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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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  • June Releases

    Book Lists

    Summer is here!

     

    That means: SCHOOL IS OUT! More time to read!!!!

    Look out for these great new books releasing this month!

     

    Dork Diaries 7: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star

    dork diaries

    Everyone’s been rooting for Nikki Maxwell and her crush, Brandon—and fans will finally learn if they had their first kiss in this seventh book of the New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series!

    Nikki’s juggling a lot this month. A reality TV crew is following Nikki and her friends as they record their hit song together, plus there are voice lessons, dance practice, and little sister Brianna’s latest wacky hijinks. Nikki’s sure she can handle everything, but will all the excitement cause new problems for Nikki and Brandon, now that cameras are everywhere Nikki goes?

     

    Survivors #5: The Endless Lake, by Erin Hunter

    survivorFrom Erin Hunter, #1 nationally bestselling autor of the Warriors and Seekers series, comes book five in the New York Times bestselling Survivors series, which Kirkus Reviews praised as “wild and wonderful adventure” in a starred review. This action-packed novel will thrill fans of animal fantasy stories and readers who have been howling for more of Lucky and the dogs of the Wild Pack.

    At the edge of a strange lake that seems to stretch on forever, Lucky and his Pack are about to discover even more new dangers. With the Fierce Dogs on their trail and the Storm of Dogs looming on the horizon, every dog will have to fight for survival—or be swept away.

    Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

    library

    Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.

    Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.

    In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience.

    The Odd Squad, King Karl (An Odd Squad Book), by Michael Fry

    odd squad

    Nick, Molly, and Karl have nowhere to turn but to each other in the latest Odd Squad adventure, and they’ll need every ounce of wit, resourcefulness, and help they can get in order to rise above their biggest challenge yet.

    The Glass Sentence (The Mapmakers Trilogy), by S. E. Grove

    sentence glassShe has only seen the world through maps. She had no idea they were so dangerous.

    Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World—a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods.  Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself.

    Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him. Together with Theo, a refugee from the West, she travels over rough terrain and uncharted ocean, encounters pirates and traders, and relies on a combination of Shadrack’s maps, common sense, and her own slantwise powers of observation. But even as Sophia and Theo try to save Shadrack’s life, they are in danger of losing their own.

    The Glass Sentence plunges readers into a time and place they will not want to leave, and introduces them to a heroine and hero they will take to their hearts. It is a remarkable debut.

    Love by the Morning Star, by Laura L. Sullivan

    love by star

    Upstairs, downstairs, and in which lady’s chamber?
    On the brink of World War II, two girls are sent to the grand English country estate of Starkers. Hannah, the half-Jewish daughter of a disgraced distant relative, has been living an artistic bohemian life in a cabaret in pre-war Germany and now is supposed to be welcomed into the family. Anna, the social-climbing daughter of working-class British fascists, is supposed to be hired as a maid so that she can spy for the Nazis. But there’s a mix-up, and nice Hannah is sent to the kitchen as a maid while arrogant Anna is welcomed as a relative.
    And then both girls fall for the same man, the handsome heir of the estate . . . or do they?
    In this sparkling, saucy romance, nearly everything goes wrong for two girls who are sent to a grand English estate on the brink of World War II—until it goes so very, very right!

     

    Spirit Animals: Book 4: Fire and Ice, by Shannon Hale 

    animals 4

    The adventure continues in this fourth book in the New York Times bestselling series.

    Strange things are happening at the frozen edge of the world. Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan have crisscrossed Erdas in their quest to stop the ruthless Conquerors. Only the four of them, supported by the gifts of their legendary spirit animals, have the power to defeat an evil takeover.

     

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    Summer Writing: tips for a successful season

    Inspiration, Writing MG Books

    cartoon-sun-mdGood morning, Readers and Writers!

    Happy Memorial Day! Summer is here….finally!

    Here in Chicago, it seemed that the sun would never get here, but last week, our entire neighborhood turned green. It has been fun to get back to walking and riding. I find that when I walk/ride in silence, I often can solve my story’s problems. Often, I get new ideas.  Just by sitting back and observing others and listening to myself/nothing/the world, I often figure out what to write next. 

    This is what I love about summer. Everyone is out. There are opportunities for eavesdropping. And I LOVE watching old people kiss on the beach.

    But it is also a challenging time in terms of writing. In other words: the kids are coming home!

    Don’t get me wrong: I love when the kids are here. College (and marriage and grad school) are changing them in all kinds of good ways. When they are in the house, there is more to do: more cooking, more relaxing, more outings, and more downtime with them. More catching up. All good things!!

    Except when do I get my writing done? (Let’s not even get into my yoga schedule!)

    That’s why, today, I want to talk about summer goals. Today, writers, I am going to challenge you to get your summer off to a great start!

    Start with a calendar. And be HONEST. 

    I write down all the visits and trips first. Then I ask: Will there be writing time? 

    An hour? A half day? How about 15 minutes in the morning?

    Even if that is all you have, commit to it.

    Sometimes, however, the answer is NO. There will be NO writing time. 

    If there is no time–if your kids need you or you have new responsibilities, or you are going on a magnificent vacation, no worries!

