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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 “Water Balloon” author, Audrey Vernick

    Interviews

    WATER BALLOON is a wonderful coming-of-age story about 13-year-old Marley Baird who finds the easy life of her childhood is slipping away. With the pending divorce of her parents, a tough summer job, strained relationships with her two closest friends, and a summer with a father who struggles to relate to her, Marley feels “stretched as tightly as an overfull water balloon.” With her world quickly changing and a budding first love in the picture, Marley must reach deep inside to let go of the past and embrace her future.

    Kirkus wrote, “Preteen female readers will eat this up and learn a wise and wistful thing or two about friendships.”

    From the Mixed-Up Files is thrilled to present an interview with the author of WATER BALLOON, Audrey Vernick. Learn more about her at www.audreyvernick.com

     

    Audrey, thank you for visiting with us! You’ve been very successful as a picture book writer and non-fiction writer. What made you decide to step into middle grade novels?

    I wrote the first draft of WATER BALLOON years before I wrote any of the picture books I’ve published recently. At the time I had co-written one picture book that was published by a small press. I had also published about a dozen short stories (for adults) in literary magazines. I was taking the turn from literary short fiction to children’s, and I believed the best way to find representation was to write a novel.

    When I started the book that ultimately became WATER BALLOON, I believed I was writing a young adult novel. It took a long time and a few readers to make me realize I was treading in the waters of upper middle grade.

    I love middle-grade fiction—from that first proud stride out of chapter book terrain all the way through that final stepping stone into YA. I think it’s the most delicious and profound territory there is.

    One thing I really liked about WATER BALLOON is how true to life it reads. I think a lot of girls will be able to see their own lives in many of Marley’s experiences. Did any of her story come from your growing up years?

    None of the plot came from my growing up years, but probably all of the emotion did. I remember feeling traumatized when friends treated me and each other terribly. I felt everything deeply, wholly. I think the same could be said for Marley.

    Marley learns a lot over the summer, about friendship, boys and first loves, and her own father. But her greatest lessons are the things she learns about herself. Not only her strengths, but also her weaknesses and vulnerabilities. As an author, was it ever difficult to let those lessons unfold naturally for her, knowing how tough the consequences might be?

    I am terrible at letting my characters suffer. I know, as a writer, that it’s necessary, but that doesn’t mean it comes easily. In earlier drafts, I protected Marley from almost every bad thing that happens. Draft by draft, I layered in some of the harder stuff. I had to ease myself into it—slowly, gently, bit by bit.

    What do you hope young readers will take away from this story?

    I hope they will find, in Marley, a character they feel they know, care about, think about, and feel close to. A literary friend.

    Finally, I know you have a lot of other literary gems still to come. Can you give us any hints at what we’ll see from you next?

    In 2012, I have two picture books coming out. SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK STAR, illustrated by Kirstie Edmunds, a guide to finding your inner rock star, will be out in late February. In April, BROTHERS AT BAT: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMAZING ALL-BROTHER BASEBALL TEAM, illustrated by Steven Salerno, will hit the shelves.

    Both were probably the most challenging texts I’ve written, in terms of illustration. ROCK STAR is a direct-address text intended to encourage reader participation. BROTHERS AT BAT features twelve main characters. Both illustrators rose to and beyond the challenge in unexpected and amazing ways.

     

    Jennifer Nielsen’s most recent release is “Elliot and the Pixie Plot” (Sourcebooks), and she will soon release “The False Prince” (Scholastic). Learn more about her at www.jennielsen.com

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