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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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  • The Cavendish Home For Boys And Girls

    Authors, Book Lists, Giveaways, Interviews

    From IndieBound: 

    At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson.

    Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)

    But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t’ come out at all.

    If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy.

    This is the book I recently had the pleasure of reading devoured.  In fact, I devoured every eggy bite then talked incessantly about it to my middle-grade daughter, who then promptly gulped down its contents.  Lucky for you, today you’ll get to hear from the author, Claire Legrand, and maybe even win a copy of this creeptastic book!  We’re honored to be part of her blog tour for Cavendish and hope you enjoy her visit!

    Claire Legrand is a Texan living in New York City. She used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now a full-time writer, Claire can often be found typing with purpose on her keyboard or spontaneously embarking upon adventures to lands unknown. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is her first novel, due out August 28 from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers. Her second novel, The Year of Shadows, a ghost story for middle grade readers, comes out August 2013. Her third novel, Winterspell, a young adult re-telling of The Nutcracker, comes out Fall 2014.
    Make sure to check out the rest of the Cavendish Blog Tour here!
    And go say hi to Claire at her
    blog | twitter | facebook | tumblr | goodreads

    For the writers:

    Me:  What was your greatest inspiration while writing this novel? Maybe it was a dirty basement? Perhaps a creepy lady in your neighborhood?

    Claire:  A couple of different things inspired Cavendish. One was this orphanage I lived down the street from in college. It always seemed a bit questionable to me—police caution tape on the doors, a serious lack of inactivity on the grounds, eerily quiet. Oh, and then there was that orphanage van that followed my friend and I all around town until we lost them in a Walmart parking lot. I knew then and there I just had to write a creepy orphanage story!

    My dad’s town was also a huge inspiration. I love it there, but in a certain light, if you will, it has a certain Stepford-esque quality. People are very concerned with the superficial, maintaining a certain image, a certain ideal of perfection. I thought, “Let’s put this creepy orphanage and this Stepford-esque town in the same story.” And bam! Cavendish was born.

    Oh, and one more piece of inspiration: When I was in elementary school, I took dance for a couple of years. This is particularly mystifying to me as nowadays the closest I come to dance class is blasting The Nutcracker on my stereo and doing really awful “pirouettes” around my apartment. Anyway, my dance teacher was this very kind, very patient woman named Miss Karen. Unfortunately, I once had this very vivid nightmare of Miss Karen chasing me through a house with a kitchen knife, and the image of her smiling, murderous face stuck. So, I based Mrs. Cavendish’s looks on her: dark hair, bright blue eyes, bright red lips. Elegance masking pure evil. (Sorry, Miss Karen! I can’t control my brain when I sleep.)

    Me:  That’s much worse than the creepy basement I envision while writing!  *Shivers*  Who was your favorite character to create in Cavendish? Your favorite to torture? (Personally, I liked seeing Victoria get a little messy.)

    Claire:  Well, I of course loved creating Victoria because, frankly, she was so easy for me to create. She just popped right into my head one day, fully-formed, demanding for her story to be told. And since I was a prickly perfectionist myself at the age of 12, I had a great time writing her. I understood her, probably more than I will understand any other character I write.

    But the most fun to write was probably Mrs. Cavendish herself. I absolutely love writing villains, and Mrs. Cavendish is the kind of pure, inexorable evil you just can’t reason with. That was pretty terrifying to experience for both me and Victoria—probably more terrifying for her, as she actually had to battle Mrs. Cavendish, and I just had to sit safely at my computer.

    And I agree with you: I also liked seeing Victoria get a little messy. She was my favorite character to torture because she had the farthest to fall. Her life was perfect at the beginning of the story—she was confident, successful, pretty, wealthy, with beautiful, successful parents and a beautiful house and fantastic grades. So orchestrating her fall brought me a sadistic literary delight.

    Me:  Writing villains is a thrill like no other! *rubs hands together*  *laughs maniacally*   In Cavendish, Victoria is a bit of a perfectionist. What part do you think that plays in the story and why?

