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    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,


    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...


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Classic Tales Retold

Book Lists

Here at the Mixed-Up Files, we’re compiling lots and lots of book lists for you all to use at home or at school in many different genres and areas of focus that you might want or need. Here’s one below to get us started! (And if you have a need for a certain type of book list that you’d love to see, please tell us in the comments and our team of experts will get on it!)

Folk tales and fairy tales were originally short stories, but some creative authors have retold them as middle-grade novels.


Photo credit: falsedan via Flickr

Folk tale retellings:

ABIYOYO RETURNS by Pete Seeger (sequel to Abiyoyo, based on a South African folktale)

From IndieBound:  After Abiyoyo the giant left, the small town he had bothered grew by leaps and bounds. The boy who helped his father make Abiyoyo disappear grew older and became a father, too. The people were filled with new life and spirit. But now there are new dangers: droughts and floods. The town needs a dam before it gets washed away. And sitting right where the dam would be is a boulder too big for anyone to move. Anyone, that is, except Abiyoyo.

Father still has his courage. Grandfather still has his magic wand. And his granddaughter knows he can bring Abiyoyo back, then make him disappear. But Abiyoyo is dangerous. People think the giant will eat them. Will lots of good food and beautiful songs keep Abiyoyo happy long enough to move the boulder and once again leave the town in peace?

THE MAGICAL MONKEY KING by Ji-Li Jiang (classic Chinese tales)

From IndieBound:  The ALA Notable author of “Red Scarf Girl” presents traditional tales about the Monkey King, the irrepressible trickster hero of Chinese legend. Embellished with Hui Hui Su-Kennedy’s charming black-and-white illustrations, these hilarious stories bring the Monkey King and his friends to life.

Fairy tale retellings:
THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS by Diane Zahler (based on the fairy tale 12 Dancing Princesses)

From IndieBound:  Zita is not an ordinary servant girl—she’s the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted only sons. When she was born, Zita’s father banished her to the servants’ quarters to work in the kitchens, where she can only communicate with her royal sisters in secret.

Then, after Zita’s twelfth birthday, the princesses all fall mysteriously ill. The only clue is their strangely worn and tattered shoes. With the help of her friends—Breckin the stable boy, Babette the witch, and Milek the soldier—Zita follows her bewitched sisters into a magical world of endless dancing and dreams. But something more sinister is afoot—and unless Zita and her friends can break the curse, the twelve princesses will surely dance to their deaths.

THE GOOSE GIRL by Shannon Hale (based on Grimm’s fairy tale, The Goose Girl)

From IndieBound:  Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt’s guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani’s journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

And one based on the epic tale of Beowulf:
THE COMING OF THE DRAGON by Rebecca Barnhouse

From IndieBound:  When he was a baby, Rune washed up onshore in a boat, along with a sword and a pendant bearing the runes that gave him his nickname. Some people thought he was a sacrifice to the gods and wanted to send him right back to the sea. Luckily for Rune, King Beowulf disagreed. He lifted the boy from the boat and gave him to Amma, a wisewoman living on a farm far removed from the king’s hall, to raise as she saw fit.

Sixteen years later, Rune spends his summers laboring on the farm. And at King Beowulf’s request, he comes to the hall each winter for weapons training. But somehow he never quite fits in. Many people still fear he will bring a curse on the kingdom. Then a terrible thing happens. On a lonely crag on a mountain that belongs to the giants, someone awakens a dragon. It is time for Rune to find the warrior inside himself and prove to the doubters once and for all that he is a true hero.

Tell us your favorite folk and fairy tale retellings!



  1. Becky Mushko  •  Jan 19, 2011 @10:54 am

    FERRADIDDLEDUMDAY, published in 2010 by Cedar Creek Publishing, is my Appalachian retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin story.

    Gillie—a skilled spinner of wool—leads a charmed life high in the Blue Ridge Mountains until a hailstorm destroys their cash crop. With taxes due, Gillie and her pa risk losing their farm. Then a strange little man appears and gives her the power to spin hay into gold. As she and her pa leave the courthouse after paying their taxes, Gillie bumps into the handsomest man she’s ever seen. William courts her, marries her, and the following year they have a beautiful daughter. When the strange little man eventually returns and demands his payment, Gillie doesn’t know what to do.

