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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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  • A Moving Experience

    Writing MG Books

    I’m happy to be settling virtually into the Mixed Up Files clubhouse, and settling physically into my family’s new home in rural New England. While boxing and unboxing all my worldly possessions, I’ve given a lot of thought to “moving experiences” in literature. Authors most often use relocation as a plot device, but it can also highlight a book’s theme, demonstrate character traits, or show an aspect of the setting.

    Plot Moves:

    This is the most straightforward example. Typically there’s a character who encounters a new kid in class, or is a new kid in class, or has to deal with a friend or family member moving away. The move might be permanent, like Pip moving to London with great expectations, or it might be temporary, like Alice’s visit to Wonderland. The important thing is that if Alice decides not to follow the White Rabbit, the entire rest of the story fails to take place. The character’s move is what moves the plot.

    Thematic Moves:

    Into the woodsC.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe features a group of siblings who are relocated to the countryside during the WWII bombing of London. They then discover a magical gateway and move again, this time into the land of Narnia. That second move is necessary to the plot, but what about the first? Wouldn’t this story have worked just as well if it had been otherwise unchanged but instead had the siblings discover a portal in their own long-familiar London home?

    Lewis used the initial move to introduce a theme and ratchet up the tension. These kids, moved from bomb-battered London to a seemingly safe environment, suddenly find themselves in more danger than ever. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. The move has created ironic tension, because the pastoral countryside is not the sanctuary it was made out to be. The themes of danger and safety are integral to the book and make the story more impactful.

    Character-Revealing Moves:

    The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin presents a group of unlikely characters who compete to solve a mystery and earn the inheritance of a wealthy eccentric. At the start of the book, every one of these future contestants moves into the same apartment complex, which makes it possible to tell the story in a compact space. It’s a practical move, necessary to the plot, but it also spotlights the manipulative nature and social engineering skills of Sam Westing as he entices all of these people to uproot their previous lives even before the contest and its stakes have been introduced. If any of those families had decided to stay put instead, the entire intricate plot would have begun to unravel. By the end of the book, we see exactly how manipulative Westing has been, but it all starts with that big collective move.

    A World-Building Move:

    Harry Potter's luggage tagConsider the Harry Potter series, in which Harry moves from his uncle and aunt’s house to Hogwarts for each school year and back again for the summer. In his first year, Harry moves twice. First, he moves to a part of the wizarding world that’s a single semi-permeable wall away from the world we live in. From there, Harry and the other first-year students move by train to the pure magic of Hogwarts, which is as far removed from the muggle world as one can get. Most of the characters who make a similar double-move are muggle-born, like Hermione. Others who are native to the wizarding world only have to move once, like Ron and Draco. Every student is in for a magical year of new experiences, but readers have been introduced to a caste system that plays out more and more in later books.

    How else have you seen a move used in your favorite books? Let me know in the comments, and thanks to everyone who helped me move my words onto this blog.

    3 Comments

    3 Comments

    1. T. P. Jagger  •  Aug 13, 2012 @12:27 pm

      Greg,
      Thanks for the post. The various types of “moves” that can propel stories forward isn’t something I’d thought about, and it gives me a new way to look at my own writing.

      T. P. Jagger

    2. Elissa Cruz  •  Aug 14, 2012 @11:36 am

      What T.P. said. Thanks for giving me a new perspective to think about when it comes to writing about those new kids or new places that may crop up in a manuscript.

    3. Heather Brady  •  Aug 16, 2012 @2:55 pm

      Thank you for timely post, in my former-chapter-book-middle-grade-novel I started out with a big move from the city to country. One of the agents mentioned that she thought it was not unique enough, however, girl moves to spooky house full of secrets – so you still have to careful with it.