• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Book Lists > Eric Pierpoint’s The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole – and a Giveaway!
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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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Eric Pierpoint’s The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole – and a Giveaway!

Book Lists


Caleb O’Toole and his two sisters are left orphaned after a cholera outbreak in their hometown of Great Bend, Kansas. Attempting to fulfill their mother’s dying wish, they strike out on a one-horse wagon to travel the treacherous road along the Oregon Trail to the Montana Territory to live with their aunt. Caleb promised to keep his two sisters safe. But safety is thirteen hundred miles away in the rugged Bitterroot Mountains, past the dust-choked deserts, monstrous tornadoes and ravenous wolves of the Oregon Trail. And after witnessing a crime by the infamous Blackstone Gang, Caleb and his sisters have no choice but to brave the dangers of the trail, trying to stay one step ahead of murderous outlaws.


Amie:  Welcome Eric! Thanks for joining us here at the Mixed-Up Files. Why don’t you tell us a bit about what interested you most about the Oregon Trail?

Eric: I love a good Western and stories about the survival of characters who must overcome huge odds to win in the end. The history of the Western U.S. was such a great backdrop for challenging my young characters to learn on the fly and pit themselves against formidable foes. Also, my own family migrated on the Oregon Trail in 1848. There are diaries of the rugged and sometimes violent life on the Trail. I was inspired to pack up my car and hit the road with my dog to research the route my relatives would have taken those many years ago. I spent a month taking in the vistas, studying the landscape. I spoke with historians, visited museums, wrote by mountains, rivers, and abandoned mining towns. It was truly a fantastic adventure.

Amie: I remember my dad watching westerns as a kid. John Wayne was a favorite! How cool that your ancestors migrated on the Oregon Trail. Why don’t you tell us about your favorite character in The Last Ride?

Eric: I love so many of them, but Caleb is my 12-year-old soul. I love his courage and sense of mission. Here is a young boy who had to learn so much to survive and deal with all the hardships of the journey. He had to keep it together for his two sisters. He starts out with nothing, having lost his parents. He must grow into a man before his time and face incredible evil. He has to learn to ride, shoot, hunt, track, trust and think on the fly. And he must remain strong and win in the end to fulfill his mother’s last wish.

Amie: As an author, I love incorporating a piece of me into my characters. Especially the kid-me! What do you love most about writing for middle-grade?

Eric: Writing for this age is inspirational to me. When I first thought about beginning my book, Henderson, the gunfighter, was front and center. I then began to ponder what it would have been like for young kids to survive the Wild West. The book took on a different tone. It became much more interesting to me to write THE LAST RIDE OF CALEB O’TOOLE from Caleb’s point of view. There would be so much for him to learn, the hardships deeper and more challenging. My next book also has a young protagonist. It is a more satisfying adventure for me as a writer.

Amie: I love that you thought about a child’s position and how they might have felt facing hardships.  It really gives a fresh perspective to the wild west, doesn’t it? Last question. Frogs have taken over the earth and they’re eating humans. Do you fry up frog legs for supper or make a frog-eye salad?

Eric: Fry up the frog legs. Forget the eyes. Talk about freaking someone out!

Amie: Can’t say I’ve ever had frog legs, myself. But frog eye salad is a favorite in our family! Don’t worry, it’s made with pasta. What were you thinking? Thanks for saddling up and swaggering in for a visit, Eric!

If you’d like to win a copy of Eric’s book, just enter the rafflecopter form below!


Eric Pierpoint is a veteran Hollywood actor has been on stage, screen, and television for nearly thirty five years and whose credits include Hart of Dixie, Parks and Recreation, Alien Nation, The World’s Fastest Indian, and Holes. 

Inspired by his family’s heritage as part of the pioneer migration along the Oregon Trail, including a great-great-grandmother born in a covered wagon, Eric piled Joey, his trusty dog, into his car to trace his family history, experience first-hand what the pioneers must have seen during the Western Migration and learn the history of this amazing era: the American Indian Wars and tribal culture, the hardships of the wild west and friendships that formed because of the dangerous journey.  The author’s journey and his research was transformed into THE LAST RIDE OF CALEB O’TOOLE, a unique adventure novel of America’s pioneer past. Visit www.ericpierpoint.net or www.facebook.com/EricPierpointConnection

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amie Borst is the author of twisted fairy tale, Cinderskella. It is the first book of three in the Scarily Ever Laughter series. You can find her on her blog or facebook!



  1. jpetroroy  •  Nov 14, 2013 @8:26 am

    I love historical fiction. This sounds fabulous.

  2. Michelle  •  Nov 14, 2013 @8:29 am

    My daughter and I read together each day and we have not have the thrill of reading a historical fiction yet…would love to have the chance:)

  3. Louise Galveston  •  Nov 14, 2013 @9:08 am

    Being from Kansas, I can’t wait to read this book! It sounds like an awesome adventure my kids will love as well.

    Let me tell you about frog legs: they taste like chicken!

  4. Randi  •  Nov 14, 2013 @9:10 am

    This sounds like a fun book!

  5. Linda Andersen  •  Nov 14, 2013 @5:34 pm

    I’ll pass on the frog-eye salad too, even if it is pasta. Thanks for the interview though. Eric, your passion for the west makes me convinced that I’d enjoy reading your book. The west is always a favorite for me.

  6. Carolsue  •  Nov 14, 2013 @5:40 pm

    I’d like to win because my son would really enjoy this book. Frog legs? UGH.

  7. Stacey  •  Nov 15, 2013 @3:51 am

    Sounds like the perfect historical fiction to share with my class. My students love historical fiction adventures.