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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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  • The Invincibles!

    Learning Differences

    Today on the Mixed up Files of Middle Grade Authors I am delighted to share with you my love of invincible characters. When I was six or seven years old I remember I had devised an alter ego with the name Strong Wax. Strong Wax, as I recall, didn’t have a list of magical powers. No flying, no mind reading, no invisibility tricks. The one characteristic that he had was that he could hammer out several karate kicks in a quick succession. Strong Wax could take anything: A sword straight through the gullet, a death curse, a deadly crash, a plummet into a ravine. Strong Wax was INVINCIBLE! I was INVINCIBLE! And I liked books with daunting tasks and characters that would have to endure until the very end of their rope before rescue. In short, I liked characters who were equally invincible. However beyond that, the invincible characters that I liked the most were ones that I could relate to, and generally speaking, there were three different characteristics that made them relatable:

     

    1) They were from a common upbringing. Like me, and many of us, they had a pretty ordinary life.  Then the “gauntlet was cast!”

     

    2) They always had a noble cause, something more important than bodily survival. As a child I had a keen desire for seeking truth, glory, honor, love. Sure, I was a bit of a romantic, a bit dramatic, but these big things were worth sticking your neck out for.

     

    3) They were invincible without being superheroes. I love Superheroes, BUT, I also love the strength of will and the human spirit in ordinary people. No magic, no strings, just true grit. I believed we, normal everyday people, could do ANYTHING(And I still hang on to that today!).

     


    One of my favorite fictional “invincibles”, who I find myself cheering for again and again, is from The Princess Bride. (Not specifically dubbed as a middle grade, though I have LOADS of 8-10 year olds devour it!) Now, you may think I am going to say Wesley, the simple farm boy, who basically dies and is brought back to life by a magic pill. Indeed, he definitely fits the rule of three above, but the character I love just a little bit more is the famed Inigo Montoya. Let’s take a closer look at how he fits the characteristics above.

     

    1) First, Inigo is from a common upbringing. His father is a sword maker, a craftsman. Inigo grows up a peasant.

     

    2) Second, there is a noble cause at hand. In The Princess Bride, there is a vivid scene of Inigo’s father being killed by the evil Count. The Count, after waiting quite some time for the sword that Inigo’s father is making for him, questions the swords worth and a dual ensues. Inigo must avenge his father. His noble cause is love and vanquishing of evil.

     

    3) Third, Inigo is no superhero. He has no magic powers, just years of training and an iron will. During the finale, Inigo gets a dagger to his stomach and essentially has to hold his “innards” inside himself as he pursues the Count, rallying with, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” It is barely believable but given the thoughts in his head, incremental pursuit and, of course, his exceptional training over the years, it stands its ground in plausibility.

     

    What “invincible” do you find yourself cheering for time after time? Do they fit the rule of three?

     

    Erin E. Moulton graduated with an MFA in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of Flutter: The Story of Four Sisters and One Incredible Journey, published yesterday, May 12th! (Be sure to drop by on May 19th to see an interview and possibly win a free copy of FLUTTER!) Erin is co-founder of the Kinship Writers Association and when she is not writing she works at Springboard After School with lots of silly kids and a bearded dragon named Puff.  Erin lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband and puppy where she writes, reads, drinks tea and dreams.  You can visit her online at www.erinemoulton.com

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