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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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  • No Such Thing As a Lost Cause: Interview (and book giveaway!) with Stephanie Guerra

    Giveaways, Interviews, Writing MG Books

    BillyBeing a kid is like having two permanent police officers watching you all the time – even when you’re going to the bathroom.  At least that’s how it feels to Billy March.  He’s been grounded for 63% of the past month.  Every time Billy almost gets his parents’ trust back, his mind wanders off, and he causes another disaster!  Now Mom and Dad are threatening to send Billy to a psychologist.  They may even make him take brain drugs!  But deep down, Billy worries that Dad wishes he had a different son.  Maybe he doesn’t belong in this family at all.  But maybe, just maybe, talking to a “shrink” won’t be as terrible as Billy thinks.

    stephanieguerraIn Billy March, Stephanie Guerra hands us one energetic, impulsive, frustrating, and endearing 10-year-old who is doing the best he can even though it sure doesn’t seem like it.  Guerra’s text tells Billy’s funny and poignant story, enriched by  illustrator James Davies’ whimsical graphics that plunge us straight into Billy’s wild imagination.  Billy the Kid is Not Crazy is coming to book shelves in October.

    Where does Billy come from?

    Billy’s a product of my life-long love of characters with wild imaginations and frequent misbehavior. Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking, Toad from Wind in the Willows, and more recently Joey Pigza are among my favorites. I love how porous reality and fantasy can be in childhood, and I think some children have a special gift for slipping past that boundary and creating endless diversion for themselves. Billy came about because I wanted to write a child who was so enmeshed in his fantasies that the world became a stage for his imagination—resulting in lots of trouble, of course.

    What influences from your life found their way into Billy’s story?

    Billy gets in trouble so frequently that his parents take him to see a child psychiatrist. I kept those scenes brief—I didn’t want them to take over the story—but they’re important. My mother is a child psychologist, and I grew up with lots of dinner-table talk about the therapy process. My mother sometimes shared the struggles that young clients were going through (without revealing their names, of course). She had tremendous sympathy and love for the kids she worked with, and she didn’t believe in such a thing as a lost cause. She is a strong supporter of therapy without drugs when possible, and that certainly worked its way into Billy’s story.

    One of the most important things I learned from my mother is that therapy is not for “bad” kids. Lots of children have to visit a psychologist or psychiatrist at some point, whether for testing, help with a temporary problem, or support with something long-term. And there are times in all of our lives when we could use someone to talk to.

    James Davies’ illustrations add both humor and poignancy as they take us deep into Billy’s psyche. Tell us about your process for blending the text and graphics.

    I’m delighted with how Davies’ illustrations turned out. He’s a very talented artist, and he intuited and added to the whimsical spirit of my characters with style and humor. Our process was simple: I described the basic content of each cartoon strip, including action and dialogue. Davies then translated the scene into cartoon strip form.  I love the funny details in his settings and the way he brought Billy and Keenan alive with dynamic body language.

    Our readers will be interested in your teaching with young women incarcerated at the King County Juvenile Detention Center.  Please describe what you’ve learned about your own writing through that work.

    Working with the teens at the correctional facility has impacted my own writing tremendously. I pick up rhythms of language, characters, and culture in a way that I’d never do otherwise. The girls have brought home to me the power of writing to heal, vent, and connect. They’ve showed me what writing in a community looks and feels like. I’m moved by how they support each other and listen respectfully and lovingly to sometimes very painful memoir pieces. Writing as community has been an important lesson for me; I’ve always written in a vacuum.

    Can you give us a hint about what’s on your middle grade horizon?

    I’m revising the final draft of a middle-grade/YA crossover about a fourteen-year-old Italian American boy navigating life in Mob-infested Brooklyn of the eighties. The working title is BROOKLYN SOLDIERS. I think older middle-grade readers will love that one. I also have two young adult novels coming out in 2015 (OUT OF ACES and sequel) which are keeping me busy.

    After that . . . I have a weakness for Pilkey-style potty humor. I’m not sure I could pull it off, but I may try just for fun. During my MFA, I wrote a middle-grade novella about farts coming to life on Halloween. I never showed it to anyone, least of all my professors, who were literary novelists for adults. But the story has lingered in the back of my mind all these years.

