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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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  • 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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