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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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  • Dads in Middle-grade Books

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    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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