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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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  • It’s a matter of myth conception

    Book Lists, Historical Fiction

    I discovered mythology as a seventh grader.

    My Jr. High school was a mile from home, and I walked in all but the very worst weather. Often I would find a brief refuge in the public library which was on the way home.

    I remember one illustrated book about the Greek and Roman gods. The artwork was amazing and in my mind’s eye (probably enhanced by memory) as detailed and amazing as Michelangelo’s triptychs.

    The 12-year old me was launched on a love affair with all things mythological. The librarians in the children’s section were happy to provide me with age appropriate versions of the Iliad and Homer’s Odyssey. I devoured the tales of King Arthur and Camelot. I hunted out every version of the tales of Greek and Roman gods that I could find. Eventually, I became a bit of an expert.

    When I became an adult, I discovered a new genre. These books took the well known myths and rewrote them from a new perspective. I loved them as much as the original stories, and even in some cases, better.

    Current day authors, the most well known – Rick Riordan – portrayed a retelling of Greek gods in present day incarnations in his Percy Jackson Heroes of Olympus series. He went on to take a look at Egyptian mythology in his next series, the Kane Chronicles.

    But hold on there, he’s not the only author writing these amazing tales. Here are some other books to try if you are mythological tale hound like me.

    Tracy Barrett has several tales drawn from antiquity. But says she is only following a long tradition:

    I’ve always been confused by the notion that the stories we know from Greek and Roman mythology are the “real” version, and that when I write a book based on one of them, I’m retelling a story from an authoritative text. The fact is that the myths, the hero legends, the incidents of the Trojan War (if such a war ever took place), the voyages of Odysseus—all these tales were told orally for centuries before someone wrote them down. Whoever that writer was, he (almost certainly a “he”) picked and chose which details of the traditional tale to include, invented others, and put on his own stylistic stamp. A poet a generation later who told the same story would have a different spin on it.

    That’s all I’m doing in King of Ithaka and Dark of the Moon. I love hearing stories told by a narrator who is a minor character in a familiar tale, so I chose Telemachos (Odysseus’s son) to relate his own coming-of-age story in the former, and Ariadne (sister of the Minotaur) to set the record straight about what was really going on with her monstrous brother in the latter.

    Each poet in King of Ithaka says at the start of his song, “Hear this,” and finishes it by saying, “And now my tale is told.” The first words in King of Ithaka are “Hear this,” and the last are, “And now my tale is told.” I’m just one in a long line of people who have taken inspiration from the adventures of Odysseus and the story of the Minotaur.

    A mysterious talisman transports a boy back to ancient Italy

    No one ever listens to Hector. He wanted to hang out with his friends this summer, but instead he’s stuck in Italy at an archaeological dig with his mom. The ancient Etruscan artifacts are interesting, but no one has time for him.

    Then he makes a discovery of his own-a strange, unsettling stone that looks like an eye. The stone brings nightmares about Arath, an Etruscan boy who died thousands of years ago but now begs for Hector’s help. Are these just dreams, or is Arath really in danger? As Hector unearths the truth, he realizes that he can make himself heard when it counts.

    Ariadne is destined to become a goddess of the moon. She leads a lonely life, filled with hours of rigorous training by stern priestesses. Her former friends no longer dare to look at her, much less speak to her. All that she has left are her mother and her beloved, misshapen brother Asterion, who must be held captive below the palace for his own safety.

    So when a ship arrives one spring day, bearing a tribute of slaves from Athens, Ariadne sneaks out to meet it. These newcomers don’t know the ways of Krete; perhaps they won’t be afraid of a girl who will someday be a powerful goddess. And indeed she meets Theseus, the son of the king of Athens. Ariadne finds herself drawn to the newcomer, and soon they form a friendship—one that could perhaps become something more. Yet Theseus is doomed to die as an offering to the Minotaur, that monster beneath the palace—unless he can kill the beast first. And that “monster” is Ariadne’s brother . . .

    The King of Ithaca Telemachos has a comfortable life on his small island of Ithaka, where his mother Penelopeia keeps the peace even though the land has been without its king, his father Odysseus, since the Trojan War began many years ago.

    But now the people are demanding a new king, unless Telemachos can find Odysseus and bring him home. With only a mysterious prophecy to guide him, Telemachos sets off over sea and desert in search of the father he has never known.

