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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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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.


Ways authors can use the library to promote their books

Miscellaneous, Teachers

Did you know that you may be able to add information and videos about your books to library catalogs? Many libraries have social catalogs, putting the power of list-making, tagging and ratings in the hands of readers, much like Goodreads and other platforms. And it gets even better: Let’s say you have a library card with Austin Public. You could upload a video about your book to your local catalog, and that same video would show up in the catalog of New York Public Library and hundreds (!) of other libraries.

At Seattle Public Library (where I work), we are one of more than 120 libraries (including Austin and NYPL, which I randomly chose to impress you) that use Bibliocommons, a shared social catalog. To give you an idea of how it works, I uploaded a book trailer from Mixed-Up Files blogger author Sue Cowen’s You Will Call Me Drog to my library’s catalog, which you can see here (choose the “video” tab). And now you can also see it here in Austin Public Library’s catalog and NYPL’s catalog and Johnson County Library in Kansas, and so on. (And thank you, Sue, for letting me use Drog as an example!)

Does your local library have similar capabilities? If so, here’s how you can enrich the catalog while also presenting more information about your book (or any book):

  1. Go to the book in the library catalog.
  2. Log in to your library account.
  3. Choose “add more” and then “Video.” You’ll fill in a box for headline, another for description, and then the code for a YouTube or SchoolTube video. Be sure to choose “embed” to get the code rather than just using the URL of the video.
  4. The video is now part of the library record for that particular book.

Videos can be anything related to your book, such as an interview, a tour of the locations featured in your book, a young reader doing a booktalk or maybe even trailers done by your readers. Here’s Better Nate Than Ever author Tim Federle talking about his debut novel and here’s a children’s librarian doing a quick 30-second booktalk on Liberty Porter, First Daughter.

You can also add tags and similar titles. When tagging, look to see what descriptive tags are already being used, such as “funny middle grade.” Consider making a thematic list, too. Who could resist books on a list called Awesomely Funny Books or Creepy, Scary Stories for kids? If your book tackles tough topics, a list of similarly themed books could be a great resource for teachers, parents and librarians.

And, of course, since we’re all lovers of middle grade books, you’ll undoubtedly want to make lists, add tags, rate books and upload videos for the books you love reading. It’s a great way to share information on books in a noncommercial setting. We’re reaching readers — with no strings attached.







The Name Game

Inspiration, Miscellaneous, Writing MG Books

What’s in a name? Shakespeare’s Juliet says “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Hmm. True, or not? Sorry Juliet, but if your name had been say, Mildred, would you be the same character? Would we even think of you in the same way? Romeo and Mildred just doesn’t have the same ring.

We often get an instant impression of someone just by learning their name. Think of meeting a Frieda or Spike or Priscilla. Whether it turns out to be accurate or not, c’mon, don’t you start getting a feeling right away for the kind of person they might be? A name can define a time or generation, such as a girl named Madison or one named Ethel. Or Morrie or Dylan. And a name can make us recall someone we knew. The name Beth will always evoke the memory of my next door neighbor and first friend in kindergarten.

Many young readers have asked me how I came up with the name Calli for the main character in my 2011 middle grade novel, Calli Be Gold. The truth is, I’m not exactly sure. It sort of just popped in my mind as I was thinking about the story, and I knew that was this character’s name. Calli’s dad goes around the dinner table every night and asks his kids for their accomplishment of the day (he’s an intense, competitive kind of guy), and he does this in ABC order. Calli’s brother is Alex and her sister is Becca, so I wanted a name that started with C. Plus, at the time, I hadn’t heard of another middle grade book with a main character named Calli.

hello-my-name-is[1]Authors use different techniques to come up with original, meaningful, and creative names for their characters. Some have those lightning bolt moments while others painfully search for just the right name. I recently heard Margaret Peterson Haddix speak at my local library and she said that often, as she’s writing, a name just comes to her (hey, we have something in common!), but when she’s stuck, she uses baby name websites. I’ve done that too. I’ve even looked through my kids’ school directory to find unusual first and last names.

However a character is named, aren’t there some that are unforgettable? I know there are for me! Here is my top ten list of favorite middle grade character names:

10. Stanley Yelnats (Holes by Louis Sachar). Who can resist that clever backwards twist?

9. India Opal Buloni (Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo). I love the flow, the first and middle names, and how the last name sounds like bologna!

8. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern (One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia). Okay, these have to be the best sister names ever.

7. Bubba Sanders and Lamar Washington (How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen). Bubba and Lamar. Now these are guys you want to hang out with!

6. Beezus and Ramona (Ramona series by Beverly Cleary). Who couldn’t adore a girl named Beezus?

5. Moose Flanagan (Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko). Wouldn’t every kid want to read about someone named Moose?

4. Turtle (Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm). Instantly makes you want to give this girl a hug.

3. Jeffrey Lionel “Maniac” Magee (Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli). Immediately lets you know about this character.

2. Wahoo Cray, his dad Mickey Cray, and his friend Tuna Gordon (Chomp by Carl Hiaasen). However unlikely, I just think these are hilarious.

And my #1, absolute all-time favorite is…

1. Pippi Longstocking! (Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren). This has nothing to do with the fact that when I was 10, my frizzy, sticking-out braids exactly resembled Pippi’s. But we’ll leave that story for another post.

Write a comment and let me know your favorite character name!

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 spring 2014).

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