• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Articles by: Michele Weber Hurwitz
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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,


    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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The Winner of The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days


Congrats to emmaline268! You’ve won the signed hardcover copy of The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days, by Michele Weber Hurwitz. You’ll be receiving an email from us shortly. Thanks to all who entered!

SUMMER final cover image (2)

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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.


Feeling Overwhelmed?

Inspiration, Writing MG Books

Feeling just a little bit overwhelmed these days? Or a lot bit overwhelmed? You’re not alone. I have come to the conclusion that everyone feels overwhelmed. Constantly. It’s more or less a state of being for our world today.

On a recent Monday morning, the kids shuttled off to school, husband hard at work, I took a look at my to-do list for the day:

Laundry, groceries, straighten up house, drop off clothes for donation, get to the health club, make three doctor appointments, pick up prescription, call friend whose Mom is in hospital, pick up dry cleaning, schedule piano tuner…and, OH YEAH, get to that WIP!



How come the ol’ work in progress is at the end of my list? That just ain’t right.

Do you find that to be true, as well? Everything else seems more pressing, or you can’t write until the house is tidied up and the laundry is put away, or you spend so much time doing errands and tasks, that by the time you sit down to write, you’re too exhausted to think?

Balance is an issue that weighs on many writers, especially those of us who work at home. Finding the time to write can be a challenge on many days. When I talk to other writers, I’m always curious how they juggle their writing time with all that other stuff.

I know many writers who attack their work first thing in the morning, still in their PJs, before the day gets away from them. Others get up before everyone else, writing at some ungodly hour in the morning. Still others work late at night when the rest of the house is fast asleep.

I’m not sure any of those options are right for me… For one, I think better when my teeth are brushed and I’m wearing actual clothing. Okay, and, I like to sleep! Plus, a messed-up house makes me completely crazy, I admit it!

In trying to come up with a plan that would work for me, I stumbled across this quote from Katherine Paterson:

“As I look back on what I have written, I can see that the very persons who have taken away my time are those who have given me something to say.”


Wait…is she saying I shouldn’t despise that pile of laundry, sink full of dishes, and empty fridge? That they are somehow good things?

not enough time

Is it possible that all this stuff that’s constantly on my to-do list, challenging my writing time, can actually fuel my writing? Give me ideas for characters, plot, setting?

I never thought about it that way. That’s a whole new ballgame.

So I have a plan now. Instead of resenting the to-do list tasks or feeling like I need to get through them all at once, I blend them in with my day. Straighten up house, write for one hour. Throw in a load of laundry, write for another hour. Get to a couple of phone calls and emails, write for another hour. Somehow, those little breaks in between my focused writing time allow my brain to process and review what I’ve written, and I get some other things done too!

Plus, when I took the laundry out of the dryer today, there was a nice chunk of gum stuck to my daughter’s jeans. Hmm… there’s a character in my WIP who is obsessed with gum-chewing…


Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of Calli Be Gold (Wendy Lamb Books 2011) and The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days (Wendy Lamb Books, coming April 2014). She can be found at micheleweberhurwitz.com and on her Facebook author page.






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