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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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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.



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.”



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.”



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.



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!)”



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.”



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!!!”



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.



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.”



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…”



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?



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!”



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!”



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)




*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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