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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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  • Here There Be Dragons

    Book Lists

    Years ago, while working for Calgary Public Library, I was assigned the task of creating a dragon booklist for children and teens. It was a perfect fit because I loved reading and then recommending books with dragons in them. All these many (and many) years later I still love dragons in books and now there’s even more out there. Following is a list of some of my favorites for recommending to middle grade readers.

    Susan Fletcher’s Dragon’s Milk made my list all those years ago and now there are three more in the series.

    From Indie Bound “You must go to the dragon. You must leave tonight.” Before she even hears the words, Kaeldra already knows she must find the mother dragon whose draclings have just hatched and get some of the precious milk in order to save her foster sister’s life. Since Kaeldra can communicate with dragons, she is the only one who can accomplish the task. And so she begins a journey that will entwine her fate with that of three little draclings and one would-be dragonslayer—a journey that will become a struggle for life.

    Also on that years ago list was Patricia C. Wrede’s, Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Dealing With Dragons. It’s filled with fantastic imagination and humor. A rebel princess who makes a great cherries jubilee and the dragon who loves her for it. From Indie Bound: Cimorene is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart. . . .And bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon . . . and finds the family and excitement she’s been looking for.

    A series new to me and much loved by the boys of my book club is Chris D’Lacy’s The Last Dragon Chronicles.

    The Fire Within is the first in the series. From Indie Bound: When David moves in with Liz and Lucy, he discovers a collection of hand crafted, clay dragons that comes to life and has magical powers. David’s personalized dragon, Gadzooks, can forecast the future, and inspires him to write a story which reveals the truth behind an unsolved mystery close to home. The story has an unhappy ending, and when David realizes the consequences of it he is angry. Then David finds Gadzooks crying and near death, and he discovers that these special dragons die when they are not loved. Soon David is forced to save his friend and unlock the powers of the fire within.

    Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine is a recent favorite of mine.

    From Indie Bound: “Fourteen-year-old Elodie leaves the family farm to gain an apprenticeship in the bustling city of Two Castles. Her parents tell her to apprentice to a weaver, but she wants to act. But by the end of her first day, she has been robbed by a cat, run into a shape-shifting ogre, and becomes an apprentice — to adragon! Levine turns fantasy conventions upside down in this surprising, charming, and fun tale, and, like Elodie, the reader finds that good and evil are sometimes not easy to tell apart, and that both friends and enemies can come in every shape and size.”

    Of course, this particular book list wouldn’t be complete without the hilarious and history twisting How to Train a Dragon by Cressida Cowell.

    I don’t limit my recommends to fiction, of course. Can’t be leaving out non-fiction. (yes, I said non-fiction, because really, how do we know they aren’t real and just hiding from us?) The Dragonolgy series works for the middle grader who loves to pour over maps, letters, journal entries and study the world of dragons.

     

     

    Here are some more great reads to help grow the dragon book pile:

    Thomas and the Dragon Queen by Shuta Crum and Lee Wildish (illus.)

    Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

    Dragon in the Sock Drawer by Kate Klimo

    Ivy and the Meanstalk by Dawn Lairamore

    Dragon of Cripple Creek by Troy Howell

    Speaking of the dragon book pile, this really is only the tip of it. Head to your local library and ask for help finding even more. There is no lack of titles and possibilities out there and librarians love helping you find the perfect fit, whether you be the young middle grade reader or the one bordering on becoming a teen. Happy reading and please do share some of your favorites. Thinking there should be a “Here There Be (More) Dragons” in our future.

     

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