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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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  • Interview with Author AJ Paquette

    Interviews, New Releases

    Let me say from the start that the author of NOWHERE GIRL, AJ Paquette, is also my agent. That said, I truly did love this book! It will be released on September 13, 2011, but is available for preorder now.

    NOWHERE GIRL tells the story of a girl named Luchi, born to an American mother and raised in a Thailand prison. After her mother’s untimely death, Luchi is suddenly released into the world, knowing almost nothing of her family’s past. As the daughter of an American, she doesn’t belong to Thailand. But as a girl who knows no other life, she doesn’t belong to America either. She truly is a nowhere girl.

    Now to the interview with AJ Paquette:

     

    In a most wonderful way, NOWHERE GIRL is so different from other books that are out there. Can you tell us a bit about the genesis of this plot? Where did this idea come from?

    At its most basic level, NOWHERE GIRL first grew out of my desire to write a story that was not fantasy-based (as all of my writing up to that point had been). More specifically, the core of the idea came from reading a news article about a young boy who had grown up in a Thai prison alongside his incarcerated mother. The thought both flabbergasted me and got me thinking: How would a child come to be in such a place? And what would his or her life be like? How do you ‘move on’ after something so all-encompassing?

    You write about Thailand as if you know it well. Is that the result of detailed research or have you spent time traveling there?

    I visited Thailand many years ago, and I retain from that time an overall feel for the country and culture. For the specifics and more up-to-date details, though, I did a ton of research: reading non-fiction books and novels set in Thailand, poring over travel guides, and tons of internet research, including watching specific YouTube video clips (for example, ‘motosai ride through downtown Bangkok’; it’s amazing what you can find!). I also had several Thai friends read through the manuscript, and each of them provided me with invaluable feedback on both tone and accuracy.

    One of my favorite things about this book is your use of symbolism, which is woven throughout the book. In particular, Luchi’s comparison of herself to a tree growing outside the prison compound. Is the use of symbolism instinctive to your writing or did you make the active decision to incorporate that for this story?

    You know, it’s a little bit of both. The first line of the story proper (“There’s a tree that grows just outside the prison compound…”) came to me early on in the writing process, and at that point it was little more than a vivid starting image. But the more I wrote on, the more I realized that something about this image captured the heart of the story I wanted to tell, and at that point I went back and more consciously wove the symbolism throughout the story. So, while much of the symbolism’s final application happened in revision, its actual seed was very organic to the story itself and grew and developed right alongside it.

    How do you feel your role as a literary agent has impacted you as an author?

    I think that my work as an agent definitely informs my writing. The greatest effect I’ve seen is that essential step of being able to step back and objectively assess a given project, which is so difficult to do with one’s own work. There comes a point now with each of my writing projects where I have to try and view it from a distance and ask myself, “Is this really any good? What does it need to get it where it needs to be?” The flipside, of course, is that this critical agent’s eye gives me a very hard time while I’m producing those ubiquitous crappy first drafts!

    What can you tell us about any upcoming projects from you?

    I have several new novels in the works, but my next projects to be published are both picture books: Next spring will see the launch of THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO CHASING MERMAIDS (Tanglewood, 2012), a companion to my first picture book, THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING FAIRIES. And the following year I am so excited for the release of a fun, gently spooky picture book: GHOST IN THE HOUSE (Candlewick, 2013).

     

    Jennifer Nielsen is the author of The Underworld Chronicles, with the most recent release of that series, Elliot and the Pixie Plot, now available online or in stores. Learn more about her at www.jennielsen.com.

     

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