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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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WARNING! Another Author Interview and Give-away!!!

Learning Differences

Hi Readers and Writers!  

Are you looking for inspiration? Writing tips? A review? Are you looking for almost anything BUT another author interview? Are you at this moment wondering: what a drag. Do I really need to read this to win the prize that will ultimately be offered at the bottom?

This is Charlie Joe Jackson.

And this is what he says:


I’m not going to read it.


Sarah: But Charlie Joe, if the people post a comment, they could win a copy of the book, CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’s Guide to NOT Reading by Tommy Greenwald!


CHARLIE JOE:  Please don’t ask me what I think about contests with books for prizes. Sadly, I know there is nothing I can say to stop you. It’s a fact that some people think a book makes a great prize, so that settles that.


But if I wanted that book—maybe to give to a friend—I’d just scroll down to the bottom and post a comment. Without reading another word.


Sarah: Maybe it would make it more interesting for you if you answered the questions, too.


CHARLIE JOE: Me? With him?


TOMMY: Me? With him?


Sarah: Sure. Why not? Maybe you two can keep each other honest.


CHARLIE JOE: OKAY.  But if someone doesn’t want to read this entirely too long interview, tell them that they can still scroll down, leave a comment and win?


Sarah: That’s right. They can. Don’t say that so loud. First I need to introduce Tommy. Or do you want this to get longer?


CHARLIE JOE  (silent)


Sarah: Then it’s my honor to welcome Tommy Greenwald.

Here he is:





And here are the FAQ’s:


CHARLIE JOE: (You should totally skip this.)


Tommy Greenwald is the Executive Creative Director at Spotco, a theatrical advertising agency based in New York. He is also the author of JOHN & JEN, a musical which was produced off-Broadway in 1995 and continues to be done around the country and abroad. He and his wife Cathy have three sons – Charlie, Joe and Jack – all of whom hated to read growing up. They hate it slightly less now. CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO NOT READING is his first novel. Read more than you would ever want to know about Tommy at tommygreenwald.com.


This is the cover of the book:







Sarah: Hi Tommy! Welcome to the Mixed Up Files blog. Let’s start at the beginning: What inspired you to start writing?

TOMMY: My kids, Charlie, Joe and Jack, all hated to read while they were growing up. I wanted to write a book for kids like them.

CHARLIE JOE: To help kids avoid reading. Isn’t that kind of obvious by the title?

 Sarah: Were you a reader growing up? If so, what was your favorite book?

TOMMY: I loved to read growing up. I think my favorite book growing up was probably THE CATCHER WITH THE GLASS ARM, by Matt Christopher.

CHARLIE JOE: Well, for one thing, I’m still growing up. And for another thing, my favorite book is one that’s closed.

Sarah: What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

TOMMY: My favorite part of writing is finishing. My least favorite is starting.

CHARLIE JOE: What he said.

Sarah: What do you like to do when you are not writing? (Remember: keep it pg)

TOMMY: Play with my dogs, watch TV, hang with my wife and kids, eat chocolate.

Sarah: (Cool! I do almost all of that, too!)

CHARLIE JOE: Think about Hannah Spivero. That’s actually a full-time job.

Sarah: Charlie Joe (Charlie, don’t get a big head) is funny. He’s got a great voice. And I love how he talks directly to the reader. Were you the class clown? Can you share a particularly embarrassing moment from your childhood?

 TOMMY: I was kind of a wise guy, yeah.  i remember once i was fooling around with my friend’s umbrella and it opened right in the middle of class. And it wasn’t raining in our classroom.

CHARLIE JOE: Was, is, and always will be the class clown.

 Sarah: These tips for not reading . . . Some of them are reverse psychology, but others could go in a writer’s craft book. Can you name some that are important to you as a writer? Will you follow any of these criteria in your next book?

TOMMY: I do strongly believe in not reading books by authors whose names i can’t pronounce.

CHARLIE JOE: They’re more than just non-reading tips. They’re the keys to a happy life.

Sarah: I laughed out loud a lot, but as a writer, no more than on page 174. (I’ll quote.) Can you tell us more about this phenomena? When you first set out to write this book, did you envision this? What were some of the surprises along the way?

 TOMMY: My plan all along was to trick kids into reading an actual book book. With story, characters, the whole nine yards. I figured if i was going to do that, i had to confess i was doing it along the way.

CHARLIE JOE: I still feel bad about how the book turned out. I hope people don’t hold it against me.

 Sarah: We won’t! So let’s get to some more important stuff. Who was your favorite Beatle? Favorite song?

TOMMY: John. And too many favorites to count. Gun to my head? I”‘ve Got A Feeling.” Runner up: “Slow Down.”

CHARLIE JOE: I love Ringo because it feels like he doesn’t read that much. I don’t have a favorite, but my least favorite song is definitely “Paperback Writer.”

Sarah: What is your next book? Anything in the works?

 TOMMY: The next book in the series, CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO EXTRA CREDIT, comes out next summer.

Woohoo!!!! (That’s Sarah)

CHARLIE JOE: Don’t ask, it makes me too depressed.

Sarah: So that’s it. Readers: Whether you read every word or scrolled to the bottom faster than I can say George was my favorite Beatle, leave your name and a tip of your own for getting out of a stinky assignment. Or you could suggest books that Charlie Joe might like reading. Or recommend a movie. I like going to the movies. Obviously, so does Tommy. And I bet Charlie Joe does, too. If you like movies, you can check out the trailer here.

THANKS for coming to the Mixed Up Files blog, Tommy and Charlie Joe!!!  Teachers and parents with reluctant readers…or kids who need to read and laugh at the same time, check out



Sarah Aronson was a reluctant reader. As a kid, she had to be paid to read. Now she teaches writing (Sorry, Charlie Joe), writes books, and reads at least one entire novel a week. 


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