• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Articles by: Jennifer Swanson
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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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Waiting is the Hard Part

Authors, Book Lists, Inspiration, Librarians, Parents, Teachers, Writing MG Series

So when you read the title of this post did Tom Petty’s song “Waiting is the Hardest Part” come to mind? If not, it probably did now. (Cue music in your head).

We all have problems with waiting. Well, why not? In this fast-paced world you can get emails instantly, text someone across the world and receive an answer a few seconds later, and you can even have a face-to-face chat as you are walking down the street. Why should we have to wait anymore?

But, alas, waiting is a part of life. And it’s not fun.

In my house at the moment, we are waiting for something big — college acceptance letters! For those of you who haven’t experienced this, it is a stressful time. It is the first time in your life where your child’s future cannot be influenced by you. Always before you could perhaps guide the outcome of something- perhaps by talking to a teacher when a paper is late, or maybe smoothing over differences with a coach when your child is upset. But college admissions offices don’t want to deal with parents or guardians any more. It’s all up to them. They decide the fate of your child. In or out. That’s all you get.

As I watch and wait with my daughter, I am struck by how similar applying for college is like writing. In very simplistic terms the stories we write are sort of like our own babies. We have stayed up late with them, we have nurtured them — sometimes for years — before they are ready, and when we push send on the email or place the stamp on the envelope, we are sending them off into the world. Much like college admissions offices, the agents and editors that receive our carefully crafted manuscripts don’t allow any kind of “parental” interference. The wait can seem interminable, and quite frankly, sometimes it is. It can be weeks or months before you hear about your manuscript. Or, unfortunately, you may never hear anything.

Having gone through the college process once before, with my son, we know how the waiting can wear on you. First of all, everyone asks – so where are you going to college. Those questions start at Christmas your senior year in high school. Yeah, most schools don’t start sending out acceptances until late March or early April. In teenage years, that’s an eternity.

So the big question, is what do you do while you are waiting?

I did a Google search of “waiting” and came up with 207 billion (that’s with a ‘B’) results. Wow! A LOT of people must be talking about or thinking about waiting.

I went to Amazon and did a search on “Waiting” under children’s books and came up with 267 results. That’s a lot of books about waiting.

This was the book that came up as the #1 selection :


Which was funny, because this book is the very one I received from my parents when I graduated from high school. How cool is that?  Of course at the time, I thought it was kind of cheesy. I mean who gets a high school graduate a children’s book, as a gift?  Still, I remember reading it and thinking, well, that was nice… I guess.

Little did I know that all these years later, that little children’s book was a symbol of things to come.  At the time, being a children’s author was the furthest thing from my mind. I wanted to be a doctor. What happened? Things change. And now I’m here. But WOW what a journey and what a wonderful job this is. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Even as I sit and wait every time I send out a new submission. Isn’t it funny that sometimes while we are waiting, the answer comes to us. Not always in the form that we want, but maybe in something new and different.

As we wait to hear from the colleges my daughter applied to, we discuss all the possibilities. What if she gets in college A? That would mean a big change– a new climate and environment. But college B would mean a really big school with lots of kids. College C, well, that one is great but very expensive. The opportunities are endless, as are the challenges. Whatever her ultimate decision is,  we are confident it will be the best one for her. Waiting can be hard, but in the end, it is worth it because it gives you time and perspective.

And as the saying goes, sometimes the best things come to those who wait. :)

So, tell me, what do you do while you are waiting for things to happen?

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Jennifer Swanson is the author of over 14 fiction and nonfiction books for kids. She is a true science geek, a mystery book freak, and finds it hard to wait for things — especially  a new book in the series she is reading.
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March New Releases!

