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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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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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