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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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Not Quite Twilight

Learning Differences

So, a while back, we received a request for a list of upper-end middle-grade paranormals – think strong-reader girls who could tackle the reading level of Twilight, but who may not be ready for the more YA-type content.  (Or, maybe they think they are, but their parents are not!)  I took on this list as someone who does not normally read paranormal books, but thought it would be a good way to break out of my typical reading habit.

I decided to employ the “Aunt Wendy” standard here, which means that I thought of my darling 12-year-old niece, who is a great reader and is neither overly sheltered nor terribly worldly.  I decided that any book I recommended here would be one that I could recommend to her in good conscience, as an excellent story and of appropriate content.  I wound up with three books that straddled the YA/MG border (in my opinion), an old favorite, and a last-minute entry.  Please feel free to add your own paranormal favorites in the comments below.

Bruiser, by Neil Shusterman: Young readers who are ready to get a little philosophical will enjoy Shusterman’s alternating-viewpoint story.  When Bronte finds herself attracted to seeming bad boy Brewster “Bruiser” Rawlins, her twin brother Tennyson is concerned.  Eventually, though, Tennyson is won over, and as the twins spend more time with Brewster, they realize that whatever physical and emotional pains they might have at the moment disappear, which becomes especially helpful when the twins’ parents have marriage troubles.  At the crux of the story, each character must sort out the implications of Brewster’s unusual gift, and readers will likewise ponder the nature of love, friendship and sacrifice.

Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White: This is definitely a clear-your-schedule before you open the first page kind of book, because once White takes you into her world, you won’t want to leave.  Sassy, self-confident Evie works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, riding herd over vampires, wolves and faeries due to her ability to see beyond glamour, the artificial appearances that paranormals put on to fool us mere mortals.  Evie thinks she’s relatively normal, though, until she finds out she may be in the center of a conspiracy that could bring down the entire paranormal universe.  The real hook here is that in the midst of this well-constructed fantasy world, there is a heroine with very human needs (and a great sense of humor) whom readers will love.

Forget-Her-Nots, by Amy Brecount White: For girls who are intrigued by the idea that red roses are for romance and yellow roses are for friendship, Forget-her-Nots takes this idea and kicks it into high gear.  When Laurel attends her dead mother’s Virginia boarding school, she discovers that her affinity for flowers comes from more than just a good sense of smell – she descends from Flowerspeakers who can invoke the particular powers of each flower.  Things quickly get out of control, though, when word spreads of Laurel’s ability, and classmates demand that she make flower arrangements to suit their desires.  Laurel must decide the right way to develop and share her gifts, a message that many young readers can appreciate.

The Ghost Belonged to Me, by Richard Peck: I couldn’t write about paranormal books, and not mention Peck’s spooky classic about Alexander Armsworth, a young boy who finds out that he possesses second sight, the ability to see ghosts, which is why he sees an eerie glow in his barn.  With the help of oddball Blossom Culp, Alexander helps the young ghost living in his barn uncover the mystery of her death and rest in peace.  Set in the early 1900’s, this book also has a strong humorous current and deft historical touches.  Fans will be delighted to discover that the series continues, with a focus on the plucky Blossom.

Small Persons with Wings (they hate to be called fairies), by Ellen Booraem: Author Booraem puts an entirely fresh spin on the paranormal genre with this decidedly middle-grade book.  After making herself the school pariah in kindergarten by proclaiming (and then failing to prove) the existence of fairies, Mellie decides she’s off to a fresh start several years later when her family moves to an inn inherited from her grandfather.  Imagine her horror, then, when she discovers that her family lives under a thousand-year-old pact to house fairies and that the inn is fairly overrun with them in all their Latin-spouting, bossy and self-absorbed glory.  I must confess a distinct weakness for books that flaunt Latin, but Booraem also has great humor and heart in this story, as well as amazingly well-drawn primary and secondary characters.

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