Book Lists, Miscellaneous, New Releases, Teachers

Longing for something to do on yet another snow day? Cuddle up with a new book! Here are some of the great new releases to choose from:

 

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue!: An Origami Yoda Book  by Tom Angleberger

At McQuarrie Middle School, the war against the FunTime Menace—aka test prep—wages on. Our heroes have one battle under their belts, and they’ve even found a surprising ally in Jabba the Puppett. But to defeat the Dark Standardized Testing Forces they’re going to need an even bigger, even more surprising ally: Principal Rabbski. But with great forces—aka the school board—pushing her from above, will the gang’s former enemy don a finger puppet and join the Rebellion—or will her transformation to Empress Rabbski, Dark Lord of the Sith, be complete?

 

Big Nate: In the Zone by Lincoln Peirce

The sixth Big Nate book in the New York Times bestselling series by Lincoln Peirce! The latest illustrated novel from Lincoln Peirce is a laugh-out-loud must-read starring the one and only cartooning genius, king of detention, and Cheez Doodle connoisseur, Nate Wright. Nate’s not having the best of luck . . . in fact; he’s not having ANY luck. But with a little boost thanks to Chad’s lucky foot, suddenly good luck is everywhere Nate turns! Nate’s in the zone! But how long will it last?

 

 

Wings of Fire Book Five: The Brightest Night  by Tui T. Sutherland

The dragonets struggle to fulfill the prophecy and — somehow — end the war in this thrilling new installment of the bestselling WINGS OF FIRE series! It all comes down to this: The Dragonets of Destiny must finally bring the epic war to an end, reconcile the seven tribes, and choose the next queen of Pyrrhia… and make it out alive

 

 

 

Spirit Animals Book Three: Blood Ties by Garth Nix

The adventure continues in this third book of the epic multiplatform fantasy series.
Erdas is a land of balance. A rare link, the spirit animal bond, bridges the human and animal worlds. Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan each have this gift-and the grave responsibility that comes with it.   But the Conquerors are trying to destroy this balance. They’re swallowing whole cities in their rush for power-including Meilin’s home. Fed up with waiting and ready to fight, Meilin has set off into enemy territory with her spirit animal, a panda named Jhi. Her friends aren’t far behind . . . but they’re not the only ones.   The enemy is everywhere.

 

Ever After High: The Unfairest of Them All by Shannon Hale

It’s the aftermath of Legacy Day, the day when the students at Ever After High are supposed to pledge to follow in their fairytale parents’ footsteps, and everyone is in a huff and a puff! Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen, has refused to sign the Storybook of Legends, rejecting her story–and putting everyone else’s in jeopardy.

The Royal Apple White doesn’t want to think Raven is being a rebellious pain, but Raven’s choice means Apple might never get the poisoned apple, Prince Charming, and a kingdom to rule. Behind Apple stands the Royals, those who want to play by the book and embrace their stories. The Rebels, supporters of Raven, believe in breaking free from destiny and writing their own stories. But when the chaos and rivalry land wonderlandiful Madeline Hatter in trouble, Raven and Apple must bring the Royals and the Rebels together to shut the book on their feud before it threatens to end all of their Happily Ever Afters once and for all.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…Who’e the Unfairest of Them All?

 

Sky Raiders (Five Kingdoms) by Brandon Mull

Adventure awaits in the Five Kingdoms—come and claim it in this start to a new series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fablehaven and Beyonders series.
Cole Randolph was just trying to have a fun time with his friends on Halloween (and maybe get to know Jenna Hunt a little better). But when a spooky haunted house turns out to be a portal to something much creepier, Cole finds himself on an adventure on a whole different level.

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Take the Polar Plunge! (into reading and writing)

Authors, Industry News, Inspiration, Librarians, Teachers, Trends, Writing MG Books, Writing MG Series

ice-caps-267298   Happy 2014! It’s that time of year.

Who’s up for a Polar Plunge? You know, the thing where crazy — I mean awesome people decide to jump into the  frigid ocean or lake on in the month of January to… to… well, invigorate themselves and start the new year off right!  Come on, who’s with me?

(Uh, I don’t know about you, but  that looks a little icy and… cold. REALLY cold)

Don’t  worry. I’m not talking about THAT kind of Polar Plunge. The one I’m referring to is more metaphorical. You can do it at home… in your comfy, cozy pajamas if you wish.  I say, let’s take the Polar Plunge into reading and writing!!

