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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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  • Four Happy Endings

    Book Lists

    I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for when I began gathering books for this post, so my inner eleven year old took over. I happily wandered down the library aisles until my tote bag was nearly too heavy to lift. Once back home, I stacked up the books and tried to figure out how to make a list from my selections. Initially, I thought I would write about a handful of silly and absurd books, but four realistic stories nabbed my heart instead. I’ll save the silly for another day. Today, I want to share the stories of Callum, Annie, Jason, and Grady. Out of my library day stash, these are the books I connected with, and amazingly enough they also connected to each other. These are stories of bikes, baseball, and birds — lies and secrets — sorrow and friendship. These are tales of kids being brave, learning from mistakes, and reaching beyond themselves.

     

    I’ll begin with Gill Lewis’s debut novel, WILD WINGS, which is set in Scotland. The story begins when Callum and his friends discover Iona, the granddaughter of a much despised villager, fishing barehanded in the river. Even though she is trespassing on his family’s land, Callum sticks up for her. In turn, she shares a secret. For the first time in a hundred years, ospreys are nesting in the mountains. After tragedy strikes, these great birds comfort Callum and connect him to a sickly girl in Gambia. At times this story is both heart wrenching and heart warming. But the adventures aren’t over at the end. Readers can follow the migration pattern of an actual satellite tracked osprey on Ms. Lewis’s blog and relive Callum’s excitement when he tracks his osprey’s journey from Scotland to Gambia and back again.

     

    WING NUT by M.J. Auch is another story of a boy and birds. Twelve year old Grady and his mom have been on the move ever since his dad died. Grady’s main source of comfort is a well-worn copy of The Great Gilly Hopkins. Even though she’s just a made-up character in a book, Grady figures that Gilly had a worse life than he did. Reading her story makes him feel safe, especially when they take off from the Sunward Path Commune in a rusty car held together with duct tape. The car, which isn’t even worth selling for parts, breaks down in rural Pennsylvania. They’re stuck until his mom takes on a job as caretaker for a crotchety old man named Charlie Fernwald. Grady’s mom manages to get vegetables into Mr. Fernwald, and Mr. Fernwald manages to teach Grady a thing or two about mechanics and purple martins. But Grady, like most twelve year old boys, has a mind of his own, and good intentions turn into a bad idea. It takes a lot of forgiveness, understanding, and letting go for this story to come to a happy end. Readers who like this book might also enjoy ONE HANDED CATCH by M.J. Auch.

    FINDING BUCK McHENRY is one of many books penned by Alfred Slote, a prolific author of science fiction and sports stories. Although this particular book was published a decade ago, I believe young readers can still connect to the timeless story. However, you might have to explain a few things first – mainly stationary phones, phone books, and VHS tapes. But there are things that do not change over the years – the despair of being cut from your team, the thrill of discovering a baseball legend, and the angst of discovering how deeply your mistakes hurt others. Like Callum, in WILD WINGS, Jason has to keep a secret, but he’s not very good at it. The assumptions and slips of tongue spin out of control like a bad pitch. Jason learns that mistakes don’t necessarily mean that you’ve ruined everything, but that you do have to try to patch things up. This book is part baseball story and part mystery, but it also includes issues concerning racism, grief, and divorce. Readers will get a glimpse of the days when African-Americans were prohibited from playing major league baseball in the United States. And they’ll see what happens when a girl wants to join a boy’s baseball team. If this is beginning to sound like a made for t.v. movie, you’re right. It is, and it’s still available on DVD or through streaming on Netflix. Readers who like this story may also like Mr. Slote’s book, THE TRADING GAME.

    Being the mother of two sons, it’s no wonder that I gravitate toward boy books. However, the last book on my list, UMBRELLA SUMMER by Lisa Graff, is about Annie Richardson, an adventurous girl who turns into a worry wart after her twelve year old brother suddenly dies from an undiagnosed heart condition. Annie won’t ride her bike unless she’s wearing a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and ankle bandages. She’s stopped eating hotdogs, and there’s no way she’s going to build backyard obstacle courses like she used to. She even swipes a medical book so she can keep ahead of any mysterious symptoms which may befall her. Everyone worries about Annie’s worries. However, she doesn’t become concerned about herself until her best friend’s father describes her with a word taken from his word wall, a giant chalkboard in the kitchen. There’s something about despondent that makes Annie very uncomfortable. Like Grady in WING NUT, Annie also draws comfort from a book, a copy of Charlotte’s Web given to her by a neighbor. This is where she finds a better word to live by. Other books by Lisa Graff include THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF BERNETTA WALLFLOWER amd THE THING ABOUT GEORGIE.

    In each of these four books, at least one character deals with loss and grief, whether it is of a friend, a pet, a sibling, a parent, or a whole family. Also, each of the main characters has a flaw that not only complicates his or her own life, but also causes trouble for those they care about most. Now you might wonder why I would classify stories like these under the title “Happy Endings.” That’s pretty simple to explain. We all make mistakes and we all suffer misfortune, but the right choices afterwards can often transform hurt to happiness.

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