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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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  • Indie Spotlight: When Pigs Fly

    Book Lists, Indie Spotlight

    FP Store front OPEN

    Children’s book fans are in for a treat this month as we chat with Elizabeth Bluemle, co-founder of the fabled Flying Pig Bookstore (www.flyingpigbooks.com) in Shelburne VT.

    Sue Cowing for Mixed-up Files: Your book shop is rated tops by children’s book lovers and authors all over the country. What, do you think, makes the Flying Pig fly so high?
    Elizabeth: Thanks so much for the compliment! We love books, of course, and the people who make them, and I think that shows. We also respect and get a kick out of kid readers of all ages, and I hope that shows, too. We are also incredibly lucky to have a great staff of friendly, knowledgeable, helpful booksellers.Flying Pig painting

    MUF: How did the Flying Pig come to be?
    Elizabeth: Josie Leavitt and I  met in New York, where we worked  for Literacy Volunteers of NYC. Josie had a high school English teaching degree from Columbia Teachers College, and I had my master’s in elementary education from Bank Street. We moved to Vermont planning to teach and write, but then a little storefront became available in our tiny town. The nearest bookstore was 45 minutes away, and we got a bug to open one. The next two and half months were spent in a fever of preparation; we divided and conquered, and in November of 1996, we opened our doors with 6,500 books and big, exhausted smiles. Ten years later, we moved to a larger space in the next town, and now have about 28,000 books on hand in this location (Shelburne, VT), where we’ve been for seven years. (Readers can learn more about our beginnings in this Horn Book article.)Elizabeth and Josie

    MUF: Describe the atmosphere of your shop.
    Elizabeth:What we strive for is a charming, chock-full but restfully organized, cheerful space with friendly booksellers who are helpful when help is desired but don’t hover about the patrons. There’s a lot of laughter in the store, as well as enthusiastic book recommending, and we often hear from people that they like to come in when they’ve had a hard day. That’s such a lovely thing to hear. What I hope is that we create an environment where all people feel welcome, and where all kids — even and especially those who think of themselves as reluctant readers — know they can find a relaxed place to discover books they really will love.FP aisles with hearts

    MUF:  “Restfully organized”—what a great phrase.  How do you choose what books to carry in your shop?
    Elizabeth:We read and we talk. We read reviews, we read advance copies of books that publishers generously send out ahead of publication, we talk to publishers’ sales reps (a well-read sales rep who also understands the store’s ‘slant’ is a treasure!) and we share recommendations with fellow booksellers. One resource I have loved for years is the NECBA Review Project, a biannual collection of book reviews written by New England Children’s Booksellers Association members. It is enormously helpful for flagging titles that might have flown under our radar. And, we also learn about great books from customers.  As for choosing what actually ends up on our shelves, well, that’s art and science combined. We choose what we personally love, and we pay attention to what our customers request and order. We use bestseller lists, especially the New England Bestseller list, which is more in line with our readership, as well as NPR and New York Times Book Review recommendations. We also look at what our bookstore compatriots are selling in order to pick up promising titles we may have missed.Every indie bookstore has its personality and flavor. screenshot_1233It’s one of the joys of owning a store. I can stock some quirky title I love that no one’s ever heard of and keep it on the shelf forever if I want to. Now, if I don’t sell it, that’s not good business, so of course I have to remember to recommend those little gems to customers. The bookstore selection is also heavily influenced by its staff; our adult poetry sales skyrocketed 600% when one staffer started working here. And the demographics and regional tastes of the customers who live near the bookstore have a huge effect, too. One town might have a lot more readers asking for classic literature than another. But I do believe that most readers are flexible and will try just about anything recommended thoughtfully and enthusiastically by a trusted source.

    MUF: If an 11-year old comes into the Flying Pig and asks for “a good book,” what happens?
    Elizabeth: Oooh, while I love YA books, middle grade is my sweet spot. The books that formed me as a human being were mostly the ones I read between 6 and 12. Is that true? Let’s just say that those books were indeed formative, and beloved. So when an eleven-year-old comes in asking for a good book, I ask them for a few titles they’ve loved recently, I ask what kind of reading mood they think they’re in, trying to gauge whether they want adventure, a mystery, something spooky, sad, a cozy book, a book to make them laugh, a book that shows them a whole new world, a book that sweeps them away to another time or place in history, etc. Where the Mountain Meets the MoonOnce I have a sense of the reader’s range of tastes and current mood, I’ll booktalk five or six titles (sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the situation) so that they have a nice little stack to choose from. I shoot for plenty of options without being overwhelming — so sometimes that means I only show two or three books to kids who have a hard time with too many choices.
    The whole experience is a conversation, so my ideas about what to recommend often change as I go, based on the reactions my booktalks receive in the moment. While kids are generally open to many kinds of books, they often also have some intolerances, usually temporary but very definite. For instance, a few kids just will NOT read books that don’t seem contemporary. Others are allergic to any hint of romance. Some hate talking animals. Part of the great joy of matching books to readers is trying to find the right book at the right time, while perhaps also broadening a child’s notion of what he or she likes.Fortunately the milk

