• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Giveaways > Mallory McDonald Helps Kids Take the Leap Into Middle-Grade Novels
  • 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

Mallory McDonald Helps Kids Take the Leap Into Middle-Grade Novels

Giveaways, Interviews

A giveaway and interview with author Laurie Friedman.

My daughters always enjoyed reading, so I was surprised when I had trouble getting them to take the leap from picture books and early chapter books into middle-grade novels.  Could it have been:

  1. Thicker books with page counts in the 150 range and some even (gulp) over 200 pages?
  2. Fewer pictures?
  3. Smaller print?

Laurie Friedman--photo by Raul Rubiera

For my girls, it seemed to be a combination of all three.  Luckily, there are some fantastic novels that help pave the way into middle-grade books.  I’m thrilled to have the chance to interview Laurie Friedman today.  She is the author of many award-winning books for children, including  the popular Mallory series for 7-10 year olds that has sold over 400,000 copies.


Laurie Friedman and her spunky, lovable character, Mallory, have helped so many kids make this important transition.  The series begins when Mallory moves to a new town and starts 3rd grade, and follows her through summer camp, several trips, and culminates as she finishes 4th grade.   Since Mallory starts off as an eight year-old in the series and finishes at age ten, she takes the leap into middle-grade along with readers.

Welcome to the Mixed-Up Files, Laurie.  It’s wonderful how readers follow Mallory through several years.  Can you share how your series began, and let us know how you think Mallory helps kids take the leap into middle-grade novels?

The Mallory series began with a move.   When I told my daughter (who was just about Mallory’s age at the time) that we were moving, she was very upset.  She told me I ruined her life.  As a mother, I felt awful.  But as a writer, I thought that would be a great way to start a series.  I wrote Mallory on the Move, the first book in the series, and just like my daughter, Mallory tells her parents they ruined her life when they tell her she has to move.   As an author, I love to fictionalize real things that happen to kids.  I write about things that happened to me when I was Mallory’s age.  I also write about things that happened to my daughter and other middle-graders that I talk to.  One of the things I really think helps kids take the leap into middle-grade novels is when they feel like they can relate to the characters.  I also love to include notes, emails, letters, comics, and lists in my books. That, plus a lot of illustrations seems to make the reading much more fun.

Do you have any tips for children who are ready for middle-grade novels, but are hesitant to read them?


My best tip is to read what you like.   I think the more you like what you’re reading, the more likely you are to keep reading.  I always advise kids to find an author or a series that they enjoy.  When I was growing up, I never really read novels until I found Nancy Drew.  Once I did, I couldn’t stop reading.  I also think it is important to be patient.  Sometimes kids see other kids reading ‘bigger’ books and they think they should be reading that too.   The good news is that you’ll get there when you’re ready and the best way to get there is to read what you enjoy.

Are there any fun activities that can help children take the leap into middle-grade novels?

I think one of the most fun ways to take the leap into middle-grade novels is to get connected.  There are lots of series with dedicated websites that offer fun activities, tips, and information.  I created the Mallory website and my blog just for this reason.  My readers tell me they love visiting the Mallory website and taking the quizzes after they’ve read a book.  They also like the recipes (especially the Never Fail Fudge!) and printouts.  I think it makes for a broader, more fun reading experience.  I also think middle-grade readers like to communicate directly with authors which is why I started blogging.

How many books in the Mallory series have been published so far, and can you give us a glimpse of what the future holds for Mallory McDonald?

The 14th book in the series, Mallory in the Spotlight, just came out this fall.  There are going to be 20 books in the Mallory series which means I get to spend lots of time thinking about Mallory’s future.  I don’t want to give away too much, but I will tell you that before it’s all over, Mallory celebrates her 10th birthday, has a boyfriend, goes on a road trip out west with her family and Mary Ann and Joey’s family, and has to deal with a huge change in her life.  I’m writing book #17 now and just this morning I was thinking about how much Mallory has grown up since the series started.  I’ve had a great time writing about her!

And we’ve had a great time reading about Mallory’s adventures.  Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts (and a few secrets) with us.

Thanks for having me and for writing this great blog.  I love reading it (even more than Nancy Drew!)


Want to win a copy of Laurie’s latest hot-off-the-press book, Mallory in the Spotlight?  Leave a comment below, and our random generator will choose a lucky winner tomorrow.  You’ll get extra entries for sharing a link on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter (please mention each link in a new comment).

Mindy Alyse Weiss writes humorous middle-grade novels and is constantly inspired by her nine and twelve year-old daughters, adventurous sock and underwear munching puppy, and two stinky but adorable ferrets. Visit her blog to read more about her writing life, conference experiences, and writing tips.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Sherrie Petersen  •  Sep 10, 2010 @1:10 am

    I hadn’t heard of this series before, but it looks like a good one for my daughter who just started 3rd grade. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Mezzowriter  •  Sep 10, 2010 @1:33 am

    I’d love these! :)

  3. Mezzowriter  •  Sep 10, 2010 @1:33 am

    Sharing this link on Facebook. :)

  4. Patricia Cruzan  •  Sep 10, 2010 @7:57 am

    Your books on Mallory sound interesting. As a child, I loved the Nancy Drew series of books.
    Today, I enjoy reading many different kinds of books. Of course, I do have my favorite authors, though.

