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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,


    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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Indie Spotlight: The Wild Rumpus!

Learning Differences

This Memorial Day, Mixed-Up Files honors the unforgettable Maurice Sendak, who died this month, by interviewing Collette Morgan of Wild Rumpus Books in Minneapolis, a shop full of surprises.

MUF:  Collette,  how and when did the Wild Rumpus start?
Colette: In 1992, I was working at a general independent bookstore called Odegard’s in Minneapolis.  Barnes & Noble specifically targeted that bookstore when they started rolling out the first ‘superstores’.  As a result, Odegard’s closed and I had the choice of either opening my own bookstore, or working for a chain.  Luckily, I took the plunge and bought the inventory.  Next, my then-husband had a great space available in a small urban neighborhood.  We worked with a terrific architect who had never designed a retail space but had a great tree-house in his backyard, so we knew that he spoke our language!  We started working on the space in July and opened the store in September.  This year we’ll be celebrating 20 years in business!

MUF: And you have one of the most successful independent children’s bookstores in the country, so you must be giving your customers something they can’t get anywhere else!

Collette: Absolutely.  This store is a destination and it’s not unusual for families to spend hours hanging out.  We offer an eclectic selection from babies to adults, a hands-on environment and extensive book expertise.

MUF: Since your store’s name is taken from that line in Where The Wild Things Are,  are you doing anything special to commemorate its amazing author/illustrator Maurice Sendak?
Collette:We celebrate his life every day—in his books and our name—(although it was equally inspired by the Coen brothers’ movie: Miller’s Crossing).  We have a Latin inscription painted on the floor (Let the Wild Rumpus Start), and we uphold his tradition of not condescending to children—his quote: “I refuse to cater to the bullsh*t of innocence” is a guiding light.

The Spooky Shed holds all the mystery, ghost, and vampire books–and a pet rat or two.


MUF: Most children’s bookstores carry a few animal puppets or plush toys along with their books, but you have a variety of live animals roaming (prowling? patrolling?) the store to add to the rumpus, including chickens and mice and Manx cats and. . .please tell me that tarantula Carlos is tamer than he looks! How do the customers and the animals get along? 

Pimiento finds a perch

Collette: Famously.  There are some folks who are taken aback at the free-range chickens but they tend to lead kids around like the Pied Piper.  Wilbur, the hairless rat is a great conversation starter and the ferrets and chinchillas never fail to entertain.  Once, one of the ferrets ran into the back hallway and rode up and down in an elevator for an hour before we caught on.  Hence, the sign on the back door:  Please Don’t Let the Ferret Ride the Elevator.

MUF: What, besides being greeted by a menagerie , can someone expect when they enter Wild Rumpus?
Collette: Lively music, inspired events, unexpected titles, architectural surprises, curiosities (um, why do you have a bottle of Cod Liver Oil up there?)…

MUF: You have some unusual book clubs at Wild Rumpus. We here at Mixed-Up Files are especially glad to hear that “Ink Drinkers,” your new club for 8-10 year olds, is oversubscribed, and that you have a club for 11-13 year olds reading Advanced Reader’s Copies.  What are some titles you have been/will be reading in these clubs? 

Collette: Some of the recent Ink Drinker titles: The Big Swim, The Unforgotten Coat, Lemonade Wars, Skellig, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter.  The BLLOG (born later literary opinions group: middle school advanced copy reviewers): Chomp, The Hero’s Guide to Saving the Kingdom.         That’s all that I can remember at this minute, but they have reviews on our website.The advanced reader group recently reviewed ARCs of Never Fall Down, Blue Fish and Fall from Grace.We also have the Remedial Book Club for Immature Adults.  Our next selection is: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

MUF: Do you have a story you like to tell about an especially fine or amusing day in Wild Rumpus? Any memorable incidents?
Collette: Every day is fine and amusing.  Never a dull moment!  I remember once keeping a baby Wild Boar overnight.  When I went to clean his pen, he escaped and led me on a merry chase around the bookshelves skittering around the corners on the wooden floor and causing me to laugh hysterically.   Another time, we had a wonderful 3-legged rabbit named ‘Mr. Red’ who spent his days lounging on a divan and being adored.  One evening he was inadvertently left out of his sleeping hutch and he managed to take a bite out of every single book spine in the Pirates section.  The next day, we had to have “Mr. Red’s Big Pirate Sale.”

Trini Lopez attempting to travel ala Flat Stanley

MUF: If a family who didn’t have a children’s bookstore in their town came to visit yours, would there be a family-friendly place in the neighborhood where they could get something to eat after book-browsing?
Collette: Absolutely, we are rife with independent, locally-sourced restaurants and just around the corner from a gourmet, house-made ice cream store. If you walk down to the lake, there’s a great concession called ‘Bread and Pickle’ where you can pick up a picnic lunch.  For the grown ups, we have several independent coffee shops including one that specializes in rare coffees and teas.  Dare parents to try the Kopi Luwak coffee ($420./lb or $10. per cup).  It’s coffee beans  errr.. ‘reclaimed’ from the excrement of civet cats.  Who knew? Mmmm. Soooo smooooth.

Inter-species lunch at Wild Rumpus

MUF: And if they could stay the weekend, what other family activities in Minneapolis would you most recommend?
Collette: Well, we’re within walking or biking distance of Lake Harriet—from which you can ride/walk miles and miles around the ‘chain of lakes’.  On the next lake over, you can rent paddleboats, kayaks—even learn how to do a little log-rolling.  We have the world- class Children’s Theatre Company, Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater (where Brian Selznick worked with puppets) and the beautiful Minnesota Zoo.  Science museums, art museums, wonderful music venues…

MUF: Have you had many middle grade authors appear at  Wild Rumpus?
Collette: Tons.  Brian Selznick, Brandon Mull, Tom Angleburger, Jeff Kinney, Kate DiCamillo, Anne Ursu, Shelia O’Connor, Katherine Hannigan, Jon Scieszka….

MUF:Are there events coming up at your store in June or this summer that you’re especially looking forward to?
Collette: This summer we’re planning an archery demo, a donkey day,  language of flowers event, new book clubs including a knitting book club for middle-schoolers, more things than you can even imagine.  In fact we haven’t imagined half of them yet.

MUF:  Thank you so much, Collette, for giving us a glimpse of your unique and (literally) lively book shop.  Readers, if you’ve visited Wild Rumpus or if reading about it makes you think you’d like to hang out there, please leave a comment here.

Sue Cowing is the author of You Will Call Me Drog (Carolrhoda, 2011, Usborne UK, 2012).  She has not yet been to Minneapolis, but Drog, her  puppet character, had his photo taken in front of Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre (guess he was afraid to go in).

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