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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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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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