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    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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Happy UN Day!

Authors, Book Lists, Inspiration

You might not know that today is United Nations Day. I didn’t know it either, until my Mixed-Up Files calendar told me so. Now that you know this, you are probably asking, okay, what is United Nations Day?

According to the UN, this day was established to highlight the aims and achievements of the UN and marks the anniversary of the organization’s 1945 charter. But more specifically, the UN Secretary-General said recently that this is a day for everyone to resolve to do more — more to protect those caught in armed conflict, more to fight climate change, avert nuclear catastrophe, expand opportunities for women and girls, and more to combat injustice.

It seems an insurmountable task to fix all that’s broken in our world. And it’s easy to get caught up in how much is bad, especially since much of the news is overly negative and sensational. But the good stories are out there too, like an article I read about five women in their 70s who have been friends since kindergarten, or the man who had his lost wedding band returned by strangers. Those kinds of stories lift my heart, as do these favorite books with young characters who are determined to make this world a better place. We could all learn something from them!

My Life in Pink & Green
, by Lisa Greenwald

Twelve-year old Lucy Desberg is a natural problem-solver. She’s started doing makeovers at her family’s struggling pharmacy, but all the makeup tips in the world won’t help save the business. Lucy dreams up a solution that can breathe new life into the business and help the environment too. But will her family stop arguing long enough to listen to a seventh-grader?

I love this sweet book, and Lucy is such an inspiring character. I was happy to hear that we’ll find out how Lucy’s story continues when the sequel comes out this spring – My Summer of Pink & Green.

 The Second Life of Abigail Walker, by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Seventeen pounds. That’s the difference between Abigail and Kristen. Between chubby and slim, teased and taunting. Abby is fine with her body and sick of seventeen pounds making her miserable, so she speaks out against Kristen and her groupies — and becomes officially unpopular. Then Abby meets Anders, who is homeschooled and different, plus worried about his dad, an Iraq War vet. Abby unexpectedly discovers that by helping someone else find hope in the world, she’s able to find some too.


, by Patricia Polacco

Lyla makes the cheerleading squad and is suddenly part of the popular group. But when she sees the popular girls viciously teasing classmates on Facebook, including an old friend, she realizes it’s time to get out. But the popular girls aren’t so happy with Lyla’s decision and they’re out for revenge. This is a powerful story of cliques, online bullying, and the choice to stand up for a friend.


Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen

In this Newbery Honor book, Roy Eberhardt is on a quest to save endangered miniature owls when a pancake house is scheduled to be built over their burrows. Full of funny, interesting, quirky characters, as well as inspiration.



 Wonder, by RJ Palacio

This best-seller follows the story of Auggie Pullman, a boy with a severe facial deformity who is going to school for the first time. The book has prompted an anti-bullying campaign, choosekind.tumblr.com and its own Twitter feed, #thewonderofwonder. Full of heart and hope, the majority of characters realize that Auggie is someone they can be friends with instead of stare at.


Judy Moody Saves the World, by Megan McDonald
Judy sets out to win a contest for her Band-Aid design but after garnering only an honorable mention, she turns her attention to her family’s crummy recycling habits and an endangered species.




One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

The story of Ivan, a caged gorilla living inside a circus-themed mall, is based on a true story, and the cool part is that it was heartfelt letters from kids that helped free the real Ivan. Applegate has written a poignant story in Ivan’s voice that has resonated with readers of many ages. The real Ivan was happily moved to the Atlanta Zoo (after 27 years at the mall!) and became a beloved celebrity there, living contentedly with other gorillas until he died at age 50.


Although these characters are fictional, their quests to set things right are very real – saving a small business, helping a war veteran, confronting bullies, rescuing an endangered species, and fighting for freedom. I hope that young readers (and old ones too) are inspired to get out there and change the world!

Talk about this and other issues on the weekly Twitter chat about middle grade fiction and nonfiction — #MGlitchat. This takes place every Thursday night at 9 p.m. EST.

Michele Weber Hurwitz, the author of Calli Be Gold (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House 2011), has way too many inspirational quotes taped up over her desk. Visit her at www.micheleweberhurwitz.com.



  1. Jill  •  Oct 24, 2012 @5:50 pm

    Great post.
    I’ve read The One and Only Ivan, The Second Life of Abigail Walker, and Wonder just recently actually. Good books!

  2. PragmaticMom  •  Oct 24, 2012 @8:44 pm

    Wow! Great book list and never would have guessed the UN relationship! Love this post!

  3. Tracy Abell  •  Oct 26, 2012 @11:09 am

    This is a wonderful list, Michele. Thank you for adding more books to my to-be-read pile! Am reading WONDER right now, and enjoying it very much.