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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, read more...

     

    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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The Human Side of Technology

Learning Differences

Just before Christmas, my siblings, my Dad and I finished work on a sixth month project—selling the family home so that Dad could move to an independent living cottage. We packed, sorted and distributed over a hundred years’ worth of history. We made sure to keep some things in the family like a spinning wheel, a pedal-operated sewing machine, a butter churn and a grandfather clock. We didn’t keep them because they were worth a lot of money. We kept them because they had stories to tell. They were valuable.

During the time that I lived in that home, we progressed from three channels to the seemingly endless choices of cable TV. From VCRs to DVD players. From boom boxes to Walkmans to CD players. Typewriters (yes, I took TYPING!) to word processors to computers. And since I’ve left that home there’s been years of updates leading to smart phones and Ipods and my dearly loved Kindle and electronic tablet. Never mind my laptop which frees me from writing in the same room with the flat screen TV with hundreds of selections and the Xbox with mind (and ear) defying video games. Don’t forget the competing noise from constant YouTube downloads or the sounds of my kids making movies and editing them on their own using the webcam and a few keystrokes. Ironically, all of these new developments are probably on the fast track to my own kids’ “remember when” stories.

Our lives would be very different without the constant influence of technology. The invention of the printing press revolutionized society by getting information to everyday people and the world was changed. Facebook and Twitter seem to be modern-day versions of using words to influence things large and small for people who used to be disconnected. Lots of voices are competing for attention and sometimes it seems hard to stand out. How is that going to influence our future? What’s next? How can everyone have access to the technology that can open doors of opportunity or leave others behind? Will people just keeping getting more and more extreme to stand out from the crowd of voices, or will there still be the possibility of lasting influence and measured discussion?

I think an element of fear and internal conflict is a normal response to change. I can’t help but wonder if e-books mean there will not be paper books anymore. I love the sound of the page turns, the smell of the paper, the feel of the pages slipping between my fingers and the weight of the book in my hand. But I also love the portability of my Kindle, the ease of getting books, the fact that when I had a problem with one of my hands, I could still easily hold the book and turn the page. How can I love books in both forms? I feel like a traitor to myself. Then I realize that my Kindle is already almost obsolete. Sigh.

And as much as I love technology, I hate the earphones-in-the- head teen years when I’m not sure if I’m actually being heard or am a talking head accompaniment to a music video I can’t see or hear. The constant connection through social networking sometimes leaves me feeling like I’ve missed a real life moment while I’ve been lost somewhere in cyberspace. All this interaction can be overwhelming yet lonely at the same time. What a crazy world we live in.

As we finalized the move, Dad decided to spend moving day with his older, eighty-nine year old brother to avoid the intensity of the moment. He drove his car two hours north, his not-very-loved cell phone on the seat nearby in case of emergency. It rained the entire day and the overcast sky meant that light faded earlier than he expected. On the way back, high water threatened to cover the road and his nemesis in the passenger seat became a comfort. If he had to stop, he’d be able to call for help. He’d be connected. In spite of the challenges, Dad made it home to his new digs and anxious daughters. He brought back a greater appreciation of why we wanted him to have the cell phone and a renewed sense of pride in himself. He would overcome this new challenge.

So what do two octogenarians do to pass time?

They went to brunch and played a crossword puzzle game where they competed against each other to gain points and complete the puzzle. Not too surprising. But then my dad showed my uncle how to find things on the internet like this You Tube video.

This is proof to me that the key to adjusting to technology is keeping it all in perspective. Life moves on and changing technology is part of pushing it forward, challenging the status quo and a way to mark the passage of time. It’s a measure of where we’ve been and a guide to where we are going. Embrace it or reject it, technology is here and influencing the way we gather information and communicate. And it’s been doing that for hundreds of years.

For now, I’ll just grab my cellphone and give the old guy a call. But I think I’ll do him a favor and call his landline.

 

Don’t forget to register for our Skype author giveaway with Wendy Shang, author of The Great Wall of Lucy Wu. She’s also a Mixed-Up Files member and ALA award winner so lets give her a big who-hoo! All you have to do is to leave comment on yesterday’s post, which was an interview with Wendy, so you’ll definitely want to check it out. Easy peesy.

Joanne Prushing Johnson lives upside-down and backward which is a very useful skill when life is a rollercoaster. She’s got lots of inspiration with a busy houseful packed with testosterone including a handsome hubby, four boisterous boys and a giant Golden Retriever. Joanne is represented by the Quinlan Lee of Adams Literary. Photos from www.morguefile.com

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