• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Learning Differences > Author Interview with Matthew J. Kirby
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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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Author Interview with Matthew J. Kirby

Learning Differences

Today we would like to welcome Matthew J. Kirby, author of THE CLOCKWORK THREE, released last fall with Scholastic.  He is offering an autographed copy of his book here at Mixed-Up Files to one lucky winner!  To enter, leave a comment in the comments section below and our random generator will choose a lucky winner on Tuesday, May 24th (enter now!).  You’ll get extra entries for sharing a link on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or if you click the ‘Follow this blog’ button in Networked Blogs on the lower right side of our site.

***Please mention each link in a new comment so the generator will add your extra entries.  Winners must live in the US or Canada.  Good luck!

Matthew, thank you for taking the time to interview with us.  THE CLOCKWORK THREE is a beautifully written historical adventure in which the lives of three children intersect as they realize each holds a piece of the puzzle that can save the other.  Let’s begin there, to talk about the children, Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick.  What inspired your creation of their characters?

Thanks for having me, Jen.

The main characters in THE CLOCKWORK THREE each had a different genesis.  In fact, for a good long while I thought I had three separate books.

The inspiration for Giuseppe came from an historical account of a real boy.  The newspapers of 1873 referred to him as Joseph, and he became the literal poster child for a type of slavery wherein children were kidnapped or bought in Italy, then shipped off to Paris, London, New York City, or Chicago.  They were forced to play music and beg for money on the streets, and suffered terrible abuse at the hands of their padrones, or masters.  Joseph was one of thousands enslaved by this system, but he had the courage to escape it.  I based many aspects of Giuseppe’s story on Joseph’s life.

Frederick’s would have been a very different kind of story, had he been left to his own – ahem – devices.  It would have been more of a fantasy.  I’ve been fascinated by clockwork and automata for a while, and I wanted to write a story about a young, ambitious apprentice secretly working to build something magnificent.  It wasn’t always going to be a clockwork man.  I’m still holding onto the germ of Frederick’s original story, before he found his way into THE CLOCKWORK THREE, and some of those ideas may show up sometime in a future book.  We writers know how to recycle!

As for Hannah, she came about indirectly.  The characters of Madame Pomeroy and her bodyguard, Yakov, arrived first, though I’m not actually sure where they came from.  Madame Pomeroy’s past is still somewhat of an enigma, even to me, which I love.  But I distinctly saw the two of them in their hotel suite, and then I noticed a maid standing off to one side in a corner, Madame Pomeroy’s personal attendant.  Once I shifted my focus onto her, Hannah and her story became clear.

Of course, realizing that these three characters belonged in the same book took me more time than it should have.  But once I did, and I allowed them to come together, to help one another, their stories fell into place.

One thing I love about these children is how strong and well-defined each of their personalities are. Are you drawn to one more than the others?

I’m glad the characters and their personalities came to life for you, because they did for me.  I feel like I know them.  I’m inspired by Giuseppe’s bravery.  I admire Frederick’s determination.  And I love Hannah’s loyalty.  But each of the three have their flaws as well, and they suffer for them at times throughout the book.

What can you tell us about your next book, ICEFALL?

ICEFALL is a Viking story.  I wanted to write something very different from THE CLOCKWORK THREE, and I think it is.  It’s much more confined, even claustrophobic, and I hope suspenseful.  It’s the story of three royal children who are sent away to a remote fortress for their protection during a time of war.  But as winter sets in, sealing them off from the outside world, they realize that a traitor has been trapped in with them.  Add to that a company of berserker warriors, a Viking storyteller, and a clever raven, and you have ICEFALL.

Now, a few questions to get to know you better.  One sentence answers only…

You got it.

Other than your own, what is your current favorite book?

Since you specified “current” (thanks for that!) I’m able to say OCTAVIAN NOTHING by M.T. Anderson, both volumes together.

What was your favorite book as a child?

A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA by Ursula K. Le Guin, and it still is, in spite of the answer above.

Do you write on a computer or in a notebook?

My handwriting is far too illegible to trust it with my writing.

Favorite place to be creative?

I can daydream anywhere, anytime.  Just ask my friends and family.

Best thing about being a middle-grade author?

My middle-grade readers.

 

Matthew J. Kirby has been making up stories since he was quite small.  He was less small when he decided that he wanted to be a writer, and quite a bit larger when he finally became one.  His father was a doctor in the Navy, so his family moved frequently.  Matthew went to three different elementary schools and three different high schools, and he has lived in Utah, Rhode Island, Maryland, California, and Hawaii, which means that while growing up he met many people, and had many wonderful experiences.  In college, he studied history and psychology, and he decided that he wanted to work with children and write stories for them.  So he became a school psychologist, a job he truly enjoys.  He currently lives in Utah with his wife where he works for a large school district.  You can visit him at his website: www.matthewjkirby.com

 

Jennifer Nielsen lives on the side of a northern Utah mountain with her husband, three children, and a naughty puppy.  She is the author of Elliot and the Goblin War, the forthcoming Elliot and the Pixie Plot (Sourcebooks, August `11), and from Scholastic,The False Prince (April `12).  Learn more about her and her books at www.jennielsen.com

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