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    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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  • Do Childhood Books Influence Us?

    Learning Differences

    So I’ve been “thinking” the past few months . . . (“A dangerous activity!” my husband likes to tell me!)  Since I’m a sloooooow learner it’s taken me many years to realize something about myself, and I had an epiphany of sorts after the recent launch of my newest middle-grade ghost story, Circle of Secrets (Scholastic), and the manuscript I just finished editing last week, When the Butterflies Came (April, 2013, Scholastic).

    Both of these books have elements of magical realism. (Well, maybe not *that* magical because ghosts are actually real, aren’t they? I like to think so! Does anybody remember the movie, Ghost with Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swayze? Oh my! )

    I digress.

    In these stories, I write about charm bracelets and secret notes in a bottle tree and old porcelain dolls and keys that unlock mysterious doors, and it suddenly occurred to me that the books of my childhood—the books I read over and over again—have influenced me more than I ever realized. Because as a kid I *loved* books with these kind of magical and mysterious artifacts. OR is it that all of these elements are things I already loved so I gravitate toward books with those elements in my reading—and now I’m writing books with those elements? Sort of a chicken and egg phenomenon . . . but still.

    How much do our favorite books as a child influence what we read as an adult? Have your tastes changed much? I do find that I read more widely and eclectically as an adult, and I like to try unusual books I’ve heard good reviews about. I mean, I don’t *just* read books about magical dolls!

    And for the writers out there, how have your childhood favorites influenced you in the topics you choose to write about now?

    But here’s the thing: As I was writing Circle of Secrets and When the Butterflies Came, I never consciously added the various elements of dolls, charm bracelets, and old-fashioned skeleton keys to the story. After all, I haven’t actually perused my childhood favorites in many years. (Too busy reading all the fantastic new books in the children’s lit scene!)

    No, my story ideas evolved as I was first thinking about complicated mother/daughter relationships. Girls and their moms who were carrying secrets and hurts and guilt that keep them apart. And I was thinking about what it was like live in a small town on a bayou. Or an island in the South Pacific. And I was thinking about families and sisters and forgiveness and love and how complicated people are and our relationships. And my brain was doing things like, “Ooh, what if this happened? Or this! Or that!” as I furiously scribbled notes, having small epiphanies, and getting excited as a kid when all those elements start clicking into a real story with twists and turns.

    It hasn’t been until AFTER I plotted, drafted, revised and copy-edited that the final epiphany came—that I’m writing the kind of books I loved to read as a child. And that’s been a really satisfying epiphany. So now that we all feel warm and squishy, here are three favorite books from when I was a kid (not counting Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy!):

     

    MAGIC ELIZABETH by Norma Kassirer is about a girl named Sally who has to stay with a cranky old aunt for a few weeks. Feeling lonely, she finds a mirror in the attic that transports her to the past where she sees the life of a girl unfold—a girl who lived in this very house long ago. Sally experiences what the girl from the past, Sarah, experiences over a period of strange, dreamlike weeks—including the disappearance of Sarah’s beloved doll named Elizabeth. As Sally becomes embroiled in the events of the past—she eventually figures out the clues that will lead her to finding Elizabeth, the lost doll from sixty years ago.

     

    THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE by Elizabeth Goudge

    Who says Moms can’t find great books for their kids to read? My mother read a review of this book in a kid’s magazine when I was about ten-years-old and thought I’d like it. Oh, boy, I LOVED it! Read it over and over again. Set in what I used to call the “olden days” about an orphan girl going to stay with her unusual Uncle at Moonacre Manor;  in parts both realistic and magical. In fact, this book has so many unusual and wonderful characters and plot threads it’s difficult to summarize.

    Imagine my surprise to read this by J. K. Rowling: “The Little White Horse was my favorite novel as a child. I absolutely adored it. It had a cracking plot. It was scary and romantic in parts and had a feisty heroine.”

     

     

    TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE by Carol Ryrie Brink (Yes, the author of Caddie Woodlawn fame!)

    This is the story of two best friends during the turn of the 20th century who receive a pair of dolls for Christmas and together begin writing a story about the dolls, letting them experience adventure and danger and romance—as the girls grow up and deal with school and friendship and family. The dolls show up again decades later when the two girls are old and widowed—with a surprise for the reader.

     

    So I’m curious about all of YOU. What were your fav books as a child? Do you read the same kinds of books you did as a child? Have you found that those books have informed you and your life in any particular way?

    Kimberley’s busy trying to avoid the candy aisle at the grocery store and prepping for IRA THIS weekend in Chicago! If you live in Chicago and/or are attending IRA (International Reading Association) please come say hello to me THIS Monday, April 30th at the Scholastic Booth from 3-4 p.m. I will be signing books and chatting up a storm.

    Y’all are also invited to a fantastic pre-conference workshop Sunday from 9a.m. – 5 p.m. with NINE authors! Pretty cool, eh? IRA Institute 12: Rekindling the Reading fire – Author Panel – Using the story strategies of Professional Authors to Inspire a Love of Reading and Writing with Carolee Dean, Caroline Starr Rose, Esther Hershenshorn, April Halprin Wayland, Carolyn Meyer, Kersten Hamilton, Lisa Schroeder, Uma Krishnaswami, and Moi!  www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com

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