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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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  • Ode to a Classic

    Book Lists

    It’s been a long time since a book stole my heart so completely as Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden. How can I have overlooked it all these years? Though it was published in 1958, when I’d have been precisely the right age to read it, I didn’t, nor did I read it thirty years later, with my own children. What a loss! If only, like our hero Tom Long himself, I could slip back in time! I’d gather three young daughters around me, and begin, “If, standing alone on the back doorstep, Tom allowed himself to weep tears, they were tears of anger.”

    A boy, alone, trying not to cry. Who could resist? And Tom really is angry, righteously so. His beloved brother has measles and as a result he’s being sent to spend his summer vacation in quarantine with his buttoned-up uncle and clueless aunt, who live in a city flat.

    Tom can be very rude. He’s also a ruthless asker of questions. While he’s not as obnoxious as that other garden-denizen, Mary Lennox, is at first, Pearce gives him a backbone that young readers will admire. Oh, let the gushing being! Every one of the characters in this book is easy to recognize and yet continually, delightfully surprising. The impetuous and imaginative Hattie, the stern gardener Abel, even Tom’s brother little Peter, whose role is all off-stage—every one of them springs to memorable life.

    And the language! It never shows off, yet makes you want to dance. If ever a book begged to be read aloud, here it is. The cadence is stately and British; colons, semicolons and dashes abound; beneath the polished surface, the urgency of childhood pulses and breathes. The setting starts off in early twentieth century England and roams over time. But what makes this book a genuine, certified, authentic classic, is that the questions it poses will always bear asking, whether we can answer them or not.

    For Tom, for us, that question is the nature of time, and what hold the past, present and future have on us. His first night with his aunt and uncle, Tom hears the old clock downstairs, reviled by the grown-ups for keeping its own capricious time, strike thirteen. He slips downstairs, opens the back door, and discovers the magic garden. Hattie, a girl in an old-fashioned dress, shows him its many wonders, and they become fast friends, adventuring every night. Hattie’s age fluctuates, and as the summer wanes, she ages, growing disturbingly older than he is. In a wonderful, witty scene, Tom asks his logical Uncle Alan to explain time.

    “’Of course,’ said Uncle Alan, ‘it used to be thought…’ and Tom listened attentively, and sometimes he seemed to understand, and then, sometimes he was sure he didn’t. ‘But modern theories of Time,’ said Uncle Alan, ‘the most modern theories…’ and Tom began wondering if theories went in and out of fashion, like ladies’ dresses, and then suddenly knew that he couldn’t be attending, and wrenched his mind back, and thought again that he was understanding, and then again was sure he wasn’t, and experienced a great depression.’

    Later in the conversation, as Uncle Alan still flounders about, Tom concludes, “Apparently, about Time, as about some master-criminal, you could prove nothing.”

    And yet it’s Tom—Tom the child–who, as in all the best children’s books, solves the riddle for himself. His conclusion presages the discovery at the glorious heart of When You Reach Me, which in turn echoes and pays homage to the masterpiece A Wrinkle in Time. There is even, in the breath-taking scene when Tom balances atop the garden wall and sees the wide world outside beckoning, a poignant hint of Peter Pan. Yet all the while Tom struggles with physics and philosophy, Pearce never lets the story slip into abstraction, and his actions and thoughts are always those of a real boy grappling with real change.

    Maybe my helpless swoon into the arms of this book has something to do with my own aging, and new perspectives on that aforesaid master criminal. Like Tom, I wonder what lasts, what we get to keep, which parts of us stay the same, and oh, who knows where the time goes? I have to admit, too, that I envy Tom getting to have his many fabulous adventures while wearing pajamas, my favorite ensemble. And if time really is a plastic, flexible entity, it’s okay that I didn’t discover this book till just now.

    Please share your own favorite classics! I have a feeling there are lots more I’ve missed.


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