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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 Absolute Value of Kathy Erskine

    Learning Differences

    We are delighted to welcome Kathy Erskine, National Book Award-winning author of MOCKINGBIRD, to the Files today. Kathy has a brand-spankin’ new book out called THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF MIKE. When math-challenged Mike is sent by his father to live with relatives so he can add an engineering project to his academic resume, Mike discovers his true strengths and abilities in a town just teeming with odd characters.  It’s a funny book with a serious message.  Kathy was kind enough to sit down with us for a few minutes to talk about her award, her new book and the writing life.

    What has been the most unexpected experience or moment resulting from the National Book Award?
    Wow, there have been many lovely moments — getting to meet the other finalists at the National Book Award events, being invited to Wisconsin where they had a whole school unit and community event around Mockingbird and autism, being asked to judge contests, doing talks and school visits in Guam — it has all been fabulous. I guess I’d have to say the most unexpected delight is being invited to join the faculty this summer at the Highlights Writers Workshop at Chautauqua. I attended seven years ago and thought, hoped, dreamed about coming back some day as a published author.

    Wow, what a seven years it’s been! What was the inspiration for your new book, THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF MIKE?

    I’ve seen too many kids down on themselves because they have some kind of learning disability. Often, these kids don’t perform well in school because standard school doesn’t play to their strengths. It may be years before they see how valuable they really are. I wanted to write something for them, to give them hope and encouragement. They will succeed at LIFE which is more important than school.

    I love that message! Can you talk about the writing process behind this book? I’ve read that MOCKINGBIRD just poured out of you – was it a similar experience for THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF MIKE? Are you a plotter or a plunger?

    I’m a plunger. And sometimes I plunge in several times and come out with multiple versions. The Absolute Value of Mike took more time and revisions than Mockingbird. Partly, I think it’s where you are at the time, and what’s happening, that dictates the ease at which a particular book can be written. And, I started it as a very light-hearted book and decided that I really wanted it to have more substance — humor, but still something weighty behind it — so it took a while to get it right.

    When I read MOCKINGBIRD, I was really struck by your ability to create humorous moments in the middle of some fairly painful scenes, and in THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF MIKE, I thought you created the opposite effect – there are some very difficult moments for the character in a pretty crazy situation. Do you think it is more challenging to “write funny” or “write serious”?

    I think it’s harder to “write funny.” One reason is that most of us can agree on what’s sad but we all have a slightly different sense of humor (you don’t hear about different “senses of sadness,” right?). One person will think slapstick or farting is funny but another person won’t. Also, it seems easier to describe something that’s sad than a funny or silly situation — although I try! I love humor and I think it’s almost as important as breathing, so I like to use humor in my books.

    What advice do you have for young writers?

    You probably get tired of hearing this but . . . read lots, write lots. Also, take a class if you’re interested. Share your stories with friends or even create your own writing group. That’s what Wendy and I do — we share our stories to get feedback from others, and we read theirs and give our comments. Be brave and submit your work to magazines like New Moon, http://www.newmoon.com/ (girls only, I’m afraid) and Stone Soup, http://www.stonesoup.com/ (can’t be older than 13), or online writing sites like Figment, http://figment.com/(must to be 13 or older for this one). Above all, keep writing!

    And now for a little fun…the Inside the Actor’s Studio Questionnaire (Middle-Grade Style!)

    What is your favorite word in a middle grade book? Wool Pooh. (The Watsons go to Birmingham, 1963, Christopher Paul Curtis)

    What is your least favorite word in a middle grade book? Snot (especially green).

    What turns you on in a middle grade book? Humor.

    What turns you off in a middle grade book? Kids who are too adult to be believable.

    What sound or noise do you love in a middle grade book? Laughter.

    What sound or noise do you hate in a middle grade book? Excessive whining.

    What is your favorite curse word in a middle grade book? Corpus bones!

    What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Research scientist.

    What profession would you not like to do? Telemarketer.

    If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? We have chocolate!

    Oh yes, pass the chocolate, please!  Thank you, Kathy! If you’d like to win an ARC of The Absolute Value of Mike, tell us what you absolutely value in the comments below. You may receive extra drawings for re-posting or Twittering; please note that in separate comments. This contest is open only to mailing addresses in the U.S. or Canada. And don’t forget that this is the last day to enter the Mixed-Up Files anniversary giveaway. Both winners will be announced tomorrow!

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