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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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  • Five Reasons to Keep a Writing Journal

    Writing MG Books

    This week, I’m wrapping up the eight millionth draft of a manuscript, polishing it to a high shine before querying agents. Of course, putting the finishing touches on one manuscript has put my mental gears spinning as I think about what’s next. Should I tinker with an old manuscript, trying to salvage a story that’s been pushed aside? Or should I start fresh, seeing where my muse might lead?

    I’m still not sure what direction I’ll go, but this transition from one story to the next has sent me flipping through my writing journal, weighing my options. And it’s also provided the inspiration for today’s post.

    When I first started writing, I didn’t keep a journal. After all, I like things nice and neat and orderly. A writing journal is inherently messy. There are jotted down bits of dialogue. Clipped newspaper headlines. Pictures of people, places, and potted plants pilfered from magazines. A bazillion ideas for story starters. In general, just lots of “stuff.”

    And it’s all an absolute mess.

    So why do I do it? Why do I now jot, clip, tape, and scribble things into my writing journal, even if the chaos pushes me ever closer to crazy?

    I’ve got my reasons. . . .

    Writing Journal

    1) How else will you remember when a friend sees a man in Wal-Mart pushing his wife in the shopping cart while the wife paints her nails?

    2) Sometimes people say the darndest things. And characters have to talk, too.

    10-year-old coming off of a looping roller coaster: “I kept my eyes open the whole time! . . . I just blinked kind of slow on the twisty part.”

    3) Real newspaper headlines can often trump anything my imagination could ever conjure.

    “Rifle cases taped to bike give away Elkhart burglar”

    and . . .

    “Woman fends off bear with zucchini”

    4) Often, it’s that extra little detail that makes a setting come alive.

    Slogan on the side of a plumbing truck: “A flush beats a full house.”

    5) When I write a story, I always uncover a lot of “what if” questions then try to answer those questions in interesting ways as the story unfolds. Of course, I may need a bit of help with the initial question that gets a story rolling, and a writing journal is the perfect home in which those questions can reside.

    What if . . . a boy’s dad sometimes wears a kilt?

    So how about you—are you the writing-journal type? If so, take a meandering stroll through one of your journals and see what you find. You might uncover an old spark for a new story. Even if you don’t, you may find something to inspire the rest of us. Feel free to share a snatch of stolen dialogue, a meandering musing, or any other random tidbit that’s found its way into your journal over the years.

    And, of course, happy writing!

    T. P. Jagger, The 3-Minute Writing TeacherAlong with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original readers’ theatre scripts for middle-grade teachers.

     

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    Lots o’ Fives

    Miscellaneous

    Being responsible for the MUF post on Cinco de Mayo is a grand responsibility. After all, not only is today the fifth day of the fifth month of the year, but there are a lot of other things that come in fives. For example, like most folks, I have five fingers on each hand, which come in useful when giving high-fives. Last I checked I have five toes on each foot. And just last week I stole five pieces of chocolate from my son’s Easter stash and ate them all in exactly five seconds.

    So . . . in celebration of all the fives in my life, here are five lists of five things you can think about in five minutes or less.

    churros

    Five Foods I’d Like to Eat to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo While Completely Ignoring Caloric Intake:

    1. Burritos
    2. Tortilla chips with salsa con queso
    3. Churros with chocolate sauce
    4. Mexican fried rice
    5. More churros

    Five Children’s Novels I’ve Read and Enjoyed in the Past Five Months:

    1. The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage
    2. Scumble by Ingrid Law
    3. The Last Present by Wendy Mass
    4. Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko
    5. Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington

    Five More Children’s Novels I Really Want to Read before the Next Five Months Are Over:

    1. The Summer I Saved the World . . . in 65 Days by fellow-MUF-member Michele Weber Hurwitz
    2. Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue by Tom Angleberger
    3. Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana
    4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    5. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

    the summer i saved the world

    Five Character Names from My Writing Journal That I Hope to Use Someday:

    1. Abigail Blinsteen
    2. Lucas McShooster
    3. Olivia Ingledue
    4. Shishkabob Stubs
    5. Silas Slump

    T. P. Jagger, The 3-Minute Writing Teacher

    Five Reasons You Should Visit My New Website at www.tpjagger.com and Tell Your Friends About It, Too:

    1. You can read my bio page and see what an Amazonian treehouse has to do with the day of my birth.
    2. I’ve posted free, original readers’ theatre scripts that middle-grade teachers can download and use to improve students’ reading fluency.
    3. I’ve adopted an alias—“The 3-Minute Writing Teacher”—and begun posting a series of short writing-tips videos that teachers can use with their students (and that beginning writers may find helpful, too).
    4. You can easily subscribe to my e-newsletter to receive automatic updates whenever I post new readers’ theatre scripts or how-to writing-tips videos.
    5. Did I mention the free readers’ theatre scripts and the videos of how-to writing tips from The 3-Minute Writing Teacher? . . .

    Well, HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO, loyal MUF readers! Got anything to add to any of my lists? A must-eat Mexican food? A favorite book? A completely different list of five things? Post your comments below.

    Along with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tips videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original readers’ theatre scripts for middle-grade teachers.

    4 Comments

    The Thing about Birthdays

    Book Lists
                        b-day cake

    Two weeks ago, my daughter turned twelve. I celebrated the milestone by threatening to pluck out the eyes of any boys who happened to notice her climb toward womanhood.

    Not sure what I’ll do once she becomes a teenager.

    A week later, my son turned ten. I wrestled him to the ground and gave him a wedgie. I’m not getting any younger. He’s not getting any smaller. Figure I have to whoop him while I can.

    Anyway, all those birthdays got me thinking. While my middle-aged self grudgingly accepts each birthday as a reminder that my knees are getting achier and my hair is getting thinner, my kids’ birthdays remain highpoints of celebration and anticipation. A birthday-kid may only be one day older than the day before, but it feels bigger than that.

    And since birthdays hold a lot more significance for the middle-grade crowd than the middle-aged crowd, they often play a major role in middle-grade stories, too. Here are a handful of books where a kid’s “special day” helps get the story moving:

     Harry Potter

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

    by J. K. Rowling

    Come on, you’ve read this. Harry turns eleven. Everything changes.

    11 Birthdays

    by Wendy Mass

    Amanda Ellerby’s eleventh birthday doesn’t go so well. So it’s kind of a bad thing that when she wakes up every morning, it’s her birthday again.

    (Don’t neglect the other three birthday-based books in the Willow Falls series: Finally, 13 Gifts, and The Last Present.)

    11 birthdays

       the challengers

    Galaxy Games: The Challengers

    by Greg R.   Fishbone

    This is the first book of the Galaxy Games series by MUFs very own Greg R. Fishbone! For his eleventh birthday, Ty Sato has a star named in his honor. Only it’s soon discovered that Ty’s star is not a star at all—it’s a spaceship bringing news that will change Ty’s life…and maybe the world.

    Wringer

    by Jerry Spinelli

    This Newbery Honor book takes a twist on birthday-based stories because the protagonist, Palmer LaRue, isn’t looking forward to his tenth birthday at all. In fact, it’s something he dreads.

    wringer    

        Savvy

    Savvy

    by Ingrid Law

    Yet another Newbery Honor book, Savvy tells the story of Mibs Beaumont, an almost-thirteen-year-old who comes from a family with a secret—each member gets a supernatural talent when they turn thirteen.

    So what birthday-based stories have you read and enjoyed? Feel free to post a favorite title (or two or three).

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