• 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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  • The End? What?


    Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m one of those writers who ends her books with a certain amount of…uncertainty, shall we say? Don’t get me wrong – no INCEPTION endings here (‘Is it a dream? Is it reality?’). The main issues in my stories get resolved. Big questions get answered. Warm feelings are felt. But I tend to leave a few loose ends blowing in the breeze.

    Now, as a young child, endings like this used to drive me NUTS. I clearly remember getting to the last pages of a few books and yelling, “WHAT? That’s IT? But what about (fill in the blank)?” The story would haunt me for DAYS. I’m sure if my kid self could meet my adult self, my adult self would get an earful…and maybe a pummeling (yeah, I was a tomboy).

    So why do I – and other writers – leave a touch of ambiguity in our endings?

    Well, first of all, look at what I wrote above – ‘the story would haunt me for days.’  The characters hadn’t been happily-ever-aftered into the sunset and ushered back onto my shelf to be forgotten. They were still in my head, living their lives, coming up against who-knows-what. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those unanswered questions were what kept the characters alive in my imagination – much longer than any characters whose stories were wrapped up with neat, unrealistic, bows.

    Another, more pragmatic, reason for a little ending ambiguity is to keep the door open for a sequel. Leaving some questions unanswered (or coming up with new questions) is a great way to have readers begging for more. Some writers (and I am not one of them) have in their big brains very complex and epoch stories that cannot be told in one volume. A great example is my fellow writer and friend, Ellen Jensen Abbott, who had an entire trilogy filling up her gray matter when she sold WATERSMEET to Marshall Cavendish. Ellen left just enough hanging in the balance that her fans are now counting the days until the sequel, THE CENTAUR’S DAUGHTER, hits the shelves this fall. And speaking of sequels, where would the world be if Harry Potter had killed Voldemort off in the first book? Please!

    Another loose-thread-leaving rationale has to do with time. Not that the author ran out of time to write a proper ending. No, I mean the time span of the story itself. While some adult books may cover years or centuries even, most middle grade stories take place in a relatively short period of time – a few weeks or months, at most a year. Keeping the time span short heightens the excitement and lends a sense of immediacy and urgency that young readers crave in a plot.

    However, as we know, not everything in life happens that quickly. Rocky marriages don’t mend overnight. Wars drag on. Broken trust is long in rebuilding. Wrapping up these long-term issues too quickly can result in an ending that feels trite, contrived, and way too convenient. Rushed or forced endings are a great way to kill an otherwise great book. Not every story thread can be resolved within a middle grade’s short time frame, and by design, needs to be left up in the air.

    For example, my book, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER: A WWII SCRAPBOOK takes place right after the Japanese Americans are forced into the internment camps. Best friends Dottie and Louise keep in touch through letters and Louise documents all the goings-on in her scrapbook. But where to end it? The war lasted almost four years, darn it! No middle grader wants to read a story that drags on for four years! But I couldn’t exactly change history either. So what’s a writer to do?

    My editor and I finally decided to use a natural break – when Dottie moves from the temporary relocation center to the permanent internment camp – as the place to end the book. The main story arc – the girls’ friendship withstanding separation and prejudice – has come to a complete and satisfying conclusion. But the war is still going on, Louise’s brother is still off fighting and Dottie has moved further away. That’s the way it was back then – there was a lot of uncertainty and a lot of waiting, and to depict it otherwise would have been irresponsible as well as inaccurate.

    Which leads me to my third reason for leaving a few loose ends in a middle grade book – because that’s the way Life is. Life is messy, changing, slippery, unpredictable, elusive and full of ambiguities. Middle grade readers are beginning to discover this in their own lives. Reading about characters who face similar uncertainties – yet still remain hopeful – can be as comforting as it is instructive.

    And what greater gifts can a writer leave with her young readers than hope and comfort?

    Beverly Patt is certain she writes from her suburban Chicago home but looks forward to whatever uncertainties life has in store for her.



    1. Karen Schwartz  •  Jan 10, 2011 @9:02 am

      I never minded a little wondering about what happened after the ending, but really hated the deliberate tease. Like: to find out what happened next, read book 2! Ah, no.

    2. gaylene wilson  •  Jan 10, 2011 @10:11 am

      I usually liked books that haunted me when I was younger. What I didn’t like were stories that cut off right at the cilmax, just to the author could do a sequel. Questions need to be answered, even if things aren’t left nice and cozy.

    3. Elissa Cruz  •  Jan 10, 2011 @11:41 am

      I agree with Karen and gaylene. I hated those books that deliberately cut off short to tease you into reading a sequel! But I agree that not everything has to be tied up in a neat, little bow. I remember spending days thinking about the possibilities, and that was almost as fun as reading the book itself.

    4. Laurie Beth Schneider  •  Jan 11, 2011 @12:00 am

      Great piece, Beverly. I love a good ending, sad or happy, as long as there’s hope and a little bit of mystery to savor.