• OhMG! News


    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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  • 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.


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