    Claire:  A bit of a perfectionist? ;) I’d say she’s a perfectionista! Victoria’s perfectionism—including her need to control not only her life, but also everyone else’s—is mirrored in Mrs. Cavendish’s own desire to control the town of Belleville. When Victoria realizes this, it spooks her. She realizes how close she has come to using her intelligence and ambition for evil, as Mrs. Cavendish does, and that gives her a tremendous determination—the same determination that drives her academically, the same determination that prompted her to search for Lawrence in the first place—to not be like Mrs. Cavendish.

    Me:  Perfectionista it is then! (I don’t know anyone remotely similar to Victoria in my family….nope, not at all!)  So…Lawrence, Victoria’s pet project and friend, has a skunk stripe in his hair. What did you feel was the significance in that character trait as you wrote the story?

    Claire:  Lawrence’s skunkish hair was actually inspired by a dear friend of mine, who started getting these beautiful silver hairs in her thick, black hair when we were in elementary school. I don’t recall people ever making fun of her for it, but it felt appropriate for Lawrence to be ridiculed for his own gray hairs. After all, in Belleville, where physical abnormalities are frowned upon. The fact that Lawrence has that weird silver streak in his hair merely serves as one more element that marks him as abnormal—along with his messy clothes and obsession with his piano over all else.

    Me:  I loved that about him!  Many writers have a favorite snack.  Do you prefer to eat chocolate covered beetles or frosted roaches while writing? I’d go with the chocolate – it makes everything taste better!

    Claire:  Oh, I’m with you there! Chocolate all the way. Chocolate-covered beetles, chocolate frogs, chocolate pretzels . . . mmm . . . if I don’t stop on the way home to get some chocolate chip cookies, it’ll be a miracle!

    Me:  Is Cavendish your first book? Briefly tell about your path to publication (how many query letters, rejections, how you found your agent, etc.)

    Claire:  Yes, Cavendish is my first book, and the second book I’ve written overall. I originally started querying agents for the first book I wrote, which was a YA fantasy. I queried for maybe a year or a year and a half or so, and I received many rejections, all of which I keep in a tin for safekeeping. (At one point I considered making some sort of artsy mural out of them, but I never made the time. Probably a good thing!) I also received some requests, one of which was from my current agent, Diana Fox. She loved that story but was absolutely correct when she said that it wasn’t the right time for that mammoth project. I wasn’t ready yet. But she urged me to contact her when I had something else. So, I wrote Cavendish, sent it to her, and received an offer of representation shortly afterward. Diana doesn’t usually represent middle grade, but she loved Cavendish—and I’m so glad she did!

    Me:  I’m glad she did, too!  Cavendish is easily one of my favorite reads of 2012! 

    For the parents:

    Me:  In Cavendish, most of the parents don’t seem to care , or even notice their missing children. Do you think real parents (or even children) can relate to that?

    Claire:  Without giving anything away, there is a very good (and sinister) reason why the parents of Belleville start forgetting about their children and seem not to care about their disappearances. But, yes, I do think a lot of parents (and children!) can relate to that feeling of being forgotten, discarded, or not living up to someone’s expectations. Children get frustrated with their parents, not able to see how something a parent does is for the best in the long run, and assuming that means the parent doesn’t care about her own wishes. And parents, I’m sure, can feel like their children don’t care about them, especially as middle grade kids grow into teenagers. I also think parents can understand the frustration of hoping your child will do or become one thing, when they instead do or become another thing. Even if that frustration is temporary—and even though I’m sure real parents don’t actually want to send their kid to a Cavendish Home to get some sense knocked into them—I think it’s a sentiment many parents can understand. Unfortunately for the children of Belleville, the presence of Mrs. Cavendish takes these normal, temporary frustrations and turns them into something much more malevolent.

    For the teachers/librarians:

    Me:  What do you think makes Cavendish a unique reading experience?

