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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: Birchbark Books , Minneapolis MN

    Book Lists, Indie Spotlight

    birchbark logoImagine a bookstore founded and owned by a world-renowned poet and author for adults and children. Such a unique store exists. It’s Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, created fourteen years ago by Louise Erdrich as part of her passion to ensure that true stories of the native people are told and known, and their laguages not forgotten. Birchbark Books is a teaching store, infused with a generous and welcoming spirit.  We’re talking today with store manager Susan White, about whom the website says. “If you are lucky enough to visit when Susan White is there, you will feel mysteriously better all day.”birchbark storefront

    MUF:  Susan, who comes to Birchbark Books, in person and online? What experiences do you strive to provide for native readers? For non-native readers?
    Susan: Ours is a neighborhood store, only 800 square ft., but people visit from all over the world, especially from France, Germany, and Great Britain, and from all over North America.  Last week we had visitors from New Zealand. People make pilgrimages!  Our online catalog serves customer in th U.S. and Canada. What makes us so unique is that we serve many communities.  Our mission is to provide accurate and truthful books about native people of the Midwest and all over the country, but we are also a carefully curated full-range bookstore for children and adults.Birchbark Interior

    MUF: Your catalog and staff recommendations include so many interesting titles that we have seen nowhere else, and especially intriguing books written for, or appropriate for, children.  As middle-grade authors, we would love to know some of the titles, you particularly recommend to boys and girls ages eight to twelve?birchbark house
    Susan: All our children’s books, whether native or not, are chosen for truth and beauty.   Recommendations?  First of all would be Louise Erdrich’s award-winning Birchbark House Series (The Birchbark House, The Game of Silence, The Porcupine Year).  Louise grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series and loved it, but she  knew Laura’s mother was wrong when she said “there is nothing here.” Louise set the Birchbark House novels in the same place to show how much was there when seen from the eyes of the native Ojibwe.  How I Became a Ghost is by Tim Tingle , who sets his series in the 1835 Trail of Tears and writes from the character of a boy who didn’t survive it.  Moose Tracks and Wolf Shadows by Mary Cassanova are especially great for reluctant readers.  I would also recommend Summer of the Wolves, by Polly Carlson-Voiles and a native-title picture book, Black Elk’s Vision, A Lakota Story, by S.D. Nelson.Birchbark How I Became a GhostBirchbark Black ElkBirchbark-- summer of the wolves

    Birchbark moose tracksMUF: We’re told that one of the most wonderful things one can take away from a visit to Birchbark Books—guaranteed forgiveness— is absolutely free.  Please tell our readers about the forgiveness booth and other features of your shop—reading spaces, native arts— that create its special atmosphere.
    Susan: The forgiveness booth is meant to replace the confessional booth.  Everyone is forgiven and you don’t have to confess anything. You can get a glimpse of it in Bill Moyers’ interview of Louise : http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04092010/watch2.html. 

    Despite our small size, we carry not only books but native arts, cards, and jewelry in the store, which we buy directly from the artists.  There is a loft where kids can go to read, and the younger ones can hang out in the Hobbit Hole below. 

    The Forgiveness Booth

    The Forgiveness Booth

    Dharma

    Dharma’s favorites: DOG SONGS by Mary Oliver and E.B. WHITE ON DOGS

    MUF: Everyone who works at Birchbark Books seems to have a dog helping them peruse the books.  Do these four-footed aides spend their days in the shop, or do they mostly work from home?
    Susan: We usually have a dog in the store.  Most often it’s my own dog Dharma.  She’s the Queen Bee and has good bookstore manners.

    MUF: Do your native language materials include some introductory books for the curious beginner?
    Susan: We’re part of the native language revitalization movement, especially of the Dakota, Ojibwe and Lakota languages.  We carry language materials for adults and children, including several children’s books with CDs.  Some of these materials are hard to find, and we have a large and varied selection.  Louise and her sister Heid have formed Wiigwaas (Birchbark) Press that publishes books in Ojibwe only.  So far they have three books of animal stories. We also have many bilingual books.

    MUF:Do you have any  events at the store that would be of special interest to middle-graders?  Anything coming up this spring?
    Susan: Of course we don’t have a lot of space for events, but we have had author signings with many young adult and children’s authors, including Phyllis Root.  This spring we’re planning to do feature her new book, Plant a Pocket of Prairie, illustrated by Betsy Bowen.  It’s coming out in May.screenshot_1266

    MUF: If a family from out of town made a day visit to Birchbark Books, would there be a family-friendly place nearby where they could get a snack or a meal afterward?  And if they could stay a little longer, are there some other unique activities or places of interest nearby that they shouldn’t miss?Birchbark crafts
    Susan:  Right next door is the Kenwood Restaurant, and at the end of the block is Bockley Gallery (www.bockleygallery.com)with works by contemporary native artists.  We’re only two blocks from Lake of the Isles where there are trails for hiking. And of course there are many museums and attractions throughout Minneapolis.

    MUF: Thank you so much, Susan, for sharing this wonderful store and its passion with us.  Readers, if you have visited Birchbark Books or are intrigued and think you would like to, please leave a comment.

    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. Wendy S  •  Mar 2, 2014 @12:45 pm

      Oh my goodness, this place sounds amazing!

    2. C. Lee McKenzie  •  Mar 3, 2014 @10:23 am

      All so interesting: I want the forgiveness booth and, of course, the linguist in me loves the native American material. If I ever get to Minneapolis, I won’t fail to pay this store a visit.