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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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  • A Chat With Michele Weber Hurwitz

    Learning Differences

    While madly gathering Advance Reader Copies at NCTE, I discovered a true gem in Michele Weber Hurwitz’s debut novel, Calli Be Gold. The cute cover also got my daughter’s attention–and we both loved the story about a normal girl with normal family problems. I hope this novel finds its way into many, many libraries and classrooms. Here’s my interview with Michele:

    1. Calli doesn’t feel as if she fits into her high-achieving family. Why did you choose to write about a “regular” girl?

    I think that sometimes, “regular” kids can be overlooked. So often we hear about the high achievers — the kids who placed first or won a medal or got a perfect score on the ACT. And of course there are many special services in place for kids who need help, and we often hear about that too, but what about all the kids in the middle? Those kids may not shine upon first glance, or have the loudest voice in the room, but they have so much going on inside, so much of value. The regular, average kids are good friends, decent students, thoughtful, sensitive, kind. These are the kids who will grow up to be good people. I love the notion of Calli’s story — that a “regular” kid, in a quiet yet determined manner, can change her entire family’s view of life. One of my favorite parts in “Calli Be Gold” is when Calli and her dad have it out and she asks him, “Isn’t it okay to just be a good person and be who you are and not have to be great at something?”

    2. Calli participates in her Peer Helper Program at school (my 5th grader does that too). Why do you think peer mentors are important?

    In the book, Calli mentors Noah, a second grade boy with some fitting-in and developmental issues. It’s not only the importance of the program, but the relationship that develops between Calli and Noah in that they find a common bond. When Calli is working with Noah, she feels good about herself, something that doesn’t occur when she’s trying to please her parents by finding an activity to excel at. In that way then, I think peer helper programs allow students to discover things about themselves that they may not in a more pressure-oriented, competitive type activity.

    3. The busy, busy, on-the-go Golds remind me of several families in my neighborhood. Do you think kids are over-scheduled these days?

    I have to confess that I do think kids are over-scheduled. It’s not news, we’ve all heard the lament, especially from parents of previous generations who didn’t have play dates and all-consuming schedules with every pursuit imaginable. I have three kids and I’ve really tried to let them direct their level of involvement with their activities. We try to have lots of family time, as well as downtime for everyone. It hasn’t always worked, though! I remember when my kids were younger, trying to be more relaxed and unscheduled, and sometimes, I’d miss the boat. I hadn’t signed them up for a class everyone else was in, or didn’t make a ton of play dates over winter break, and they were bored! So it is tough to create that middle ground today.

    4. Teachers and coaches play a large role in kids’ lives. Why did you choose to make Calli’s sister’s ice skating coach critical and demanding? Do you think we expect kids to excel too soon?

    I’ve met many coaches over my years of parenting — some good, some not so good. I think some coaches do lose sight of what’s important, and focus only on the win or being the best, forgetting kids’ emotions in the process. Calli’s sister’s skating coach was a reflection of what was happening in the story — that Becca was coming to a realization about her feelings with skating, and I’m not sure that could have happened without a harsh coach who forced her to see the writing on the wall. This was another piece of the puzzle in helping the Gold family change their views and expectations. Also, I hope that I balanced the coach’s toughness with Calli’s teacher, Mrs. Lamont, who is supportive, warm, and caring. And yes, I do think we expect kids to excel too young — especially in sports. It’s competitive so early on, when many kids haven’t even developed. Some parents and coaches take things so seriously from the get-go. We all just need to calm down and let the kids have fun!

    5. Finally, we have to know: what were you like in 5th grade?

    Ah, yes, the fifth grade question! I was shy and quiet. I had long, curly hair that I often wore in pigtails. I was good at writing and reading, and I remember making a year-long list of homonyms all during fifth grade. I don’t really know why I did this, but it was fun and certainly made me a good speller. My teacher was the totally bald Mr. Phillips, who the kids called “Bagel Head” (not to his face, but this nickname was written in pencil, very small, on the bottom corner of the door to his room). As for activities, I played the piano (which I hated) and spent the summer after fifth grade on a girls’ softball team. I was terrible and prayed the ball would never come my way. My whole family was into baseball. I have two younger brothers and it was like a religion. My dad coached, my brothers played, and my mom brought the lemonade and snacks. I remember feeling so unconnected to the rest of my family because I didn’t love it like they did. I definitely drew on this while I was writing Calli’s story.

    Michele Weber Hurwitz grew up in a suburb of Chicago. She always has been a writer — from notes to her parents describing her younger brothers’ bad behavior while she babysat for them, to her first “book” in fifth grade, to articles for high school and college newspapers. She has a journalism degree from the University of Illinois and has worked in public relations, as a freelance magazine writer, and as a newspaper columnist. Being involved in mother-daughter book clubs with her two daughters prompted Michele to pursue her lifelong dream of writing a book, and after reading many middle grade novels, she found her niche. She is married to a CPA, has three teenage children, and still lives in suburban Chicago. Michele’s middle grade novel, CALLI BE GOLD, will be published in April 2011 by Random House/Wendy Lamb Books. The idea for the story grew out of Michele’s partially-crazed life as a suburban mom and her childhood experiences. Visit Michele at www.micheleweberhurwitz.com.

    Leave a comment to win a copy of Calli Be Gold!

    Sydney Salter lives and writes in Utah, but she’ll travel a long way to gather good books! Her middle grade novel, Jungle Crossing, comes out in paperback this April.

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