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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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    Hi Mixed-Up Filers!

    I’m sick. No, this is not an attempt to fish for sympathy comments, although feel free. No, I am actually, honest-to-goodness, lying in bed, shivering sick.

    The reason I’m telling you this, is because I just received a heartwarming phone call from our exalted leader, Elissa Cruz. She said, “Make sure you have that post for me.”, which I knew was just her way of checking to see how I was feeling.  So, after explaining that I was sick and had no idea what to write about, she said, “I don’t care what you write about, lackey.” (Lackey, I believe is her term of endearment for me. I’m pretty sure it means ‘great friend’, but I’ll have to look it up to be sure). Anyway, she went on to say, “Just write something.” As you can tell by our banter, we have a great relationship, so not wanting to let her down, I knew I needed to come up with something…fast!

    I went back to my first post to see what I wrote then, and by the way, can you believe that it’s only been 95 days since then? Seems like months, but that’s neither here nor there. This is about today and my post. So, after reading my first post,  I thought that this time it might be fun to write about the books that made me love middle-grade in the first place, as well as some recent books have kept me loving the genre through today.

    So, without further ado and trying to adhere to Elissa Cruz’s strictly-mandated word count on my posts, let us begin.

    Just like first loves, you always remember your first book. My first love was this pretty girl named Jenny.  She had long dark hair and…no, wait! I think that was Karen? No, it couldn’t be. Karen was the one with the ‘condition’. You know, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure it was Mary Sue. Well, I guess it doesn’t really matter now. But, the first book that I remember reading and loving stands out clearly. It was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. Now, that wasn’t my first book, obviously. That honor probably goes to either something Dr. Suess, or Sesame Street, but The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first book I remember reading on my own and really loving. It took me off to a faraway place, with enchanted creatures and magical beings. Good versus evil. I have read it many times since and each and every time, I am transported back into my kid-self and have that same sense of wonder I did then. The religious allegory was lost on me back then and I’m glad, because I looked at it as just an entertaining story, and to me it still holds up well today. It’s one of those books, which I’ll still pick up occasionally to this day, and am never disappointed.  That was the one book that got me into reading.

    Others of course followed, and another book that I remember loving as a kid, was The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks. I guess looking at it now, I can see the similarities to Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, although it didn’t occur to me then. Seems, that I like magic portal stories, but what kid wouldn’t. A way to enter a magical world or bring magic into your own house and room? Who wouldn’t love that?  With Indian in the Cupboard, I would always pretend my toys would be able to come to life somehow. Hmmm…toys coming to life? Might make for a good movie. Memo to self: look into that. Anyway, Indian in the Cupboard was something every kid, since there have been toys, probably imagined. And though I usually hate using that ‘m’ word ‘moral’, it also had a nice message in it about messing with things you don’t understand.

    Since not every great book was written during the time of my childhood, I also want to mention a couple that my kids have enjoyed (Okay…me too), Aliens on Vacation, by Clete Barrett Smith, was one that I really enjoyed. In it, a boy named David, (The fact that my son is named that, in no way influenced me by the way) visits his grandmother’s bed-and-breakfast to discover that she is running an inn for aliens from other galaxies, who visit through the use of a portal, and… hmmm, I kind of like portal stories don’t I?  Well, the book was a lot of fun and besides toys coming to life, aliens are really cool as well.

    Another recent one that I really enjoyed was The Billionaire’s Curse, by Richard Newsome. In that one, a thirteen-year old boy named Gerald, inherits his great-aunt’s fortune. Not only does he inherit her money, he also has to solve her murder. Although, I know most kids don’t care about getting vast quantities of money, the mystery aspect of this book keeps kids (and me) intrigued all the way through, although there were no portals. Maybe in the next one?

    Yes, there are many, many other books that I loved as a kid and new ones that I’m adding to my favorites list, but time (and Elissa Cruz) prohibit me from listing them all. Besides, as this fever continues to rise, my memory is blurring anyway.

    So, dear readers, what have we learned today? We learned for one, that generation after generation has some pretty darn good middle-grade books and we always remember our first, and two, books with portals in them rock! So, to all you aspiring writers out there, make sure to include portals in your books and plenty of them!

