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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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  • Trudi Trueit—Interview and Giveaway

    Authors, Giveaways, Interviews, Tweens

    Joining us on The Mixed-up Files today is author Trudi Trueit who has been on the road all week visiting blogs in support of her new tween novel Stealing Popular. Trudi is the author of more than 80 books of fiction and nonfiction for children, including the Julep O’Toole books and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series. To be in the running to win a signed advanced reader’s copy of Stealing Popular, leave a comment below. The winner will be announced tomorrow. Before we begin, though, a bit about the book from Indiebound:

    At Briar Green Middle School, you are either a Somebody, a Sorta-body, or a Nobody. Twelve-year-old Coco Sherwood falls directly in the Nobody category—the kids who are considered the misfits and outcasts of the school. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s time to even the score.

    With clever planning and sneaky tactics, Coco becomes the Robin Hood of Briar Green. Girls who never thought they had a chance to be noticed are now making cheer squad and turning into beauty queens. But when Coco takes on the ultimate challenge—taking down Popular Girl#1 Dijon Randle—her dream of equality on the middle-school social ladder may turn into a nightmare. Can Coco and the rest of the Nobodies triumph in a world where popularity is power? Or will the Somebodies win—again?

    Welcome to the Mixed-up Files, Trudi, and congratulations on the release of your new book.

    Thanks, Laurie! It’s a treat to be here. I’m a big fan of the blog.

    Thanks! I wish I’d had a friend like Coco Sherwood when I was in middle school. Actually—correction—I wish I’d been more like Coco when I was in middle school. Can you tell us what inspired her story?

    Me, too! I was inspired to write this story by my own experience in middle school. When I was young, I was bit on the shy side. I often conformed to the social rules set by others, even when I disagreed with them. It’s something I’ve regretted – giving other people so much control over my path, and that’s what it was. It was me giving my power away. I wanted to write a character with the courage to say many of the things I wished I had said back then. I tend to do that in my writing; deal with issues I didn’t handle well in my own life or try to right the wrongs of the world.

    5th Grade Trudi!

    One of my favorite lines comes from Chapter 2. Coco reflects, “We were three Nobodies treading water in the vast, stormy ocean of middle school. The best we could do was hold onto one another, kick like mad, and pray for a miracle.”  What was your experience of middle school like? Do you think the social hierarchy has changed much?

    That line reflects how I felt in middle school – swept along with the tide. I was the A-student (with glasses and uncooperative hair) that always had her head in a book. Although I wasn’t quite as much of a misfit as Renata is in Stealing Popular, I certainly felt the sting of the occasional insult. Kids have a tendency to take digs at each other and not think anything of it, but I can tell you that when someone makes a cutting remark to you, it hurts. You remember it for a long time. If the insults continue, they can start to chip away at your confidence and self-esteem. It was my friends who helped me navigate some of those stormy seas, just as Coco’s first real friends help her discover how friendships can be the life saver you hold onto when the waves come.

    From what I observe, it doesn’t seem like the social hierarchy has changed much. I think that there will always be Somebodies, Sorta-bodies, and Nobodies. But I do see more kids willing to cross boundaries and reach out to kids outside their circle, and that’s a positive step. I also think young people are becoming more aware that there are different degrees of bullying. Bullying doesn’t have to be extreme. What might seem to be “just teasing” can cause more pain than you realize.

    Trudi today

    Coco’s not a whiner. Once she recognizes the unfairness of the social order she’s determined to change it. In fact, she’s so focused on helping her friends she doesn’t even notice that she’s fixing her own problems as well. What a cool role model for girls! Were you thinking along those lines as you wrote the story – or was all of that Coco’s doing?

    It was always in the big picture to have Coco work through some of her own issues even as she help other kids, but of course, once you start writing a strong character, she wants to hop in the driver’s seat and take off! Just like all of us, Coco wants to be accepted and loved for who she is and I had planned for her to come that realization as she develops the first real friendships of her life. What I was less sure about was how she would handle her mom’s abandonment. Once Coco came through the fog of denial, I gave her the freedom to respond in her own way. And she stunned me with her candor. I thought she would defend her mother to the bitter end, but she didn’t. That’s always my favorite part of writing – those little unexpected surprises that come straight from the heart of a character.

    As funny as the story is — a detention monitor who forces kids to knit booties for her bulldogs! — Stealing Popular takes on some serious issues, including a scene where we see how adults help perpetuate the social order. My 8th grade daughter hadn’t given much thought to popularity or most-favored status until she tried out for her first sports team this year, and it’s been eye opening. What do you think teachers and coaches can do to help both the Coco’s (the Nobodies) and the Dijon’s (the Somebodies) of the world?

    When I was in middle school, I had a soccer coach that had certain favorite players. There was a clear division on the team. Even though we were talented and won nearly all of our games, nobody was very happy, even the favored kids. I got so frustrated I nearly quit a sport I loved. A year later, another parent took over the team. Her style was completely the opposite of the old coach. She made each of us feel as if we were an integral part of the team. No one player was more or less valuable than another. We began to look at each other differently. With the wall torn down, we started, for the first time ever, to play cohesively. We had fun. Most important, we became friends.

