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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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    Learning Differences

    Flickr photo by Urban Hippie Love

    In honor of the silliest day ever, we’d like to share some of our favorite April Fool’s pranks*–and some book recommendations for the prankster in all of us.

     

    EAT UP, EVERYONE

    Diana Greenwood enjoys food pranks on April 1st.  She shares these four favorites:

    “My brother and I used to put Sugar Babies, those brown hurt-the-teeth candies in my dad’s pork and beans. They looked exactly like pork and beans. We’d squirm with anticipation until he bit into one. Of course, it only shocked my dad for real once but we did it for years. He continued to feign surprise.

    “Once we bought yellow sponges, cut them in half and iced them on all sides. Put sprinkles on top. Served them to my parents. They look just like cake. (not sure I’d recommend this one in case someone chokes but it’s quite funny.)

    “My daughter STILL eats a stick of gum, neatly refolds the foil, puts it back in the outer wrapper and asks me if I’d like a stick of gum. An empty stick of gum. I fall for it every time.

    “I put a can of cat food in her lunch box one April Fool’s Day. She was so mad. Yes, I was there on the playground watching her open it with a real lunch in my hand.”

     

    IT NEVER ENDS

    Laurie Schneider remembers this never-ending prank:

    “My prankish Mom taught me a trick when I was in the fourth grade. For April Fool’s she had me hide a spool of thread behind a buttonhole in my sweater and then ask my teacher to clip the dangling thread. When the teacher went to tug the thread, it just kept on coming and coming.”

     

    RULE THE SCHOOL (OR NOT)

    Kurtis Scaletta recommends Justin Fisher Declares War! by James Preller as a great April Fool’s Day read.

    Description from Indiebound:

    At Spiro Agnew Elementary, the fifth graders rule the school. And class clown Justin Fisher rules them all.

    Or, at least, he did.

    Justin has always been the funniest kid in school. But this year, his new teacher isn’t amused. And when Justin gets in trouble with Mr. Tripp over and over, the other kids turn on him, too. No one wants to be friends with the class troublemaker.

    But Justin Fisher isn’t going down without a fight.

     

    MAKE A LIST

    Amie Borst shares her list of classic pranks (remind us to stay away from her house today):

    • “lining toilet seats with saran wrap (ever see pee splatter?)”
    • “putting Vaseline all over door knobs (hope you’re not in a hurry!)”
    • “trading chocolate for ex-lax (payback.)”
    • “putting sugar in place of salt in the shaker (that wasn’t the flavor I was expecting!)”

     

    TRULY MIXED-UP

    Wendy Shang shares the last good prank she played on her kids:

    “I saved the snack-sized chip bag from their lunch, now empty, and put carrots inside along with an April Fool’s note.  Then I hot-glued the bag shut and put it in their lunch.”

     

    THE OLD SWITCHEROO

    Brian Kell shares the following story from his college days:

    “In college, a bunch of my friends would each our lunches together in what was called ‘The Chuckery’. Very crowded. We called this one guy in our group ‘Short Fuse’ because it didn’t take much to make him angry. Short Fuse always had his mom pack his lunch, usually with a hard boiled egg. He always cracked it open on the table.

    “My friend and I switched the hard boiled egg with a raw egg. Short Fuse had this little container of salt sitting in front of him and we asked, “What’s the salt for?” Of course he got mad, reached into his bag, pulled out the egg and said, “It’s for THIS!” and smashed it on his forehead. As the egg dripped down his face, he said, “I’m going to kill my mom!!!”

    “We laughed and laughed and still laugh!!!”

     

    IT’S REALLY FAKE:

    For those who need a little help on April 1st, check out 100% Pure Fake: Gross Out Your Friends and Family with 25 Great Special Effects! by Lyn Thomas.

    Description from Indiebound:

    Parents, beware of this book. With 100% Pure Fake, the art of scaring the pants off friends and family reaches new levels of ease and sophistication.