    Anyway, I would love to hear some of your all-time favorites in the comment section, and just a reminder, if I get over one-hundred comments, Elissa Cruz has promised to wrestle a bear. Yes, you heard me right, a bear!

    So, what are you waiting for? Get commenting!

    Jonathan Rosen is a high school English teacher, living in South Florida. He writes middle-grade geared toward boys, because he finds they share the same sensibilities and sense of humor. Jonathan has lived all over the world and is hoping to eventually find a place that will let him stay.

    18 Comments

    9 Comments

    1. Tracy Abell  •  Nov 9, 2012 @8:54 am

      This is quite funny about the portals because I just had a conversation with a new-ish writer friend who realized he should not use portals in his stories because very few of them get published. And here you’ve listed all of them! :)

      Hope the shivers and fever go away soon.

      JROSEN Reply:

      @Tracy Abell,

      Hi Tracy,

      I agree with you about portal books, but there do seem to be many though, don’t there?

    2. Elissa Cruz  •  Nov 9, 2012 @10:53 am

      Glad to see you came through on the post…er, I mean, are well enough to post…er, I mean…

      :)

      Hope you get well soon, J!

      JROSEN Reply:

      @Elissa Cruz,

      Thanks, oh high and mighty one!

    3. Jill  •  Nov 9, 2012 @11:49 am

      Loved Indian in the Cupboard. Classic.

      I’m interested in the Aliens on Vacation. Sounds like fun.

      Good post and hope you feel better soon.

      JROSEN Reply:

      @Jill,

      Hi Jill,

      Aliens on Vacation was a lot of fun and I think the second AND third ones are out now.

    4. Pat Wooldridge  •  Nov 9, 2012 @3:25 pm

      Much applause (yes you do deserve it—not easy to disregard chills and sickness and write a fun post! I enjoyed all of this post and am keeping it in my favorites as a good example of keeping on keeping on no matter what drags us down. Good for you. This post is a keeper, to be read more than once. Hoping you feel much better soon. After my 9-day, 10-hr-a-day (counting travel to and from) stint at Fryeburg Fair (Maine) Craft Center) with my graphite-pencil equine art, I tore down, drove 1 1/2 hrs. home, unpacked the car, went to pick up my dog & her crate, my 2 birds & their big cage. Driving us all home, I could FEEL the ‘bug’ coming into my throat as I drove—and it stayed for 5 weeks with all sorts of symptoms. Many of my friends came down with it at the same time I did, and for the same amount of time. Plenty of other people too, my dr. tells me. Onward. We always get through it, right? Take care.

      JROSEN Reply:

      @Pat Wooldridge,

      I can’t even imagine how much “fun” it would be to drive with a dog and two birds, while sick.

    5. Pat Wooldridge  •  Nov 9, 2012 @3:27 pm

      Apologies for such a long post—and all about ME. I always think I ought to throw out a personal example when commiserating with ill people. :-{

      JROSEN Reply:

      @Pat Wooldridge,

      And I think the same as you. Add a personal experience to a story! So, NO need for apologies!! :)

    6. Dianna Winget  •  Nov 9, 2012 @3:58 pm

      For me it was Charlotte’s Web and later on, Where the Red Fern Grows. There’s been a million since, but those two will always remain deeply interwoven in my heart. Hope you get feeling better soon.

      JROSEN Reply:

      @Dianna Winget,

      Both good books and ones I enjoyed as a kid.

    7. Brenda  •  Nov 9, 2012 @5:30 pm

      I would have been reading Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary but fondly remember Little House on the Praire.

      JROSEN Reply:

      @Brenda,

      All good books. A lot of Judy Blume books around my house. And my sister even read them also.

    8. Ty  •  Nov 9, 2012 @7:08 pm

      Jonathan,

      If I write a book with a portal
      To an unknown land – will you go
      Through it? (I just have to be sure there is no way back.)

      Great blog. ;)

      JROSEN Reply:

      @Ty,

      I’m not falling for that one for a fourth time.

    9. PragmaticMom  •  Nov 10, 2012 @9:29 am

      Love your list Jonathan and your post is fun! I wish I had you for a high school English teacher!

      JROSEN Reply:

      @PragmaticMom,

      Thanks,

      That’s what I tell my students, how lucky they are! :)