• 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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  • Interview with Patricia Reilly Giff

    Interviews, Writing MG Books

    I am thrilled to welcome beloved children’s book author Patricia Reilly Giff to the Mixed-Up Files! She is the best-selling author of many children’s books, including the Newbery Honor winning books, PICTURES OF HOLLIS WOODS and LILY’S CROSSING. Her most recent books are the middle-grade, STORYTELLER, and a new series, THE ZIGZAG KIDS.

    STORYTELLER summary from IndieBound: While staying with her aunt, Elizabeth finds something remarkable: a drawing. It hangs on the wall, a portrait of her ancestor, Eliza, known as Zee. She looks like Elizabeth.

    The girls’ lives intertwine as Elizabeth’s present-day story alternates with Zee’s, which takes place during the American Revolution. Zee is dreamy, and hopeful for the future—until the Revolution tears apart her family and her community in upstate New York. Left on her own, she struggles to survive and to follow her father and brother into battle.

    Zee’s story has been waiting to be rediscovered by the right person. As Elizabeth learns about Zee, and walks where Zee once walked and battles raged, the past becomes as vivid and real as the present.

    What’s special about middle-grade books?

    Middle-grade is particularly special because it’s the beginning of kids reading more complex, more complicated plots. As a writer, I love to explore and unravel a problem for my character.

    How has children’s publishing changed since you first began writing? (First published in 1979-FOURTH GRADE CELEBRITY)

    When I first began to write, there were fewer books on the market. THE KIDS OF THE POLK STREET SCHOOL was the first series for that age. It started that genre [chapter book]. The market has expanded quite a bit.

    A peek into my point of view as a writer: When I began to write, I had a typewriter. I had to submit an original and two copies. I had to buy Wite-Out. You couldn’t cross out more than three times on a page. There were two pages of carbon paper, which smudged. [laughs] The meticulousness of it all.

    How have middle-grade books changed since you were first published?

    Middle-grade has become more sophisticated. If you compare the world of the ’50s with the 21st century, the world was simpler. Life revolved more around the neighborhood. Compare RAMONA THE PEST to some current day titles. Today’s books are much more adult in a way, now anything goes—alcohol, drug, parent issues—less openly than in young adult, but it’s there. A wonderful book, THE NINTH WARD by Jewell Parker Rhodes, about Hurricane Katrina has a child that sees her dead mother’s ghost. I don’t think you would have seen that in middle-grade before.

    How much should authors do for book promotion?

    I see some young writers do so much. When I began, I did nothing. Now I do talks, though that is not generated by me. The first, important thing is the review from places like School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Booklist. That’s what sells it to librarians and schools. I think publishers do more than they’re given credit for, in terms of sending out ARCs and trying to get your book sold.

    How do you stay in touch with kids today?

    All of my grandchildren, ages 6 to 23, live within 8 miles of me. I’m very lucky that way. Also, I speak to kids all over the country. And I get so much mail from kids. They tell me what they like and don’t like in my books.

    What advice would you give to an aspiring middle-grade writer?

    My husband likes to tell the story about an aspiring writer who came into our bookstore [The Dinosaur’s Paw] saying she wanted to write, but didn’t have the time. He told her: when Pat started writing she had three kids, she worked as a full-time teacher, and I worked long hours away from home, but she did it. If she could find the time, you can.

    Write every day, no matter what. You can’t let it go. Even if it’s just 20 minutes a day. That’s what I’ve done for the last 30 years.

    Karen B. Schwartz is working on her latest middle-grade novel, JAKE GLICK STANDS ALONE, about a shy seventh-grade boy who discovers that his girl best friend is growing up and leaving him behind.



    1. Akoss  •  Jan 5, 2011 @10:55 am

      This interview went straight to the point, and it “spoke” to me. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    2. Jeni Bell  •  Jan 5, 2011 @10:57 am

      Great advice and perspective from a beloved storyteller. Thank you for this!

    3. Laura Marcella  •  Jan 5, 2011 @11:11 am

      Wonderful interview! After hearing about those typewriter days, I sure am grateful for computers. :)

    4. Tracy Abell  •  Jan 5, 2011 @11:28 am

      I enjoyed this so much, but cringed at the memory of carbon paper and corrective fluid. Ack!

      Twenty minutes per day can really add up.

      (Karen, I love the title and pitch for your new project!)

    5. Laurie Beth Schneider  •  Jan 5, 2011 @12:35 pm

      Patricia writes so beautifully about the sun and shadows in kids lives. I could never pick a favorite, but Nory Ryan’s Song and Pictures of Hollis Woods are in my top-five for sure. So glad the days of carbon paper are gone.

    6. Sheela Chari  •  Jan 5, 2011 @12:53 pm

      I loved hearing about Pat’s take on how middle-grade has changed over the years. I think for many of us who are writing for this age-group, we find ourselves straddling between being the readers that we were (and the memories of what we read in our childhood) and trying to be writers for readers in the now.

      Thanks for the wonderful interview, Karen and Pat!

    7. Karen Schwartz  •  Jan 5, 2011 @2:53 pm

      Thanks all! It was wonderful to talk to Pat. She has such a wealth of experience and is happy to share.

      Tracy-glad you liked my new project!
      Laurie-I totally agree. Love Pictures of Hollis Woods
      Sheela-that is so true about finding that balance between our experience as readers and the next generation of readers

    8. Donna Gephart  •  Jan 6, 2011 @10:39 am

      Fabulous interview. Thanks for the much-needed inspiration!

    9. Katie  •  Jan 6, 2011 @1:36 pm

      The Polk Street School books were some of my favorites when I was in first grade. I always felt that I could see myself in them, and that I knew kids who were just like Emily Arrow and Richard Best. This was a great interview! Thanks so much!

    10. Jennifer Duddy Gill  •  Jan 6, 2011 @5:51 pm

      Patricia Reilly Giff’s books are a big part of my daughters’ childhoods. We love her! Our very favorite is WATER STREET. We read it several years ago and we still talk about it. Such amazing and vivid writing!

      And, Karen, your book description has already hooked me!

    11. Wonderful interview! Thank you so much Patricia and Karen!!! And yeah, I remember those White-Out days and weeks spent retyping manuscripts over and over again. Gosh, I love my computer. ;-)

    12. Tricia Springstubb  •  Jan 7, 2011 @10:20 am

      I have been a fan ever since my reluctant reader daughter connected with the Polk Street School books many years ago. A lovely interview!

    13. Cathe Olson  •  Jan 7, 2011 @9:02 pm

      I just got on the computer to check out this interview before curling up on the couch with my book . . . but as an aspiring middle-grade writer, I will take Patricia’s advice and do my daily writing first. Thanks for the push.