What does that mean? Well, people who actually do the Polar Plunge say they it gets their juices flowing, you know so they warm up.  That’s what we want to happen with THIS type of Polar Plunge. We want to get our CREATIVE juices flowing so our brains will warm up and be focused!!

So where do we start?

First of all, since this is January, think about any goals you might have for yourself. They don’t have to be big ones, but anything that pertains to reading and writing.

READERS

Do you want to read more books this year? Be specific. How many? What kind? Maybe you want to try different genres or expand into different authors or series.  If you feel the need to keep motivated to meet your goal, join a group that supports readers.  Here are a couple:

GoodReads.com  They have a 2014 Reading Challenge. Simply enter the of  number  books you plan to read this year. You can track what you read, take a look at what others are reading and see recommendations on new and exciting books.

Scholastic.com   Has a reading resolution that you can fill out. Get your kids to do it, too!

TBR Reading Pile Challenge   This blog has a “To Be Read” challenge that helps you keep track of what you’re reading, motivates you to post reviews and communicate with others. It even offers some giveaways!

Reading Olympics  Many schools, library systems and towns are having this contest. It is a way to get kids (and adults) excited about reading.  Simply do a web search on “Reading Olympics” and see if something comes up in your area. If not, start your own! (Good Reads has recommendations for Reading Olympic books here.)

There are TONS of blogs that cover the idea of “Reading Goals for 2014″. Simply do a search and see what you can find. If the blog looks interesting, follow it.  Or maybe start your own blog about cool books.  (We did!)

 

WRITERS

Have you always wanted to write a book? Well, 2014 is your year to do it!  If you’re nervous about it or don’t have any idea where to start, don’t worry. There are a phenomenal number  of ways to find information — and more importantly — support. The children’s writer community is a very welcome and open group and we all LOVE to help each other.  There are soooo many great websites and blogs out there about writing for kids — too many to mention in just one post. So I’ll focus on some motivational challenges that are going on right now to get you started:

KIDLIT411     A brand new blog that has  SO MUCH information on it, it’s hard to put it into words.

Start the Year Off Write!   This is great for the new writer who has no idea how to get started. The blog gives 21 fast and easy writing prompts to get you started. Perfect for a new writer who needs direction (and inspiration). The challenge started on Jan 5th, but you can still sign up and, if you go back and do all the exercises and post, then you could be eligible for some awesome giveaways.

Revi Mo  The sign-up for this Revision Month blog is closed, but anyone can access the awesome posts. Check them out for great revision ideas.

12 x 12 in 2014  If you’re ready to dive into writing, check out this fantastic challenge. You are challenged to write 12 Picture Books in 12 months. Wow! Plus, when join, you get access to tons of writing advice, connect with other writers, all of which will inspire you to keep going. Registration is open until the end of February. Even if you don’t register, there’s some wonderful information on Julie Hedlund’s blog.

Mini-WOW Non-fiction Pic   Is nonfiction your thing? Check out Kristen Fulton’s nonfiction picture book challenge in February 2014.

Chapter Book Challenge    Want to write chapter books? Sign up for this challenge in March of 2014.

Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo blog   And don’t forget this awesome event! Tara runs a Picture Book Idea Month challenge in November of every year. While it’s not going on now, this is a fantastic blog with tons of information!

 

These are just a few of the MANY places you can find writing inspiration. I know there are TONS more out there.

But hopefully, this list will give you the motivation to dip your toe in… Or maybe to just take a deep breath and jump! Come on in, the water’s fine. :)

Whatever the case, GOOD LUCK and HAPPY READING AND WRITING!

 

What are your goals for reading and writing in 2014? Post them below. Also, if you know of any more reading or writing blogs that offer terrific advice and provide great camaraderie, feel free to add them, too.

 

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Jennifer Swanson is the author of more than 16 books for children. When not writing, you can find her with a book in her hand. Her goal is to read 30 or more books in 2014!

 

 

 

 

 

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