    MUF: What nonfiction and fiction titles, new and old, do you find yourselves recommending to middle-grade readers these Lost Children of the Far Islandsdays?
    Elizabeth: We recommend everything from old, old favorites like Understood Betsy, The Saturdays, and Swallows and Amazons, to more recent favorites like Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Gordon Korman’s Swindle, and Rebecca Stead’s Where You Reach Me, to books that were published yesterday. So many books, to so many readers! For recent books, we’ve been on fire with Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately, the Milk, Cynthia Kadohata’s The Thing About Luck, and Kate DiCamillo’s Flora & Ulysses. Nonfiction hits have included The Dolphins of Shark Bay by Pamela S. Turner and Locomotive by Brian Floca. Dolphins of Shark BayPig-talesFor a great sense of what we have been featuring in the store, here’s a link to our most recent newsletter, Pig-Tales, which rounds up many of our favorite books from 2013. There are scads of recent favorites in it, and we are feeling very pleased for having included so many books that ended up winning awards!

    MUF:Who are some middle grade authors you have hosted at Flying Pig?
    Elizabeth: We’ve been so lucky with our guests! We’ve hosted so many fantastic writers, including Norton Juster, Kate DiCamillo, Christopher Paul Curtis, Katherine Paterson, Laurie Halse Anderson, Shannon Hale, Annie Barrows, Lois Lowry, Cynthia Lord, Grace Lin, Linda Sue Park, Kate Messner, Linda Urban, Rebecca Rupp, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Phoebe Stone, Brandon Mull, Catherine Jinx, Matt Myklusch, “Erin Hunter,” Tom Angleberger, and so many, many more. It’s a wonderful field we’re in, isn’t it?FP thank you note

    MUF: Any special events coming up at your shop that will be of interest to kids in this age group?
    Elizabeth:  We are nailing down dates as we speak. One of the most exciting events we have coming up is the launch party for a debut novel by our very first employee, Emily Raabe, whose Lost Children of the Far Islands is coming out from Knopf in April. We also can’t wait for warmer weather to host some “Survivor”-esque games with Chris Tebbetts, co-author (with Jeff Probst) of the Stranded series. Cecil Castellucci may be paying us a visit, as well as Sarah Albee, Erica Perl, and lots of others. Stay tuned to our website and Facebook page for events as they unfold. I have to say, writing these answers has made me want to plan a whole bunch of middle grade events!

    Sheburne Farms

    Sleigh ride at Shelburne Farms

    MUF: If a family visited your shop from out of town, would there be family-friendly places nearby to get a bite to eat after browsing? And if they could spend all day or more in Shelburne, are there other unique attractions they should be sure not miss?
    Elizabeth: Shelburne is one of Vermont’s most-visited towns, because of the extraordinary indoor-outdoor Shelburne Museum (now open year-round), Shelburne Farms, and the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, all within a couple of miles of the store. Families can get a tasty bite to eat right next door to the bookstore at the Next Door Bakery and Cafe or at Rustic Roots or Harrington’s up the road, as well as delicious hot drinks, wine, and baked goods across the street at Village Wine and Coffee. We’re also just a few doors down from the wonderful Shelburne Country Store. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, really. There’s a LOT to see, do, and eat in Shelburne!

    Thanks, Elizabeth, for sharing  some of the thoughts behind the children’s book gem you and Josie have created at Flying Pig.  Readers, if you have visited this shop or think you would like to, please leave a comment.  And if you live close by, why not drop in —especially if you’ve had a hard day!

    Sue Cowing is the author of the puppet-and-boy novel You Will Call Me Drog (Carolrhoda 2011, Usborne UK 2012).

     

     

     

     

    2 Comments

    2 Comments

    1. Liz Teed  •  Jan 31, 2014 @5:23 am

      Sounds like a wonderful store! I will have to make a visit when I’m in VT to see my dad soon. He lives in West Rutland, but in VT you can’t be too far!!!! Best of luck!

    2. S.W.  •  Jan 31, 2014 @6:07 am

      Wow, that sounds like a great store. I wish there was something like that here in Australia. It’s wonderful to see someone so dedicated to what they do.