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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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  • In Honor of Mother’s Day: An Interview with Author Barbara Dee on Mother-Daughter Relationships.

    Learning Differences

    I’d like to discuss mother-daughter relationships and middle grade books. And I couldn’t think of a better person to do it than Barbara Dee, the author or numerous praised novels that often explore mother-daughter relationships. Barbara has written on the subject of mother-daughter relationships in middle grade fiction and why it’s so crucial to have those characters in books.

    Hi, Barbara, and welcome to From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. And also congratulations on the release of your newest book, Trauma Queen, which specifically deals with a complex relationship between 13 year-old Marigold who must deal with life in middle school when her flamboyant mother signs up to be the new drama teacher.

    Why did you choose to write make a mother-daughter relationship the central conflict in your book?

    Ask any eleven or twelve year old girl who’s the most influential woman in her life. She’ll probably say her mom—even though some days her mom drives her crazy!

    In the past, you’ve blogged about the lack of mother-daughter relationships. What do you mean by this?

    I’ve been thinking about how in so many of the great MG novels, parents in general—and moms in particular—are either missing (Pippi Longstocking, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Harriet the Spy, all the Nancy Drews, Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events) or tangential (A Wrinkle in Time, The Black Stallion). Of course, there are notable exceptions—for example, the mom of Beezus and Ramona plays a really important role in that series.  

    Why do you think it’s important to have strong, complex mom characters in middle grade fiction?

    Tween readers—and now I’m talking about the older end of the MG spectrum—often start to have complicated feelings about their moms, even when they love their moms very deeply. I think it’s a great thing when readers can relate to a character who’s experiencing the same messy jumble of emotions—love, frustration, admiration and embarrassment. You don’t have to write a heavy book about this topic—I think you can explore these feelings in a way that’s fun and funny.

    Can you discuss the mothers in some middle grade books that you admire? Why do those moms stand out?

    When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead: Miranda’s mom is smart, ambitious and witty, a tiny powerhouse. To earn money for law school, she preps diligently for an appearance on a TV game show. In the meantime she needles her boyfriend and teases her daughter, a sensitive latchkey kid (“Mom hates that expression. She says it reminds her of dungeons. And must have been invented by someone strict and awful with an unlimited childcare budget.”) This is a mom who nags, sometimes has a temper, doesn’t get everything that’s happening to her daughter– but manages to stay close to her, anyway. One of my favorite moms in recent MG fiction.

    The Casson family series (beginning with Saffy’s Angel) by Hilary McKay: Eve Casson is a hoot. She’s clearly a very talented painter, more talented than her pompous, narcissistic husband, Bill.  But she can’t quite cope with her household. Even though this former hippie loves her four children deeply, she uses her painting “shed” as an escape from maternal duties. Somehow you never resent her spaciness, though, maybe because (like the rest of her family) she’s so charming and benevolent.

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: One of my all-time favorite book-moms! Katie Nolan is a tough cookie, sort of a turn-of-the century Tiger Mom. On the one had she’s cranky, strict, prim, and undemonstrative; on the other hand, she’s loyal, loving, and ambitious for her children. When a vagrant attacks her daughter Francie in a dark staircase, Katie shoots the guy dead. You never like Katie, exactly, but you definitely admire her tenacity and her bravery.

    And lastly, what did you learn most from your mom? And you write such vivid portrayals of mothers and daughters.  How much do you pull from your own mothering experiences?

    From my own mom, I learned that parents aren’t perfect, all-knowing wizards–but when they love you and care about you, you’ll grow up just fine. This was a great lesson for me as I raise my own three children—I’m certainly capable of making mistakes, but I think they know I’m doing my best. And incidentally, if you don’t expect perfection of yourself, if you accept your own quirks and failures as a parent, I think it helps your writing!  You’re more comfortable analyzing character, and you’re not squeamish about warts and freckles. To me those flaws are what’s fascinating–I’m not interested in writing about superheroes.

    Though I must say, I’m convinced every mom is a superhero in her own right!

    Thanks so much for speaking with us in honor of Mother’s Day, Barbara!

    Barbara Dee’s newest title for tweens, TRAUMA QUEEN (Aladdin MIX/Simon & Schuster, April 19, 2011), been called “a laugh-out-loud look at family and friendship” (Discovery Girls magazine) and “totally funny, refreshingly realistic” (Girls Life magazine). She is also the author of THIS IS ME FROM NOW ON, SOLVING ZOE (2010 Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year) and JUST ANOTHER DAY IN MY INSANELY REAL LIFE (starred review, Publishers Weekly). She lives with her family in Westchester County, NY. You can visit her on the web at www.BarbaraDeeBooks.com.

     

     

    EXCITING BREAKING NEWS: This season’s winners of the From the Mixed Up Files Skype Tour giveaway will be announced tomorrow, May 5th. Stay tuned, everyone!!!!!

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