• OhMG! News


    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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  • Jeremy Lin, the C-Word and Me

    Learning Differences

    First, the glory.

    By now, you’ve probably heard it all, about Jeremy Lin’s fabulous debut in the NBA, a start that has set new records and inspired fans around the world.  We love his underdog story – the fact that he went undrafted in the NBA and was instead picked up like a previously-returned back-of-the-store bargain item.  (The part of the story I really love is that he went to Harvard because he couldn’t get a sports scholarship at Cal, his first choice.  In this story of the Asian-American dream, the hero *settles* for going to Harvard.)  We loved it all, including the pun that captured it all: Linsanity.

    It was a true “there I am” moment for so many of us who had never seen an Asian-American face on the courts, a person whose story already belonged to us.   I thought of the12-year-old girl from my book, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, who desperately loves basketball in spite of her parents’ approbation.  At one point in the story, her father asks her, in an attempt to dissuade her from playing, “Can you name any Chinese-Americans making a living in basketball?”  I wrote to my editor: “I think Lucy has a new hero.”

    Then, the pain.

    In the wee hours of Saturday, February 18, following the Knicks’ loss to the New Orleans Hornets, the ESPN mobile website posted the following headline:  A Chink in the Armor.  Another sports pun, this time not so embraced.

    Whatever the animus behind the comment, ESPN has sacked the responsible party, and issued an apology, which Lin has graciously accepted.  The apology obliquely refers to “offensive and inappropriate comments.”  If only I were merely offended.

    When I see the word chink, I am taken back to Mrs. Burger’s first grade classroom at Stenwood Elementary. The new kid, the only Asian kid in the entire  school.  I was bewildered by the differences between my old and new classrooms: reading groups and less than/greater than signs.  We moved in November, and there were paper cornucopias on the wall.

    I like to think I was a nice kid, shy, and eager to make friends.  It quickly became clear, however, that certain members of Mrs. Burger’s class were not going to like me, in spite of the fact that I had done nothing to them.

    Some of them approached me with unchecked aggression:  Chinese chink!

    Others sidled up to me with a low-key unpleasantness: Why is your nose so flat?

    When I told my husband about the ESPN headline, I was surprised to feel my eyes sting,  even now, as an adult living in an area where diversity is celebrated.   That word, chink, that one word, contains so much white-hot hate in it, I guess I can’t pick it up without getting burned.  I think about that confused kid in first grade who didn’t realize the name-callers were clearly wrong; I just wished I could stop being Chinese so they would stop teasing me.  I remember the tremendous relief I felt when a second Chinese-American girl joined my class because I wasn’t alone any more.  Leslie Tsou and I never became best friends – I think she moved away within a year – but I was grateful for her presence.  There I am.

    With the benefit of a few days’ contemplation, though, I have realized that those moments helped form me as a writer.  That word gave me power.  People who are pushed to the outside, whether by birth, circumstance or temperament, begin to live in a writer’s greenhouse.  We watch, we record, we remember.  We listen to the conversations that don’t include us; we watch dramas unfold and construct better endings in our heads.   We learn to see the world through other people’s eyes.

    I also write for that girl, those kids, who look for there I am moments because they feel unrecognized.  When I write, I don’t just think of Asian-American readers, I think of all children who face bullies, who dream big, who don’t understand their parents.  I think that is the special work of children’s book writers – we give kids there I am moments, so that when the unkindest words come for them, they know they are not alone.

    Here is a list of some of my favorite multi-cultural books:

    Iggie’s House, by Judy Blume: Winnie’s best friend Iggie moves away, and into her home comes the Garber family, the first black family on a previously all-white street.  Amid different reactions from her neighbors and family, Winnie tries to do what she feels is right, but does not always succeed.

    One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams Garcia: The turbulent 60′s serves as the backdrop for this story of Delphine and her sisters as they travel to Oakland to spend time with their mother who abandoned them.  They quickly become intertwined with the Black Panther movement as they go there for breakfast and camp cum political activities, while at the same time, struggle to reconcile the harsh reality of living with their emotionally cold mother.

    The Red Umbrella, by Christina Gonzalez: During Operation Pedro Pan, thousands of children fled Castro’s Cuba, with the plan that their parents would follow them to the United States.  Gonzalez carefully recounts every step that young Lucia takes from her ordinary life in pre-Castro Cuba to living with a foster family in the Midwest.

    The Year of the Boar, Jackie Robinson and Me, by Bette Bao Lord: It’s 1947, and Shirley Temple Wong has come to America.  It is not easy to make friends when she doesn’t know English, but the miracle of Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers help ease her way into the American way of life.

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