    Pranksters can now amaze, alarm and totally disgust everyone with these easy-to-make Pure Fakes. These 25 safe, kid-tested recipes that can be made with ingredients found in most households, including corn syrup, rolled oats, makeup and pasta. Other ingredients, such as school glue, food coloring, tempera paint and gelatin, are widely available in grocery or craft stores.

    Each project is presented with step-by-step instructions and includes warnings for allergy and mess alerts, non-edible and edible projects, and when kids should get adult help.

     

    MAKE IT ALL GO AWAY

    Jennifer Duddy Gill recalls this not-so funny prank (well, we authors think it isn’t funny, anyway–our readers may feel differently):

    “Several years ago on April Fool’s Day, just after I’d written the final (seventeenth) draft of my very first novel and was ready to start submitting it to agents, my husband found an application on the internet that made it appear that your computer had gotten a virus and was wiping out your files. The whole thing is a blur now, but I remember my daughters standing near by while I watched all the files on my hard drive get deleted one at a time, including my book. I screamed and cried and continued to do so even after they assured me it wasn’t real. In a few years, MAYBE I’ll laugh about it.”

     

    IT’S A ZOO AROUND HERE

    Beverly Patt tells about her school prank:

    “As an adult, I left a note for my principal that a Mr. Lyon called and she needed to call him back.

    “The phone number was the number to the Lincoln Park Zoo. ;)

    “The guy answering the phone had to explain it to her…”

     

    AND THE AWARD GOES TO…

    Another great title to pick up today is How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen

    Description from Indiebound:

    Thirteen-year-old Lamar Washington is the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler at Striker’s Bowling Paradise. But while Lamar’s a whiz at rolling strikes, he always strikes out with girls. And his brother, Xavier the Basketball Savior, is no help. Xavier earns trophy after trophy on the basketball court and soaks up Dad’s attention, leaving no room for Lamar’s problems.

    Until bad boy Billy Jenks convinces Lamar that hustling at the alley will help him win his dream girl, plus earn him enough money to buy an expensive pro ball and impress celebrity bowler Bubba Sanders. But when Billy’s scheme goes awry, Lamar ends up ruining his brother’s shot at college and every relationship in his life. Can Lamar figure out how to mend his broken ties, no matter what the cost?

     

    CLEANUP ON AISLE FOUR

    Beverly Patt shares another prank her daughter pulled:

    “My daughter rubber-banded the handle on the sprayer to our kitchen sink down so that when you turn on the water, it comes out the sprayer. Of course she had it aimed just perfectly so that my son (who was wearing a shirt and tie for some reason that day) came by and turned on the water, he got soaked!”

     

    SEEING THINGS

    Karen Schwartz recalls her dad’s favorite prank:

    “Every April Fool’s Day my dad would tell my sister and I that he had seen a pink polka-dotted elephant running through our backyard just before we woke up. It took a few years before we stopped hoping to see that elephant too!”

     

    THERE’S MISCHIEF AFOOT

    Sayantani DasGupta suggests catching up on your favorite mythological mischief makers today.  She recommends checking out Loki, the Norse god known for mischief, but there is also Africa’s Anansi, Native Americans’ Coyote, China’s Monkey King, Ireland’s Leprechauns, the Greeks’ Eris (God of Chaos), African Americans’ Brer Rabbit, France’s Reynart the Fox, and many many others.

    We found the following Loki-inspired middle-grade titles to try:

    Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones (it’s out of print but you might find it used or at the library)

    Runemarks by Joanne Harris (note: some sites list this as YA, others list it as middle-grade)

     

    PLEASE SHARE YOUR FAVORITE PRANKS (OR BOOKS WITH PRANKS OR PRANKSTERS IN THEM) IN THE COMMENTS.  And have a great April Fool’s Day!

     

    *We do not encourage our readers to try these pranks at home.** Especially on your parents, kids.  And if you do, we will swear we didn’t teach them to you.

    **Or at school, or work, or anywhere.***

    ***We mean it.^

    ^Okay, not really.  But, as with all pranks, please be careful.^^

    ^^And we’ll still deny teaching them to you if you start pointing fingers.

     

     

     

     

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