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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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  • Poetry That Makes You Laugh

    Uncategorized

    Flickr photo by dororai

    Around my house, we love to laugh.  We also love to rhyme, and we particularly like to put the two together.   It’s a little known fact that both of these things, rhyming and laughing, were the inspiration behind my very first attempt at creating a children’s picture book.  That picture book will never be published (trust me on this), but it started me on the path to writing for children.  So I am rather fond of and grateful for fun rhymes.

    Laughing over a silly poem is something my middle-grade kids and I have in common, too.  It’s a great way for us to bond, especially when it comes to my reluctant readers, because sharing a short, silly poem together seems less threatening than sitting down with a thick novel at bedtime.

    So, yes, we take funny poetry very seriously around my house.  My kids memorize these poems religiously.  (Someday you should hear my oldest recite A Tragic Story by William Makepeace Thackeray.  Hil-arious.) Occasionally I recite a few I still remember from my own middle-grade years.  (Eletelephony by Laura Richards is my favorite, in case you were wondering.)  We also make up our own silly rhymes, which might not be complete works of poetry, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

    Luckily for us, there are plenty of great but wacky poetry collections available in bookstores or on library shelves.  We turn to these for inspiration or in desperation, depending upon whether or not we need something to get us into a rhyming rhythm or something to get us out of a very bad mood. Here is a short list of some poetry collections that tickle our funny bone:

    Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

    Arguably the most well-known children’s poetry collection in the world (according to me, anyway), this book has been entertaining children for decades. Other well-known titles by Shel Silverstein include A Light in the Attic, Falling Up, and Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook.  Check out his website for a complete list of his titles.

    (Not that you asked, but my favorite poem from Where the Sidewalk Ends is Peanut-Butter Sandwich.)

    A Pizza the Size of the Sun by Jack Prelutsky

    We’ve been fans of Jack Prelutsky for years.  Though some of his books are listed for the younger crowd of 4- to 8-year-olds, older elementary students will still enjoy his wacky worldplay in this and his many other poetry collections.  You can find a complete list of his titles on his website.

    Vile Verses by Roald Dahl

    Who doesn’t love Roald Dahl?!  And now you can love him all over again when you pick up one of his poetry collections.  This one compiles some of the poems published in his other books, such as the The Centipede’s Song from James and the Giant Peach, with new and deliciously vile verses kids in particular are sure to love.  And some adults might like it, too.  (Okay, plenty of adults already do.)  Other collections you might also enjoy are Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts.

    Exploding Gravy by X. J. Kennedy

    We found this book purely by accident, when my grandmother decided to send it as a birthday gift for one of my children.  It’s a perennial favorite now.  Unfortunately, it’s out of print, but hopefully you can still find it online or at your local library.  If not, I’m sorry.  I’d let you borrow mine, but my kids won’t put it down long enough for me to sneak it out of the house.

    If I Were In Charge of the World and Other Worries by Judith Viorst

    A friend of mine highly recommended this collection, and I think I do remember reading it once when I was a kid.  I haven’t shared it with my own kids yet, though.  It’s on our TBR list now.  From Booklist: “Viorst takes everyday situations that frustrate, bewilder, or bemuse and turns them into fodder for her audience’s personal laugh tracks. . . . (She) succeeds in bringing out the fun in human foibles and her poems that twist traditional fairy-tale endings are positively inspired.”

    Do you have a favorite not on this list?  If you do, please share the title below in the comments.  My kids and I are always looking for more poems to love.  Even though we prefer the ones that rhyme, we’d settle for some funny free verse, too.  Thanks for laughing along with us!

    Elissa Cruz loves wacky poetry enough that she writes it herself when she isn’t busy working on one of her novels.  She is represented by Josh Getzler of Russell and Volkening, Inc., and her debut humorous middle-grade mystery is currently on submission.  It doesn’t have any funny poetry in it, though.  But it should.

    5 Comments

    5 Comments

    1. Sayantani DasGupta  •  Dec 29, 2010 @8:08 am

      Great post Elissa! in the Bengali folk tradition, ghosts and demons LOVE to rhyme – which I actually think is hilarious if a little dark and twisted, because they are usually rhyming about sucking marrow from bones and currying up feet! But somehow the fact that they rhyme makes it possible for them to say more scary things while still being slightly endearing!

    2. Karen Schwartz  •  Dec 29, 2010 @9:23 am

      I must confess I haven’t read any of these. I’m going to look for the Roald Dahl collection for my 8 y.o. He’s a huge Dahl fan.

    3. Laurie Schneider  •  Dec 29, 2010 @7:22 pm

      We love funny poetry here, too. I grew up with the most ridiculous book ever — Stoo Hample’s SILLY BOOK, which features poems about Boodleheimer. Our favorite collections today are by David Greenberg, especially Don’t Forget Your Etiquette!: The Essential Guide to Misbehavior; The Book of Boys (for Girls) & The Book of Girls (for Boys); and Skunks!

    4. teachergirl  •  Dec 30, 2010 @3:48 pm

      When I was ten my parents gave me Kids Pick the Funniest Poems. That book is so well-loved that it’s falling apart. I bought a new edition for my classroom, and it’s been a big hit. My students (4th grade) also love Cautionary Tales for Children by Hilaire Belloc, illustrated by Edward Gorey.

    5. Elissa Cruz  •  Jan 7, 2011 @1:23 pm

      Sayantani–ew! LOL Yes, I suppose rhyming about sucking marrow from the bones and currying up the feet could be funny.

      Karen–yes, go get Roald Dahl’s poetry books! I hope you enjoy them.

      Laurie–Thanks for the recommendations. I’m adding them to my list now. They sound great!

      teachergirl–I haven’t heard of either of those titles. Thanks for sharing! I’m adding them to my list, too.