    I think it’s key for adults to recognize that a student’s personal growth is more important than winning a soccer game or looking like a model in a cheerleading uniform. Every child deserves encouragement, respect, and kindness, regardless of their ability, appearance, or social standing. Teachers and coaches who are inclusive, those who draw out the shy kid in the back of the room or let an uncoordinated girl play basketball, can change lives.

    Coco’s heart is in the right place, but her means can be questionable…or downright stinky as a half-composted sweat sock. (Sorry guys, you’ll just have to read the story to get the joke.) Stealing Popular would make a great conversation starter about whether the ends justify the means. Have you been able to have that discussion with any of your readers yet?

    I’ve had a few readers already share their thoughts, especially because Coco does get a bit carried away with her mission. And that’s an important element to discuss. Coco thinks that as long as her mission is a noble one, it’s okay to cross certain lines. It isn’t, of course, and she discovers the dangers of getting so focused on a goal you don’t realize the high price you are paying to achieve it.

    I think a lot of girls are going to fall in love with Coco. Have we heard the last from her or will there be more stories from Briar Green Middle School – a.k.a. Big Mess?

    I would LOVE to write more stories about Coco and her friends. It would be fun to write from the point of view of Fawn (the fashion designer), Adair (the dancer), Liezel (the rock musician) or maybe even the popular girls, Dijon or Venice! If readers want more and ask for more, I would definitely be up for it.

    Sounds great, Trudi. Thanks again for stopping by.

    Thanks, Laurie! It was my pleasure.

    *  *  *

    For more about Trudi Trueit, visit her at www.truditrueit.com. Trudi is available for Skype visits through OnlineAuthorVisits.com and is a regular contributor to Smack Dab in the Middle, another group-authored middle-grade blog that Mixed-up Files fans should check out.

    Laurie Schneider is a reader, writer, library go-fer, and scone connoisseur in North Idaho.

    13 Comments

    10 Comments

    1. Jennifer  •  Sep 12, 2012 @4:56 am

      My current MS is about a group of 8th grade mean girls and my MC’s attempts to complete their ridiculous pledging requirements so she can be popular too. I LOVE seeing how other authors handle these types of characters- just added this to my Goodreads must-reads. It sounds great, Trudi!

      Trudi Trueit Reply:

      @Jennifer, Thanks so much! Love your idea. What a terrific premise for a tween novel. Oh, the things we do in the tween years to be accepted. Best of luck!

    2. Dianna Winget  •  Sep 12, 2012 @9:21 am

      I really enjoyed your interview, Trudi! Congrats on your new book. I think I’ll have to read it just to find out more about the booties for bulldogs bit. Sounds like a great read with an important message.

      Trudi Trueit Reply:

      @Dianna Winget, Thank you so very much! Laurie asks excellent questions, doesn’t she? And yes, I’ve noticed eccentric teachers do seem to find their way into my books. ;)

    3. Jill  •  Sep 12, 2012 @12:10 pm

      I really enjoyed this interveiw, I was a shy kid in both primary and high school, and always felt “not right”. I like the concept of this novel and Trudi’s revelations. And wow, you have written over 80 books…huge applause from here :)

      Can’t wait to read the book! Going to check out your website now for other books to add to TBR list.

    4. Trudi Trueit  •  Sep 12, 2012 @12:32 pm

      Thanks, Jill! So good to hear from another shy soul. Hopefully, we can help other bashful kids realize they have so much to offer the world!

    5. Kim Murray  •  Sep 12, 2012 @1:39 pm

      I’m looking forward to reading this book. Ahh…some good and not so good middle school memories will come rushing back, I’m sure. But, how great is it to be able to rewrite one’s past with a different ending or twist. Great interview!

    6. L  •  Sep 12, 2012 @2:22 pm

      I like the use of humor to tread difficult topics and I love the move to show how helping others helps us, too, as well as the idea of exploring those lines we may be drawn to cross for noble causes–it is a conversation the daughter and I were having (again) near the end of last year (6th grade) and will no doubt return this year.

      I wasn’t really shy (middle child clown more like), but my one and only exhibits a unpredictable mix of shy and out-going and I’m actually thinking this may be a read where I can get to know her a bit better, most certainly her view on all things social in Middle School.

    7. Cindy  •  Sep 12, 2012 @6:36 pm

      I’m reliving my own middle school angst now through my 7th-grade daughter (last name Sherwood! Wish my husband and I had thought of Coco because it’s really cute). She and I would both love to read this… what an excellent interview.

    8. JenP  •  Sep 12, 2012 @7:57 pm

      What a lovely interview.

    9. D.Lee Sebree  •  Sep 12, 2012 @9:00 pm

      I really have to get this book! In this years 7th & 8th grades we have a ratio of two girls to one boy. What was in the water when they were conceived? Last year’s 7th grade had some seriously mean girls. They are better, for the moment, as 8th graders. Maybe I should get a class set…

      Trudi Trueit Reply:

      @D.Lee Sebree, Thanks so much and you’re not alone! A school district in my state is considering using the book as part of their curriculum on bullying/behavior. Sometimes, kids just need to see their behavior mirrored to fully recognize the impact they are having. Glad to hear maturity is helping them see things a bit clearer!

    10. Llehn  •  Sep 12, 2012 @10:28 pm

      Sounds like such a fun book!