    What’s something about you that we wouldn’t guess if we met you in person?

    My sister and I are planning to film a series of videos for YouTube in which we reenact some famous Groucho and Harpo Marx scenes (and invent some new ones). I’m Harpo. I really want to do this, although it may seriously embarrass my husband.

    Stay tuned for more great stories from Stephanie Guerra (and keep your eye on YouTube!).  In addition to writing for middle grade and YA readers, Guerra teaches courses in writing and children’s literature at Seattle University, which is where our paths first crossed.  Read more about her writing instruction with teens in detention – it’s an amazing story!  And visit Stephanie at her website stephanieguerra.com.

    A chance to win an autographed copy of
    Billy the Kid is Not Crazy!
    Simply post a comment describing what intrigues you about this book or
    (if you’re a teacher), how you think it would grab your students.
    Winner to be announced on Saturday, September 28!

     

    Katherine Schlick Noe teaches beginning and experienced teachers at Seattle University. Her debut novel, Something to Hold (Clarion, 2011) won the 2012 Washington State Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award for middle grade/young adult and was named a 2012 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People.  Visit her at http://katherineschlicknoe.com.

     

    11 Comments

    11 Comments

    1. Linda Andersen  •  Sep 25, 2013 @5:17 am

      Great interview Katherine. Thanks!

      Stephanie, I liked that you didn’t base your character of Billy on one of your mom’s cases. That would have been the easy way out. Making him a combination of favorites makes him unique. I would guess this wacky combination helped create more humor too.

    2. Cheryl Wolf  •  Sep 25, 2013 @6:05 am

      As a school librarian, I’m grateful to see a character that several of my students, especially boys, can identify with. I’m also eager to read this book, thinking I might develop more empathy with those kids who keep calling out in discussions, but can’t seem to control it. Thanks!

    3. Heather  •  Sep 25, 2013 @6:45 am

      I love the idea of a book that explores the fantasy world vs. real world balance of someone like Anne of Green Gables, but from a modern boy’s perspective! This is a must-read for my kids.

    4. Sandy Brehl  •  Sep 25, 2013 @8:10 am

      I can’t wait to read this. Joey Pigza is as real to me as the many kids (not always boys) I taught over the years, in special services and in classrooms. I couldn’t agree more that no one is a lost cause, and that’s true even into adulthood. Fingers crossed.

    5. Randi  •  Sep 25, 2013 @8:16 am

      I love the idea of a book that has a kid going to a psychiatrist.

    6. D.Lee Sebree  •  Sep 25, 2013 @8:04 pm

      As a former family therapist, now a teacher, I look forward to reading this!

    7. Pragmaticmom  •  Sep 26, 2013 @8:27 am

      It sounds like Billy may have ADD or ADHD and I’m intrigued to learn more. It’s a great topic for all kids to read and learn about, whether or not they have special needs.

    8. Greg Pattridge  •  Sep 26, 2013 @11:04 am

      Non-readers are going to gravitate towards the comic strip drawings. As one told me the other day “I only read books if there are pictures and even then I look at them first before reading anything else.” This would make a great title for a small reading group mixed with reluctant readers and those that devour every title in sight. Good luck with Billy the Kid. He sound like a few kids I know.

    9. Jill the OWL  •  Sep 26, 2013 @5:34 pm

      I think that this is a book that kids with ADHD or similar challenges could relate to even if they don’t want to admit they can relate to it.

      Thanks for sharing it!

    10. Megan  •  Sep 26, 2013 @10:54 pm

      I have a daughter that we have been thinking about getting help from a child psychologist, and I am amazed with her thoughts about the whole process. It is easy for kids to think that they are bad or messed up when they need a little extra help once in a while. I haven’t found a good fiction book out there that addresses this concern in an upbeat and funny way. Thanks for sharing, and congrats on all of your book success!

    11. Claire Broadway  •  Sep 27, 2013 @11:00 am

      I work in the library at a school for dyslexic children, and I have a feeling this book would connect with a lot of our kids. Due to their learning difference, many tend to act out or become the class clown in reaction to feeling frustrated in academic areas and they often come to us feeling like a “lost cause”. Our kids tend to be very imaginative and creative and I think they would be able to empathize with Billy in many ways!