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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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  • Middle-Grade Moms

    Book Lists

    Mother’s Day was yesterday, and across the land, mothers were celebrated with cards and flowers, brunches and lovingly-made breakfasts in bed. It is the day that more international phone calls are made than any other day of the year.

    In the land of middle-grade, though, the tribute to motherhood can be a bit more backhanded. In preparation for this post, I went back through my Goodreads list to kickstart my rusty ol’ neural net and realized that mothers in middle-grade are frequently in short supply for a variety of reasons: out of the country, death, a choice not to be involved or just a convenient stage left, exit mom. In short, in middle-grade books, a good mom can be hard to find!

    The fact that good mothers are a scarce commodity in middle-grade comes as no surprise; it speaks to the power of motherhood. Mothers usually help children avoid bad decisions, stay away from dangerous situations and provide a safe place to land when trouble happens. All of these situations are frequently the stuff of middle-grade books. The presence of a mom could eliminate a serious chunk of plot!

    In spite of these literary obstacles, though, there are some stand-out moms in middle-grade who deserve recognition. Feel free to add your favorite middle-grade mom in the comments! Here are mine.

    Molly Weasley, of the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling: All moms are busy, but Mrs. Weasley might take the prize of multi-tasker of the year. Planning a wedding, riding herd over a passel of kids including George and Fred, and battling those pesky Death Eaters takes an admirable level of grit and organization. And she does all of this while making Harry feel welcome in her home as one of her own. (Though a magic wand for housecleaning…what could us real-life moms do with that!)

    Yup, there’s Ma at the bottom of the cover, making a dirt dugout CLEAN.


    Caroline Ingalls, from the Little House series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder: If I had to put one mom on Survivor, I think it would have to be Caroline Ingalls. Think of it: this woman made a fine apple pie with no apples, survived the long winter with a coffee grinder and a button, and smacked a bear on the nose with her bare hand! (Okay, she thought it was a cow, but still…) When a log rolled on to her ankle (she was helping to build the family cabin, you know), she wrapped it up and kept going. Mrs. Ingalls would dust those other Survivor contestants, with a smile on her face and never once whine or compromise her integrity.

    Mrs. Murray, from A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle: My friend, Madelyn Rosenberg, said it best, “Mrs. Murray from Wrinkle in Time was the epitome of awesome — she was like a walking Enjoli ad — She was a scientist, she cooked delicious stew on her bunsen burner, she raised her kids on her own while her husband was away, she tried to understand her children and celebrate their differences, and she was always okay having new people over for dinner.”

    Mrs. Hatcher, from Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing by Judy Blume: While many of the most memorable things in the book happen when Mrs. Hatcher leaves the scene (what didn’t happen when she left the guys alone to visit her sister?), I’m putting Mrs. Hatcher in for one simple reason: she acknowledges she made a mistake after blaming Peter for his little brother’s accident on the playground.

    “Peter, I said some things yesterday that I didn’t really mean.”

    I looked at her. “Honest?” I asked.

    “Yes…you see…I was very upset over Fudge’s accident and I had to blame somebody. So I picked on you.”

    “Yes,” I said. “You sure did.”

    “It wasn’t your fault though. I know that. It was an accident. It could have happened even if I had been in the playground myself.”

    “He wanted to fly,” I said. “He thought he was a bird.”

    “I don’t think he’ll try to fly again,” my mother said.

    “Me neither,” I told her.

    Then we both laughed and I knew she was my real mother after all.

    The whole scene from beginning to end was written so honestly, I still remember the first time I read those words, and suddenly liking Mrs. Hatcher at a whole new level.

    Every mom on this list reminds me of at least one great mom I know in real life: she is gritty and smart, takes on too much but leaves time to love her kids (and maybe a few extra kids who need it). She frequently can make something out of nothing.  She makes mistakes but sets things right.

    And great moms, in life and in fiction, know when to step back, and let their children create their own stories.

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