• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Giveaways > My Very UnFairy Tale Life with Anna Staniszewski
  • OhMG! News


    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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My Very UnFairy Tale Life with Anna Staniszewski

Giveaways, Interviews

Welcome Anna Staniszewski to the Mixed-Up Files! Her middle-grade novel, MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE, just released into the wild on November 1st. Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch.

Here’s a sneak peek of MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE (from IndieBound)

“You know all those stories that claim fairies cry sparkle tears and elves travel by rainbow? They’re lies. All lies.” Twelve-year-old Jenny has spent the last two years as an adventurer helping magical kingdoms around the universe. But it’s a thankless job, leaving her no time for school or friends. She’d almost rather take a math test than rescue yet another magical creature! When Jenny is sent on yet another mission, she has a tough choice to make: quit and have her normal life back, or fulfill her promise and go into a battle she doesn’t think she can win.

Anna, stop me if you’ve heard this one. A carrot-topped gnome, a mouthless Queen sheep, and a 12-year-old girl run into an evil sorcerer clown…wait, what?! Where did you come up with this idea? It’s like Fairy Tales Gone Wild (the G version).

Fairy Tales Gone Wild–I love that! And I guess that’s actually a very fitting alternate title for my book. When I first started working on this project, all I had was a feisty main character named Jenny, but I wasn’t quite sure what her story was. Then I started thinking about all the magical quests I read when I was young about heroes who were whisked away to other worlds to save the day. I wondered what life would be like if those heroes spent years saving the day on a regular basis–wouldn’t they get sick of it? Once I had that idea, I put Jenny into the mix and threw all sorts of wacky ideas at her to see how she would react. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun to write.

I loved Aunt Evie! She takes care of animals so much she’s forgotten what humans are all about. Will she ever go on an adventure with Jenny?

Aunt Evie is definitely one of my favorite characters; not only is she in love with animals but she’s also obsessed with tea, something I can definitely relate to. I like the idea of Aunt Evie going on an adventure with Jenny one day, though I’m not sure how she would handle it. I’m afraid if she ever went to a world with magical creatures, she’d start trying to pet all the most dangerous ones.

With your background in theater (Anna studied theater at Sarah Lawrence college), do you ever act out scenes in your novel? If so, which character do you like to play best?

I often read scenes out loud while I’m working on them (which usually makes my dog glare at me and leave the room) but when I was revising the manuscript under deadline for my editor, I went into full theater mode and read the entire book aloud to myself using different voices for all the characters. My favorite to act out was Dr. Bradley since I love doing terrible British accents.

Cheerio! According to your bio, you spend your time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. So, I’ve got to know. What do you enjoy reading?

While I’ll read pretty much any book that sounds interesting, I adore what I call “light fantasy” where the story is set mostly in our world but there are magical elements to it, books like YOU WISH by Mandy Hubbard and GIMME A CALL by Sarah Mlynowski. I also love more traditional fantasy where I’m swept away into another world, like in PRINCESS ACADEMY by Shannon Hale. And finally, I’ve been a sucker for dystopian since I was a kid; one of my favorites growing up was Z for ZACHARIAH (which gave me nightmares when I re-read it recently!) and THE GIVER by Lois Lowry continues to be one of my all-time favorite books.

Okay, I do need to know about the unicorns. Are they hopping on one leg or three? Because three really seems like an unfair advantage to me.

I was imagining they were hopping on one leg, since that’s the most unnatural position I can think of for a unicorn! I don’t think there are any solid rules for unicorn hopscotch, though I’ve heard rumors that the National Unicorn Sports Association is trying to implement some.

Jenny uses cheesy sayings quite effectively in the magic kingdoms she visits. What’s your favorite? And does it work in real life?

I can’t think of specific cheesy sayings that I use, though I know I’m always saying things that make people laugh and groan at the same time. I wonder if that means pretty much everything I say is cheesy?

Just keep on, keeping on, Anna. It’s all good. No worries. <cough> Tell us about your writing process. Outliner? Pantser? Outpantser?

I’m a panster at heart. I like to forge ahead with an idea without much of a plan, though I do try to keep an endpoint and the character’s emotional arc in mind as I draft. Once I have the draft to a point where I’m happy with it, I go through and make an outline to help me see the shape of the story, if there are any holes in the plot, etc. Then I use the outline to help me rearrange and revise the manuscript.

What’s next for you? Will Jenny go on more adventures? Perhaps a series of adventures?

Hm, I feel like your question might be fishing for a specific kind of answer…Let’s just say that I’d be thrilled to be able to send Jenny on more adventures, and I hope to have the chance to do that in the future.

To learn more about Anna and MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE visit: www.annastan.com; Book trailer: http://youtu.be/ITDm9c0OXts

Leave a comment below to win a copy of MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE!

Karen B. Schwartz leads a fairy tale life with a handsome prince, two impish elves, and a feline familiar. She also writes contemporary middle-grade novels just to keep it real.
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