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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,


    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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A Mischief of Mice Stories

Learning Differences

What do you call a group of mice? A mischief, of course. What better word could describe furry little creatures whose main activities include foraging for food and dodging cats? After reading the books on this list, you may conclude that words like courageous, clever, loyal, and inventive also apply.

When you think of mouse stories, the first book to pop into your mind might be the best-loved classic,  STUART LITTLE, by E. B. White.

Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he’s shy and thoughtful, he’s also a true lover of adventure.

Stuart’s greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the very first time in his life. (Description courtesy of IndieBound)


Maybe your favorite mouse tale is Kate DiCamillo’s Newbery award winning, DESPEREAUX.

Despereaux is very different from all the other mice in the castle. He is romantic and heroic. He even falls in love with the princess and is banished to the dungeon by his father. This award-winning novel follows the mouse’s adventures in his search for love and acceptance. (Description courtesy of IndieBound.)



Or perhaps, if your house is like mine, you have a towering stack of Scholastic’s popular GERONIMO STILTON books.


Although these were the first mouse books I thought of while preparing this post, I would also like to share some newer mousy finds, including a fast-paced mystery series and three recent releases.

Let’s begin with the SPY MOUSE series written by Heather Vogel Frederick and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport. These books are the next step up for Geronimo Stilton fans.

The first book in the series, THE BLACK PAW, opens with fifth grader, Oz Levinson trying to dodge the bullies he calls sharks during a school field trip at the museum. After slipping past his tormentors, Oz rests by the stairs. His pity party is soon interrupted by a skateboarding mouse named Glory Goldenleaf.

Glory has troubles of her own. When the Spy Mice Agency director finds out about her encounter with a human, he gives Glory one last chance to hang on to the field agent job she’s worked so hard for. But her last chance doesn’t last long after she lets a weapon fall into the hands of evil rat, Roquefort Dupont.

Soon the lives of Oz, his new friend D.B.(another victim of the sharks), and Glory are entwined. Oz hopes he can live up to the reputation of his hero, James Bond, when it’s a showdown between good and evil at a Halloween party at the museum.


The second book in the series is FOR YOUR PAWS ONLY.

Just when Glory Mouse, private eye, and Oz Levinson, fifth grade sleuth, think the evil rats have lost, it’s time to get back to the race…. On a fifth grade trip to New York City, Oz, Glory, and the spy gang discover that the Big Apple is swarming with rats…RATS WHO CAN READ! And if they don’t think fast, Glory will be mousemeat pie just in time for Thanksgiving.

(Description courtesy of IndieBound)


The excitement continues with GOLDWHISKERS, the third book in the series.

Winter break is off to an exciting start with Oz and D. B. jetting off to London for Oz’s mom’s opera premiere. And Glory Goldenleaf, private eye, comes along for a pleasure trip. But this jolly holiday winds up being anything but when Goldwhiskers, the richest rat in the entire world, is discovered enslaving the orphan mice of Great Britain to do his thievery. And when the Crown Jewels are stolen, Oz, D. B., and Glory are in store for a James-Bond-meets-Scotland-Yard kind of mission the likes of which the spy world has never seen!

(Description courtesy of IndieBound)


Spies aside, the next three books have all been released within the last year. These are sweeter, softer stories than the SPY MICE series, but they are still tales of extreme bravery and adventure.

If you liked DiCamillo’s Despereaux, you may also enjoy Newbery medalist, Cynthia Voigt’s YOUNG FREDLE. Like Despereaux, Fredle (rhymes with metal) is cast out or pushed to went by his family. That’s what happens to weak and injured mice. But when Fredle is left on the pantry floor for Missus or worst yet – the cat – to find, he isn’t deathly ill. He only has a stomach ache brought on by nibbling on a Peppermint Pattie.

Mercifully, Missus decides to sweep Fredle up in the dustpan and deposit him Outside. It’s in the frightening and delightful Outside, that Fredle learns a thing or two about friendship, freedom, and the meaning of home as he struggles to find his way back to his mouse hole.

The story is accompanied by the delightful drawings of Louise Yates.


In a NEST FOR CELESTE, A Story about Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of  Home, author and illustrator, Henry Cole spins the tale of a basket weaving mouse living at Oakley Plantation where John James Audubon and his teen-aged assistant, Joseph Mason, are visiting in 1821.

Joseph adopts Celeste as a pet, but when she strays outside and gets lost Celeste must summon up every bit of wit and courage to get back home. Once she’s home, the little mouse must find a way to keep Audubon from hurting the creatures he admiringly draws. In case you weren’t aware, Audubon had a habit of shooting and pinning down the birds so he could sketch them in ironically life-like poses.

One of the Celeste’s friends is Lafayette, an osprey. Cole gives us a fictional account of  how that friendship might have inspired Audubon’s famous Osprey and Weakfish painting.

The whimsically detailed illustrations, some taking up a full page spread, make this book an excellent choice in historical fiction for the younger middle grade reader. If you are a teacher, librarian, or home school mom planning a program or unit study, A Nest for Celeste, would work well with other books and activities about Audubon, birds, and nature study.


I’ll bring this list to a close with BLESS THIS MOUSE by two time Newbery medalist, Lois Lowry. Lowry brings us the heart warming tale of Hildegarde, Mouse Mistress of Saint Bartholomew’s. It’s Hildegarde’s job to keep the mice safe, but due to a bit of rodent indiscretion Father Murphy has called the exterminator. The mice are faced with two life threatening challenges – the Big X and the prospect of the church being filled with cats if rain prevents the Blessing of the Animals service from being held outdoors. This tale of forgiveness and bravery is charmingly illustrated by Caldecott winner, Eric Rohmann. Note: Some reviews classify this as a Christian story which may cause those of other faiths to shy away from it. Although, the action takes place in a Catholic church, there is no overt religious message. Some of the terms, such as sacristy and vestments, might be unfamiliar, but it’s an excellent opportunity to learn about other traditions.

There’s plenty to squeak about on this list and a lot of good stories to nibble on. Choose your favorites, cuddle up in your most comfortable mouse hole, and read.

Discover more about Lill Pluta’s home schooling and writing adventures on her blog, On My Toes.

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