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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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  • …But Letting Kid-Characters at the Grown-Up Table, Too

    Authors, Inspiration, Writing MG Books

    I’ve often teased my family for turning me into the calendar-wielding maniac of (attempted) organization that I am. I, like many other moms (and dads) in America, am the keeper, expediter and outfitter of soccer practices, birthday parties, Brownies and other such obligations. I have, at time, indulged in the fantasy that had I not become a mother, I’d be running, obligation-free, through a field of wildflowers, oblivious to time and details.

    calendar

    That all changed when my parents decided to downsize last spring. I helped them sort through their belongings, taking the old Life magazines and Trivial Pursuit game for myself, but it was my mom who discovered a real piece of myself and my childhood.
    “Look,” she said, pulling out a folder. She carefully lifted up red construction valentines made brittle with age and pictures from the first day of school. And then, she pulled out my notes. This was pretty representative idea (my mom kept the notes, so this is from memory).

    Dear Mom,
    I’ve gone to baseball practice and should be home by 6:30. I have taken a jacket with me. I have eaten a light snack, but would like something warm to eat when I get home.

    I was 11 when I wrote this note, and there were others like it. Notes detailing where I was going, what I had done and what I expected to do when I got home. I realized, to my horror, that I had always been like this, detail-focused and time-conscious. I am only grateful that at that age, it was not possible for me to have a Blackberry or other such device; I probably would have attempted minute-by-minute scheduling.

    What this incident reminded me, though, was that while it is fun (and even necessary in middle-grade) to write about characters who are sassy and immature (in need of growth might be a nice way to put it), it is also fine to give them a few characters that hint at what’s to come. Yes, yes, there are also adults who remain sassy and immature but as Michele Weber Hurtwitz’s post pointed out yesterday, we writers for kids get very nervous about being sufficiently kid-like. A kid would never say that, we say, glancing around for a 9-year-old to talk to about the latest lingo. Kids don’t do that.

    Certainly, out of my three kids, none would leave me a detailed note about their whereabouts. But my point is that without necessarily turning the trait into a caricature or creating an overly serious character, it is okay to add a little adult-ness. Claudia, the main character in the blog-inspiring-novel From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler, is a perfect example of this:
    Claudia knew that she could never pull of the old-fashioned kind of running away. That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her back. She didn’t like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes.

    From-the-Mixed-Up-Files-of-Mrs.-Basil-E.-Frankweiler

    We can certainly imagine Claudia as an adult, running a corporation one day, though author E.L. Konisburg never lets us forget she is a child, too. She does not know about typing exercises or how to manage money, and she tries to send her brother a psychic message at one point to warn him. But that’s what makes her utterly believable and delightful; to the extent that a line exists between childhood and adulthood, she sits astride it, taking in from both sides. The note from my parents’ house reminded me to worry less about making sure my characters are stereotypical kids and to focus more on keeping them real.

    3 Comments

    3 Comments

    1. Michele Weber Hurwitz  •  Oct 16, 2013 @7:35 am

      Excellent points, Wendy! Immediately makes me think of Lisa Yee’s Millicent Min character. P.S., I loved your childhood note!

    2. D.Lee Sebree  •  Oct 16, 2013 @4:45 pm

      I love your note; thoughtful and politely demanding as well.

    3. Wendy S  •  Oct 16, 2013 @8:48 pm

      There’s no accusation like one written in your own handwriting!