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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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Easy Steps for Making Book Trailers with Your Class or School!

Learning Differences

I confess, I’m a book trailer addict. I love the visuals, the music, and the tantalizing teasers that make my want to run out and read a new book!

Have you ever thought about facilitating a class or school activity in helping your students create book trailers of their own for a favorite book?

I discovered a wonderful librarian from an elementary school in Nebraska, Cynthia Stogdill, who recently finished this terrific experience with her students – and she did it in the short time span of a mere two weeks!

Kimberley: How did you first come up with the idea to have your students create book trailers?

Cynthia: My daughter’s former teacher introduced me to book trailers. I was brainstorming different ideas for my after school reading enrichment program, and I thought book trailers would be something we could try. I try to incorporate some creativity, as well as higher level thinking in our activities.

My activity units run for two weeks. We meet on two afternoons a week so everyone has an opportunity to participate at some time. For this activity we did the planning one day, filmed on two days, and had our screening party on the last day.

Kimberley: How did you choose the books?

Cynthia: I let the students pick the books they wanted to feature.  The only stipulation was that they had to have read the book at some time.

Kimberley: Did they work by classes or in teams? Which grades were involved?

Cynthia: Our after-school reading enrichment program is open to our students in grades 1-4, and we also have some older students drop by as well. The students created individual book trailers, but were supported by their peers. They discussed their ideas with each other offering ideas and suggestions before we started the taping process. A few of the students chose not to participate, but they stayed close by, watched, and offered support to the other students.

We kept the process pretty simple and kept the length to less than a minute. That forced the students to be concise and to the point.

Kimberley: Did they write their own script, or storyboard it out like a movie?

Cynthia: I provided the students with a brief questionnaire to help them outline their book trailer.  It consisted of the book’s title, author and/or illustrator, and brief summary of the book. It also included a comment on why someone should or would want to read that particular book.  I encouraged them to prepare that ahead of time and use it as a guide when they were practicing.

Some students followed their outline very closely, and some didn’t use a guide at all. Additionally, I used the questionnaire as a springboard to get them to really think about their book and why they would recommend it to someone.  I wanted them to move to a reflective level of thought.  In general, I think they accomplished this because they were discussing their choices with each other.

Kimberley: How did they film the trailers? What technology did you use?

Cynthia: I did all the filming with my Flip video camera. It’s easy to use, has a two hour memory, and long battery life.  My kids use it to film plays, sock monkeys, and our pets all the time.  It might sound like a commercial, but it is a great all purpose camera at an affordable price. It was perfect for this project.

Kimberley: Did you use any music or sound for the trailers?

Cynthia: Some of the book trailers have a background sound track.  I ripped short pieces of music and overlapped them to create a repeating background track. I avoided using whole pieces of music for copyright reasons.

Kimberley: How were they edited, and how many book trailers were created all together?

Cynthia: I used Windows Moviemaker to create the book trailers – I am a PC person.  After doing some research, I chose this software for our project.  Ideally, something like Garage Band would have been perfect, but I didn’t have ready access to that software. Moviemaker allowed me to edit the clips, piece them together with transitions, add titles and credits, and soundtrack. The software then allows you to transfer the videos onto a DVD.

One can also use photos instead of video clips, so that is an option. Video can be a big challenge but nothing a brave librarian can’t handle.

My students were younger, so the editing process rested on my shoulders and we kept it really simple.  We created about twelve book trailers that were thirty to sixty seconds long. That translated into about eight hours of editing. I think older students would have a great time creating and editing their own work.  If a librarian had access to a good editing program and time to familiarize students with its workings, this would make a great performance assessment.

Kimberley: Did you have any sort of competition with the book trailers? Prizes?

Cynthia: Nope, but in the future, I would have an awards ceremony and find some plastic statues to give to the students – similar to the Oscars. Just for the fun of it.

Kimberley: What was your culminating activity to show off the book trailers?

Cynthia: We finished the book trailer activity with a screening party. The students had popcorn and pretzels, and they were sprawled out on the floor like a movie party. We watched all the book trailers and then I created a Blooper video with some of their outtakes and mistakes. That was the last thing on the DVD.  I think we watched the entire DVD three times.

Our screening also fell on parent teacher conferences and our Book Fair. I had given the DVD to the principal after our party, and she actually had it running in a conference room for parents to stop in and watch.

Kimberley: The Book Fair Parent night is a great way to let the parents see the children’s book trailers!

Cynthia: Looking back, I wish we would have had the DVD running for both nights of parent-teacher conferences and the Book Fair. Unfortunately, we had some snow days and I really wanted the students to be the first ones to watch the DVD. 

Kimberley: Any closing thoughts or tips?

Cynthia: The Moviemaker program takes a little practice, but it was fun and pretty straightforward.  This activity will definitely make an appearance in the future. I am so proud of the students and their focus and commitment to putting together something really special.

Kimberley: You make this whole process seem very doable for any school or classroom. Thank you so much, Cynthia, for being with us here at FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES!

Some of my favorite Middle-Grade book trailers from the last few months:

This trailer was made with original music and filmed on location

A beautiful new historical in verse that just launched last week.

Book trailer made by some kids, very fun and pretty professional.

Kimberley’s busy eating buttered popcorn while enjoying the latest trailers and books of 2012. Please find her at the Tucson Book Festival March 11 and in Chicago at IRA April 29 presenting an all day Author’s Panel and signing at the Scholastic booth, Monday, April 30th from 3-4 p.m. www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com
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