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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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Interview and Giveaway with Jonathan Auxier

Giveaways, Interviews

I’m thrilled to welcome Jonathan Auxier to the Mixed-Up Files.  Jonathan is a screenwriter, illustrator, and novelist who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. His debut novel, Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes, tells the tale of a small, blind, orphan who also happens to be the greatest thief who ever lived.  The book was an ABA 2011 New Voices pick and was named one of BookPage magazine’s Best Children’s Books of 2011. You can learn more about Jonathan by visiting www.TheScop.com, where he blogs about children’s books old and new. 

I’d love to know what surprised you the most while writing Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes.

I think the most surprising thing was how much fun it was to write! I’ve been writing plays and screenplays for a number of years, and while I enjoy that work, it definitely feels like work. When writing scripts, you start with outlines and treatments and do a lot of planning. When I sat down to write Peter Nimble, however, it was much more exploratory — I tried to let the characters (and narrator) tell the story to me, rather than the other way around.


I love your illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.  Was that something you planned when you first wrote this novel? 

I draw a lot, and virtually every story I’ve ever written has started as a sketch in one of my journals. In the case of Peter Nimble, it all began with the picture at the top of chapter one: a little baby floating in a basket with a raven perched on the edge who has just pecked out his eyes.  

While I did want illustrations in the book, I didn’t originally plan to do them myself. Partway through the process, my editor learned that I had all these Peter Nimble sketches in my journals, and that started the conversation.


How did you come up with your wonderfully wacky and lovable characters and such a unique and vivid world?

My favorite books are ones that feel like they’re in conversation with the stories that have come before them. Consider how The Graveyard Book interacts with Kipling’s Jungle Books, or how the Harry Potter series breathes life into old boarding-school stories like Tom Brown. In writing Peter Nimble, I really let my inner booklover run free — grabbing bits of stories and characters and moments from all the stories that have shaped me as a human being. The goal is to take those bits and then show them in a new light so that they feel simultaneously familiar and new.


Can you share a writing exercise with us?

How about a reading exercise? When I was in graduate school, I picked up the habit of watching movies and plays with a notepad and pen. At the end of every scene, I’d jot down what had just happened — just a few words, like: “hero proposes, gets dumped”. By the end, I’d have this clean little roadmap that showed me how the story fit together. The goal is to do this so much that it becomes second nature: every time you watch or read a story, you’re making a roadmap in back of your mind. Then, when it’s time to write your own story, you’ve got this innate understanding of pacing and structure to help you along.


What are some of your favorite middle-grade novels, and why do you love them so much?

What a huge question! I actually talk a lot about favorite children’s books on my blog.  To go back to my earlier point about books in conversation, I’ll list some of the children’s books that profoundly inspired Peter Nimble:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Peter Pan by JM Barrie

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl


I love your characters, incredible world, and unique voice that instantly drew me into Peter’s story, and can’t wait to read more books from you. What are you working on now?

I am working on a few books at the moment. One is a middle grade adventure about a chimney sweep. The other is a ghost story about an evil tree. I like having multiple projects because while I’m writing one, my subconscious can start to work on the other.


Thank you so much for this wonderful interview, Jonathan.  I absolutely love Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes and can’t wait for more of your books to be published. I’m also looking forward to trying the reading exercise you shared, and have a feeling our Mixed-Up readers will find it very helpful, too.     

One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes.  Leave a comment below and our random generator will choose a lucky winner on Tuesday, May 8.  You’ll get extra entries for sharing a link on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

***Please mention each link in a new comment so the generator will add your extra entries.  Winners must live in the US or Canada.  Good luck!


Mindy Alyse Weiss writes humorous middle-grade novels and quirky picture books.  She’s constantly inspired by her eleven and fourteen year-old daughters, adventurous sock and underwear munching puppies, and two stinky but adorable ferrets. Visit her blog or on Twitter to read more about her writing life, conference experiences, and writing tips.

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