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    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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  • Cage Match: Pippi Longstocking Vs. Any Character in Children’s Literature

    Miscellaneous, Op-Ed

    For my money, Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking is the most unique character in children’s literature.  I’m not just talking Pippi’s fiery red braids and superhuman strength, or even the fact she’s only nine- years-old yet lives alone at Villa Villekulla with Mr. Nilsson, the monkey.

    Pippi Longstocking is one-of-a-kind because of her live-in-the-moment outlook and the fact that no one ever tricks her.  Pippi is always, always ahead of the game.

    And that’s why I wish I’d never embarked on this blog post topic.

    See, my idea was to search out contemporary characters that could be considered, if not Pippi’s equals, then her kindred spirits.  I wanted to provide a whole new book list for readers who love Pippi’s generous worldview and her sly ability for telling the truth within tall-tale “lies.”  So I went to two public libraries and picked the brains of three children’s librarians.  They were knowledgeable and eager to help, and gave me about twenty titles.

    Some of those books I’d already read but many were new to me.  I happily took them home and began reading with the intention of highlighting the books in this post.  But after hours of agonizing stops and starts, I’m admitting defeat.  Why?  Because even though I enjoyed those books and their characters, none came close to replicating my love and adoration for Pippi.  It would be a stretch putting those characters in the same category.

    I’m going to punt.

    Is there any character in children’s books you believe would stand a chance against Pippi Longstocking in a literary cage match?  If so, please share in the comments.  But before you start rattling off suggestions, keep this PIPPI LONGSTOCKING excerpt in mind:

    “Yes, but I mean, don’t you have any mother or father here?”

    “No, not the least tiny bit of a one,” said Pippi happily.

    “But who tells you when to go to bed at night and things like that?” asked Annika.

    “I tell myself,” said Pippi.  “First I tell myself in a nice friendly way; and then, if I don’t mind, I tell myself again more sharply; and if I still don’t mind, then I’m in for a spanking — see?”

    And this excerpt from PIPPI IN THE SOUTH SEAS:

    The arithmetic lesson was interrupted by Captain Longstocking, who came to announce that he and the whole crew and all the Kurrekurredutts were going off to another island for a couple of days to hunt wild boar.  Captain Longstocking was in the mood for some fresh boar steak.  The Kurrekurredutt women were also to go along, to scare out the boar with wild cries.  That meant that the children would be staying behind alone on the island.

    “I hope you won’t be sad because of this?” said Captain Longstocking.

    “I’ll give you three guesses,” said Pippi.  “The day I hear that some children are sad because they have to take care of themselves without grownups, that day I’ll learn the whole pluttification table backward, I’ll swear to that.”

    See what I’m up against?

    Tracy Abell knows Astrid Lindgren set the bar very high, but she’s still trying to create middle-grade characters that could, at least, make decent sparring partners for Pippi.

    18 Comments

    18 Comments

    1. Sayantani  •  Dec 17, 2010 @6:22 am

      In the middle grade world? A hard one – the broke the mold, er, Villa Villekulla, when they made Pippi… maybe Frannie K. Stein withe her underground lair of bats and zombies and mad scientist potions could give Pippi a run for her money… otherwise I’m at a bit of a loss! Great post!

    2. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Dec 17, 2010 @7:57 am

      Pippi’s a fantastic one, but I gotta throw out couple more of my favs. How about Anne of Green Gables – what a character she is!

      And I’ve always loved Turtle from THE WESTING GAME. Her quirks are so subtle and funny.

    3. Karen Schwartz  •  Dec 17, 2010 @9:13 am

      I always thought Pippi was a little, ahem, crazy. A little too cheerful about being an orphan, ya know? I’d put her in a cage match with Anne of Green Gables, Junie B, and Ramona. I think Anne with her temper would come out on top! But there’d be a lot of interesting conversations going on.

    4. Laura Marcella  •  Dec 17, 2010 @9:37 am

      Anne Shirley! She’s another redhead who could give Pippi something to think about. :)

      I haven’t read a Pippi book in a long time. My old copies were read so often they fell apart. Time for new ones!

