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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, read more...

     

    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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Dads in Middle-grade Books

Uncategorized

A few weeks ago I caught myself staring at the JC Penney Father’s Day advertisement. It shows a happy family: Two playful kids and their proud, smiling dads. I thought, wow, wouldn’t this family make a great story? Having two dads can create interesting complications, especially if the story takes place long ago or in a contemporary setting where people aren’t so open minded. And even though the story wouldn’t be about the dads, their presence would add a unique element to our main characters’ lives.

Authors of middle-grade novels often struggle with how to get the parents out of the picture so that the main characters, the kids, can go have their adventure without being bothered by finger-wagging, bossy adults. Roald Dahl said, “Kill the parents!” But, we don’t always want our parents to be eaten by rhinos in broad daylight, do we? So, in light of Father’s Day coming up, I thought I’d write about how parents, especially dads, play an important role in some of my own favorite books in children’s literature. These stories would be completely different without the dads.

1. One of my all-time favorite middle-grade novels is Linda Urban’s A Crooked Kind of Perfect. I adore Zoe’s sweet and loving
dad in spite of his quirky fears and inhibitions about leaving the house. Zoe, who dreams of someday performing in Carnegie Hall, asks for a piano. But to her horror, her dad buys her an organ instead. I felt Zoe’s pain, but I also appreciated and admired the way she protected her father’s feelings and never let on that learning to play the organ was making her miserable. She understood her father’s fragility and left her dream and ambition by the wayside to keep from hurting him. Seeing this side of our protagonist made my heart go out to her from the very beginning of the story.

2. Opal Buloni in Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie also has one of the kindest and gentlest dads in children’s literature. But he’s no
Atticus Finch; in fact, Opal refers to him as a turtle retreating into his shell. He’s deeply saddened and scarred by the loss of Opal’s mother and he doesn’t seem to want to deal with his emotions. We see the strength in Opal as she moves forward with her life and the ending scene with her father is absolutely heart wrenching. The novel works so beautifully because of Winn-Dixie, yes, but also because of Opal’s father.

3. Then there are the scary dads.
I read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett many times as a child and then I read it to my own kids several years ago. Every time I read it I was creeped out by Archibald Craven, the father of “sick” and bed-ridden Colin. I could understand Craven’s pain and I could sympathize with his hollowness after the death of his wife, but still, I was like, “Dude! You’ve got a kid! And for years he’s been lying in a dark room day and night, screaming in pain, and the only time you ever go near him is when he’s asleep!” Thank goodness Mary Lennox comes along and saves poor little Colin or I would have had to call social services.

4. The abusive fathers in children’s literature make us love our main character more than ever. We want to protect the kids from harm and see
them get the happy ending they deserve. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that the father and child walk off into the sunset hand in hand. Pap Finn never does a good thing for poor ol’ Huckleberry. And there’s Doug Swieteck’s dad in Gary Schmidt’s beautifully written Okay For Now. I just have to hang all my hopes on the title and believe that Doug will indeed be okay.

5. I don’t want to end this post on a sad note, it is almost Father’s Day, after all. So let’s make a list of the dads we love. I’ll start, and you can add to the list by way of the comments section. Here are just a few:

Pa – Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Mr. Quimby – Ramona and Her Dad by Beverly Cleary

Moses’ dad – Crow by Barbara Wright

Mr. Krupnik – Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry

William – Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

Mr. Watson – The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis

 

Jennifer Duddy Gill is the author of The Secret of Ferrell Savage and Mary Vittles, Atheneum (Simon & Schuster), 2014.

 

 

 

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