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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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  • Interview with Kurtis Scaletta–and a giveaway!

    Authors, Giveaways, Interviews

    Kurtis Scaletta, one of the founders of From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors, is the author of the middle-grade novels Mudville, Mamba Point, The Tanglewood Terror and, most recently, The Winter of the Robots. The Minneapolis Star Tribune called his latest book a “ripping yarn with a big heart and a lot of wit and invention,” and Kirkus Reviews called it “a deft mix of middle school drama and edgy techno thrills.” He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three-year-old son and a bunch of cats.

     

    kurtis09-s

    Welcome back to the blog, Kurtis. How does it feel to be a guest at your own party? 

    Ha, thanks. I miss being a part of this blog.

    Can you tell us a little about how From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors began?

    Several middle-grade authors came together from the Verla Kay boards after a discussion about how middle-grade books just didn’t have the web presence of young adult books. We wanted to champion middle grade with a heavy focus on recommendations to teachers and parents. We’re still struggling to get visibility, for people to even know that middle grade is a thing, a unique and important genre of children’s book.

    What’s your favorite thing about middle-grade fiction (as a reader or a writer)?

    It was my favorite age as a reader, a real golden age, and writing middle grade allows me to keep delving back into that moment when I began to truly love literature and the idea of writing.

    The Winter of the Robots  is such a fun read. How long did it take from first spark of an idea to finished book in your hands?

    Thanks! This book took me quite a bit longer than my other books. It took about two years from starting it to putting the final dots and dashes on the I’s and T’s. A lot of that had to do with being a dad.

     

    WinteroftheRobots

    You do a great job of balancing the level of scientific detail so that it’s engaging and enlightening, without being overwhelming to the point of taking away from the human story. I especially enjoyed the concept of autonomous vs. remote controlled robots. What kind of research did you do? How did you decide how much detail to include?

    I spent a lot of time reading up on kids robot competitions, watching videos of their battles, and so forth. I had two readers in the manuscript phase, one who built robots as a kid and one who coaches robot leagues.

    How plausible are the robots in the book?

    If anything the robots kids are really building are more complicated and imaginative. Of course the big robot requires a bit of suspended disbelief, but there’s nothing there that isn’t possible. It was really important to me that it’s clear to readers how the kids build the robots, where they get the parts and the machines and the mechanical expertise.

    Your Minnesota winter setting makes me want to put on a sweater. Can you design a robot to shovel my sidewalk for me?

    As soon as I finish ours! And the robots that was dishes, scoop cat boxes, change diapers – for that matter, the robot that potty trains reluctant little boys. Sadly, that’ll take a while since the only robot I’ve made doesn’t do anything but take a few steps and fall apart.

    If there was one single thing that you wanted readers to get from The Winter of the Robots, what would it be?

    You know, I want kids to finish this book and think, “I could do this.” If I find a kid read this book and is tinkering in the garage I’ll consider the book a success.

    What other books do you recommend to readers who enjoyed The Winter of the Robots?

    There are great books about realistic kids learning and exploring the worlds around them, like The Higher Power of Lucky and Every Soul a Star and The Reinvention of Edison Thomas.  I really like books that infuse realistic science into a book.

    What advice do you have for someone who wants to write middle-grade fiction?

    Write up, not down, as Mr. White said. You can have big ideas in books for middle-grade readers, moral ambiguity and complex language, hard-hitting topics and challenging questions. Don’t hold back. The kids can handle it.

    Kurtis is giving away a signed copy of The Winter of the Robots. Enter here:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Jacqueline Houtman is a big fan of science in novels (and in real life). 

    18 Comments

    18 Comments

    1. Louise Galveston  •  Dec 16, 2013 @5:24 am

      I especially appreciate your last comment, Kurtis. I know my kids will love this book! Great interview!

    2. madelyn  •  Dec 16, 2013 @5:35 am

      Always looking for good sci fi/fantasy. Love the cover!

    3. moy  •  Dec 16, 2013 @9:02 am

      This looks really exciting.

    4. Debbie Manber Kupfer  •  Dec 16, 2013 @9:46 am

      Yay! Robots!

    5. Sandy  •  Dec 16, 2013 @10:54 am

      Fun to read about the book, and also about the origins of one of my favorite blogs. Congratulations on the great reviews, too.

    6. Jenn  •  Dec 16, 2013 @11:09 am

      Ooo, adding to list of reading. I am interested in seeing how you combine the scientific with the narrative.

    7. Randi  •  Dec 16, 2013 @12:09 pm

      Sounds like a great book — looking forward to reading it!

    8. Michael Gettel-Gilmartin  •  Dec 16, 2013 @6:30 pm

      Kurtis is a great writer–and one of the funniest Tweeters around.

      I’m going to do my best to win this one (tweet etc.)!

    9. Akoss  •  Dec 16, 2013 @6:44 pm

      I’d love to win this copy but I’m stalking it at my library just in case.

    10. Bruce Luck  •  Dec 16, 2013 @6:46 pm

      There is a dearth of information for middle grade writers on the web. Thanks to you and the other MUF people for the site.

    11. Kim Livingston  •  Dec 16, 2013 @9:00 pm

      Looks like a great read! Hope we win. :0)

    12. PramgaticMom  •  Dec 17, 2013 @4:58 pm

      I loved his last book, Mudville!!!! I’d love to win!

    13. Sherry Smothermon-Short  •  Dec 17, 2013 @5:20 pm

      My son is a 5th grader, and I’m always looking for new books & authors for him.

    14. Heidi Grange  •  Dec 17, 2013 @5:27 pm

      A new robot book is definitely a welcome addition.

    15. Merry  •  Dec 17, 2013 @8:20 pm

      This sounds like a good book that my sons would enjoy reading

    16. Rosanne Parry  •  Dec 17, 2013 @8:57 pm

      Write Up! Great advice Kurtis. I saw this book on the end cap at Powells. It’s just the sort of thing I loved when I was a kid.

    17. Maria Selke (@mselke01)  •  Dec 18, 2013 @5:01 am

      How can you go wrong with robots? My students love robotics, and I know they’d love to read this book! (and so would I)

    18. Jessica  •  Dec 18, 2013 @6:12 am

      Sounds like a great book!