Browsing the blog archives for September, 2010.

  • OhMG! News


    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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  • Penny Dreadful Winner!!


    The not-at-all dreadful winner of Laurel Snyder’s PENNY DREADFUL is….


    Please send an email to msfishby at fromthemixedupfiles dot com with your mailing address, so we can send your book.

    1 Comment

    Ordinary Kids, Extraordinary Stories

    Book Lists, Writing MG Books

    I love contemporary realistic middle-grade fiction. As a kid, I was delighted to discover Beverly Cleary’s BEEZUS AND RAMONA. Finally, a big sister with an embarrassing little sister, just like me! Judy Blume’s ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT’S ME MARGARET? was a hot topic on the sixth grade playground where my friends and I whispered about scenes in the book and smoothly segued into conversations about ourselves. That’s what I love most about stories featuring ordinary* kids, they reflect on real life and let readers know they are not alone.

    Today’s contemporary realistic fiction moves beyond just school and friendship stories, and adds a little extra spark. Is it because today’s readers are more sophisticated? Or that authors are competing with TV, Internet, and video games? Probably both. In any case, the books listed below cover common issues among ordinary kids in a unique way.

    HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL by Donna Gephardt follows David as he navigates the first difficult year of middle school, loses and gains friends, and deals with bullies–all very common issues for this age. Extra spark: David aspires to be like Jon Stewart on the Daily Show and becomes a local celebrity with his own YouTube videos.

    THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z by Kate Messner follows Gianna as she struggles to complete a huge school project and deals with a rival on the track team. Extra spark: Gianna lives in a funeral home and is embarrassed by her father driving to her school in his hearse. Also, she must deal with her grandmother’s diagnosis of dementia.

    A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT by Linda Urban follows Zoe who dreams of playing piano at Carnegie Hall, but is instead stuck with an organ. And her best friend recently deserted her. Extra spark: her father is afraid to leave the house, her mother works all the time, and the boy bully she was afraid of becomes a friend.

    THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLS by Frances O’Roark Dowell follows two best friends as they drift apart in middle school. Extra spark: the story is told in alternating points of view, letting us know neither is the mean girl. They’re both under peer pressure and trying to find their best self.

    SCHOOLED by Gordon Korman follows the worst loser in school who is secretly nominated for class president and tortured throughout the school year. Bullying, conformity, peer pressure, check. Extra spark: this year’s nominee is a kid seemingly straight from the sixties, the last kid on a hippy-style commune. His first time attending school is as a complete innocent venturing into the playground jungle.

    What are your favorite contemporary realistic middle-grade stories? And what gives them that extra spark?

    *By ordinary kids I mean kids with functional families that go to school, as opposed to kids possessing magical abilities or orphans.

    Karen B. Schwartz writes contemporary realistic middle-grade fiction, and is currently working on I AM NOT A PINK GIRL about a tomboy, Alex, and her ultra-feminine stepmother-to-be, Dee Dee, who’s determined to make a lady out of Alex. Extra spark: Dee Dee has a murky past full of secrets that Alex is determined to reveal in an attempt to stop the wedding.


    Penny Dreadful– Giveaway and Interview!

    Giveaways, Uncategorized

    It’s book launch time again, and we’re so glad you’re joining us, to  celebrate the  release of  Penny Dreadful, Laurel Snyder’s third middle grade book (which has lovely interior drawings by the talented Abigail Halpin).  The book has gotten great reviews so far, from all the usual suspects, including a bright shiny star from Booklist, who did a great job of summing up the premise of the book:

    Penelope Grey lives a lovely life in the city, with a stone mansion, servants, toys, and plenty of books. Perhaps she is a little short on friends. And her parents are very busy. But lovely. Then one day, her father  comes home and informs his family he has quit his job. This declaration of independence leads Penelope  and her parents to Thrush Junction, Tennessee, where Mrs. Grey has inherited a house, but as they quickly  learn, it comes with a massive second mortgage and lodgers, who, according to the terms of her aunt’s  will, can live in the connected apartments without paying rent…

    Sound like something you’d like to read? Sound like a book you’d like to win a FREE COPY OF? At the bottom of this interview you’ll have your chance.

    In the meantime… let’s sit  down with Laurel for a little interview…

    Hey, Laurel! Great to have you here with us today.  We’re curious, how did you come up with the idea for Penny Dreadful?

    That’s a funny question, actually. Because the idea for Penny Dreadful was very different than the book I ended up with. Initially, I imagined Penny as a darker book, more  ironic.  It was to be called “Penny Dreadful’s Favorite Fears, and she was going to be this odd little character, who had a series of– for lack of a better word– neuroses. And the book was going to be the story of how she overcame them. I wanted it to be a little Dahl-esque, maybe a little Snickety.  But also, I had Mrs. Piggle Wiggle in mind when I began.  I wanted each chapter to be an episode, a neurosis.  Then, naturally, the book that came out was entirely different! Much softer, sweeter.  Who was it that said, “You have to get out of the way of the book that wants to be written?” Someone smart said that!

    You mention Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.  What kinds of books did you like to read when you were a kid?

    Oh, all kinds of books, but most of all I loved books with just enough magic.  I wasn’t into high fantasy. I liked books about regular kids who stumbled onto magic, where the magic was only part of the story.  I also loved books about non-magical adventures that felt magical. I loved Eager and Enright and Dahl and Thurber.  I loved L’Engle and Lewis.  In fact, a lot of those books are in Penny Dreadful, because Penny is a total reader, and that’s part of her story.  The book actually opens with Penny bored and hunting around in her bookshelf, for ideas for things to do.    Penny, in the beginning of the book, doesn’t know how to do.

    Interesting.  In light of the fact that Penny’s such a reader, do you think there’s a way Penny Dreadful  could be used in schools? Could she tie-in to literacy stuff, maybe.

    Absolutely!  In fact, I’m making a booklist right now, for kids who want to read along with Penny! The book is full of literary references.  It’s littered with titles and mentions of moments I myself loved from children’s books. But also, it’s structured in sections that relate to  a grownup poem (though nobody has caught that yet!)  I’m hoping to do a book club program, where I offer to skype into classrooms and libraries, to talk with kids about the “Penny’s Picks” books they’ve been reading. I think it’s a good thing for kids to talk about books in relation to one another, and not just as isolated experiences.

    That sounds great, and speaking of other books, we’d love to know– what are you working on now?

    Well, I’m just finishing a new book, a novel called Bigger Than a Breadbox.  It’s hard to explain, but it’s about a girl whose parents are splitting up, and she happens to find a magical wishing box with a funny trick to it.  It’s more serious than anything else I’ve done, and maybe a little bit older.  It’s rooted in my own childhood memories, in a way nothing else I’ve written has been, and it’s been both very  easy, and very hard to write.  Also, it’s full of seagulls, and Baltimore references, and Bruce Springsteen.

    So far as I know, it’s the first magical middle grade book about a Bruce Springsteen song!


    Well, we’ve certainly never heard of one!   Thanks so much for being here, and Happy Book Release!

    Readers, if you’d like to a chance to win a hardcover of Laurel’s new book, leave a comment below, and our random generator will choose a lucky winner on Thursday.  You’ll get extra entries for sharing a link on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter (please mention each link in a new comment).

    And don’t forget to check out Laurel’s other books, Any Which Wall and Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, available in bookstores and online. To read reviews or excerpts from her books, visit Laurel’s website!

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