Browsing the blog archives for November, 2012.

  • From the Mixed-Up Files... > 2012 > November
  • 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

Exercises Middle-Grade Writers Love

Book Lists

I’ve met a lot of reluctant middle-grade writers over the years, but few can resist plunging into these fun exercises. All you need is a stack of old magazines!

Create a character! 

Snip out dozens of photos of people doing interesting things & include a few non-humans for those MG animal lovers. I usually divide the photos into a girl stack and a boy stack, knowing that a lot of boys wouldn’t want to get stuck with a frilly prom queen–especially in a classroom setting. Pass out the photos (sometimes I let kids draw a photo from the envelope).

While the kids paste their photos into their notebooks with glue stick, I write a few ideas on the board. Where does your character live? Where is your character going? Who are your character’s friends? Describe your character.

Some kids plunge into stories, but other students work on writing great descriptions.

Focus on the Problem! 

Middle-grade writers are good at coming up with crazy characters (like zombie prom queens), but sometimes they struggle with creating strong conflicts. Using advice columns immediately gets young writers focused on writing about a problem. For more advanced writers, using the advice column exercise is a good way to teach kids how to write a scene by adding dialogue, description, and inner thoughts.

Embarrassing Moments! 

Nothing makes kids giggle like the Embarrassing Moments page in a magazine. Find a great embarrassing moment anecdote and ask students to write what led up to the embarrassing moment or what happened right after the embarrassing moment. Kids love showing off their humorous side, but I love showing them that the same idea will lead to wildly different stories (so they never need to worry about having their ideas stolen).

Middle-grade writers enjoy these exercise, but those who write for middle-graders might come up with some great ideas too. Give it a try writers!

Sydney Salter is currently an Author-In-Residence at Utah’s Endeavor Hall charter school where the above writing exercises have turned into truly imaginative stories! 



Book Lists

PragmaticMom won a copy of Dianna Dorisi Winget’s debut, A SMIDGEN OF SKY!




To read the interview see here.

1 Comment

Book Feast: Eat Your Way Through A Great Book!

Activities, Book Lists, For Kids

The next morning Mrs. Welsch asked, “Wouldn’t you like to try a ham sandwich, or egg salad, or peanut butter?” Her mother looked quizzically at Harriet while the cook stood next to the table looking enraged.

“Tomato,” said Harriet, not even bothering to look up from the book she was reading.

~from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Books and Food. Food and Books. It’s holiday time and in the Brown house that means a happy family, good books and festive food. But books with food? Sure thing.

This holiday season how about holding a literary feast? It’s yummy. It’s fun. And eating along with your favorite characters brings a story to life in a whole new way. Who didn’t wonder at Edmund’s passion for the exotic sounding Turkish Delight (a candy that tastes, disappointingly, more like the inside of a jelly bean than a treat from an exotic land.) Or Harry’s mug of Butter Beer. Snow Candy with Laura Ingalls Wilder. Chocolate Cake with Matilda.

Curious second graders inspired my first intentionally literary feast. My class fell in love with Sara Pennypacker’s impulsive Clementine but most of the class had never heard of Boston Cream Pie- a mysterious dessert that’s more cake and pudding than pie. Or even Clementine’s namesake citrus fruit. To celebrate the last chapter and the end of the semester we got into the literary spirit with a Clementine feast. Would you believe every seven year old tried- and claimed to enjoy- lentils? Yes! Transformative. It was a book, a meal and a library period that none of us will ever forget.

Reading Because of Winn-Dixie? How about a feast of egg salad sandwiches, Dump punch, pickles and lozenges (I recommend horehound candies as a reasonable substitute for Kate DiCamillo’s mystical treats.) A family reading Kathi Appelt’s Keeper could have a wonderful celebratory meal of Blue Crab Gumbo. Harriet’s tomato sandwiches are straight forward- bread, mayonnaise and sliced tomatoes. Period.

Need a bit more guidance? There are oodles of cookbooks with middle-grade literary connections. Lots of them were even written by the original middle-grade authors. Check out

Mary Poppins in the Kitchen: A Cookery Book with a Story  P. L. Travers

The Redwall Cookbook by Brian Jacques

Jane Yolen and her daughter Heidi Stemple gather dishes from all across the story spectrum in Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters

Eat like you’re on the prairie with Barbara Walter’s The Little House Cookbook.

Join the masses of Potter fans with Dinah Bucholz’s The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory–More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Muggles and Wizards. She has also written The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook, with everything from Turkish Delight to Fire Roasted Pavenders (a kind of small fish.)

Or satisfy Roald Dahl fanboys and fangirls with treats from Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes.

As a FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES exclusive, here’s my kid-friendly recipe for Momma’s Sour Cream Ambrosia, fresh from the fridge in my middle-grade novel THE MAP OF ME.

Sour Cream Ambrosia

1 packet Jello- cherry or lime are “traditional” but use any flavor you prefer, prepared by packet instructions

3 cups mini-marshmallows

1 8oz container sour cream (may use low fat)

1 8oz container whipped topping such as Cool Whip

1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained

1 small can mandrin oranges, drained

2 cups crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved

1 cup toasted coconut (optional)

Mix all ingredients except coconut in a large bowl. If necessary, adjust to light moist consistency by gently stirring in some of the reserved pineapple juice. Sprinkle top with coconut.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold [as the hobbits do], it would be a merrier world.” The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein. So as you settle into the holiday season read, munch, and be merry!

What’s your favorite literary food?


Tami Lewis Brown believes you can never have enough hot buttered toast, whether dining with a hobbit or Mercy Watson.


« Older Posts