• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Indie Spotlight > Indie Spotlight: Little Joe’s Books
  • 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...


  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

Indie Spotlight: Little Joe’s Books

Indie Spotlight

Every time an Indie bookstore opens, an angel gets its wings. At least I think so, especially a children’s Indie. Today the Mixed-Up Files focuses our spotlight on Little Joe’s Books of Katonah, New York newly opened in October. Intrepid reporter that I am, I asked owner Jen Cook a few tough questions.



What inspired you to run a children’s bookstore?

I own Noka Joe’s, the coffee/candy shop downstairs which is a community meeting spot. I’m the former president of the Katonah Chamber of Commerce and a long-time resident. I sought community feedback for the best use of the retail space above Noka Joe’s. Overwhelmingly, residents wanted a children’s bookstore in town. When Borders went out of business (in nearby Mt. Kisco) it was a tipping point. The opportunity was there.

We had a community wide contest to name it. The winning entry: Little Joe’s Books.

What do you like best about running a bookstore?

It’s a lovely, happy business. Noka Joe’s downstairs is a family place and the bookstore is an extension of that. Northern Westchester is ideal because so many people raise their families here.

How do you compete with giants like Barnes & Noble and Amazon?

Well, we’ve only been open for two weeks [note: back in October], but there are no large bookstores close by. I see the two big competitors for us to be 1) e-Book downloads and 2) Amazon. But, particularly young kids books are not good for electronics. Pop-up books, picture books, board books are something kids want to touch. For Amazon, yes, they could save a little by buying online, but our bookstore allows parents and kids to browse. It helps kids get hooked on reading when they can handle the books, get drawn in by the cover, read the back. Our book guru, Genevieve leBotton, can offer book suggestions. We offer book + experience + community*.

[*Author’s note: Followed by pastry, coffee, and a bagful of candy from downstairs. Win, win!]

How do you decide what goes on your shelves?

Let me introduce you to Genevieve. She was manager of the kids department at Borders for six years.

Genevieve: Since we’re just starting out, we used a wholesaler that recommends a starter inventory. I add to that based on the interactions I’ve had with kids from this area for the last six years. I get a feeling for what they like. This is a very well educated, socially aware community. I know what titles they’re drawn to. Not always things on the best-seller list. Like Sharon Draper’s Out of my Mind or Francisco Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World. I spend a lot of time talking and listening to our customers. We’ve increased inventory by twenty-five percent based on community recommendations so far. We also have a bulletin board where the community can make recommendations or suggestions.


Jen Cook and Genevieve leBotton


Do you follow reviews in journals or magazines to find books too?

Genevieve: That’s something that’s been really different from working at Borders. There, our inventory was just given to us. Now I do a lot of research, and I’m still learning, looking at ALA and Publisher’s Weekly. I want to find books that are odd and special and give them to readers who will love them.

What do you promote? How do you increase sales?

Jen: We’ve been very active with social media. We have an email list, and we’re on Twitter and Facebook. In the store, we have a display of New Releases, and a display of our Favorite Books.

Do you plan on having kid book clubs, kid book recommendations, or kid lit themed parties? Ways for kids to be involved?

Jen: We’re still brainstorming ideas. Most likely we’ll have a book club for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. We want to hear what the community wants.

What kind of upcoming events do you have planned? [Jen hands me a flyer.]

[Reads flyer eagerly] It reads: An author visit by Barbara Dee (one of my fave MG writers), regular story hours, and a cool program where kids can read to their reading dog, Whoopsie Daisy, a black lab who loves listening to early readers who may need a little practice.

Have you had a lot of local authors stop by?

Jen: I met a lot of authors at the Children’s Book Day at Sunnyside [note: more than 50 authors attended]. Mostly local authors and I told them about the store. Many were enthusiastic about it. We do have author visits on our schedule of events.

Since this is the Mixed-Up Files, we have to know: what’s your favorite middle-grade book?

Jen: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Genevieve: My absolute favorite is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. That book changed my life. House on fire, that’s the book I’d take with me. And I also have a new fave, it just came out, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier. It’s SO good.


So, house on fire, what one middle-grade book would you take with you? Tell us in the comments!

To learn more about Little Joe’s Books, check out their website, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.


Karen B. Schwartz counts herself lucky to have an indie children’s bookstore nearby for stocking up on middle-grade books for her huge to-be-read pile. And for her kids. Of course! It’s all for them. Let’s go with that.


Comments Off