• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Uncategorized > What the Mixed-Up Authors Think About…Characters Like Us
  • OhMG! News


    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...


  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

What the Mixed-Up Authors Think About…Characters Like Us


I thought our readers might like to get to know the Mixed-Up Authors a little better by learning about the characters that are like us.  You can learn a lot about someone by finding a character to compare them to.

For example, when I was younger, a neighbor whom I admired very much told me I reminded her of Anne Shirley from L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.  Some may have wondered if that was a compliment or not, but I was pleased by the comparison.  I had always secretly felt like a modern version of Anne.  And I spent my childhood summers at my own version of Green Gables (my grandparents’ small farm in Idaho, where my grandmother ruled much like Marilla did, and my grandfather was exactly like Matthew), so I understood Anne’s world.

Recently I sat down with some of the Mixed-Up Authors and asked them which characters they had a lot in common with.  Some responses surprised me…and others didn’t.  Read on to learn more about us than you ever thought you could…and more than you probably wanted to.

When Anastasia Krupnik was ten, she grew a pink wart on her left thumb and later in the story, when the wart fell off, she was sad. During my tenth summer, growing up in the Louisiana swamps, I noticed a brown mole growing on my collar bone. As the summer passed the mole kept getting bigger and more interesting. Then one day, I was absentmindedly picking at it and it fell off. As I held it in my hand it started to crawl around! My mole was actually a tick! I was sad to have to flush my summer mole down the toilet.–Jennifer Duddy Gill

I wanted to hang out with Beezus and Ramona. Beezus, because I understood her pain–I was that big sister with an embarrassing little sister–and Ramona because you never knew what she was going to do next!–Karen Schwartz

I wish my best friend had been Alan Mendelsohn, the eponymous character from Daniel Pinkwater’s Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars. The real hero of the book is Leonard Neeble, a pudgy, nerdy kid who is having trouble adjusting to junior high school until he meets Alan. Alan is completely indifferent to the opinions of others, happy and confident and subversive. Everybody wants to be Alan’s pal, but he chooses to hang out with Leonard. What they have in common is intellectual curiosity and a sense of adventure, which leads to some extraordinary developments. I see Alan as the perfect friend — he sees what’s cool about Leonard that no other kid sees, and helps bring out the best in him. Of course, I would have also liked to know Leonard.–Kurtis Scaletta

One of my favorite characters of all time is Jay Berry in “Summer of the Monkeys”. I’m pretty convinced that I was Just. Like. Him when I was younger. Boys were yicky, my best friend was my hound dog and I spent all my time in the river bottoms of Oklahoma. Yep. Me and Jay Berry? LIKETHIS.“ –Jen K. Blom

I had so many favorite characters as a voracious reader. Pippi Longstocking, the heroines from the Chronicles of Narnia and from A Wrinkle in Time.

All of them faced very different challenges, but one thing makes them the same and made me love them. I wanted to be just like them because each one had a disregard for doing exactly what was expected of them. And through their individuality went on to save the day (or the worlds, as it were.)

When I was young, I was so scared about breaking the rules, their freedom was refreshing and exciting for me. I often wished I could stand up for things like they did.–Wendy Martin

I was Margaret in Judy Blume’s Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret. Like Margaret I wasn’t “any religion” and I grew up sampling my friends’ churches, hoping to find a place I fit in. I never could understand how Judy knew so much about me when I lived in small-town Wisconsin and she and all of her characters lived in far-away New York.“ –Laurie Schneider

Which character is just like you?  Please tell us in the comments below!



  1. Jana  •  Jan 7, 2011 @1:00 pm

    Jennifer’s story about the tick has me cringing and laughing at the same time. Hoe very funny/gross! How very 10 year old though!

  2. deniz  •  Jan 7, 2011 @2:53 pm

    Oh! I loved Anastasia Krupnik!

  3. Katie  •  Jan 7, 2011 @3:10 pm

    The first character that came to mind for me was Peter Hatcher from the Fudge books. I was the oldest in my family, and a pretty serious-minded kid, which often led to exasperation with my younger sister. I had very little tolerance for antics or breaking rules, and I hated that she always got more attention than I did (or so it seemed).

    I also really related to Jill Brenner from Blubber, also by Judy Blume. She witnessed bullying, participated in it, and became a victim of it, which are all things that happened to me during fourth and fifth grade.

    I loved this post. I like thinking of the world in terms of fictional characters!

  4. Karen Schwartz  •  Jan 7, 2011 @3:58 pm

    love these stories!

  5. Sayantani DasGupta  •  Jan 7, 2011 @7:17 pm

    great post – fabulous stories!

  6. Jan Gangsei  •  Jan 7, 2011 @7:40 pm

    Fun question, Elissa! Count me in as another “Margaret” who also wondered how Judy Blume managed to get a window into my brain when I was eleven (heck, I even had the grandma who knit me sweaters and, um, absolutely no use for a “training” bra ;-). And before that, I was (okay, make that Really Wanted To Be), Nancy Drew. Too bad nobody wanted to hire a mystery-solving eight-year-old on a yellow banana seat bike…

  7. Pragmatic Mom  •  Jan 8, 2011 @7:39 am

    I wanted to be Nancy Drew!

  8. Jennifer Duddy Gill  •  Jan 8, 2011 @12:14 pm

    It was a fun question and I loved learning more about my fellow Mixed Up File authors. But I have to admit, after reading my own answer over again I’m a little grossed out. :)

  9. Linda Andersen  •  Jan 9, 2011 @10:38 am

    What fun! I loved reading biographies and imagining that I could do something special some day. George Washington’s ability to find so many uses for the peanut amazed me. I don’t have the science skills required for that type work.

    Personally, I’d say I was more like Mary from Little House on the Prairie. I was the oldest and didn’t get into the trouble Laura did.

    Could someone contact me about permission to spotlight this blog on Write2Ignite’s blog. I write for “Thrift and Gift” and feature a different writer’s resource each week.

    Linda A.

  10. Linda Andersen  •  Jan 9, 2011 @10:46 am

    Correction–I meant to say George Washington Carter instead of George Washington. Oops!

    Linda A.

  11. Katie Schneider  •  Jan 10, 2011 @3:11 pm

    Harriet the Spy. I was a snoop. I wasn’t particularly considerate about people’s feelings. I wore glasses and had a bowl haircut. She wasn’t the one character I liked the best, but the one I’m most like. (And I used to lick my own knee in the summer to smell my own warm, wet skin AND once had to be told to wash my hair after 10 days of not showering, so I’m not judging about the tick business.)

  12. Cali  •  Jan 19, 2011 @1:24 pm

    I’ve never commented before but I love reading this site! It’s always loaded with interesting information and stories plus I usually leave with an ideas for a story of my own. Grin


  13. Elissa Cruz  •  Jan 19, 2011 @3:06 pm

    Thanks, everyone! (Sorry I’m replying so late…but I’m here now!) I’m glad to see so many people loved this post. I appreciate all the support! And I’m happy to see it’s inspired a story of your own, Cali.