• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Inspiration > Wishes for my son
  • 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...


  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

Wishes for my son

Inspiration, Parents

My 18-year old son left for college this fall. He’s attending the University of Iowa, the only college he wanted to go to, the only college he applied to, and luckily, the college he was accepted to. Unlike many high school seniors, the choice was an easy one for Sam — his dad, grandfather, and two uncles were Hawkeyes. Sam’s easy-going, middle child thought process was this: why mess with tradition? It worked for them, it’ll work for me.

Among my many worries about Sam’s departure are the facts that he’s never done a load of laundry, has a knack for losing things, and has no idea what he wants to do in life. But among my comforts — he has an inner yearning to learn about subjects that interest him. And there have been many over the years: coins, constellations, basketball, the Beatles — to name a few.

Before he left, he asked me to help him go through the stuff in his room. His bookshelf was crammed with many favorites he had hung onto since his days in elementary and middle school. Seeing the books, I wasn’t just reminded of what he had loved to read for the past eighteen years, but the way the stories had shaped the young man standing before me.

And as we pulled down the books, I realized I had wishes for my son as he left the protection, familiarity, and security of the home he had known his whole life.

I wish that he will stay close with his sisters and hold on to his curiosity and thirst for knowledge, like Jack and Annie in the Magic Tree House series, those beloved books that Sam devoured throughout second grade. Sam and his sisters used to act out the stories, going on adventures that took them from their bedrooms all the way downstairs to the family room, through the kitchen and back upstairs. (They did not have Smartphones, tablets, or any type of texting device at this time.) Stuck among the piles of books was the pad of paper where they started writing their own version — Monkeys on Monday. They were determined to finish it and send it off to Mary Pope Osborne. (They didn’t, although I’m sure Ms. Osborne would have loved it.)

I wish that Sam will cling to his imagination for a while longer, before the weight and seriousness of adulthood forces it away. Like Joe Stoshack in Dan Gutman’s baseball adventure books, there was a point when Sam believed a boy could time travel just by holding a baseball card in his hand.

I wish that he will be brave and determined, like Harry Potter, as he faces the many obstacles that will be sure to block his path. He won’t have a wand, just his intelligence and heart. I wish that he always finds humor in life’s trying situations, like Louis Sachar’s Marvin Redpost, and holds tight to his passions, always continuing to seek out what makes him happy, like the main character in one of our favorite picture books of all time, Shy Charles, by Rosemary Wells.

And I wish that he will fight for what he believes in, and fight for those who cannot, like Annemarie in Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, and many other heroes in these books he read, who triumphed over enemies real and imagined.

There were many more wishes on my mind, but the bookshelf was empty.

Now there was room for college textbooks, the framed graduation photo, the Bob Dylan guitar chord book. I asked Sam if he was sad to pass these childhood books along to our local library. He said no, not at all, because the stories were “in my brain.”

In his brain. Wow.

Maybe, just maybe, those wishes have a chance of coming true.

Michele Weber Hurwitz still has her worn copy of Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott, which she read over and over as a child. She is the author of Calli Be Gold (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House 2011). Visit her at www.micheleweberhurwitz.com.



  1. Jen Swanson  •  Oct 10, 2012 @6:20 am


    Your post was very beautiful and resonated with me. I can relate. My son, too, left for college this fall. He is at Georgia Tech. I wish for him all that you wish for your son. It’s tough to see them go, but so gratifying to know that they are ready. Best of luck to your son!!

    Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

    @Jen Swanson, Thank you, Jen. And good luck to your son, too. There is definitely a bittersweet pride and happiness as they go off on their own.

  2. Ann Marie Meyers  •  Oct 10, 2012 @6:25 am

    Ow wow Jen – how beautiful and so touching! I hope all your wishes for him come true.

  3. Brenda Ferber  •  Oct 10, 2012 @10:18 am

    Michele, you brought tears to my eyes with this heartfelt post. I totally relate! My twins will be heading off to college next fall, and my third child just a year after them. They grew up with and loved all these books, too!

    Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

    @Brenda Ferber, Thanks so much, Brenda! Treasure these last years :)

  4. Julie Mata  •  Oct 10, 2012 @9:25 pm

    How true that books we love stay in our brains. I really enjoyed this post. It evokes the days when screens were not so prevalent, and books were a much loved source of entertainment. I can remember riding my bike home from the library with my basket piled high with books that I couldn’t wait to dig into.
    And I can also relate since my oldest daughter went off to college in September, and I have many wishes for her as well. Thanks!

    Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

    @Julie Mata, I also rode home from the library with my bike basket filled with books! Much good luck to your daughter. And thank you.

  5. Ali B.  •  Oct 10, 2012 @10:00 pm

    Does he know the University of Iowa fight song? If he knows that, he should be fine. My mom, a loyal Hawkeye, taught it to me when I was in elementary school. I’ve never forgotten it. I wish him well!

    Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

    @Ali B., Haha! He knows the fight song and he’s been to every home football game this year! Go Hawks! Thank you.

  6. Beth MacKinney  •  Oct 10, 2012 @10:02 pm

    It was hard for me to read your post, because my own son is 15, and although he towers over me already, he still gives me a good night hug and kiss every night. Hard to watch kids grow up!

    : )

    Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

    @Beth MacKinney, It is. So bittersweet. As much as I bemoan the constant texting, it’s made me feel like I’m in touch with him. Plus we Skype! My parents and I talked once a week (long distance!) when I was in college.

  7. Dianna Winget  •  Oct 11, 2012 @9:40 am

    My daughter just turned 15, but more than once we’ve had to clean off her bookshelves to make room for new. We’ve passed most of the books on to younger family members, but it’s still so hard to have to part with old favorites. Some I just couldn’t handle getting rid of, like A Mother for Chocko, Chrysamthamum (I know it’s mispelled!) Pat the Bunny, and Richard Scarry’s Best Story Book Ever. I simply moved these books over to MY shelf!

    Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

    @Dianna Winget, Absolutely! I’m hanging onto “Officer Buckle and Gloria” and “The Little House” forever!

  8. Tracy Abell  •  Oct 11, 2012 @11:31 am

    This is a beautiful post that resonated with me. My son left home last spring and it was hard going through his bookshelf. He didn’t take many childhood books but when I discovered he’d left behind his autographed copy of Maniac McGee, I delivered it to him!

    Thank you for sharing your wishes and know I’m sending some your son’s way, too.

    Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

    @Tracy Abell, Thank you! And my best wishes to your son too!