    Just because you are a writer does not mean you can’t take an intentional break. I remember the first time I told Tim Wynne-Jones that I write 365days a year. He looked at me like I was crazy. I think he said, “Haven’t I taught you anything?

    Take a break!

    Let the ideas simmer!”

    The first time I did it, I was scared. I was sure I would lose my ability to write a single word ever again for the rest of my life. (Yes, I can be dramatic.)  But when the vacation was over, and I sat down, I had new ideas. And a lot more energy for the project I wanted to start. I was inspired. (It’s also nice not to feel distracted all the time!)

    Here are some tips to help you stay focused on your projects and writing life without having to ignore your responsibilities/kids/husband/beach/yoga class/fabulous vacation:

    CARRY A JOURNAL….everywhere. That vacation may inspire observations that can go into a book. Jot them down and go back to whatever you were doing. If people ask what you are doing, tell them! When people find out I’m a writer, they always share GREAT stories.

    READ. BINGE READ. READ OUT LOUD. Reading (in or out of genre) is the best way I know to get used to playing with words . . . and helping to find my voice.

    GET THE KIDS INVOLVED! One summer, my daughter wrote book reviews for the local Indie bookstore. (Writing time!) Another summer, we each wrote a story and had a reading. It was fun! We made cupcakes!

    I know people who have bound books with their kids, too. 

    And if none of these things will work?  ENJOY YOURSELF. No regrets. The writing life is a long one. Open your eyes and ears and have an experience. Talk about it with others. Take (safe) chances. Kiss the kids! They never stay as long as you want them to.

    DON’T FEEL GUILTY. You are still a writer!!!!  Listen. Look around. Observe gestures and listen to syntax and look for interesting places in your world. 

    And if inspiration hits, the kids will understand. Tell them, today Mom is a writer, and go into your office and WRITE. 

    Have a GREAT SUMMER!

    Sarah Aronson grapples with guilt on a regular basis, but not when it comes to writing! 

    2 Comments

    Some thoughts on some B words…

    Inspiration

    MissBossyLately, I’ve been hearing a lot about the word BOSSY, and that it is holding girls back.   There is even a hashtag: #banbossy.

    Here’s their argument:

    “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.”

    First of all: Really??? If this is true, it’s terrible. Girls should never be discouraged from speaking up. From being leaders. 

    But Bossy? Really? Are we that sensitive? These are middle grade readers we’re talking about. I have a hard time believing that this one word holds some kind of power over girls.

    What do you think about the word, BOSSY? Why DOES the word, bossy, have such a negative connotation?

    Some of my favorite middle grade characters are bossy. The Great Gilly Hopkins was sort of bossy. So were Lyra and Stargirl and every role Barbra Streisand ever played. These girls were unique. Quirky. Interesting. And yes, a bit flawed. As a writer, I love writing about girls who might very well be described as bossy. 

    They are strong.

    Which is sort of ironic, isn’t it?

    But maybe that’s not the point. If ONE WORD gets adults to start paying attention to girls, this sounds good to me! I am for anything that promotes strong healthy girls. I am delighted that the world is starting to pay attention to the development of female leaders and thinkers.

    Because frankly, it seems that in our world, especially the middle grade world, we spend a whole lot of time thinking about boys. As the author of a middle grade novel about soccer, I am often asked:

    How do you write a book for a boy?

    How do we get more boys reading?

    (These are important questions. If you like, check out my interview with Rich Wallace…he has a lot to say about the subject.)

    But here’s the problem: even though one of the main characters in that soccer book is a girl…and even though I am a girl….I have NEVER been asked how we get girls reading. Or how I reach girls. Or write books for girls. In fact, the discussion is so lopsided that one might conclude that we take girls…as readers and thinkers…for granted.

    And THAT is not cool. (Way worse than bossy.)

    For the record: Like a lot of authors I know, I needed help finding books. I was not a natural reader or writer.  (But I think I WAS bossy.) I am grateful to the brave teacher who handed me a book that was NOT necessarily marketed to girls.

    As a parent, I think it’s dangerous to say, “This is for boys,” or “This is for girls,” because frankly, how do we know? My kids (a girl and a boy) have loved all kinds of books. Making books that weren’t “quite for them” available opened their eyes to new kinds of people and cultures. Those books made them think. And ask questions. As a writer, this is my dream!

    When the opposite happens…when a grown up tries to steer a young reader away from a book, it is usually out of fear.

    That would be a good thing to ban, too. Fear of books.

    So what’s the bottom line? Ban bossy? Are you in?

    As writers and teachers and mothers and fathers and librarians and everyone else who cares about the next generation, we should be thinking about all kids, bossy and quiet, loud and silly. Boys and Girls. Just like we need to encourage boys and find them good books, we need to do the same for girls.

    Instead, let’s ban limitations. And stereotypes. And low expectations.

    Let’s strive to nurture girls with the same attention and enthusiasm that we give boys. Let’s show all kids how to BE AMBITIOUS. Let’s show them how to get beyond labels and talk about strength in a meaningful way.

    (And while we’re thinking about this, let’s not forget to thank our kids’ teachers and librarians for helping them find the books that are RIGHT for them.)

    Do you like writing tips? If so, sign up for Monday Motivation on www.saraharonson.com. Every Monday, new thoughts on the writing process directly in your inbox.

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