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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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  • Authors Against Terror: More Thoughts

    Miscellaneous, Op-Ed

    Last week, I raised three questions for authors to consider based on our collective experience with terrorism. We got some informative comments, and I’ve had some additional thoughts as events have continued to unfold here in Boston. And I have a confession to make, later in this post.

    What can responsible authors do to help readers deal with actual or potential violence in their lives?

    Reading teaches empathy. Children who read learn how to feel for others by immersing themselves in the lives of protagonists. The very nature of what we do helps children learn to care for and understand others. It’s a noble gig.

    –Nicole Valentine

    Books can be wonderful tools for helping children through their problems, anxieties, and rough patches. As Nicole said, children immerse themselves in the lives of protagonists, and through those protagonists they can explore difficult topics from a safe space. A librarian is often the best person to consult when a child is dealing with bullying, divorce, the arrival of a new baby, the departure of a best friend, or even the death of a loved one.

    So what about terrorism?

    Terrorists want to disrupt our lives and cause us to fear the places and activities we used to think of as safe. To some extent they have succeeded, even with adults, and especially with the adults in charge of airport security. Children are even more vulnerable than adults, because they have less control over their environment and less experience in determining odds and risks, so we are right to worry about how they can be impacted.

    The trouble is, a terror attack is not just one traumatic issue. Victims may be dealing with injuries, permanent disability, lost friends or family members, shocking memories, nightmares, stress, fear, insecurity, and more. No book is going to speak to every victim in the most helpful way. No book is going to turn back the clock and put everything back the way it was. And no book is going to prepare a child beforehand for every possible terror attack they might experience in the future.

    Responsible books are the ones that present acts of terror as realistically rare, show that good people are working hard to keep us safe, and let us know that life goes on even after the worst things that can happen.

    Can we make things better, or should we just try not to make things any worse?

    As writers, we need to [write] with care, compassion, and integrity to developmental needs and not cross the line with information that can increase trauma or secondarily traumatize like the media often does. Knowing how much and how to present is an art and requires research on difficult topics. If you are using difficult subjects and are not an expert, seek out a consultation.

    –Diane Kress Hower

    Secondary trauma is something to worry about. It’s impossible to entirely avoid. Diane’s advice is important for anyone who is intending to write about terror in a realistic way, but even if we are not, we can never know what might trigger a post-traumatic event in a reader we have never met.

    Jerry Spinelli wrote Maniac Magee long before last week’s bombing, and at the time could never have anticipated that someday a child might associate running with the horrible images of the Marathon finish line. I don’t know any children or adults for whom running is now a trigger, by the way, but they certainly could exist. We can imagine any number of possible triggers. In the news today, a child might be exposed to a theory that the elder Tsarnaev brother was a boxer who suffered a drastic personality change, possibly after too many blows to the head, and suddenly any book about boxing could become a trigger for devastating flashbacks. Or a scene with a pressure cooker. Anything we write has the potential to bring back echoes of tragedy in the mind of a particular reader.

    We authors do have an advantage over some other media because we are able to deliberate over what we write. We have extra time we can use for research or consultation, as Diane suggests. We can maximize the good we do but there’s no guaranteed way to avoid any chance of causing harm.

    Or should this not even be a consideration at all when it comes to telling a good story?

    We need stories.

    So tomorrow I will start back again. I will get it all as right as I can.

    –Lisha Cauthen

    Our heroes need villains, and what can establish villainy better or faster than a terror attack? When Darth Vader blows up an entire planet in the original Star Wars movie, it stays with us. When a James Bond villain reveals his or her master plan, it needs to be something a lot more potent than voter fraud or insider trading. Terror is a classic plot device, or at least the fictionalized terror we see in most stories. But thankfully fictional terror is not realistic, because realistic terror makes bad fiction.

    Fictional villains need to be smart and resourceful, while real terrorists often succeed through dumb luck and the fact that an overwhelming majority of people are good and trusting of each other. Fictional villains need to have a logical plan and understandable motives, while real terrorists tend to be deranged ideologues who believe they can advance a cause through random violence against innocent people. Our stories promote a larger narrative with positive values and hopeful results, while realistic terror is just random and horrible.

    Nobody wants to read about dumb villains stumbling through a half-baked scheme that hurts trusting people for no good reason, but that’s the story that is emerging from the news reports.

    So here is my confession.

    There’s a fictional terrorist act in one of my middle grade books.

    In The Challengers, after Earth first makes contact with aliens, a political movement promotes planetary isolation in order to preserve the traditional cultures of Earth. In the story, some Seclusionist groups are passionate or desperate enough to commit acts of violence. One of them bombs a stadium that was set to host tournament games between Earth and other worlds, on a day when the players are attending an orientation there.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this scene over the past week. I’ve been wondering whether it might cause secondary trauma to readers who have been through an actual terror event. And I’ve been feeling all kinds of guilty. But this scene is integral to a larger story about humanity’s most positive attributes, and that larger story has more potential to inspire and uplift than to cause harm.

    And of course, since real terror makes bad fiction, my fictional terror scene is not much like real life at all. For starters, my terrorists call in a warning ahead of the detonation, because they don’t want to hurt anyone. My terrorists just want to damage the stadium enough to prevent its use, which makes the bombing an understandable method to further an understandable motive. My terrorists are taken seriously by competent security forces who evacuate the team and ensure that nobody gets hurt. My terrorists are immediately denounced by other Seclusionist groups who share their goals but find their tactics deplorable. And most importantly, my terrorists do not succeed in stopping the Galaxy Games.

    I drew strength from rereading that scene this past week, because it models a victory over terrorism. The Games go on, the people refuse to be intimidated, and humanity proves itself to be on the side of goodness except for the few bad apples who try to ruin things for the rest of us.

    Stay strong, everyone!

    Boston from my office window.

    Greg R. Fishbone is the author of the “Galaxy Games” series of midgrade sports and science fiction from Tu Books at Lee & Low Books. Visit him at http://gfishbone.com.

    2 Comments

    1 Comment

    1. Lisa Orchard  •  Apr 26, 2013 @5:29 pm

      My second book in my Super Spies series touches on terrorism and explores the results of steroid use in sports. Here’s the link if you want to check it out. It’s titled “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber”.

      http://www.amazon.com/Super-Spies-School-Bomber-ebook/dp/B008P8O7OY

      Greg R. Fishbone Reply:

      Cool. It’s always nice to have super spies on your side. :D