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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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  • An Interview with Author Barb Rosenstock

    Authors, Historical Fiction, Interviews

    Barb Rosenstock is the award-winning author of several nonfiction and historical fiction books, two of which are about presidents. So we’re happy to have Barb visit the Mixed-Up Files on President’s Day. Welcome Barb!

    Q: Before you were an author, you worked in marketing and taught elementary school. Did you always like to write? What made you decide to focus on becoming an author?

    A: Lots of people have a dream to write a book, but I wasn’t one of them! In fact, when I was a kid in school, I didn’t think I was very creative or a good writer. I wrote for my marketing and advertising jobs, but it wasn’t until I went back to school for a master’s degree and student taught that I thought about writing books for children. I like to write stories that are based on facts because those were the kinds of books my own sons liked the best, and at the time, it was hard to find historical picture book stories that were fun and factual.

    Barb RosenstockQ: Your book, Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library, is about how Jefferson’s vast book collection helped build the Library of Congress. It was just named a Recommended Book in the 2014 Orbis Pictus Awards for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children. Tell us how you came up with that idea.

    A: I was working on a book about the Statue of Freedom that sits atop the U.S. Capitol. In reading about how Washington D.C. was rebuilt after the British burned it in 1812, I ran across the fact that Jefferson sold his library to the U.S. government. I thought if someone who’s spent as much time in libraries as I have didn’t know that Jefferson’s books rebuilt the Library of Congress, then maybe a lot of other people would want to know the story too!

     

    BMP_8932_JT.inddQ: How can this book be utilized in a classroom?

    A: Some of the broad curriculum topics this book would be great for include: The American Revolution, Life in the Colonial Era, Libraries and the Dewey Decimal System, Book Publishing, and Biographies. It covers at least 20 of the Common Core Standards. Teachers can find a complete Educator’s Guide for Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library along with lesson ideas and standards on my website – barbrosenstock.com, and at calkinscreekbooks.com.

     

    Q: Tell us about your inspiration for The Camping Trip That Changed America, about Theodore Roosevelt’s and John Muir’s 1903 trip to Yosemite that helped create our national park system.

    A: In a Chicago Tribune review of an adult book on Theodore Roosevelt, one phrase stuck out for me. It was “Roosevelt left the Presidency to go camping.” I kept wondering how a President could just leave to go camping. What was so important? Where did he go? On the Internet, I found the famous photograph of Roosevelt and Muir with the Yosemite Valley stretched out beneath them, and from there, the research just expanded, and expanded, for almost two years!

    Q: Do you like to go camping?

    A: Ummmm. No. Not at all. Not even a little bit. I’m not fond of sleeping on the ground, or in wet or cold weather. I love the wilderness from a nice warm cabin or inn, though — one with an indoor bathroom.

    camping trip

    Q: What is your research process like?

    A: I almost always get my book ideas when I’m not looking for them, so that first part is random. But once I have an idea, I typically start learning online, plus I always make sure that any new book idea hasn’t already been published by someone else! After that, I start working with my local library to access every book or article I can find on the topic. I visit museums or historical societies and email or call various experts. For The Camping Trip That Changed America, I worked with Yosemite’s library and experts on Muir and Roosevelt. For Jefferson, I worked with the staff at Monticello. I always tell students that the best information I get isn’t on the Internet or even in other books, it’s from people who love the topic I’m writing about and can tell more interesting stories about it than I can!

    Q: Have you visited the Library of Congress or any national parks?

    A: I visited Yosemite National Park when I was researching The Camping Trip That Changed America and that three-day visit changed the entire style of the book. At last count, I’ve visited six National Parks (but no, no camping!). I’ve never visited the Library of Congress but I hope to visit this fall.

    Q: I love how your books share personal facts about Jefferson and Roosevelt. You have two new books out in 2014 and one in 2015! What are they about?

    A: I have books on the painter Kandinsky, The Noisy Paint Box, that just came out a week ago, and one on Joe DiMaggio, The Streak, that comes out March 1. I have a book on Ben Franklin (not a president, but close enough!) coming in 2015, and I’m working on a book about the photographer Dorothea Lange now.

    noisy paint boxQ: The Noisy Paint Box, by the way, has received four starred reviews! Congrats! So we hear you were born on April Fool’s Day. Do you live up to your birthday?

    A: Yes, I’m foolish frequently, at least once or twice a day, most days many more times than that!

    Q: Where would we find you on a Sunday afternoon? What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Do you have any pets?

    A: Since I like weekends, dessert, and animals, these are good questions for me! Most Sundays you can find me visiting friends, cooking, or reading while watching football or basketball games with my family. I’m afraid it’s boring, but I really like vanilla bean ice cream (with fresh strawberries on top!). I have two standard poodles named Nikki and Abby. Because of my dogs, people started giving me poodle figurines, and now I have a collection of at least 200 white poodles (statues, pillows, mugs, frames, artwork, etc.). It’s not as big as Thomas Jefferson’s book collection, but it’s starting to take over my entire office!

     

    Thanks so much, Barb, for sharing all this with us today!

    Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days, coming April 8 from Wendy Lamb Books, and Calli Be Gold, Wendy Lamb Books 2011. Visit her at micheleweberhurwitz.com.

    3 Comments

    3 Comments

    1. Jennifer Duddy Gill  •  Feb 17, 2014 @3:56 pm

      Teachers will love having these books in their classrooms. Congratulations on your success, Barb!

    2. Rani  •  Feb 17, 2014 @5:40 pm

      Barb, loved your Camping Trip Book! It is perfect for the classrooms and kids. Thanks for inspiring!

    3. C. Lee McKenzie  •  Feb 27, 2014 @9:21 am

      What a wonderful way to learn history!