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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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  • Indie Spotlight: The Reading Reptile, Books and Tapes for Young Mammals

    Indie Spotlight, Tweens

    It’s our delightful task in these Indie Spotlights to feature an Independent children’s bookstore each month and to share the well-kept secret that children’s bookstores aren’t going away.  In fact they are thriving all over the country because we love them and support them and because no on-line or chain store can match the things children’s bookstores do best.

    screenshot_508This month we’re talking with Debbie Pettid, founder/owner of The Reading Reptile—Books and Tapes for Young Mammals in Kansas City MO (www.readingreptile.com)

    Sue Cowing for Mixed-Up Files: There’s nothing like a great bookstore name/logo to make us want to visit, and Reading Reptile doesn’t disappoint.  How did the name, and the store, come about?screenshot_501

    Debbie Pettid: The name came about brainstorming with friends long ago. The idea for a store began after working at Eeyore’s in NYC. The staff was hardworking and knowledgeable and my time there inspired me to open my own store. I was young, naive and determined so went for it.

    MUF: Take us inside your shop and describe the climate you’ve created “for young mammals.”screenshot_499
    Debbie: The store itself is very organic and always changing. I never purposely set about trying to create a look or feeling, but had a general idea of wanting it to be the “best bookstore ever.” When I look at and read books they inspire me to create, so I do.  When you walk in the store, if you look back you realize you have walked through a large mouth (Zabajaba Jungle) The front left of the store is a George and Martha playroom and to the right is our in store bakery Le Petit Rouge which is designed to look like a fairy tale forest. Then depending which way you look you may see… up… a mural on the ceiling from Babar the king and all the vices, posters covering most of the ceiling, a U.S. map just like Scrambled States of America and lots of pieces hanging – Fortune from Fortune Cookies, the gorilla from Goodnight Gorilla, Max from Where the Wild Things Are, the Bear from Milos Hat Trick, Arnie the Doughnut, the boy from Meanwhile plus an assortment of origami, homemade paper, and miscellany. screenshot_500Each wall alcove has a scene from a book such as Go Dog Go, Dr. Desoto, My Father’s Dragon, Snowy Day and on top of shelves or tacked in different places you could find JLo from True Meaning of Smekday, Frances, Doll People, Fire Cat, Tin Tin, Moomins, Caps for Sale, Camille, Frog and Toad, Bill and Pete, Lily and Chester, David, plus others.   There are all sorts of stuff nailed, glued, and hung everywhere, crafts kids have made, some dioramas, (Wump World, etc.) some miniature scenes. Most everything is made large and in papermache. Our goal is to cover every surface!

    I guess you could say I am obsessed, but I think it is great for kids and adults to recognize characters from their favorite books or want to read the book of the character they see.  Books are exciting, art is exciting and there are a million ways to enjoy both.  I’m in the store every day, as is my husband and five kids and I want them to be interested in the world around them and be open to possibilities and interpretations and so I have tried to create an interesting world. Mostly I like to make stuff.screenshot_504

    MUF: You hold an annual writing contest for young writers ages 5-12, and the deadline is coming up on Monday, January 21st.   What role does this contestplay in your shop’s philosophy?
    Debbie: With that event we have local illustrators who are nationally published judge the stories. They pick their favorite and illustrate a scene from the story which the child receives. The only rule is don’t plagiarize. The focus is creativity and uniqueness. We have upwards of 500 kids entered each year, and many amazing stories. It is one of our favorite events.

    MUF: Tell us about your D.N.A. fest.  Curious title.  Looks like you’ve established a major annual literary event in Kansas City that engages the community, both kids and adults.screenshot_498
    Debbie: The festival is hard work, expensive and definitely worth it. We do our best to make sure everyone involved, (presenters, kids, adults, volunteers, etc.) has a really great time, and are able to leave with lots to think about. We think it’s important to have an event where everyone involved with books from readers to creators can have a chance to exchange ideas and build off that excitement. We also enjoy bringing some of the best authors and illustrators and introduce them to new readers.

    MUF:  One fan describes your books as “lovingly curated.” You seem to make it a point of pride to introduce readers to great books and authors that aren’t current best sellers but shouldn’t be forgotten. How do you do that?screenshot_497
    Debbie: Our books are chosen after having experienced them. Reading them ourselves, reading them out loud, having others read them. We look at the artfulness of the book, the content, the language, the craft. I don’t feed my kids McDonalds so why would I want to hand them the equivalent in a book? Content does matter when you read. “At least my kid is reading” doesn’t cut it. Anyway, if it is something I like a lot, I get it for the store.

    MUF: What makes your day as children’s booksellers?
    Debbie: Having an inspiring conversation with a customer, making something cool, reading something interesting, eating a cupcake, not wiping up any bodily fluids.screenshot_495

    MUF: If readers and their adults from out of town come to visit your shop, are there some favorite family-friendly places in the neighborhood where they could get a snack or meal after browsing?
    Debbie: Bella Napoli for lunch or Blue Grotto for dinner. Le Petit Rouge for a treat.  A little farther away, Aixois for lunch or Chai Shai for dinner.

    MUF: And if they could stay in town for the weekend, can you recommend some unique sights and activities they shouldn’t miss while they’re there?
    Debbie: Kemper Museum of Art, Little Freshie, Broadway Cafe Donna’s Dress Shop, Shop Girls, Local Pig, Artist and Craftsman, Loose Park Rose Garden, Kauffman Gardens, Berkeley Park for a bike ride.

     Readers please note:  A very special event coming right up on Reading Reptile’s calendar is an appearance by Minneapolis-based duo The Okee Dokee Brothers, playing songs from their Parents Choice Award-winning CD, Take it Outside,on Saturday, January 7 at 11 AM.  USA Today calls the Okee Dokee brother’s music “authentic bluegrass for your little brother.”screenshot_489

    If you have been to Reading Reptile, or if reading about it here makes you think you’d like to go, please leave a comment here for Debbie.  And if you’ve never visited a real children’s bookstore, why not make it a 2013 resolution to give yourself and a child that unique experience?

    Sue Cowing is the author of the puppet-and-boy novel You Will Call Me Drog (Carolrhoda Books 2011 and Usborne UK 2013).

     

     

     

    4 Comments

    4 Comments

    1. Linda Andersen  •  Dec 27, 2012 @6:08 am

      Sue,
      This is one cool place. Thanks for sharing this with us! I wish I could scoot over for a visit, but it’s a far piece from my home. I do plan to check the website. I also want to tell a friend about the writing contest for children. Thanks again! Go Reading Reptile!

    2. Dianna Winget  •  Dec 27, 2012 @9:17 am

      Congratulations on your wonderful store, Debbie. It sounds like such fun for kids (and adults too!) I wish I lived closer so I could come in and browse and get one of those yummy looking cupcakes.

    3. Linda Andersen  •  Dec 27, 2012 @2:44 pm

      Sue,
      I selected From the Mixed-Up Files for The Sunshine Award. See my post at http://www.lindamartinandersen.wordpress.com.

    4. Sue Cowing  •  Dec 27, 2012 @11:11 pm

      So I see. That’s great, Linda!