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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, read more...

     

    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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Happy Earth Day! Become a giraffe!

Learning Differences

Happy Earth Day!

Today my daughter turns 19.

Eight years ago, she spent most of the day staring off into the sky, looking under her bed, out of her window….and even though she promised that nothing was wrong, she looked a little bit sad and wistful. The next day, she told me why.

She was looking for an owl.

Rebecca–even then an intellectual–was also a big believer in heroes and the real world, but also magic and princesses (especially Belle). That night, she went to bed a little bit sad that Hogwarts had overlooked her, but she also knew that she would make her own heroic, romantic, exciting adventures.

(Happy Birthday, Rebecca!!)

Today, if you ask her about growing up with a writing, reading Mom, she will tell you that books were a big part of her intellectual growth and development as a thinker. When her life was tough, they gave her a place to escape to. When she needed to relax, she knew that there were always new books in the house to explore.

I think a lot of us are nodding our heads.

She will also tell you that more than that, it was the PEOPLE who gave her books that gave her permission to have goals. High goals. She was inspired by writers and teachers and librarians who stuck out their necks to give her books that would broaden her world and goals.

She would also tell you….and may this serve as a warning…that I am the most didactic person in the universe. Always making a lesson out of those books–just couldn’t leave them alone.

When I was 11, my childhood was a lot like Rebecca’s. I had my own introduction to the power of books and character. I’ll admit, some of it came from TV, from unlikely heroes like Maxwell Smart and Underdog.

But it also came from a great teacher…and Shakespeare.

It was about the time of Watergate, and irony was in the air. For the first time in my life, we had a president who was NOT a hero (and I don’t think we’ve seen heroes the same way since). That year, my class performed Romeo and Juliet. I was Friar Lawrence. As I spoke to my friends playing the big roles, I was filled with regret. Lawrence could have used his influence to do more. He goes along with the plan, but the plan fails. Had he done more, maybe the families would have worked it all out. That teacher, seeing my interest piqued, gave me more plays. More opportunities. He later became my parent’s neighbor, and when I would come home, he always wanted to talk about books and heroes and life.

Rebecca and I are pretty lucky people. We knew our voices could be heard. Our worlds were safe. We grew up with people who wanted the world to be a better place.

But unfortunately, not all places are ideal. Not all kids are introduced to books the way Rebecca and I were.

These young people need giraffes–people who stick their necks out– even more.

Writers, teachers, parents, readers…we have a special kind of heroic work and responsibility. We don’t just write books. We share books. And in sharing books, we talk about hope. On Wednesday, Roseanne wrote about making sure your school visit goes well. I want to push you further. Make opportunities to share books to make the world a better place.

Recently, I watched giraffes in action. I served as a judge for Boston GLOW’s first ever Ignite Change Writing contest. Writer AC Gaughen invited me to step outside my own stories and get involved.

She wrote:

I’m helping organize an essay contest for Boston teens in an effort not only to show them the incredible and transformative power of writing, but also to help them build their resumes and confidence and have a better shot at pursuing writing and education long term. Basically, the contest calls for answers to the question: If you had the chance, what would you change in your school, community or city?

Who can say no to an idea like this?

Along with Deb Sloan, Mitali Perkins, Angie Frazier and Anna Stanniszewski, I read all eight finalists’ essays.

The writing was honest. It was profound. It was astounding.

Not just because they were honest and gripping, often depicting a world I had read about but did not live in. But because they were so affirmative. Despite their circumstances, these girls wrote with hope. They had goals. They could envision a better world.

It reminded me: I may write brave. But some people LIVE brave.

I was so inspired. How did these young women, some of whom had to deal with pretty intense image, remain so hopeful? How did they come to understand that their hard work would pay off?

The answer is so easy. They had mentors.

(Can I just stop here a minute to say how hard it is to be a judge? And pick a winner?)

At the banquet honoring the finalists, the power of voice was on full display. But so was the sacred power of mentors.

Each and every finalist embraced the young women from Boston GLOW. In gratitude and respect and friendship. These women went out of their way to make opportunities for girls, to give their voices a microphone, an ear. They empowered the girls to speak and encouraged them to speak loudly.

In this world, we writers have to do more of that!

At the banquet, all the young women thanked us, too. Not just for reading–for hearing their voices–but for writing books. For providing the basis for discussion. One young woman talked about her own relationship with writing, saying that it was “the most fun thing” to do.

This is why school visits, social media, book clubs, and other opportunities to meet with kids are so important. It’s not just about selling books. It’s about showing all kids that they have a great future.

That there are possibilities.

That tomorrow is wide open.

Today, on Earth Day, I urge you to do what Boston GLOW and writer, AC Gaughen did. Stick your neck out. Meet kids to make the world better. Talk not just about YOUR book, but about ALL books. Look in your community. I’m sure there are lots of opportunities.

This last month, I also participated in a job share day. The 13 year old students in my community told me:

When they talk to a writer, they see that it is possible to make art. They see that there are adults who think that kids have something to say. They hear that they have a voice.

The books show them that anyone can have a voice. That they can take chances.

That they are “triple motivated” when they meet the people behind those books.

We don’t have to wait until kids are young adults to let them know that they have the power to change the world. When we stick out our necks for kids, our world becomes better. They gain confidence. We can tackle problems that affect others, when we discuss books. I know it’s easy to be cynical. Between the economy and war and politics, sometimes it seems that art is just frivolous. But the truth is: art is hope. Our characters’ voices inspire new voices. And we can, too. We really can make the world a better place.

What do you think? Any ideas out there for sticking out your writerly neck?

Who is YOUR writing hero?

Do you have a favorite character or book that inspired YOU to be a hero??????

Sarah Aronson tries to be a giraffe whenever possible. Her middle grade novel, Beyond Lucky, a book about soccer, luck, and heroes, will be on the shelves June 30.

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