• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Giveaways > Meet Robin Mellom, and a Chance To Win THE CLASSROOM
  • OhMG! News


    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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Meet Robin Mellom, and a Chance To Win THE CLASSROOM

Giveaways, Interviews

I’m thrilled to welcome Robin Mellom to the Mixed-Up Files.  Robin is the author of THE CLASSROOM: The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet Epic Kid, the first book in her series for middle grade readers, and DITCHED: A Love Story, a teen romantic comedy, both from Disney-Hyperion.

Here’s a little more info about the first book in THE CLASSROOM series:

A documentary crew has descended upon Westside Middle School to detail the life of an average seventh grader and his classmates.  What they uncover, though, is far from average. Mostly, it is upper average along with moments of extreme average, highlighted by several minutes of total epicness.

Trevor Jones has been preparing for the start of seventh grade his entire summer. But he is NOT ready for the news his best friend, Libby, drops on him at the bus stop: he needs to branch out and make new friends. Oh, and he must ask a girl to the fall dance. By the end of the day.

Trevor decides that he would rather squirt hot sauce in his eyes than attend the dance. Everything changes, though, when he meets mysterious new student Molly. Trevor starts to think that going to the dance maybe wouldn’t be the worst thing ever. But with detention-wielding teachers, school gossips, and, worst of all, eighth graders conspiring against him, Trevor will have to do the one thing he wasn’t prepared to do: be epic.

Check out the amazing trailer for THE CLASSROOM! 

How did you come up with the unique documentary style for The Classroom, and did you always believe it would be a series?  

I started working on this story almost ten years ago, but it was in a different format with a combination of quizzes and interviews and pamphlets mixed in with the story. It’s been very dear to my heart for quite some time because it’s the story that won me my first SCBWI writing award and I went on to get an agent with this novel. But it wasn’t the book that landed me my first book contract. That book was my teen novel, DITCHED. Shortly after I signed my contract, I met up with my editor at Comic-Con in San Diego. He just happened to ask me about the first book I ever wrote and when I told him about my wonky little middle grade book with quizzes and interviews, he got very excited.  He’d always wanted to do a mockumentary-style book. So I told him I’d take a stab at it. It ended up being amazingly easy to adapt my original novel to this format of a story with documentary footage and interviews. I had a blast writing it.

I sent in sample pages and they loved it! My publisher then asked me to write up a four-book proposal…a dream come true! Even though—let’s be honest—it was quite the challenge since I had never written a book proposal IN MY LIFE. I have a hard time just committing to a grocery list! What I ended up doing was studying plot summaries of TV episodes so I could see how they weave A and B plots together. As difficult as it was writing a detailed proposal, I will say it has helped me tremendously with writing the next book in the series. My roadmap is already done and I just get to enjoy the fun part of writing it!


What tips would Trevor, Libby, Marty, Corey, Cindy, and Molly each give to kids who are about to start middle school? 

They are each so incredibly different, which is what kids will discover when they read THE CLASSROOM. Readers may identify with one of them or all of them in little ways. Here’s the advice each of them would give:

Trevor: Always know where the bathrooms are located and NEVER ask an eighth grader for directions.

Libby: Be loyal to your friends and make sure you have a good winter jacket.

Marty: Just chill, don’t talk to eighth graders, and bring a copy of Boys’ Life (in case you need to know how to survive a bee swarm, because you never know).

Cindy: Always be perky because people will like you. And when people like you, they tell you gossip. And when you know all the gossip, you’re even happier!

Molly: Do whatever it takes to NEVER get bored.


What are your favorite and least favorite memories of middle school?

My favorite memories are those fifteen minutes or so right after lunch when we had this strange amount of freedom and I don’t even know why we were allowed to have it. For some reason, when we were done eating, I remember they would let us leave the cafeteria and for the first time EVER we were allowed to roam the halls freely and just “hang out.” It was tween heaven. Oh my word, all the gossiping and the flirting. And then we’d go to the bathroom in large pods and put on MAKE-UP! (incorrectly) But whatever, it was the best.

Least favorite memory? The fact that those were the years I was growing very tall and my pants were ALWAYS one-inch too short. Ugh.


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

My favorite middle grade novels seem to either fall in the category of timeless/heartwrenching novels or totally hilarious. When I was a teacher, the book that completely hooked my fifth graders and had them BEGGING me re-read it over and over was Louis Sachar’s SIDEWAYS STORIES FROM WAYSIDE SCHOOL. If it wasn’t for that book, I never would’ve made it through my first year of teaching alive.

The other middle grade books I love: Frindle, Holes, Because of Winn Dixie, City of Ember, Dear Dumb Diary series. I’m sort of all over the place! But all of those books have amazing voice and heart. And Dear Dumb Diary is just freaking hilarious. It just is.


Since you write both middle grade and young adult novels, I’d love to know what you think some of the biggest differences are between those genres.  

I’ve heard it said before that middle grade is about trying to fit in and teen is about trying to set yourself apart and be different.

When I’m writing middle grade, I try to keep in mind that the characters are starting to form their opinions for the first time—they’re not jaded or cynical, they’re more observational. I’m constantly reminding myself to use restraint. Light strokes.

But with teen writing, my characters have deep thoughts and emotions about everything. So I’m constantly reminding myself to step on the gas!


Thanks for visiting us, Robin.  I can’t wait to read more books in The Classroom series!  Can you give us a sneak peek at some of the adventures coming up for Trevor and his friends?

In the next book, Libby and Cindy both run for student class president. And friendships get tested during this election! And somehow Trevor ends up in a hairnet. Disastrous, I tell you.

Book two has been VERY fun to write and some of the illustrations coming up in this one have me in stitches. I can’t wait!


One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of THE CLASSROOM: The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet Epic Kid.  Leave a comment below and our random generator will choose a lucky winner on Saturday, June 23.  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!  

Robin Mellom has taught grades five through eight and has a master’s degree in education. She lives with her husband and son on the Central Coast of California. Visit her website for more information.  

Mindy Alyse Weiss writes humorous middle-grade novels and quirky picture books.  She’s constantly inspired by her eleven and fourteen year-old daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer pup who was recently rescued from the Everglades.  Visit Mindy’s blog or follow her on Twitter to read more about her writing life, conference experiences, and writing tips.

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