• OhMG! News


    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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  • The Review

    Learning Differences

    As both a writer and a reviewer, I loved following School Library Journal’s recent “Battle of the Books” (at www.slj.com).  Authors the likes of R.L. Stine, Patricia Reilly Giff and Naomi Shihab Nye whittled a heap of books down to a final Big Kahuna round, judged by the venerable Richard Peck.  The winner turned out to be Ring of Solomon, by Jonathan Stroud, a prequel to his Bartimaeus trilogy and a book I plan to begin reading tonight.

    But happily, refreshingly, this is one contest that’s more about process than outcome.  The author-judges wrote wonderfully varied critiques, providing a mini-course in book reviewing.  All were cogent and pithy.  Some were funny and entertaining; some verged too close to the personal (in my personal opinion); some made me take a second look at books I thought I already knew (the true meaning of re-view).  Best of all, though, was how much of their writing was a pleasure in and of itself.  Three examples:

    Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon) on Kathi Appelt’s Keeper, a novel set by the sea:  “Appelt reveals the story like ocean waves lapping away bits of sand on a beach until a treasure is uncovered. And it’s the serene watching of the waves, not the sparkling pearl, that creates the book’s charm.”

    Laura Amy Schlitz (The Night Fairy, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!) on Louis Sachar’s The Cardturner, a book that sent her into a little rhapsody on true comedy:  “Comedy is a celebration of human resilience.  At its best, it takes the tensions and failures and tragedies of life, and transmutes them. It pulls the threads taut, mending the rift in the cloth. It draws the toxins out. And of course this is tremendously refreshing, because we are surrounded by tensions and failures and tragedies.”

    And Karen Hesse (Stowaway, Out of the Dust) on the graphic novel The Odyssey by Gareth Hinds:  “Homer used a sea of words to carry us on the long, arduous journey from Troy back to Ithaca. In Hinds’ book, we are carried instead on a sea of art, a sea which has a fluidity much like the ocean itself… Readers who are unfamiliar with the original story may at times feel a bit tempest-tossed in this rendering; but feeling at sea with Odysseus is not a bad thing. Particularly when the art serves as life-raft on each page, in each panel.”

    All of us are reviewers.  To our friends, we recommend or trash books we’ve read.  At the library where I work, reader’s advisory—trying to match child and book—is a big part of the job.  With approximately 5,000 books for kids being published each year, being critical is a matter of survival!

    When I review for formal publication, the quality of my reading changes. I sit up straighter!  I hold myself strictly accountable, line by line. And when it comes time to write, I aim for something beyond plot, character, setting and how it all adds up–or not–to theme.  I look for a way to connect the book to a larger world of imagination and art.  I hope to go beyond simply evaluating. Frankly, I try to discover something more about how good writing works, something readers of my review may appreciate and that I can apply to my own fiction.

    Of course, wearing both reviewer and writer hats can complicate things. I get to choose the books I review, and never pick something unless I expect to love it.  But uh oh.  Now and then I make a mistake, and have to write a negative review.  As I used to tell my children when they protested I was too critical of them, “If I only say nice things, how will you ever trust me?” 

    Still, it’s no fun writing about a book I give a D for didactic, derivative, or just plain dull.  As Kathleen T. Horning points out in her comprehensive (and compassionate) book From Cover to Cover, Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books, “Most books for children are created with the best intentions in mind.  No one sets out to produce a crummy book that kids will hate.”  Ouch.  Writing these reviews makes me wince and always feel a little guilty.  (Horning’s book, by the way, is an invaluable resource for any reviewer, novice or experienced.)

    Reviewing well is tough.  The best reviewers have distinctive voices, deep and wide knowledge of the field, and that gimlet eye.  It’s entirely possible there are more good children’s writers than reviewers.  Please, share your own favorite critics—in print, on blogs, whatever– in the comments below

    Tricia is a frequent reviewer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which miraculously still has a full-fledged book page and editor.  Her most recent middle grade book is WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET.  Its sequel, MO WREN, LOST AND FOUND, will pub this coming fall.

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