Author Archives: Michele Weber Hurwitz

Happy New Year from the Mixed-Up Files!

We here at the Mixed-Up Files would like to wish all of our readers a very Happy New Year!

muf jan 1 #22015 was a wonderful year for us, and we hope it was for you as well. Our group of 26 contributors brought you close to 200 posts on the world of middle grade writing and reading. We hope our posts enlightened and inspired you, and kept you up-to-date on the ever-changing climate of children’s books.

We’re looking forward to doing more of the same during 2016 and can’t wait to share many terrific posts with you.

We wish you all a year filled with peace, joy, and love, and in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, many, many best days.

Happy New Year Quote - Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Happy Holidays from the Mixed-Up Files!

The team at the Mixed-Up Files would like to wish you a very happy holiday season! We thought it would be fun this year to give you an inside look at the people who contribute to this blog — doing what we do every day — researching, contemplating, writing, reading, signing books, visiting schools, and more. We live in many places around the country, big cities and small towns, from east to west and north to south. Thank you to all of our loyal readers for your comments and continued support of the Mixed-Up Files this year. Once again, a very happy holidays from us to you!

Tricia Springstubb

Tricia Springstubb at an author event

Julie Artz and cat Buttons

Julie Artz’s laptop and cat Buttons

Louise Galveston

Louise Galveston signing books

Tim TP Jagger

Tim “T.P.” Jagger in his writing space

Kimberley Griffiths Little

Kimberley Griffiths Little at a book launch event

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan Rosen looking writerly

Jan Gangsei and her dog, Watson

Jan Gangsei writing with her dog Watson

Jacqueline Houtman

Jacqueline Houtman at an event

Dorian Cirrone

Dorian Cirrone signing books

Jennifer Swanson

Jennifer Swanson at a school visit

Rosanne Parry

Rosanne Parry sailing into her research

Laurie J Edwards

Laurie Edwards at a book event

Kate Manning

Kate Manning in her writing space

Greg Fishbone

Greg Fishbone signing books

Barbara Dee

Barbara Dee catching up on her reading

Dori Butler

Dori Butler having fun with her research

Michele Weber Hurwitz-B&N

Michele Weber Hurwitz at a book signing

Andrea Pyros

Andrea Pyros reading the book that inspired our blog name

Valerie Stein

Valerie Stein hard at work

Mike Hays at read aloud day

Mike Hays at a school read aloud day

Amie Borst and co-author daughter Bethanie

Amie Borst and co-author daughter Bethanie

The best way to hear about a book

Flashback to high school. My best friend slid into the seat next to me on the bus and placed a well-worn paperback into my hands. “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS,” she said. “You just HAVE to.”

The cover was enough to draw me in — a forlorn-looking woman in a white dress, standing in a forest, a mysterious black-robed figure approaching her. But more than the cover, it was my friend’s recommendation that held all the weight in my fifteen-year old world. I started the book right there on the bus.

greendarkIt was, by the way, Green Darkness by Anya Seton, a historical romance novel with themes of reincarnation and witchcraft. You may not have heard of it, but believe me, it was the teen equivalent of Eleanor & Park back in the day. At least in my high school. We were all reading it and passing it along to a friend.

Fast forward umpteen years later, and I’m now an author myself. On a recent school visit, I saw a girl hand another girl a paperback and whisper, “You have to read this. It’s so good. It’s the best book I ever read.”

My heart leaped. In this age of online everything, a time so different than when I grew up, the same personal reader-to-reader moment was still happening?

Witnessing the exchange between the two girls made me think about the question many authors have been known to obsess over — exactly how do young readers find books today? Most authors I know promote their books in every avenue possible — trailers, blog tours, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, marketing campaigns, bookstore visits, Goodreads.

It can be quite exhausting, to be honest.

I asked an agent at a recent writer’s conference what really sells books these days, and her answer made everyone in the room laugh. “If we knew the answer to that,” she said, “we’d all be millionaires.”

So with kids and teachers and librarians on the receiving end of all this virtual publicity today, I’ve often wondered, do kids even recommend books to each other anymore? Is word of mouth still relevant?

Secrets_Greeting_Cards_Signature_Cards-500x500I want to share part of an email I received recently from a 12-year old reader:

“So I don’t like to read but my friend told me I should read this book so I went to the library and checked it out. It was amazing! This makes me want to read more books. All I want to say is thank you for writing this book. And by the way, it was published on my birthday!”

Every author loves fan mail, but this one in particular touched my heart because the reader found my book through a friend’s suggestion. And I have to admit, I’m always thrilled when I visit schools and libraries that reinforce the personal aspect of finding books.

I’ve seen book trees in school libraries where kids write mini reviews, a favorite paperback swap event, and a lobby bulletin board where kids post book recommendations for their peers. Several public libraries post reviews on their site written by teens, or have a teen reader’s board in place.

2815a0451194418bbb1e9bdbe8a893ecI truly hope that these type of word of mouth recommendations will always continue to be part of our reading world, no matter how technologically connected future generations become. Nothing can replace that well-worn paperback passed from friend to friend with the ultimate stamp of approval: “You HAVE to read this.”


Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days and Calli Be Gold, both from Wendy Lamb Books. She still has a copy of Green Darkness in case you want to borrow it. Find her at