• OhMG! News


    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 ...

  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Ruthless Fun With Allan Woodrow

    Learning Differences

    We’re excited to introduce you to a new–and hilarious–chapter book series. Allan Woodrow’s new Zarchary Ruthless stories will delight even the most reluctant readers.

    Zachary would do anything to join the Society Of Utterly Rotten, Beastly And Loathsome Lawbreaking Scoundrels, the world’s most horrible gang of super villains. So when Zachary hears SOURBALLS is looking for someone to join their nefarious gang, he jumps at the chance. Besides, his parents want to send him to Good Samaritan School. Sailing off to the Fortress of Mayhem in SOURBALLS‘ Evil Blimp may be Zachary‘s only chance for a truly rotten life.

    Zachary and his sidekick, Newt, hatch a devious plan. They will turn the mayor into a zombie who obeys their every whim. Unfortunately, zombie lasers are out of Zachary‘s price range. All he can afford is a Box of Rotten: a box filled with rather pedestrian evil goodies such as zucchini-flavored gum, a rubber cockroach, and a jar of boll weevils. But Zachary and Newt are not the only ones itching to get into SOURBALLS. Armed with only their cheap Box of Rotten and a large helping of luck, they have to fight not only to join SOURBALLS, but to survive! Bwa-ha-ha!

    Why is it important for kids to read about rotten characters?

    Kids learn from reading. How can a kid be truly rotten without being exposed to examples of rottenness? Not from our broken school system, where teachers routinely teach about “laws” and “ethics” and other tripe. We’re cranking out goody two-shoe kids at unprecedented rates! Did you know authorities say that truly rotten, evil kids are at their lowest levels in years? Our so-called fair press conveniently glosses over those facts. Sure, there are more partly horrible kids than ever. But truly rotten? Nope. I hope to change that. If I can make just one kid more rotten from reading The Rotten Adventures of Zachary Ruthless, then I feel I’ve done my job.

    Do you have your own zombie laser? If not, can you tell us about one of your rotten pranks?

    Zombie lasers run in the millions of dollars, so while I’ve always coveted one they just aren’t realistic on a middle-grade author’s salary. While I would love to go into detail on a rotten prank that has succeeded, my lawyer recommends I keep my mouth shut, at least until the statute of limitations expires. Ask me again in 2016.

    Zachary buys a Big Box of Rotten. If I were to buy a Big Box of Tips for Writing Humor what would it include? (I think I can scrape up $12.35.)

    The Big Box of Rotten is a pretty miserable set of rotten clearance items, but it’s all Zachary can afford. I’m afraid you $12.35 only buys you Writing Humor scraps, too. So here you go: humor on clearance:

    • Pickles are funny. Cucumbers, less so. That’s because the letter P is the funniest letter in the alphabet. I’m giggling just writing this. P! Hysterical.
    • Kids love slapstick comedy, yet slapping sticks together don’t even make them giggle.
    • It’s really hard to write jokes. But it’s a lot easier to write funny situations. I don’t really write jokes. I just try to think of funny characters and funny situations and the jokes organically erupt. Think of a funny, offbeat character or a funny, offbeat personality quirk. Put him in an odd situation. Like my Uncle Bobby (may he rest in peace), the funny will spontaneously combust.
    • Carrot bread. Marginally funny, but less funny with cream cheese frosting. I’m not sure why.

    I loved the running gag about Zachary’s, um, slightly lacking evil cackle. Have you mastered your own Bwa-ha-ha-ha?

    His cackling problem, unfortunately for him, continues to haunt him in the upcoming sequels. I have a mediocre evil laugh. About a 6 out of 10, with ten the highest. Only the fiendish Mr. Maniacal has ever recorded an official 10 in the evil laugh Olympics. He’s the gold standard. Maybe someday. Sigh.

    Zucchini-flavored gum is funny. What’s the funniest food? Funniest sound? Kitchen appliance? Cartoon character? Book character? What makes a particular word funny?

    Ahhh—too many questions! My head is going to explode!

    Luckily, I have the Encyclopedia of Funny Factoids here in my bookshelf, so I can merely look these up. Unfortunately, it’s the British edition, circa 1948.

    Funniest Food: Bangers and Mash

    Funniest Sound: The Queen’s britches ripping

    Funniest Kitchen Appliance: Fish and chips fryer

    Funniest Cartoon Character: Ally Slooper from Ally Slooper’s Half Holiday

    Funniest Book Character: Miss Havisham

    What makes a word funny: Quoted from the Encyclopedia, page 286: “’Ello, guv’ner. Anything with  “bloody ‘ell” is a hoot and a holler. “I’ll boot you in the bum, now bugger off.” A bit dodgy, no? But “I’ll Bloody ‘ell boot you in the bloody ‘ell bum, now bloody ‘ell bugger off.” Now that’s the dog’s bullocks and Bob’s your Uncle, eh?”

    Does your family think you’re as funny as the stories you write?

    Not at all. In real life I’m a bitter, twisted man who hasn’t smiled since 1989. Just make sure your ball doesn’t land on my yard. I’m keeping it. But I do like to walk around sprouting a fake British accent and using words like dodgy and bugger. They find that hysterical. Go figure.

    I laughed—out loud—on almost every page of THE ROTTEN ADVENTURES OF ZACHARY RUTHLESS.  Which middle-grade books make you laugh?

    If you laughed out loud on almost every page, I hope you were reading at home, and not, say, on the bus. “Mommy, why is that strange person laughing so much?” “Just don’t make eye contact, honey.” For me, a little known series called The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is awesome. I forget who writes them, but you should look it up. Google it. I just finished the Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, which I found hysterically wonderful. Lincoln Pierce, the mind behind Big Nate, is terrific. Going back a little bit, I adored the Lemony Snicket series. Travelling back in time even more, Roald Dahl remains unmatched in brilliant kid satire. Very recently, there’s this Allan Woodrow guy. Watch out for him. He’s an up and comer.

    Growing up, Allan Woodrow was cursed with a boring, happy and loving family, giving him nothing interesting to write about. He resented it for years. Eventually, a voice inside his head convinced Allan to write children’s books. At least that’s what he thinks the voice said; it was muffled because Allan had a bad cold. Regardless, The Rotten Adventures of Zachary Ruthless (HarperCollins Children’s) is his debut novel. It released in Spring, 2011, with additional Adventures launching every six months. Allan lives in the Chicago area with his wife, kids and two goldfish. The goldfish are particularly nasty.

    Links to more rotten fun:

    Book web site: evilbadguystuff.com

    My site: allanwoodrow.com

    My blog: http://woodrowbooks.wordpress.com/

    Become a fan of Zachary Ruthless on Facebook

    Please leave a comment to enter to win your own copy THE ROTTEN ADVENTURES OF ZACHARY RUTHLESS!

    (Open to fans of humor anywhere in the world.)

    Sydney Salter is the author of JUNGLE CROSSING, a middle-grade novel that sadly lacks zombie lasers, boll weevils, or zucchini-flavored gum, but does include crocodiles, jaguars and Mayan warriors.

    Comments Off