, I can trust my readers to respond honestly.”
    Yes! That is so true. And what I appreciated most about Violet Raines was the honesty of the story and the true heart of Violet herself. I can’t wait to read Summer of Moonlight Secrets.

  23. Laura Shovan  •  Jun 10, 2010 @12:59 pm

    Ooo — can’t wait to share Danette’s books with my 10-year-old mystery reader.

    Just linked to your blog! The post is at http://www.authoramok.com. Thanks for covering MG.

  24. Susan Kaye Quinn  •  Jun 10, 2010 @1:26 pm

    Sounds great!

  25. Kate Fall  •  Jun 10, 2010 @1:35 pm

    Please enter me; I’m looking forward to this book.

  26. Angie Frazier  •  Jun 10, 2010 @1:39 pm

    I bought Danette’s book last week and can’t wait to read it! Don’t need to enter the contest, but I wanted to comment to say how fantastic Violet Raines was, and how nice Danette is ;-) Congrats!

  27. Melina  •  Jun 10, 2010 @2:01 pm

    Hi Danette,

    I like how you came up with the setting for your book. I love to read mysteries and SOMS sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. The cover is so pretty too.

    I saw on your web site that you are scared of bugs. Me too!

    I like that I can find out about new (and old) middle grade books on this blog. How cool is that for Summer?

    Here is where I tweeted about the giveaway. http://tinyurl.com/2dpktud

    I sure hope I win.


  28. Serenissima  •  Jun 10, 2010 @2:13 pm

    Congrats on the new book! It sounds delicious and I love the cover!

  29. Laurie  •  Jun 10, 2010 @2:26 pm

    I have to echo Serenissima, Danette. Your book has one of the most beautiful covers of the year. My daughter started SOMS last night and is loving it.

  30. Kim Kasch  •  Jun 10, 2010 @2:39 pm

    Oh I love the idea of a sequel to Violet – I loved that persnickety little girl

  31. Christina Farley  •  Jun 10, 2010 @4:27 pm

    I read Violet’s book and loved it. Can’t wait to read this one. And since I’m moving back to Florida next week, I’m loving that it’s set there with all of its old charm.

  32. joyce  •  Jun 10, 2010 @7:00 pm

    I enjoyed this post and I shared this blog entry on Facebook.

  33. joyce  •  Jun 10, 2010 @7:01 pm

    I enjoyed this post and I shared on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/joycerjohnson

  34. sheelachari  •  Jun 10, 2010 @9:38 pm

    congratulations on the release of SOMS! The very word moonlight is so evocative and mysterious. I love mysteries and will be reading this one soon!

  35. Jana Warnell  •  Jun 10, 2010 @10:39 pm

    I have been so excited to read this! Looking so forward to this coming out and being able to “sell” it to my middle school readers next fall.

  36. teachergirl  •  Jun 11, 2010 @1:19 am

    Both books sound very interesting, but especially Moonlight Secrets. It’s fun to read a story written from multiple points of view. I’ll definitely check these out for my growing classroom books wish list.

  37. Judy Mammay  •  Jun 11, 2010 @10:55 am

    Loved Violet Raines and am looking forward to reading this book, too, Danette.

  38. Alisha  •  Jun 11, 2010 @11:28 am

    This was a great interview and the book sounds amazing.

  39. Terri Hoover Dunham  •  Jun 11, 2010 @1:31 pm

    The Summer of Moonlight Secrets sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to read it and share it with my favorite middle-grader. (And the cover is so intriguing!)

  40. Charlotte  •  Jun 11, 2010 @7:22 pm

    Thanks for the great interview! I want to read this awfully much.

  41. Mindy Alyse Weiss  •  Jun 11, 2010 @8:49 pm

    Thanks for the great interview, Danette! I loved Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, and can’t wait to read SOMS. The cover is absolutely amazing, and definitely sets the tone for a book full of secrets.

  42. JKB  •  Jun 12, 2010 @7:49 am

    I love the cover for SOMS. I adore it, and I cannot wait to read it!

  43. Deb  •  Jun 12, 2010 @8:26 am

    Thanks for this! Missed the contest, but wanted to add my congratulations to Danette!

  44. Kristen  •  Jun 12, 2010 @8:27 am

    This one looks great. Definitely something I’d enjoy and my students too!

  45. Alicia Leslie  •  Dec 23, 2010 @12:17 pm

    Hi, I’m writing with my dad. I just wanted to know how you became an author! I looovvve your book called The Summer of Moonlight Secrets!!!! This will help me with my book report.

    Thanks so much!!!! I can’t wait to hear from you!!!!
    (next to her father, Darek Leslie, whose email is noted in this contact form)

  46. emily lindsey  •  Apr 17, 2011 @9:52 pm

    I’m in 5th grade and I LOVE this book I hoe u can make a sequel to this book.

    Your biggest fan. Emily