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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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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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