    Claire:  Cavendish has a lot of heart, a lot of humor, and a lot of adventure—but it’s also very scary, and I didn’t pull punches when writing it. In other words, the stakes are high for these characters, and not everything turns out okay for the good guys in the end. There is no magic wand that fixes Mrs. Cavendish’s—and Belleville’s—past wrongs. I think kids appreciate that kind of realism and bittersweet victory. They’re smart enough to realize that not everything works out like you’d hope it would in real life, and I think they like seeing that in books. It’s a reminder that, yes, bad things do happen, even when the heroes do emerge victorious in the end, but you can work through those bad things and still have a good life afterward.

    Me:  I would definitely agree with that!  What books would you compare it to? (I couldn’t help but conjure up the same creepy feelings that I got from Coraline and Monster House!)

    Claire:  Thank you for those wonderful, humbling comparisons! I would compare it to Coraline, for sure, and also to Matilda and Roald Dahl’s works in general. People have also told me it reminds them of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. These are all creepy, quirky, dark tales of grown-ups being bad and kids banding together to save the day—and that’s what Cavendish is too!

    For the readers (the kids/prospective Cavendish residents):

    Me:  If Victoria had to choose between eating the Cavendish mush for the remainder of her life or being messy, uncivilized and unorganized for one month, which would she choose?

    Claire:  Ha! Great question. I think that, at the beginning of the story, Victoria would definitely choose eating some stupid mush for the rest of her life. Anything would be better than having to tolerate mess, chaos, and disorganization for a week, much less a month!

    But, at the end of Cavendish, I think Victoria would absolutely choose the month of messiness. I’d say she’s learned to tolerate messiness a little better at that point, after everything she and the other kids have been through. Plus, anything messy and unorganized has the added bonus of reminding her of Lawrence. If she just focuses on thinking about Lawrence, she’ll be all right.

    Me:  I think I loved that the most about Victoria – while she does change and grow during the story, its not some false, impossible transformation, but a more realistic change, one that stays true to her, yet allows her the needed growth, for both the character and the reader.  At one point in the story Lawrence has to play a piano made of bugs. He seems only slightly unnerved by it. What would really make him upset? Snakes? Spiders? Cold spaghetti?

    Claire:  Oh, I think Lawrence was very upset about the bug piano. But Mrs. Cavendish had her hooks in him so deeply at that point that he was too traumatized to show much emotion, almost like he was in shock. I think the thing that scared him most of all was watching Mrs. Cavendish get the better of Victoria. Also, I think he’d be scared of something weird and surprising. Like cabbage. Or maybe butterflies.

    Me:  Butterflies! Haha!

    Well, there you have it!  Cavendish is a wonderfully, creeptastic story that you won’t want to miss! To win a hardcover copy of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, fill out the form below! Contest is U.S./Canada only. Contest ends September 25th.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Amie Borst and her 12 year old co-author write fairy tales with a twist.  Their first book in the Scary Tales series, Cinderskella, is due out Fall 2013 by Jolly Fish Press.  You can visit her day or night at http://amie-borst.com

    26 Comments

    25 Comments

    1. Halli Gomez  •  Sep 10, 2012 @6:48 am

      This was a great interview! I stayed up too late last night reading another interview with Claire Legrand. I can’t get enough! This book sounds fantastic!

      Thanks for a great website.

    2. Cassie F.  •  Sep 10, 2012 @7:34 am

      This was a great interview and a fantastic way to finish the tour! :D HI CLAIRE!

    3. Ella Schwartz  •  Sep 10, 2012 @8:47 am

      Great interview. Cavendish has been in my TBR pile for a while!

    4. Vivien  •  Sep 10, 2012 @9:18 am

      I completely forgot about Lyra Bellaqua from His Dark Materials. Love her too!

    5. Cathy Ogren  •  Sep 10, 2012 @10:19 am

      Hi Claire,

      I can’t wait to read this book. Great post!

