• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Book Lists > Indie Spotlight: When Pigs Fly
  • OhMG! News

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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, read more...

     

    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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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!

    [Reply]

  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.

    [Reply]

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