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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: Mockingbird Books, Seattle

    Book Lists, Indie Spotlight
    screenshot_800Summer is here,  a great time to visit a children’s bookstore and come home with treasures to read on the porch or in the park.  Today we’re talking with Wendy Ostenson of Mockingbird Books in Seattle (www.mockingbirdbooksgl.com), who
    invites you to her store.
    Sue Cowing for Mixed Up Files: That’s a wonderful old building that houses your shop. Can you tell us a little bit about it and about how Mockingbird Books came to be?
    Wendy: We are in this wonderful old brick building that was originally a church. Owner Alyson Stage had wanted to own a children’s bookstore ever since her kids were little. When a great space came up for sale in her own Green Lake neighborhood, she partnered with friends and family and bought the building. screenshot_808It’s now not only a bookstore, but houses offices and an event space on its second floor. Alyson’s now-grown kids, Taylor and Emily, work at the store and help coordinate events.
    MUF: Describe the atmosphere you have created inside.
    Wendy: We like to think of it as a neighborhood space where kids, parents and caregivers are welcome to spend some time. The store is cozy, warm and inviting. Our front window area is dedicated to entertaining kids with trains, puzzles, and chalk art. Our Reading Room in the back has comfortable couches to relax and really, truly get into a book. We also have a small cafe that serves espresso and kid-friendly snacks.
    Our staff is pretty much a group of children’s book nerds, comprised of semi-retired librarians and education junkies. Sue Nevins from the store means it when she says, “We love to talk about books!”
    MUF: How do you decide what children’s books to carry in your store?

    A fan of Suzanne Williams' GODDESS GIRLS series finds the latest at Mockingbird Books

    A fan of Suzanne Williams’ GODDESS GIRLS series finds the latest at Mockingbird Books

    Wendy: Sue and Linda Spoor do most of the buying. With their 40+ years of experience in children’s books, they do an amazing job of keeping the store balanced with tried-and-true classics and worthy new titles. Mary Bayne and I do several story times a week, so we can definitely tell if a book resonates with kids and is worthy of multiple reads. We all have our favorite authors and book blogs, and we love to talk with friends in the business and meet with publishing reps. Also, our customers often recommend great books that should be on our shelves. So I guess you could say it’s fairly collaborative.
    MUF: Do you have some favorite titles, fiction or nonfiction you are recommending to middle grade readers right now?
    Wendy: Here’s a few great summer reads for middle graders that also will kick-start some great conversations:
    Fellowship for Alien Detection by Seattle Author Kevin Emerson
    The Search for Sasquatch by Spokane Author Kelly Milner Halls
    Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
    The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
    Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate
    MUF: How does Mockingbird Books keep a following in spite of chains and Internet sales?
    Wendy: We like to think folks will have a personal experience when they come into the store.

    Dressing up for Cowboy/cowgirl photos during  a visit byJan Sonnemein, author of COWBOY UP

    Dressing up for cowboy/cowgirl photos during a visit by Jan Sonnemein, author of COWBOY UP

    Whether it’s engaging our youngest readers through story times, unearthing a lost treasured book, or matching a book to a reluctant reader, we strive to provide friendly service. If we don’t have a book in the store, we are happy to research and track it down. We thinks it’s a privilege to get to know our patrons well and see many of them grow up into strong readers.

    MUF: Do you have book clubs or events especially designed for middle graders?
    Wendy: Sue Nevins does monthly book groups that will start back up in August. There is a Boys Book Group, a Girls Book Group, and a Graphic Novel Group where kids decide the book for that month and they chat about it over pizza.
    We also have author events to coincide with new releases. In the last year, we’ve enjoyed visits from national authors such as Michael Buckley, Rose Mary Woods, and Margi Preus.

    Trying out invisible ink with Newbery winning author Margie Preus

    Trying out invisible ink with Newbery winning author Margie Preus

    Many local middle grade authors like Stephanie Barden, Kirby Larson, Kevin Emerson, Patrick Jennings and Martha Brockenbrough are good friends and often do events.

    MUF: If a family made a day trip to visit your shop and need a place to grab a bite, what would you recommend?
    Wendy: There are so many places right near us. We are on the same block as Rosita’s which is a neighborhood landmark, and Jodee’s which specializes in organic baking. There are also great Greek, Thai, pizza, pub food and sandwich shops within walking distance. And, being it’s Seattle, there are multiple coffee shops on every block.screenshot_806
    MUF: And if they decided to stay in Seattle a little longer, what family-friendly sights and activities would you recommend the most?
    Wendy: Green Lake, the most-used park in the city, is literally a block from our store. In the summer its focus is water sports galore. You can rent standup paddle boards or paddle boats and swim at the two beach areas. The path around the lake is 2.8 miles and it’s great for walking and bike riding. We are also about a mile away from the renowned Woodland Park Zoo. I can’t wait to see their newly-born jaguar triplets with my kids this summer! I’d also recommend the Chihuly Garden and Glass that has just opened at the bottom of the Space Needle. It’s an accessible while mind-blowing tribute to extreme glass, art and color. My sixth grader loved it.
    MUF: Tell us something about Mockinbird Books that most people don’t know.
    screenshot_807Wendy: Our giant Giraffe/store mascot, Geraldine, is a bit of a fashionista.  We aren’t sure where she finds them, but she finds hats and accessories and slips them on when nobody’s looking.  We’ve been surprised to find her dresses up as a leprechaun, a firefighter, and The Cat in the Hat.  Right now she’s wearing a hula skirt.  
    MUF: A giraffe after my own heart!  Thank you Wendy for giving us a glimpse into your charming shop!  Readers, we know  you treasure children’s bookstores. If you have been to Mockingbird Books or think from this taste you would like to visit, please let Wendy know here.  
    Sue Cowing lives in Honolulu, two thousand miles away from the nearest children’s bookstore. She is the author of the middle grade puppet-and-boy novel You Will Call Me Drog (Carolrhoda 2011, Usborne UK 2012).

    2 Comments

    2 Comments

    1. Mary Ryan  •  Jun 27, 2013 @5:30 pm

      I was in there many years ago. Found one of my books, too, with a sticker for a Reader’s Choice award and it looked so cool, I bought it on the spot. We’re heading to Seattle next month. Maybe I’ll stop in again!

    2. Suzanne  •  Jun 27, 2013 @11:29 pm

      Mockingbird Books is a gem – it’s certainly my favorite place to go!