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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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Books on The Craft of Writing

Learning Differences

When I asked my fellow bloggers here at From the Mixed-Up Files what their favorite craft of writing books are, they couldn’t wait to tell me. Many of us admit we’re craft book junkies and our recommendations are wide and varied. How-to books on writing are great for guiding us, inspiring us, and teaching us different techniques for making our novels better.

Here are some great suggestions for books on writing technique:

Karen Schwartz –  I love Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT: THE LAST BOOK ON SCREENWRITING YOU’LL EVER NEED. It applies equally well to novels and helped me so much with plotting my middle-grade novels. I write contemporary realistic, all character-driven, so I needed a solid structure for my characters to play around in.

Tracy Abell – The book that helped me make the biggest leap in my writing was SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Renni Browne and Dave King. The
editor-authors address the basics of fiction writing – show and tell,  point of view, dialogue, proportion -  with specific examples. Each chapter ends with a checklist for your work-in-progress and exercises that allow you to practice what you’ve learned.  I had many aha moments when reading this book and, as a result, eliminated many amateur writing mistakes.

Wendy Martin – My go to book is PICTURE THIS: HOW PICTURES WORK by Molly Bang, mainly because I’m an illustrator first and an author second. I think
visually even when writing middle-grade.


Sarah Aronson – WRITING STORIES, by Carolyn Coman. I’m using it now in my writers class. Fantastic and encouraging.

Sayantani – Cheryl Klein’s book SECOND SIGHT is a fantastic book on not just craft but craft for children’s novelists.

Wendy Shang – I have to second Sayantani’s recommendation of Cheryl Klein’s book, SECOND SIGHT.  I would say this is a book for more someone who has been writing for a while, particularly middle-grade or YA.  Ms. Klein really takes the reader deep into the editing process, showing us how to think more deeply about character, plot and structure.  It is quite often the case that while I am reading Ms. Klein’s book, I will find new inspiration or insight for my own manuscript, and then I am torn between finishing the chapter and running off to write.

Kimberley Griffiths Little – ANY book by Donald Maass is absolutely brilliant on how to write well, particularly THE FIRE IN FICTION and WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL.

For inspiration, try some of these:

Laurie Schneider – I love reading about the nuts and bolts of writing, but sometimes what I need is a wrench. Writing can be lonely and hard. When
I’m feeling grumpy and uninspired I like to flip open Jane Yolen’s TAKE JOY, A WRITER’S GUIDE TO LOVING THE CRAFT. Even the cover, designed to look like a slice of watermelon, cheers me up.

Kimberley Griffiths Little – My writing and self-confidence went through a particularly rough period when, after selling and publishing three books with my agent of 10 years, we parted ways due to my agent’s change of focus to adult novels only. During the last few years with the agent and for another 4 years beyond “the parting”, 8 years went by without a book sale. I continued writing like crazy, subbing on my own, querying agents, and getting nothing but rejections. I truly wondered if my career was done. Then I found this book: THE WRITER’S BOOK OF HOPE, Getting From Frustration to Publication by Ralph Keyes. It was invaluable, kept me off the ledge of insanity, and it was a great read, too.

Diana Greenwood – Everything that Kimberley said and I will add THE COURAGE TO WRITE, also by Ralph Keyes. I recommend his book when I do presentations, particularly the passages/chapters about fear. I also heard him speak a few years back and he is just as inspiring in person as he is in print. His advice applies to writers of all genres.

Sarah Aronson – FROM WHERE WE DREAM, especially the chapters on Yearning and Cinema of the Mind, by Robert Olen Butler.

Tracy Abell - I’d like to make a plug for THE POCKET MUSE: Ideas and Inspiration for Writing by Monica Wood. This is one of those books I keep at my writing space so I can flip to a page that will either trigger a new idea or inspire me to keep writing. The black and white photos get my brain working in new ways and help me think outside that metaphorical box.

Amie Borst – For me, I found Stephen King’s ON WRITING helpful in his typical arrogant form.

Sayantani – I actually like teaching my fiction writing class with Alice LePlante’s THE MAKING OF A STORY which is a fantastic craft book with short stories, examples (not children’s necessarily) Someone mentioned Stephen King’s ON WRITING, I also like, for inspiration, E.M. Forster’s ASPECTS OF THE NOVEL, Italo Calvino’s THE USES OF LITERATURE, and Umberto Eco’s ON LITERATURE.

Once you’ve finished writing your novel and it’s all polished and shiny, you might want to think about publishing it. I have a couple of recommendations for books to help you figure out where to send your manuscript.

To get all the information you could ever want about the complex world of the children’s publishing industry, get your hands on a copy of Harold Underdown’s THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING CHILDREN’S BOOKS. Writers and illustrators can find inspiration and information including the “rules” for finding an agent, getting a contract from a publisher, and even what happens after your book has sold.

Finding the right agent or the right publishing house is daunting, to say the least. But Alice Pope’s book, CHILDREN’S WRITER’S AND ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET which is updated every year can help. The 2011 CWIM offers more than 650 listings for book publishers, magazines, agents, art reps and more.

These are just a few of our favorites. We’d love to hear your recommendations. Please share!


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