• OhMG! News


    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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  • “Page 5 Test”

    Writing MG Books
    Stop twitching. This post is not a 5-page test, so I don’t care how scarred you are from childhood test-taking trauma. Build a bridge and get over it. Then keep reading in order to learn something that may help your writing.You okay now? Good. Here’s the scoop. . . . Thanks to a giveaway on Goodreads, I recently received a free copy of Darcy Pattison’s book Start Your Novel. When reading it, my interest was captured by one of her ideas for checking the characterization in a novel’s opening—she calls it the “Page 5 Test.” (See, I told you it wasn’t a 5-page test. You should have trusted me. I’m very reliable. Except when I’m lying.)  Start Your Novel
     Runaway Twin Not only did I decide to use the Page 5 Test to check my own work-in-progress, but as a bonus exercise, I decided to run a Page 5 Test on a children’s novel I’m currently reading—Runaway Twin by Peg Kehret. Based on Darcy Pattison’s idea, here’s what I did:

    • I read the beginning of Runaway Twin, only going as far as what would equal approximately five double-spaced pages of a typed manuscript.
    • After I finished reading, I listed everything I’d learned about the main character from those opening pages. Here’s my list:
    1. The main character lives with a foster mother named Rita.
    2. The main character’s name is Sunny.
    3. Sunny is 13 years old.
    4. She loves Twinkies and junk food, but Rita is a health nut.
    5. Sunny is opinionated. (As the first-person narrator, she states: “In my opinion it is cruel and unusual punishment to put a thirteen-year-old girl who was raised on junk food into a home that serves tofu and cauliflower.”)
    6. Sunny wears her hair in a ponytail (at least sometimes).
    7. She has switched foster homes frequently, running away from at least a couple of them. (This also tells me Sunny isn’t afraid to take action when she sees the need.)
    8. She seems to like Rita (despite all the tofu and cauliflower) and doesn’t plan to run away from her.
    9. Sunny doesn’t consider herself a “bad kid,” although she doesn’t do much school work because she knows she’ll just get moved to a new home and school again anyway.

    Notice the variety of things Peg Kehret wove into those opening pages. There are basic things such as the main character’s name and age. There are bits about Sunny’s family situation (foster child) and a glimpse into her outlook on life (Why bother with school work if you’re going to get moved again?). And there’s the barest mention of her appearance.

    In only a handful of pages, Peg Kehret effectively pulled me into caring about her main character by not skimping on the information about Sunny and by making sure the details she included provided depth, not an inundation of surface-level facts. (Hey, I’d rather know Sunny has the guts to run away from a bad foster family than know how tall she is and whether or not she has a dimple in her chin.)

    So consider printing out the first five pages of your own WIP. Read ’em. Then make a list.

    What details are revealed about your main character? What isn’t revealed? Are you building a strong character with a unique voice, or is your protagonist coming across as shallow and boring? By running Darcy Pattison’s Page 5 Test, you may be surprised at what you discover, and you may get ideas for strengthening your novel’s opening pages.

    Besides, you’ve got to try this. Know why? There’s gonna be a test tomorrow.



    1. Joan Y. Edwards  •  Nov 18, 2013 @1:32 pm

      Dear T.P.,
      Thanks for sharing this page 5 test with us. You have a humorous flare. I love it.

    2. Cindy Schrauben  •  Nov 22, 2013 @10:11 am

      I LOVE this idea and will use it! Now! I think it can be applied to Picture books too… not the first 5 pages, of course, but it can make me stop and analyze my characters better. Thanks