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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, read more...

     

    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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Waiting is the Hard Part

Authors, Book Lists, Inspiration, Librarians, Parents, Teachers, Writing MG Series

So when you read the title of this post did Tom Petty’s song “Waiting is the Hardest Part” come to mind? If not, it probably did now. (Cue music in your head).

We all have problems with waiting. Well, why not? In this fast-paced world you can get emails instantly, text someone across the world and receive an answer a few seconds later, and you can even have a face-to-face chat as you are walking down the street. Why should we have to wait anymore?

But, alas, waiting is a part of life. And it’s not fun.

In my house at the moment, we are waiting for something big — college acceptance letters! For those of you who haven’t experienced this, it is a stressful time. It is the first time in your life where your child’s future cannot be influenced by you. Always before you could perhaps guide the outcome of something- perhaps by talking to a teacher when a paper is late, or maybe smoothing over differences with a coach when your child is upset. But college admissions offices don’t want to deal with parents or guardians any more. It’s all up to them. They decide the fate of your child. In or out. That’s all you get.

As I watch and wait with my daughter, I am struck by how similar applying for college is like writing. In very simplistic terms the stories we write are sort of like our own babies. We have stayed up late with them, we have nurtured them — sometimes for years — before they are ready, and when we push send on the email or place the stamp on the envelope, we are sending them off into the world. Much like college admissions offices, the agents and editors that receive our carefully crafted manuscripts don’t allow any kind of “parental” interference. The wait can seem interminable, and quite frankly, sometimes it is. It can be weeks or months before you hear about your manuscript. Or, unfortunately, you may never hear anything.

Having gone through the college process once before, with my son, we know how the waiting can wear on you. First of all, everyone asks – so where are you going to college. Those questions start at Christmas your senior year in high school. Yeah, most schools don’t start sending out acceptances until late March or early April. In teenage years, that’s an eternity.

So the big question, is what do you do while you are waiting?

I did a Google search of “waiting” and came up with 207 billion (that’s with a ‘B’) results. Wow! A LOT of people must be talking about or thinking about waiting.

I went to Amazon and did a search on “Waiting” under children’s books and came up with 267 results. That’s a lot of books about waiting.

This was the book that came up as the #1 selection :


Which was funny, because this book is the very one I received from my parents when I graduated from high school. How cool is that?  Of course at the time, I thought it was kind of cheesy. I mean who gets a high school graduate a children’s book, as a gift?  Still, I remember reading it and thinking, well, that was nice… I guess.

Little did I know that all these years later, that little children’s book was a symbol of things to come.  At the time, being a children’s author was the furthest thing from my mind. I wanted to be a doctor. What happened? Things change. And now I’m here. But WOW what a journey and what a wonderful job this is. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Even as I sit and wait every time I send out a new submission. Isn’t it funny that sometimes while we are waiting, the answer comes to us. Not always in the form that we want, but maybe in something new and different.

As we wait to hear from the colleges my daughter applied to, we discuss all the possibilities. What if she gets in college A? That would mean a big change– a new climate and environment. But college B would mean a really big school with lots of kids. College C, well, that one is great but very expensive. The opportunities are endless, as are the challenges. Whatever her ultimate decision is,  we are confident it will be the best one for her. Waiting can be hard, but in the end, it is worth it because it gives you time and perspective.

And as the saying goes, sometimes the best things come to those who wait. :)

So, tell me, what do you do while you are waiting for things to happen?

****
Jennifer Swanson is the author of over 14 fiction and nonfiction books for kids. She is a true science geek, a mystery book freak, and finds it hard to wait for things — especially  a new book in the series she is reading.
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When not to recommend a book

Librarians, Parents

A dad I know searched used book stores and sites until he came across the book he thought would be perfect for his nine-year-old son. No matter that it had been out of print since 1985; the dad himself could vouch for its power since it had been his favorite book – in 1979.

That particular book will remain unnamed here. It’s a perfectly fine book. But the scenario of a parent (or other well-intentioned adult) giving a book to a young reader that has nothing to do with that reader’s preferences AND that has all that extra weight of being so important – this rarely ends well.

