• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Learning Differences > The Boy Project with Kami Kinard
  • OhMG! News


    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...


  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

The Boy Project with Kami Kinard

Learning Differences

Welcome Kami Kinard to the Mixed-Up Files! Her debut middle-grade novel, THE BOY PROJECT (Notes and Observations of Kara McAllister), came out on January 1. She’s a teaching artist on the SC Arts Commission’s Roster of Approved Artists, and writes from Beaufort, South Carolina where she lives with her husband and two children.

About THE BOY PROJECT: Wildly creative seventh grader Kara McAllister just had her best idea yet. She’s going to take notes on all of the boys in her grade (and a few elsewhere) in order to answer a seemingly simple question: How can she get a boyfriend?

But Kara’s project turns out to be a lot more complicated than she imagined. Soon there are secrets, lies, and an embarrassing incident in the boy’s bathroom. Plus, Kara has to deal with mean girls, her slightly spacey BFF, and some surprising uses for duct tape. Still, if Kara’s research leads her to the right boy, everything may just be worth it. Full of charts and graphs, heart and humor, this hilarious debut will resonate with tweens everywhere. (From IndieBound)

Kami, in THE BOY PROJECT, Kara McAllister uses the scientific method to figure out the mysteries of boys for the noble cause of getting her first boyfriend. Genius! Do you think the scientific method could help guys understand girls too?

Any time you analyze data, it can help you figure something out. The trick is to think about things from different angles, which is what Kara learns to do in the novel. However, using the scientific method doesn’t guarantee that you’ll find a girlfriend or boyfriend in real life. (I’ve already been asked that by a few readers!)

Kara tells us her story in diary format. What’s special about the diary novel that has made it so popular with the middle-grade crowd?

Actually, I just wrote an article about diary format books for THE 4:00 BOOK HOOK! Here’s what I said about diary format books then, and I can’t say it any better now!

“These books employ first person narrators who share feelings with their diaries, and thus their readers, that they don’t share with anyone else. This creates a sense of kinship between reader and narrator that is almost immediate.”

A lot of girls who have read THE BOY PROJECT have told me that it is like Kara is talking just to them. If your character pours real feelings into her diary, the middle grade reader is going to identify with her.

In addition to Kara’s passion for correcting the horrible never-been-kissed situation that is her life, she also creates some unique crafts (like using duct tape to transform a Depends). Are you a crafty gal?

Yes, I am crafty and always have been. When I was a kid I made a duck out of toilet paper with yellow Ginko tree leaves for feet. My mom thought it was great and she showed it to everyone. But I don’t know what happened to that TP duck. I hope he didn’t meet with a bad end.

Now, I occasionally teach art classes and I help my daughter with her craft blog. So far, every idea on the blog is something one of us made up. And a few of them, like the Altoids Box Suitcase, are featured in THE BOY PROJECT.

Were you, like Kara, busy with pie charts in your quest for the love of your life?

No. But some of the advice Kara gets along the way was. For example, Bebe Truelove’s tip number six is find common interests. I definitely did that. When I met my husband he was a smart art major who liked to play spades as much as I did. So we played a lot of spades, and talked about a lot of art, and because he was brainy too, we had a lot of academic conversations that I couldn’t have had with some of my other boyfriends. Over the years we’ve combined our interests in arts and smarts and renovated five houses. This has helped us tremendously financially, but we also enjoyed every project because we were both interested in working together to create something cool. (Sharing interests and goals also helps when you are trying to raise two wonderful children, too.)

You’re from South Carolina, yet I didn’t hear a single y’all in your novel. Any plans to write a novel set in the South?

Ahhhhh y’all. Such a useful word. But, nope!

What’s your writing process like? How long does it take you to finish a novel?

I approach writing like a job, not a hobby, and I try to write every day while my children are in school. Sometimes, I have to do other writing related things, like answer interviews, but that’s all part of the job! Different novels take different amounts of time to finish. I wrote THE BOY PROJECT in a relatively short amount of time. Including revisions for my agent, I wrote it in about eighteen months.

What’s next for you?

Now I am working on a novel that has taken me a relatively long amount of time to write. I started it about ten years ago. It has changed dramatically over the years, and I’ve put it aside to complete other projects several times. This novel is a fantasy, and when you write a fantasy, you have to create whole worlds, so it takes more time. Also, I’m working on another humorous MG because they are so much fun to write!

The Mixed-Up Files has to know, what’s your fave MG book?

Well, I don’t really have a favorite MG novel, but I am a big fan of Jeff Kinney’s WIMPY KID series and I loved PRINCESS ACADEMY by Shannon Hale, oh, and also HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERERS STONE, and THE TIGER RISING by Kate DiCamillo is just beautiful, but it would be a shame to forget THE NAME OF THIS BOOK IS SECRET… see what I mean?

To learn more about Kami and THE BOY PROJECT visit http://kamikinard.com. And watch her book trailer.

Leave a comment to win a copy of THE BOY PROJECT!



Karen B. Schwartz writes contemporary middle-grade novels and raises contemporary middle-grade kids.

Comments Off