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    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...


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A Dog’s Way Home: The Journey

Learning Differences

It’s been three years since author Bobbie Pyron wrote the first draft of the book which eventually became A DOG’S WAY HOME which starts its journey into the world today! Three years, many drafts, many rejections, many title changes. But today is the day the book officially comes out! We managed to stop the author’s Happy Dance long enough to ask her a few questions about the path this book took to publication.

Bobbie and book!

What inspired you to write A DOG’S WAY HOME?

When I was a child, my over-riding passions in life were dogs and reading. I read all the great classic dog stories–LASSIE COME-HOME, THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY and many others. I read those books over and over, even as an adult! So I like to say my book is my personal love letter to all those great classics that meant so much to me. It’s also a celebration of the remarkable bond that exists between dogs and their people. And I do have a huge soft spot in my heart for Shetland sheepdogs!

What was your process and timeline, from the first kernel of idea until you held a copy of the book?

Years! I first started hearing the narrative voice in my head about three years ago, maybe a bit more. It took me about eight months to write a pretty tight first draft. Then, based on the feedback I got from my wonderful critique group, I started a second revision. After that, I started taking it to various workshops–Asilomar, Pacific Coast Children’s Writers workshop, local SCBWI conferences. Some of the critiques at those workshops and conferences were encouraging, some–not so much. But I kept revising and kept holding true to what I knew: the book had to be written from alternating points of view. Finally, about a year and a half ago, I submitted to Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media. I was thrilled when I got an email back from her saying she wanted to represent me and my book! But still, there were many more revisions and rejections to come. Finally, in fall of 2009, the book was sold (at auction!) to Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins. I was so lucky to be able to work with Molly O’Neill as my editor. More revising, more titles changes, but now, here it is!

Teddy, my sheltie muse

You live in Utah, yet your story is set in North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. Why? Did you travel to those areas for research?

That’s a good question! I did live in western North Carolina for many years and spent a lot of time hiking and camping near the Blue Ridge Parkway where much of the story takes place. I have a deep and abiding love for that part of the world–the people, the mountains, the music, the language. When the story first “came” to me, that’s where it was set. It was not a conscious decision on my part. It’s where the story wanted to be told. I don’t know how else to explain it! But even though I know that area very well, I still did a lot of research on the flora and fauna of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was important to me to not say a particular tree or bird was in the Virginia part of the Blue Ridge Parkway if they’re actually found in the Georgia section. I guess that’s the librarian in me!

You alternate points of view in the book, from first person (Abby’s chapters) and third person for Tam’s (the dog’s) chapters. What thoughts went in to your decision about this?

Not to make it sound like a mystical or “woo woo” kind of experience, but that’s the way the story came to me. At first, I tried writing Abby’s chapters in third person too, but it just didn’t work for me. I felt like I wasn’t getting close enough to her. And then I didn’t want to change Tam’s chapters to first person talking-dog narration. I’m not overly fond of talking animal stories (although some have been done very well). So I went with my gut and wrote it the way I really felt it had to be written. There were many times as I piled up rejections, many based on that POV choice, I questioned my sanity. But I was lucky enough to have a critique group that supported my decision and then, eventually, find an agent and an editor who trusted my instincts and shared my vision.

Your characters (including Tam, the shetland sheepdog) made me laugh, shed a tear, hold my breath, and cheer. Were they hard to let go when you completed the book?

Yes! I had really become attached to the characters, especially some of the secondary characters like Abby’s two friends Olivia and Cheyenne Rivers, the old woman, Ivy Calhoun, who saved Tam at a certain point, and, of course, Tam and Abby. I still find myself thinking about them. I think it’s different with each book. When I finished my first book, THE RING, I was really done with it. And the book my agent now has I don’t think about that much beyond the last page (although I think readers will). But A DOG’S WAY HOME is still with me.

Congrats on your starred review from Publishers Weekly! What was the first thing you did when you found out?

Thanks! I let out a whoop, danced with one of my shelties, emailed my friends my good news, and then tried to explain to my husband why a starred review is so important.

Read us one tidbit from your book, maybe your favorite passage:

Tam watched the moon rise above the far ridge, hanging full and golden between two peaks. All the night creatures stirred around him, beginning their ancient agreement between predator and prey. A fox barked in the hollow below the road.

Many times, Tam had watched the moon with his girl. Sometimes, they had watched from the front porch, with the sound of crickets and the big man’s fiddle. Other times, they’d watched from the window seat in her bedroom. Tam had never known why the girl watched the moon with such longing. It had not mattered to him. He loved the moon because he loved the girl, the girl who held him close as she gazed into the night sky. He listened to her steady breathing, the thump thump of her heart. Her heartbeat filled his world.

A DOG’S WAY HOME is now available! To find out more about Bobbie and her books (and her dogs) visit her at www.bobbiepyron.com

*Want a signed copy of A DOG’S WAY HOME? You know you do! Leave a comment below and enter a chance to win!*



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