    From NYT best-selling author Sharyn McCrumb: “Becky Mushko’s retelling of the European folk tale Rumpelstiltskin brings a new world perspective to the old story, illuminating the frontier setting with a wealth of detail: plant names, folk traditions, and regional dialect. If the story had happened here, it would have happened like this.”

  2. Deb Marshall  •  Jan 19, 2011 @10:58 am

    Thank you thank you for this list! Abiyoyo is one of my all-time favorite stories to share with kids, will for sure be checking out his return.

    Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo
    Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo



  3. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Jan 19, 2011 @3:08 pm

    Your welcome, Deb!
    Becky, thanks for sharing your story!

  4. Amanda  •  Jan 19, 2011 @4:31 pm

    This is a great list!
    If you’re looking for ideas – I DESPERATELY need to find books for boys who feel like they’ve gotten too old for “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “Captain Underpants,” etc., but still want to read things that are light and funny. I’m having a hard time finding anything to meet their needs.

    Karen B. Schwartz Reply:

    @Amanda, are you looking for humor or books with humor and heavily illustrated? For funny, illustrated MG I’d recommend Jarrott Krosozka’s Lunchlady series

  5. Cindy  •  Jan 19, 2011 @6:02 pm

    This is exactly the type of list my 5th grader needs because of a year-long assignment in reading different genres. Thank you!

    One of the trickiest genre categories is plays. Apparently it can be an actual play (and the only one I know of is Johnny Tremaine) or novels based on a play of some sort.
    She loved The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne, but I’d love some other ideas.

    Karen B. Schwartz Reply:

    @Cindy, Noonie’s Masterpiece by Lisa Railsback is based on her play of the same name.

  6. Natalie Aguirre  •  Jan 19, 2011 @6:55 pm

    Great list. I loved The Red Scarf Girl. My daughter was adopted from China and her 4th grade teacher had her read it too. And I loved The Goose Girl. I’ll have to check out some of the others.

  7. sheelachari  •  Jan 19, 2011 @7:35 pm

    I’m reading Adam Gidwitz’s A TALE DARK AND GRIMM, which is a retelling/reworking of several of the Grimm’s fairy tales. It’s very charming.


  8. Liesl  •  Jan 19, 2011 @9:18 pm

    ELLA ENCHANTED is my favorite. I also love The Goose Girl.

  9. Sherrie Petersen  •  Jan 20, 2011 @7:43 am

    My daughter and I have been reading the Sisters Grimm series together, which is a fun play on familiar characters. I recently read three different books based on my favorite fairy tale of all, East of the Sun, West of the Moon. All three were very good, but my favorite was East by Edith Pattou. The most middle grade version was Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George. Ice by Sarah Beth Durst felt closer to YA, but like I said, all three were enjoyable.

  10. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Jan 20, 2011 @9:16 am

    Thanks for all these recommendations!!!

  11. Marsha Ratzel  •  Jan 20, 2011 @10:28 am

    I am a science and social studies teacher in middle school. Most of my students read on grade level and a bit above…so think 7th graders probably. This year I’ve been requiring them to read one book per month in each of my classes. Oh boy…they hated it at the beginning of the year. But I gave them the freedom to read any book that feel within our curriculum….so they still have some control.

    In science, they’ve read almost everyday DK Eyewitness book we have in the earth sciences (which is my curriculum), physics and chemistry books that are on their levels (tons of rollercoast, car science, airplane, David McCauley books). We’ve also read through the cool biography series Giants of Science). The increase in background knowledge is huge and they’ve fallen in love with non-fiction.

    In social studies I cover everything from prehistoric man (not dinosaurs) to the middle ages. A huge span of time to say the least. Again we’ve hit the DK books very hard along with picture books about ancient life. I’ve also added in all the Rick Riordan books (Percy, Red Pyramid, Lost Heroes) + the Jaguar Stone books. I’ve just started reading LaFevers books about Theodosia and am going to try The Youngest Templar series.

    But I’m feeling very overwhelmed with high quality titles to share. My kids are at that awkward age where they’re too young for many of the YA titles and too old for some picture books. By too old I mean, they read them quickly, love what they learned but need another and another and another and another. Frankly our interlibrary loan capabilities aren’t speedy enough to supply them with enough picture book titles. So I’m hoping you can help me find something a bit longer.

    Any list(s) that you might have to suit this age group and area of interest would be so greatly appreciated.



    PS….I immediately added two titles you included in the last post…the Magical Monkey King and the Coming of the Dragon. Both sound like titles that will be perfect for my kiddos.