  5. Andrea  •  Sep 10, 2010 @8:36 am

    My 11-year-old daughter loves the Mallory books! I’m glad to hear there are going to be more. My daughter has always loved reading too, but often has trouble getting into a longer story (unless it’s Harry Potter). Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  6. Aik  •  Sep 10, 2010 @9:16 am

    I’d love to enter!

  7. Aik  •  Sep 10, 2010 @9:16 am
  8. Liesl  •  Sep 10, 2010 @10:53 am

    Oh, I’ve been keeping my eye out for books my seven-year-old daughter will like. She’s eating up books like candy! Thanks!

  9. robin  •  Sep 10, 2010 @1:00 pm

    My daughter (who is 6 1/2) LOVES the Mallory books! She’s read them all and will be thrilled to learn a new one is coming :)

  10. Inspired Kathy  •  Sep 10, 2010 @1:59 pm

    I’d love to win!

  11. Anna  •  Sep 10, 2010 @5:10 pm

    They seem a nice treat for reluctant readers! Will have to keep an eye on them even though my kid, 9, says she’s ready to longer reads. We’ll see. Won’t be forcing her, just presenting different alternatives.

  12. Sayantani DasGupta  •  Sep 10, 2010 @6:16 pm

    Great interview and sounds like a wonderful series… would love to enter!

  13. cheryl h  •  Sep 10, 2010 @8:53 pm

    Great books. Would love to win this for my youngest granddaughter

  14. cheryl h  •  Sep 10, 2010 @8:54 pm
  15. Mary Elizabeth  •  Sep 10, 2010 @8:59 pm

    What a fun interview! I can’t wait to check out her blog!!!

  16. Llehn  •  Sep 10, 2010 @10:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. Laura Crawford  •  Sep 11, 2010 @7:43 am

    I had not heard of this series before! I’m headed to the library to today, so I will check it out. I know several students who might enjoy this type of book! Thanks

  18. Writer Tessa  •  Sep 11, 2010 @8:31 am

    What a great interview!

  19. Kristen  •  Sep 11, 2010 @11:55 am

    My girl students ADORE her Mallory books. We had our first week of library checkouts this past week and I swear half of them are gone and we have double copies of each book besides the last two which are on my order for this year. :)

  20. Sara Zoe  •  Sep 11, 2010 @12:19 pm

    I picked up this series for my students in the middle, with Mallory Goes Green – they’ve been loving it! But we could definitely use the new one ;)!

  21. Mindy Alyse Weiss  •  Sep 11, 2010 @1:00 pm

    I fell in love with the Mallory books when I bought them for my older daughter years ago, and have enjoyed watching Mallory grow up. It was fun interviewing Laurie. I always love finding out what sparked an idea for a book, and am trying to figure out what the upcoming huge change in Mallory’s life will be. So far, three things came to mind.

    Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and for entering to win Mallory in the Spotlight.
    I’m going to run the random generator in about an hour, and will announce the winner soon after that. Good luck everyone!

  22. angela ackerman  •  Sep 11, 2010 @3:40 pm

    Great Interview, Laurie–thanks so much for sharing with us! The Mallory books look great. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  23. Rose Cooper  •  Sep 12, 2010 @1:13 pm

    Mindy, this was a terrific post! And what a great interview tih Laurie! I hadn’t heard of this series before, probably because I don’t have any girls in the house, but I love learning about new series authors. I’m definitely adding this one to my list! I love that fact that Laurie has a blog and website to interact with the kids, which is something I was wondering about for myself even.

    And 20 books?? Wow! That is so amazing! I love how Laurie ties in her real life situations to the actual stories. That’s what makes books so relateable at this age. And I’m definitely all for books that have lists, pictures, and extras to make the reading that much more enjoyable.

    Mindy, you always have a fantastic idea for posts! Great job!

  24. Savanna S.  •  Dec 8, 2010 @8:03 am

    I love all of your Mallory books. Where can I mail to you a handwritten letter?

  25. Mindy Alyse Weiss  •  Dec 9, 2010 @12:50 pm

    Thanks, Angela and Rose. :)

    Hi Savanna. Laurie Friedman would love to hear from you. You can mail her a handwritten letter to this address:

    Laurie Friedman
    c/o Lerner Books
    241 First Avenue North
    Minneapolis, MN 55401

  26. Megan  •  Mar 14, 2011 @10:43 pm

    I’d love to try this book with my daughter. She loves book series. She finds an author and really sticks with all the books she writes. Blogs just make it more interactive and fun! Can’t wait to try them!