• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Giveaways > The Healing Spell—Launch Day and Giveaway!
  • OhMG! News

    New-Oh-MG-critter

    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...

     

  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

The Healing Spell—Launch Day and Giveaway!

Giveaways, New Releases

Welcome! We’re excited to celebrate the book release of one of our very own members—Kimberley Griffiths Little’s The Healing Spell published by Scholastic Press launches TODAY!

July 1 is the perfect pub date for The Healing Spell because the final chapters in the story take place during the 4th of July weekend. Those last scenes include a shotgun, a wedding, a death, a confession, a storm and a very cute boy. But not in that order.

We caught up with Kimberley for an interview and a bonus—a giveaway of a signed hardcover of The Healing Spell! Leave a comment to be entered! The winner will be announced Saturday, July 3rd.

From the jacket flap: Twelve-year-old Livie is living with a secret and it’s crushing her. She knows she is responsible for her mother’s coma, but she can’t tell anyone. It’s up to her to find a way to wake her momma up.

Stuck in the middle of three sisters, hiding a forbidden pet alligator, and afraid to disappoint her daddy, whom she loves more than anyone else, Livie struggles to find her place within her own family as she learns about the powers of faith and redemption.

Livie’s powerful, emotional, and sometimes humorous story will stay with readers long after the last line is read.

Welcome to From the Mixed-Up Files, Kimberley!

We’re curious how a writer who grew up in San Francisco, lived a couple of stints in Oklahoma and Utah, and now makes her home on the banks of the Rio Grande happened to write such a convincing story about a girl growing up in the swamps of Louisiana.

I can answer that question in four words: A Family Road Trip.

About twelve years ago, my family and I drove the corridor of Highway 10, stopping in Louisiana and New Orleans for several days to explore. We met with a Cajun tour guide whose enthusiasm and knowledge and fascinating stories immediately captivated me. We also took a boat into the bayous and swamps with another guide who showed us where he lived along the banks and hunted and fished and took us out to his crawfish traps.

Four more words: I fell in love. Hard. I couldn’t stop thinking about my experiences in Louisiana and the magic I felt there and the people of the bayous. I started reading dozens of books, everything I could get my hands on—from native Louisiana writers, memoirs, professors writing about the history—to fisherman and wildlife photographers.

I returned again and again, staying in a cabin on the bayou, eating crawfish, dancing to live Cajun bands, visiting all the museums, watching documentaries. Last year I did a two week road trip with a friend from the South and we met with seven different traiteurs in their homes to hear about their experiences as a traiteur – a religious folk healer tradition that goes back three hundred years in the Cajun culture when they first arrived in the Louisiana swamps.

Unusual settings have always been a springboard for my work.

How many times did you revise the book, and did you end up taking out anything you loved?

When the story and my characters were bursting in my mind and I knew I was ready to begin writing, I wrote the first draft in a little more than three weeks during the summer when it was hot and muggy—the same season as the book. I felt like I was *living* Livie’s story right along with her. It was a bit surreal.

I spent 3-5 years revising—which included breaks to write and revise other manuscripts–but I kept going back to The Healing Spell because I loved it so much and the characters were so alive in my mind. I had a lot of interest from various editors, but the story was finally ready when an editor at Scholastic stayed up all night to finish reading the manuscript. The next morning she made an offer to my agent, as well as offering on two other manuscripts for a three-book deal.

I didn’t take out anything that I loved during the writing—or the editorial process. I actually got to add more depth to many scenes, especially the ones with T-Jacques Landry, a boy Livie knows down the bayou, as well as a whole new chapter. (Chapter Twelve, in case you’re curious!)

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

No one in particular, but many of the Cajun people and their stories in Greg Guirard’s book, Cajun Families of the Atchafalaya were incredibly inspiring to me. Then I had the most unusual experience last April of 2009 when I was introduced to a man who fit the character of Livie Mouton’s daddy—so perfectly it was like destiny to meet him and his wife.

Mr. Elward Stephens is an older version of J.B. Mouton, Livie’s daddy, in The Healing Spell.

He lives in a house that he built himself on Bayou Long, fishing out the back door, making his own cypress pirogue (small canoe-like boat), growing up barefoot in the woods and swimming in the bayou as a kid—and speaking French and listening to French music while we danced in his living room! He and his wife are two of my favorite people in Louisiana.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing a companion book to The Healing Spell, which is already under contract with Scholastic, but the publication date is not firm yet.  Miz Mirage Allemond, the folk healer traiteur who lives in the swamp that Livie meets, is such an intriguing character that I wanted to know more about her. The new project is from the viewpoint of Shelby Jayne, Miz Mirage’s eleven-year-old daughter. Plus it has a ghost! And secrets! The title is still To Be Decided.

Thank you, Kimberley, and Happy Book Release Day!

Readers, we hope you enjoyed the interview!

