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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, read more...

     

    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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OUR FIRSTS

Book Lists

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! :)