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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:
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    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.
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    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

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    Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
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    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:
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    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

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    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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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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