    6. Rebekah B.  •  Sep 10, 2012 @10:34 am

      Even more intrigued! Can’t wait to read this book!

    7. TL Conway  •  Sep 10, 2012 @11:22 am

      I have heard SO MANY wonderful things about this book. I can’t wait to read it myself!

    8. JenP  •  Sep 10, 2012 @1:18 pm

      This looks fabulous. I’m a big fan of Lyra from His Dark Materials.

    9. L  •  Sep 10, 2012 @1:37 pm

      I was interested by the end of the synopsis, but as always with the interviews I find here, I am now completely determined to read this book.

      great interview! thank you for sharing the author and this book!

    10. L  •  Sep 10, 2012 @1:39 pm

      oh, yes.. the favorite middle-grade heroine… today I will go with… Hathin from Frances Hardinge’s Lost Conspiracy.

    11. Cathe Olson  •  Sep 10, 2012 @5:45 pm

      I’ve been hearing a lot about this book and am very anxious to read it. My favorite middle-grade herione is Pippi Longstocking!

    12. Jill  •  Sep 10, 2012 @6:11 pm

      I really really want to read this. OWNING a copy would be amazing. I’ve followed the author’s blog for a while (never commented though) and admire her journey and skills :)

      Jill Reply:

      @Jill,

      oh, and my favorite MG book? Way too many to choose from.
      Recent favorites:
      Percy Jackson series,
      Milo,
      The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

    13. Linda Andersen  •  Sep 10, 2012 @6:16 pm

      Claire,
      I’ll probably never look at Homes for Boys and Girls the same way again. Yes, I want to read this one.

    14. Grace Radford/Anna Pett  •  Sep 10, 2012 @7:13 pm

      Love the way you wrote/set up this interview!!! It was so much fun! And now I’m sad that the tour is over. :(

    15. Marilyn  •  Sep 10, 2012 @7:51 pm

      Claire,
      I loved the interview and can’t wait to read Cavendish! I don’t think I can name a favorite MG heroine. There are just way too many good ones!

    16. bn100  •  Sep 10, 2012 @10:04 pm

      Very nice interview.

    17. aatweens  •  Sep 10, 2012 @10:12 pm

      I love the interview! I’ve been following this tour and I just can’t wait to read Cavendish. I have too many favourite middle grades heroines, but I think Holly Short from the Artemis Fowl series stands out the most (if she counts O.o). Thanks for the chance to win!

    18. Linda Johns  •  Sep 11, 2012 @12:31 am

      Wonderful interview! I devoured The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, and started blabbing about it on Twitter and other places where I blab. I wasn’t at all surprised that other librarians, writers and parents got excited about it — we need more creepy, scary stories done this well! I’ve described the book as starting out a little Roald Dahl-ish, then heading into Stepford land, and then a bit of Coraline, so I’m happy to see that others have made the same comparisons.

    19. Sheela Chari  •  Sep 11, 2012 @8:37 am

      Congratulations on your book release, Claire! Don’t enter me as I’m a MUF member. I’m passing on this title to my local library. :)

    20. deniz  •  Sep 11, 2012 @2:00 pm

      Woo hoo! Fun to see Claire on this site!

    21. Hwa Sun  •  Sep 16, 2012 @2:51 am

      I’d be terrified it I’d dreamed that one of my teachers (or anyone, really) chased me down with a knife.

    22. alicia marie  •  Sep 18, 2012 @8:09 am

      Hi Claire!! Thanks for the great interview! I can’t wait to read this : )

    23. Kayla W.  •  Sep 24, 2012 @9:10 am

      I can’t even deal with how good this book sounds. Give me all of your creepy MG please!

    24. Rincey  •  Sep 24, 2012 @9:18 am

      This books sounds so interesting! I can’t wait to give it a read.

    25. Lena  •  Sep 25, 2012 @1:27 pm

      i cannot wait for this book!! it sounds creepily awesome!!