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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,


    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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Einstein Anderson enters the 21st Century (with a Giveaway)!

Giveaways, Science

Seymour Simon has published hundreds of books about science, the vast majority of them nonfiction. But there is a special place in my heart for Simon’s fictional Adam “Einstein” Anderson. My kids, being the sciency progeny of a scientist and an engineer, loved to read about Einstein Anderson, a sciency kid who solved problems using his knowledge of scientific principles. I must have checked out every Einstein Anderson book from the library when my kids were young. The short chapters with a figure-it-out-yourself problem at the end were great for bedtime reading and science discussion. (I admit part of the appeal for me, an exhausted mom, was that they were short.)

These days, I cite the Einstein Anderson books in my presentations about sciency fiction. Not only are they full of science content, they’re great examples of the kind of reasoning that is essential to the scientific process. While researching my talk, I found an article published in 1995 that suggests ways to use Einstein Anderson in the classroom. Great minds think alike, or so they say.

The Einstein Anderson stories were originally published by Viking-Penguin in the 1980s as Einstein Anderson, Science Sleuth.


In the 1990s, they were released in a slightly revised version by Morrow as Einstein Anderson, Science Detective.



These days, some of the stories seem a bit dated.

Imagine my delight to find out that they are being updated and reissued in paperback and ebook formats by Starwalk Kids Media as Einstein Anderson, Science Geek.



I asked Seymour Simon about the update, and here’s what he had to say:

“I decided to completely redo the Einstein Anderson series to make them more contemporary and outfit Einstein with the digital devices (smartphone, etc.) that many kids his age grow up with. I often say that kids these days are digital natives as contrasted with their parents and teachers who are digital immigrants. Kids simply integrate these digital devices into their lives. And the devices offer great new ways of learning about science — and anything else you want to learn about. “

seymour simon

“Kids don’t act the same, sound the same or even ARE  the same as they were in the past. The stories and even the characters in the Einstein series have been completely re-imagined and rewritten. Motivations and characters have shades of gray rather than simply one way or another. Bullying, for example, is dealt with very differently than in the original stories. Even the antagonist, Stanley, is into science — he wants to use it to make a billion dollars like Bill Gates– he just loses out because he’s not willing to do the homework to get the science right.  Even the approach to science is quite different. Not just ‘the facts’ are part of Einstein’s thinking, but the approach to solving a problem presents a real path that kids can emulate in their own life.”

I had a chance to read the new books and to compare them to the original stories. Here are some of the things I like about the new Einstein:

  • The technology is updated. For example, in the story about rollerblades, Einstein makes a robot for the science fair. In the original story, it’s a model of a robot, but in the new version, it’s a real robot. Here’s another example: In the original story, Einstein knows the scientific name of the ants he sees on his way to a friend’s house. In the reboot, he doesn’t know the scientific name, but he takes a picture of the ants with his phone for his electronic science journal and looks up the scientific name on an app. Yes, there’s updated technology, but there’s more. Instead of relying on rote memorization of facts, Einstein is collecting data, recording it, and finding out more about the ants. Science is depicted as a process, instead of a bunch of facts.
  • In many cases, clues to the solution to the problem at the end of the chapter are planted earlier in the story. For example, in the story about the howling dog (who howls because someone is blowing a dog whistle, inaudible to human ears), Einstein explains to his brother that bees can see ultraviolet light, a wavelength humans can’t see, and goes on to talk about the high frequency sounds that bats can hear, but humans can’t. This engaging strategy allows the reader to apply a scientific principle in a new context and figure out the solution. Why should Einstein have all the fun?
  • Each story in the new Einstein Anderson series is followed by a related hands-on activity. The activity for the howling dog story involves bottles of water and the sounds they produce, which vary depending on the amount of water (and air) in the bottle. There are plenty of questions to prompt further investigation.
  • The activity is followed by a “Science Solution,” which explains the science behind the activity. Some Science Solutions also include links to online activities applying similar principles. For the howling dog story, the link gets you a video of an orchestra playing instruments made of trash, a “Junkestra,” if you will.

Check out the new, 21st Century Einstein, and while you’re at Seymour Simon’s website, take a look around. You’ll find a lot of science books by an author who knows how to put science in his fiction.


One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of the first EINSTEIN ANDERSON, SCIENCE GEEK book, THE IMPOSSIBLE SHRINKING MACHINE AND OTHER CASES. Enter before midnight Monday, June 24. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 25.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jacqueline Houtman has  PhD in Medical Microbiology and Immunology. Her sciency debut novel is called THE REINVENTION OF EDISON THOMAS.



  1. Elaine  •  Jun 17, 2013 @12:29 pm

    Ooh, this sounds wonderful! Thanks, Jacqueline and Seymour! I’m a huge fan of sciency fiction. :)

  2. Jennifer  •  Jun 17, 2013 @5:15 pm

    I love the idea of updating the series like this- makes me wish they could do the same for a few others I loved as a kid that aren’t quite holding up!

  3. Sharon  •  Jun 17, 2013 @5:18 pm

    This sounds like a great series.

  4. JenP  •  Jun 17, 2013 @6:39 pm

    Sounds clever!

  5. Stacey  •  Jun 17, 2013 @6:53 pm

    I have wanted to read this. I love Seymour Simon’s books!

  6. Sue Heavenrich  •  Jun 17, 2013 @7:37 pm

    my kids loved Einstein Anderson… I can’t wait to see how the new millennium stories go!

  7. Lynnette  •  Jun 17, 2013 @7:44 pm

    I’m so glad these are being updated – it’s a hard sell getting kids to take the older version. Good science-based fiction is so hard to find.

  8. Krista  •  Jun 17, 2013 @8:04 pm

    I love Seymour Simon! Somehow this is a series I missed!! Will definately have to look into them. Sounds like a series many kids will enjoy!

  9. Marilyn  •  Jun 17, 2013 @11:47 pm

    Sounds like a great series! I’m looking forward to reading them!

  10. Janet Smart  •  Jun 18, 2013 @6:44 am

    These books sound great! Thanks for the interview and the give a way.

  11. Deb Marshall  •  Jun 18, 2013 @7:06 am

    All I have to say is yay!! And thanks for the interview!

  12. Ruth Donnelly  •  Jun 18, 2013 @1:00 pm

    I have often used Seymour Simon’s wonderful science books in my classroom, but somehow I missed out on Einstein Anderson! Definitely want to check these out… and I’m glad he has updated them so they can be enjoyed by a new generation.

  13. PragmaticMom  •  Jun 18, 2013 @6:18 pm

    Looks great!

  14. Stephanie Shouldis  •  Jun 24, 2013 @9:15 am

    I used to love these books! I’m so excited they are being updated. The older verison, compared to the newer version would be a great way to teach students about advances in science and technology.