    5. Sydney Salter  •  Dec 17, 2010 @1:29 pm

      I love Pippi too! As a kid I wanted to BE Pippi. No one comes for me either–not yet!

    6. Blythe  •  Dec 17, 2010 @2:59 pm

      The thing about Pippi that makes her the winner is that she would *never* notice that she had lost.

    7. Tracy Abell  •  Dec 17, 2010 @4:06 pm

      Sayantani: I’ll have to look up Frannie K. Stein. She was not one of the librarians’ suggestions. Could Pippi have met her match?!

      Kimberley: Anne of Green Gables didn’t appear on the librarians’ list, but as you can see from the other comments, many readers agree with you. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve not yet read THE WESTING GAME. My younger loves it.

      Karen: Anne wasn’t on my radar or the librarians’ but Ramona and Junie B were mentioned. As for Pippi and her “orphan” state, she always believed her father would return to Villa Villekulla, and he did! The power of positive Pippi thinking! :)

      Laura: By all means, run out and buy new copies of Pippi, and bask in her glow! I still have my childhood copy of PIPPI IN THE SOUTH SEAS but my other copies fell apart along the way.

      Sydney: I wanted to be Pippi, too. My husband told me this morning when he was little, Pippi and her living situation made him nervous. All those burglars, etc. coming into her life.

      Blythe: I think you’ve nailed the essence of Pippi! :)

    8. Laurie Schneider  •  Dec 17, 2010 @5:59 pm

      Hmm… I will ask one of my daughter’s friends, an avid reader and true Pippi acolyte.

    9. Kenda  •  Dec 17, 2010 @6:32 pm

      Ah, can’t think of a character to match Pippi–but you sure have prompted me to go back and visit her! Thanks for the idea :-)

    10. Tracy Abell  •  Dec 18, 2010 @11:23 am

      Laurie: Looking forward to the report from your daughter’s friend!

      Kenda: I hope you do go back and read Pippi again. I laugh every time I pick up one of those books.

    11. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Dec 18, 2010 @11:56 am

      Tracy, Tracy! You’ve GOT to read THE WESTING GAME!!! It’s actually one of my all-time favorite kid’s books ever. In fact, about 20 years ago when I first started writing and was making all the usual beginner mistakes (not knowing a single other writer and before the internet and blogging) my very first completed MG novel manuscript was a mystery similar to The Westing Game. I was *copying* a brilliant writer. :-) I have been sad for many, many years that Ellen Raskin died so young.

    12. Sayantani  •  Dec 18, 2010 @3:32 pm

      Tracey: here’s a post I did about Franie K. Stein a while ago. She’s not like Pippi, save for the fact that she’s like no one else out there, a one of a kind, just like Pippi: http://storiesaregoodmedicine.blogspot.com/2010/09/girls-like-boogers-boys-like-romance.html
      Kimberly: heard great things about the Westing Game -must get big reader 8yo it!

    13. Tracy Abell  •  Dec 19, 2010 @10:43 pm

      Kimberley: Thanks for the nudge. Will definitely read THE WESTING GAME.

      Sayantani: That was a great post. Stop desegregation, already! I’m going to my online library account and reserve some Frannie K. Stein right now.

    14. Llehn  •  Dec 20, 2010 @7:18 pm

      The book sounds awesome :D

    15. Tracy Abell  •  Dec 21, 2010 @9:35 am

      Llehn: I hope you can read a Pippi book or two; they’ll bring you a smile!

    16. Laurel null Strong  •  Dec 26, 2010 @11:56 am

      I think there’s something wrong with me: I have never liked Pippi Longstocking, but then I never liked Curious George either.

    17. Tracy Abell  •  Jan 2, 2011 @12:23 pm

      Laurel: I just came back and found your comment. There’s nothing wrong with you; we all have likes and dislikes, and Pippi isn’t on your like-list. I don’t take it personally, and know for a fact Pippi wouldn’t, either. :)

    18. Laurel null Strong  •  Jan 3, 2011 @1:31 pm

      “…and know for a fact Pippi wouldn’t, either.”

      This made me smile. Thanks.