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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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Interview and Giveaway-SCARY SCHOOL by Derek the Ghost

Giveaways, Interviews

Special treat on the Mixed Up Files today! We are interviewing… a ghost. Yep. Derek the Ghost, author of the scary and laugh out loud funny SCARY SCHOOL. It’s not very often we get to do this, so without further ado, let’s begin.

We’ll start with a little bit about the book that Derek wrote, SCARY SCHOOL.


You think your school’s scary?

Get a load of these teachers:

Ms. Fang, an 850-year-old vampire
Dr. Dragonbreath, who just might eat you before recess
Mr. Snakeskin—science class is so much more fun when it’s taught by someone who’s half zombie
Mrs. T—break the rules and spend your detention with a hungry Tyrannosaurus rex!


Gargoyles, goblins, and Frankenstein’s monster on the loose
The world’s most frighteningly delicious school lunch


The narrator’s an eleven-year-old ghost!

Join Charles “New Kid” Nukid as he makes some very Scary friends—including Petunia, Johnny, and Peter the Wolf—and figures out that Scary School can be just as funny as it is spooky!

About the Author

Derek the Ghost is an eleven-year-old ghost who haunts the classrooms and hallways of Scary School writing down all the spine-tingling, often hilarious things that go on there. Despite his ghostly state, Derek still enjoys reading comic books and hopes to one day become a master ninja. If that doesn’t work out, he will continue to share the fun of this very special, very secret school, so all kids can experience the scariest school on Earth.

Derek, glad you were the one to tell this story. I think your youth gave you a fearlessness in your telling that I know kids will appreciate. Do you agree with that? Did you have trouble convincing the adults to let you just tell the story because let’s face it there are some pretty situations and scary teachers at that school (thinking here of Miss Fangs…OOPS! sorry, Miss Fang, man, hope she didn’t hear me).

Yes, I guess I’m pretty fearless. Not quite as fearless as Fred the Boy Without Fear, but when you’re a ghost you don’t have to worry about getting eaten or dismembered anymore, so not a whole lot rattles me. Luckily, all the adults at Scary School are very supportive of my telling their stories. Personally, I think they just want the chance to become famous. And look! It seems to be working for Ms. Fangs already!

Were you the class clown? I only ask because I see you are an aspiring ninja master, not a comedy writer. You really did have me laughing out loud (when you weren’t scaring the pants off me, that is). It’s not easy writing humour, you’ve got some talent there, so you might want to consider that as another career to aspire to. If no on the class clown, how’d you do it? Be so funny, I mean.

Yes, I was a bit of a class clown. I loved making my friends laugh, so since that’s what I seemed to be good at, I figured why not just keep trying to make kids laugh with my writing and try to make a career of it? When I wrote Scary School, it was my goal to make kids laugh at least three times every page, and I hope I was successful!

Have to admit I’m a little curious about this person called Derek T. Kent. Seems he’s somehow involved in this book as his name pops up here and there. Could you tell us a little bit about him? Or maybe if he’s around you could get him to tell us? Interesting you both have the same first name.

As it turns out, Dereks can communicate from the beyond with other living Dereks. Unfortunately, normal folks out in the real world can’t often see or hear us ghosts, so Derek Taylor Kent is my connection with all of you. I didn’t have a lot of options when I needed to find someone to connect to the living world, so I can of just ended up with that guy. He’s very weird. Just google his full name “Derek Taylor Kent” and you’ll see lots of weird stuff he’s done!

SCARY SCHOOL crazy cool website which everyone seriously needs to check out. Did you have much input on that? Do you have a favorite part, something you for sure want kids to check out?

Thanks so much. Myself and the amazing team at Jett Media put together the website – ScarySchool.com. Most of the features were my ideas that I wanted in there, like the fun locker game, the super-brain prize, and of course the tours of the school where you can check out the students, teachers, and cool school locations. But you have to make sure to take Ms. Fangs’ Quiz after you finish reading Scary School, because that will unlock the secret chapter, which is an essential read before starting on Book 2 which comes out on June 26, 2012. And then Book 3 comes out the June after that!

Next week, I’ll be back with a list of titles similar to the book you wrote, you know, in case kids want to make a pile a great scary funny reads for the holidays. Anything you’d recommend?

Yes, some of my recent favorites have been School for the Insanely Gifted by Dan Elish, My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody, The Beyonders by Brandon Mull, Jacob Wonderbar by Nathan Bransford, My Life as a Stuntboy by Janet Tashjian, and Shark Wars by EJ Altbacker.

So what are your future plans? More books in the works?

Yes, many more books in the works. There will be AT LEAST three Scary School books and probably many more. There could also be some fun spin-offs of other school you hear about in the text – like Adventure School and Future School. I also have some other cool books I’ve already written that you can check out and purchase through the website here – http://www.scaryschool.com/bookstore.html – Rudy and the Beast – My Homework Ate My Dog! is a really fun Harry Potter-type series about a kid who learns he has special powers and has to use them to rescue his kidnapped dog.

Before I let you go, I noticed on your website that we can actually send you questions there, as well. Any questions you haven’t got yet that you are dying (oh sorry, I guess you can’t really be dying) to answer but haven’t been asked yet? If so, what is it and feel free to go ahead and answer it right here. Not sure if the other Derek ever gets questions there?

I’ve gotten lots and lots of great questions, and also lots of amazing comments from kids all over the world who are reading and loving the book. Thanks so much for writing, kids! Every note warms my ghostly heart more than words can say. I’m happy to answer any questions, and I’ve gotten some weird ones, but no questions pop out that need answering. A lot of kids write to me wanting some hints about what happens in Book 2. if you contact me, I just might have those hints for you!

Thanks for doing this. Hope to see you around sometime. You don’t, like, jump out and scare people do you? If you do, maybe we should hold off on the seeing you around.

Sure thing. Oh and by the way, turn around. BOO!!! Did I scare you?

Well, yes yes, you kind of did. But not so scared that I’m not going to be reading some more scary books over the holidays! Back with what I read next week.

Derek the Ghost and his publisher have kindly offered a book for giveaway! Just leave a comment and we will announce a winner tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by and if you happen to know of some good scary funny or just plains scary reads do let us know!


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