If you’d like to a chance to win a hardcover of Kimberley’s new book, make sure you post in the comments section. Tweets and Facebook and Blog posts earn you more entries. The winner will be announced Saturday!

Kimberley is celebrating ALL DAY today so leave questions; she’ll answer, and let’s have a good time! Laissez les bon temps rouler!

There’s a HUGE party happening at Kimberley’s blog, too. If you want a chance to win her Awesome Prize Package, go here to visit, eat a beignet, and leave a comment!

And for those who want to see more, here’s the very cool book trailer.  Enjoy!

Don’t forget to check out The Healing Spell on Amazon or your favorite bookstore.

Enjoy Kimberley’s new Southern-styled website and don’t forget to download the Teacher’s Guide and the brand new Mother/Daughter Book Club Guide- discussion questions, activities for moms and girls and a fun Louisiana dessert!

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Andrea  •  Jul 1, 2010 @5:12 am

    Thanks for sharing some interesting tidbits about your writing process, Kimberley, as well as where the story came from. It sounds like a great book! You can enter me in your contest, because I’d love to read it. I’m already dying to know if she manages to wake up her mother or how she comes to accept it.

  2. Robyn Gioia  •  Jul 1, 2010 @7:56 am

    It’s always interesting to learn of an authors journey in writing. You know it’s a good book when the characters live inside the author’s head. Thank you for a good interview.

  3. Wendy  •  Jul 1, 2010 @8:12 am

    Very cool trailer. I can’t wait to see the one that’s being made for my upcoming book. Isn’t it so exciting to see someone else’s envisioning of your book?

    Now you have to work on the next book! Avoid the swamp monsters on the journey! :D

  4. Jemi Fraser  •  Jul 1, 2010 @8:36 am

    Sounds like a really enjoyable book Kimberley! Livie sounds like a very real character with an interesting story! :)

  5. Amie Borst  •  Jul 1, 2010 @8:45 am

    I can’t wait to read this! My children watched the book trailor in awe. So I think I’ll be reading it with them! :)

  6. colleen kosinski  •  Jul 1, 2010 @9:06 am

    Love the trailer.

  7. Dianne White  •  Jul 1, 2010 @10:55 am

    Loved the trailer! The book sounds fascinating. Can’t wait to read it!

  8. Patricia Cruzan  •  Jul 1, 2010 @12:09 pm

    Your book looks interesting, and I like the title. The comments, written on the blog, grab the reader’s attention. I would love to win the book. I taught school in Louisiana for a period of time, so I enjoyed seeing your picture of the bayou.

  9. R. L.  •  Jul 1, 2010 @12:34 pm

    Congratulations, Kimberly! THE HEALING SPELL sounds aMaZinG!!

  10. Karen Schwartz  •  Jul 1, 2010 @1:41 pm

    Your book trailer is awesome! I just won your book in a blog contest, and I can’t wait to read it!

  11. Wendy S  •  Jul 1, 2010 @7:34 pm

    Terrific interview! I always love hearing the story behind the story – and what an incredible setting and premise. Can’t wait to read it.

  12. Mindy Alyse Weiss  •  Jul 1, 2010 @8:28 pm

    Great interview, Kimberley. Your novel sounds amazing. I LOVE the trailer, and can’t wait to read The Healing Spell. :)

  13. Cathe Olson  •  Jul 1, 2010 @8:47 pm

    This book sounds great. I’ll want to get it for my library in the fall and will download the teachers guide for the staff. Would also love to win a copy for my daughters and I.

  14. Laurie Beth Schneider  •  Jul 1, 2010 @10:34 pm

    What a great trailer, Kimberly. Who did the voiceover?

    Cant’ wait to read your book.

  15. Mike Jung  •  Jul 1, 2010 @10:47 pm

    Wonderful interview, Kimberly! It’s very compelling to read about the powerful impact a place can have on a writer, and of course I always like hearing about the revision process. It sounds like you really persevered with THE HEALING SPELL, congrats on your launch!

  16. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Jul 2, 2010 @7:27 am

    Thank you so much everyone for all the lovely wishes and congrats!

    Laurie – the girl who did the voice-over is a gal named Lisa in Phoenix who used to live in Louisiana and wants to get into acting. She’s got a beautiful speaking voice, doesn’t she – and it’s mesmerizing, too. I didn’t actually hire her, my producers, Nua Music, did, so I don’t even know her last name. I wrote the script, and they got the recording done in two sessions. I do know that for a week before recording she spent hours talking to her friends in the bayou country of Louisiana to get the accent just right.

    I hope the audio book gets picked up and she gets to do the voice for it!!

  17. Laurie Beth Schneider  •  Jul 2, 2010 @2:35 pm

    Thanks, Kimberly. I loved Lisa’s voice. Maybe you could do a post about book trailers….

  18. Melina  •  Jul 2, 2010 @3:59 pm

    What a cool trailer and a great interview. I would love to read and review this book.