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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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Vanished – Release interview and giveaway

Learning Differences

Welcome! We’re excited to celebrate the book release of one of our own members.

Sheela Chari’s VANISHED (Disney•Hyperion) launches today!

Publishers Weekly describes VANISHED as an “enthralling mystery,” and Kirkus Reviews writes, “Chari…strikes the right note with this engaging, intricate story that spans generations and two countries.”

To help celebrate her release, we asked Sheela to stop by to chat with us about VANISHED. To top of our interview, Sheela will be offering up a brand-new, signed copy of VANISHED to one lucky commenter. A winner will be selected at random and announced Thursday, July 28.

Here’s a little about VANISHED (description from publisher):

Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument used to be her grandmother’s—made of warm, rich wood, and intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.

When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, Neela is devastated. As she searches for it, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar-looking dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela’s instrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing.

If she is able to track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?


If you like mysteries and Boston, and reading about an instrument from another musical tradition, we hope this book will make an enjoyable read for the last days of summer!

And now, let’s turn to Sheela.

Welcome, Sheela! Since the inception of The Mixed-Up Files, you and Brian Kell have been doing the New Releases every month. How does it feel to be a “New Releases” today?

On alternating months, Brian and I take turns rounding up the middle grade titles releasing during that month. I’ve been doing it for a little over a year, and now not only do I recognize some of the “regulars,” but I discover some debut authors along the way, too. It’s been eye-opening – sometimes I spot trends, or a book I think that’s going to touch lives. Regardless if the book is literary or commercial, a boy book or girl – whatever it is – all these books seem to have a special sheen. And maybe I feel that way because my book is releasing this year. I know all the work that goes into producing a finished book – not just the revisions and deadlines, but the hope that an author puts into his or her work. It’s a piece of ourselves out there. So being a New Release? It’s a very big honor for me.

Why did you decide to make VANISHED for middle grade readers?

I don’t think I ever chose to be a middle grade writer. But I wrote VANISHED for my niece, who was eight years old at the time. I fitted the book to suit her reading level. But the funny thing I discovered while writing was that I liked writing middle grade. It’s kind of like singing in a choir and discovering your range. Just like some people are sopranos or altos, my writing voice seems to fall in the MG register. When you find your natural voice, you’ll discover it’s so much easier to tell a story.

Can you share an excerpt from the book that gives us a flavor of your character’s voice? How did you find your character’s voice?

Well, here’s a little secret. The voice of my character is really the voice of me. Or maybe an eleven-year old version of myself. I found my character’s voice by letting myself be myself on the page. Except that I also gave Neela, the main character, the kind of traits I wanted to have at that age (and still do): a little boldness, a little humility, and a sense of humor.

This is an excerpt of Neela listening to her teacher, playing the veena, the instrument featured in the novel:

As Neela watched, she was struck by something strange and lovely in her teacher’s face  — a kind of glow, as if she were lit from within. How was it that her teacher, who normally looked like a dried-up piece of fruit, cold look suddenly almost…beautiful? Play for yourself and it will come beautifully. Her grandmother’s words returned to Neela. Was that it? Would it ever come beautifully for her?

Musician, Jayanthi Kumaresh, with her veena.

I like this passage because not only does it reveal Neela’s character, but it brings up the other mystery that’s at the heart of the novel – how does one become a real musician? It’s a question Neela needs to answer if she has to learn to face her stage fright and play in front of others.



Who is your cover artist? Is the character in the illustration as you imagined her?

I have to say that I LOVE my cover. The artist’s name is Jon Klassen, who is an animator by training among other things (he did some of the stop animation work for the movie, Coraline), as well as a children’s illustrator. The cover did go through some changes from the first one I saw. The original was set during the day, with a country side background, and the girl was shown with shoulder-length hair. I asked for the girl to have a ponytail, because I thought Neela’s long hair was an important part of her cultural identity. Jon added a city skyline to give a sense of the urban architecture of Chennai, the place where the train station resides. And he changed the scene from day to night, because it was felt this would convey a greater sense of mystery.

What I love most about the cover is that the main character on the front seems not someone distinctly Indian or American, but a girl who could be from anywhere in the world. The universality of her was something I felt strongly about throughout the writing of the novel. I didn’t set out to write a multicultural book -  I wanted to write a mystery that anyone might be able to relate to. That Jon picked up on that, either deliberately or intuitively, made me feel so lucky. It’s like the story and the cover complement each other perfectly. I hope others feel the same way too when they read the book.

Congratulations, and thanks for stopping by, Sheela! VANISHED is available in stores starting today!

If you want to learn more about Sheela Chari or her work, check out her web site at: www.sheelachari.com. Sheela is available for school and library visits, and will be hopping on the Mixed-Up Middle Grade Skype Tour this winter, to do a virtual visit to one of your classrooms, libraries, or book clubs!


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