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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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  • Mixed-Up Meandering

    Uncategorized

     A fellow on Twitter the other day said the number of children’s books being published every year is overwhelming, so how can anyone possibly choose which ones to read? He makes a fair point: there are a lot of good books out there, with more being added all the time. We each depend on some sort of filtering process to choose books—recommendations from friends; books that win awards; books by familiar authors; books about ghosts, or horses or Revolutionary War heroes; lists compiled by the contributors to this site.

    Last summer, I went on a library scavenger hunt to see what treasures I could turn up in a “random search.” Here’s a fun way to generate a slightly more personalized (but just as serendipitous) reading list:

    Imagine one of those vintage Family Circus cartoons where a dotted line traces a path through the neighborhood, crisscrossing, circling, and doubling back on itself as Billy explores every possible diversion between point A and point B.

    Now, take any favorite book as your “neighborhood”—the one I’ve chosen is a middle-grade novel you may have heard of: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. We’re going to meander through Ms. Konigsburg’s award-winning story, following our noses, investigating interesting side roads suggested by the setting, plot and characters. (Well, actually, we’ll follow my nose, which may lead in an entirely different direction from your nose, but that’s sort of the point.)

    The first thing my nose notices is New York City: Mixed-Up Files is absolutely rooted in the Big Apple. There are dozens of children’s books set in New York, of course, but a few come to mind that, like Mixed-Up Files, depend particularly on the ambiance of the city: The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden; Stuart Little, by E. B. White; A Rat’s Tale, by Tor Seidler; Remember Me to Harold Square (featuring a city-wide scavenger hunt!), by Paula Danziger; and last year’s Newbery winner, When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead.

    Serendipity alert: Did you know that the archetypal holiday movie, Miracle on 34th Street, was based on Valentine Davies’ 1947 novel of the same name? Neither did I!

    Maybe it’s not the city but the museum setting that interests you most. You might want to check out The Court of the Stone Children, by Eleanor Cameron, or the novelizations of the recent Night at the Museum movies—or even (another serendipity alert!) the picture book by Milan Trenc that inspired the films in the first place. (If you’ll allow me one more picture book mention in this middle-grade blog, You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum, by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Preiss Glasser, filled with lovely ink and watercolor images of the city, is a perfect companion to Mixed-Up Files.)

    I particularly enjoyed James and Claudia’s visit to the Egyptian Wing of the museum, so Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s The Egypt Game, and Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death by Richard Peck both go on my list.

    The art mystery at the center of Mixed-Up Files brings to mind two books by Blue Balliett: Chasing Vermeer and The Calder Game . . . or Masterpiece, by Elise Broach.

    Are you caught up in the romance of running away? Try Jean Craighead George’s classic, My Side of the Mountain, about a 12-year-old running away from rather than toward the sophisticated environments of New York City.

    Ranging farther afield: when I think of books set in New York, I naturally think of the original Eloise (“a book for precocious grown ups”). Eloise and her hotel remind me of Roald Dahl’s The Witches (also set in a hotel). James and Claudia’s lunch at the automat reminds me of my seventh grade train trip to New York (where we were treated to lunch at the automat)—which suggests books that feature trains: The Neddiad, by Daniel Pinkwater; The Nine Pound Hammer (first in the Clockwork Dark series), by John Claude Bemis; and this year’s Newbery winner, Moon Over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool.

    One thing leads to another: Masterpiece’s tiny protagonist recalls The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks; The Borrowers by Mary Norton; and the ultimate bug story: Shoebag, by Mary James.

    I could go on and on . . . I have gone on and on. Somebody stop me!

    Here are the pretty covers of the 25 (!) books mentioned on our Mixed-Up Files ramble:

    Bonnie Adamson is glad she’ll never run out of book neighborhoods to wander through.

    10 Comments

    10 Comments

    1. Sherrie Petersen  •  Jan 26, 2011 @9:00 am

      Great list! I love going on Amazon, typing in a book title, and then scrolling through the other recommended books. It’s always interesting to see what titles it brings up and discover new books.

    2. Laura Marcella  •  Jan 26, 2011 @9:11 am

      These are all awesome suggestions! I’ve read most of them, but there are couple I need to add to my to-read list!

    3. Bev  •  Jan 26, 2011 @10:01 am

      ANother great train book that was on a lot of mock newbery lists last year was WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS (Fran Cannon Slayton). A Chicago museum book AND miniature book is THE SIXTY-EIGHT ROOMS (Malone). And two more runaway books are BUD, NOT BUDDY (Christopher Paul Curtis) and my own HAVEN (Beverly Patt).
      Love this meandering, scavenger hunt approach!

    4. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Jan 26, 2011 @10:13 am

      What an interesting way to explore books!

    5. Katie Schneider  •  Jan 26, 2011 @10:30 am

      It’s six degrees of separation, except with books!

      I was reading an “Ivy and Bean” book to my 6 year old. In it, they base their runaway plan on “The Mixed up Files.” Instead of the museum, they plan to stay overnight in an aquarium until their dreaded dance recital is over. Unfortunately for them, the fountain with the money in it also has alligators and instead of Michelangelo, they get a giant squid.

    6. BonnieAdamson  •  Jan 26, 2011 @1:56 pm

      Thanks for the comments and suggestions. Bev, I’m adding these to my list–and, Katie, what fun about Ivy and Bean!

      I kept thinking six degrees of separation, too. That would be a fun game, sometime, from the other direction: take a random list of books and see if you can find the connections. Hmmm . . .

    7. deniz  •  Jan 26, 2011 @7:16 pm

      That’s a great roundabout collection!
      They filmed the movie version of My Side of the Mountain outside of Montreal, so I always remember it as being a Canadian thing. Should have read the book I guess [g]

    8. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Jan 26, 2011 @7:44 pm

      Here are some more New York City-set MG that I recently discovered and adore!

      OLIVIA KIDNEY by Ellen Potter. It’s a trilogy about Olivia living in NYC apartments with her dad who is the handy-man and ghosts and quirky neighbors. So much fun.

    9. Mandy B.  •  Jan 26, 2011 @8:53 pm

      I love this idea & can’t wait to make my own list! Such a neat idea!

    10. Julie Hedlund  •  Jan 31, 2011 @10:27 am

      What a cool idea! AND a great list of books. I will definitely try this the next time I’m at the library.