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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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  • Spunk and Determination: Real and Imagined

    Learning Differences

    Because March is Women’s History Month, I’d like to highlight some fictional female characters who exhibit the kind of smarts, energy, and determination that could’ve made these girls historical stand-outs if they were, you know, real. I enjoyed matching characters with real-life heroes whose achievements dovetail with the characters’ stories and personalities, but your interpretations of these characters and their historical counterparts may vary.

    JULIA GILLIAN (and the Dream of the Dog) by Alison McGhee with pictures by Drazen Kozjan.

    IndieBound description: Sixth grade is proving to be less than dreamy for Julia Gillian. Worst of all, her beloved dog, Bigfoot, is getting old. Soon, Julia will learn that no matter how hard she tries, she cannot prevent the inevitable.

    Julia Gillian loves her dog with a fierceness that brought tears to my eyes, and I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to believe Julia Gillian might have grown up to be Ellin Prince Speyer who in 1906 founded the Women’s Auxiliary to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

    THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. by Kate Messner

    Indiebound description: Gianna Z has less than one week to collect, identify, and creatively display 25 leaves for her science project—or else she won’t be able to compete in the upcoming cross-country race. As the deadline for her leaf project draws near, life keeps getting in the way. Some things are within Gee’s control, like her own procrastination, but others aren’t, like Biana Rinaldi’s attempts at sabotage and Nonna’s declining health. If it weren’t for her best friend Zig, Gee wouldn’t have a chance at finishing. His knowledge of trees and leaves in their rural Vermont town comes in very handy, as does his loyalty to Gee. But when Nonna disappears one afternoon, things like leaves and cross-country meets suddenly seem less important.

    Obviously, there’s a whole lot more going on in this story than just running, but as a fellow runner, I appreciated Gee’s exhilaration when she was out on the trails, and I believe Olympic gold medalist Wilma Rudolph would’ve understood it, too.

    THE INVISIBLE RULES OF THE ZOE LAMA by Tish Cohen

    IndieBound description: If you are one of Zoe’s friends, you know her invisible rules for school survival, from what to wear to which boy is the Most Vile. Ever since the day Zoe neutralized the playground bully, she has been the go-to gal for classmates and teachers alike. When a new girl comes to school with a reputation, Zoe decides to help her fit in. But who will save Zoe when her coaching backfires completely?

    Zoe most definitely juggles lots of responsibilities so I first searched for a famous woman circus performer as her historical counterpart, then decided Zoe’s character could be considered a match with household efficiency expert, Lillian Evelyn Gilbreth, who raised 12 children while working as an engineer and industrial psychologist.

    OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon M. Draper

    IndieBound description: Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can’t, because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write.

    Melody has cerebral palsy which affects her in multiple ways. Like Helen Keller, Melody is filled with frustration as she struggles to communicate with others. And, most importantly, like her historical counterpart, Melody’s spirit and determination help her smash the barriers keeping her alone in her own mind.

    ELLIE MCDOODLE – NEW KID IN SCHOOL by Ruth McNally Barshaw

    IndieBound description: When Ellie’s family moves to a new town, she’s sure she won’t fit in. Nobody else likes to read as much as she does, and even the teachers can’t get her name right. But when the students need someone to help them rally against unfair lunch lines, it’s Ellie to the rescue—and if shorter lines and better food prevail, can friendship be far behind?

    Student organizer, Ellie McDougal, meet Mary Harris Jones (also known as Mother Jones), labor organizer.  Mother Jones worked hard to expose the evils of child labor and in 1903, led a 125–mile march of child workers from the Pennsylvania mills to President Theodore Roosevelt’s vacation home on Long Island. My guess is Ellie would’ve joined in solidarity.

    THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY by Adam Rex

    IndieBound Description: When twelve-year-old Gratuity (“Tip”) Tucci is assigned to write five pages on “The True Meaning of Smekday” for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens – called Boov – abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it “Smekland” (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?

    In any case, Gratuity’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.

    Tip traveled via hovercraft and explorer Mary Henrietta Kingsley traveled to Africa in Victorian clothing, yet both were courageous in the face of different worldviews. Tip battled aliens who abducted her mother and Mary fought off cannibals who tried to eat a traveling companion. I’d say they’re kindred spirits.

    So, Mixed-Up Files readers, those are my thoughts on Tip and a few other middle-grade females. As Women’s History Month winds down, I invite you to take a moment to share your ideal pairings of fictional characters and their historical counterparts in the comments. Bonus points for the most infamous match-up!

    Tracy Abell has given up her dream of Olympic gold in track and field, and is instead working hard to create timeless middle-grade fiction.

     

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