    L.J. Smith pens an enjoyable series based on the characters from the Arthurian Tales.

    The Night of the Solstice Four siblings join forces with a talking vixen to rescue the vixen’s mistress, the sorceress Morgana Shee, and stop the evil sorcerer Cadal Forge before he can pass through a gate to Earth during the winter solstice.

    A year and a half after Alys, Charles, Janie, and Claudia complete their quest to the Wildworld, an earthquake hits California, potentially destabilizing the passage between the mortal world and the magical one. But with their parents overseas and the sorceress Morgana searching for the epicenter of the quake, the four children are on their own. Strange happenings in their town force them on a journey that will test their combined resources, for Thia Pendriel, Morgana’s archrival, has stolen a powerful gem—the Heart of Valor—and is waiting to spring her trap….
    Here’s what she shared about magic and myth:
    When I was ten, I was still searching for magic, real magic. One day my family went to the movies to see something called Camelot, which I was happy to watch until I saw a billboard that said it was an epic romance. Romance? Yuk! Cooties! But my dad dragged me in and I watched, and I cried, and I knew that I had glimpsed a kind of magic I had to have more of. I didn’t notice any of the film’s flaws—I was a kid. What I took away was the idea of a round table and “might for right” and, of course, the idea that we are all just drops of water in the great blue ocean. But some of the drops sparkle!As soon as I could I read the book, The Once and Future King by T.H. White. After that there was no stopping me. I was determined to be a sparkling drop (and find magic, rescue a prince, fight a great foe, and also, as I quoted to people’s understandable bewilderment, “Die a hero or not at all!”) I read everything I could about the Arthurian legend and somehow, slowly, my entire life started to develop around it. I became a militant idealist.When I was in high school I began The Night of the Solstice, meaning it to be the first book of a trilogy. It was about magic, of course, and by the time it came out I’d already written the sequel, Heart of Valor, introducing the idea of a female descendant of King Arthur. I meant to sum it all up in Mirror of Heaven, and I still mean to—someday. Perhaps when the once and future king comes back. The world is certainly ready for his return.

    A nail biting series where the hero battles evil to save the world is the Erec Rex tales by Kaza Kingsley.

    No list on mythology would be complete without a tale of beasts.

    Though not strictly a middle-grade book, Jane Yolan’s newest graphic novel offering is too beautiful not to be included. The Last Dragon tells a tale how two hundred years after humans drove the dragons from the islands of May, the last wyrm rises anew to wreak havoc, with only a healer’s daughter and a kite-flying, reluctant hero standing in its way.

    When asked about this book, Ms. Yolan replied:

    “Dragons (as well as unicorns and selchies) have been great inspirations to me. But dragons–because they can be good, bad, and ugly, have fascinated me for as long as I’ve been a writer. This book began as a short story called “Dragonfield” (close to novella length) published in 1984 in a collection of mine also called DRAGONFIELD. The first publisher who saw the graphic novel version and wanted it was DC, but they have a contract that is not known to be “creator friendly.” In fact they wanted all rights to my story till the heat-death of the universe. Which may be just about okay if I’d been writing in one of their created worlds, but this story was all mine–characters, setting, etc. So my agent and I took it from them and sold it to this wonderful young editor at DarkHorse Rachel Eidden who was a fan of both Rebecca Guay’s artwork and my storytelling. (She has a blog over at the DarkHorse site which tells you about how she approached the book.) It took about half a year to write and revise at least eight times on my own, before I started doing revisions for the editor. The illustrations took Rebecca closer to two years. And aren’t they astonishingly beautiful! I own one of the original pieces.” Jane Yolen

    While I love and am fascinated by what other authors come up with as a new spin on classic tales, my daughter thinks it’s oh so wrong. She complained bitterly about how the Percy Jackson gods were not themselves and totally out of character. She declared that Mr. Riordan must have not done his research very well and just made things up because he wanted to.

    Which side of this equation do you fall on? Do you love seeing old tales with a new spin? Or are you like my kid and just wish authors would leave well enough alone?

    Wendy Martin spends her days drawing fantastical worlds. In the evenings she writes about them, then she visits them at night during her dreams. Visit her universe at her web site http://wendymartinillustration.com

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