What do you do when an adult gets between a reader and the right book? Robin Rousu, a children’s librarian and one of my friends/colleagues at Seattle Public Library, says it’s all about giving the child more options. “You don’t want to question the parents’ or teachers’ authority, but you want to be ready with some other options,” she says. Those options might be a better fit, and at the very least they’ll get more of a conversation going. “That gives the reader an out without hurting the teacher’s feelings, or the child worrying about hurting someone’s feelings.”

I tend to gush when I really love a book, and I’m constantly reminding myself in my day job as a librarian to avoid saying things like “This is the BEST book” or “You’re going to love that book.” I still find plenty of w

books

Books I may have pushed a little too hard, and I admit to maybe being a *little* sad that other family members did not love them the same way.

ays to swoon over books and to talk about what it is I loved about them. And I encourage each and every person in the world to keep gushing and swooning and loving and sharing excitement about books. But maybe we can all cut back a bit on pushing our own tastes and favorites on kids.

“It’s usually coming from a very good place, though,” Robin the librarian reminds me, especially in the case of a relative bestowing a child with one of his or her own favorite books. “It’s coming out of love.”

Let’s just try to add a couple of books to that love pile so that there are options — and a better chance for a young reader to connect with a book that will become his own favorite.

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Life is What You Make It – Inteview with CinderSilly author

Authors, Interviews, Librarians, Parents, Teachers, Women and girls

When I was a kid I loved the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Cinderella. We all wanted to be her, the beautiful damsel in distress who sang, “I’m as mild and as meek as a mouse, When I hear a command, I obey; But I know of a spot in my house Where no one can stand in my way. . .” and that spot she refers to is a chair in a corner where she goes to pretend that she’s someone else. Families gathered around and cheered when the prince finally comes to save our heroine from further abuse.

But, wait. . .  why go in a corner and just pretend your rotten life is good? Couldn’t she save herself? And a bigger question is, why would we want to be like someone who needs to be saved?

There are hundreds of versions of the Cinderella story but I have to say, one that I like best, one that I want my own children to know, is the story0_0_0_0_250_375_csupload_44898558_large of CinderSilly, written by Diana Thompson.

Diana is the founder, director, and facilitator of Dramatic Adventures a program that teaches emotional, social, and problem solving skills to children. In Diana’s own words, “Dramatic Adventures’ techniques transform every day challenges from: Blame to Leadership, Avoidance to Action, Whining to Winning!” Imagine if this program had been around when Cinderella was a kid. Maybe that’s who CinderSilly really is, a Cinderella who spent time at Dramatic Adventures and came out wiser, stronger, and more socially-skilled.

In this version of the fairy-tale, Diana says, “She overcomes the bullying of her stepmother, teasing from stepsisters, the difficult task of chores, and doesn’t need to marry a prince or become a princess to live HAPPIER EVER AFTER.  CinderSilly doesn’t need magic to gain control of her circumstances and her life.  She is a pro-active girl with a positive attitude, who doesn’t accept the traditional victim role.” CinderSilly shows us that “life is what you make it.”

I’d like to welcome Diana to our Mixed-Up Files.

You are clearly a person who believes that life is what you make it and you’ve been involved in so many interesting projects. What is your education and background?

I am a theatre professional and playwright. I attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and worked in NYC as an actor and writer. For many years, I directed children in theatre programs, and placed a strong emphasis on developing life skills through theatre. Over the years, it seemed students needed life skills more and more until that finally became the primary focus and theatre became secondary. I’m very glad it did.

I also partnered with Dr. Betty Brittain, a life-long educator who specialized in problem solving skills to ensure we had a solid foundation.

 What made you decide to write CinderSilly?

0_0_0_0_250_270_csupload_57172462_largeIn 2004, I was developing an interactive storytelling program to teach emotional intelligence to children, entitled Fairytales and Feelings. I was studying stories that would provide a solid foundation for underlying lessons. Of course, little girls love princesses, and my daughter was no exception. I would have preferred she pretend to be a queen. It made me crazy to see she and her friends play pretty and passive. I was amazed that I had never brought home a princess movie, but she still know them all. You know the saying, ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” So, I wrote CinderSilly as a counter role model. This is a girl who is pro-active, overcomes her circumstances and creates her own ‘happier ever after’. She doesn’t even get married.

I read over 400 versions of Cinderella. Stories that included witches, and alligators, and all sorts of things. Though the settings and characters were drawn differently, they still had a lot in common – they all portrayed a young woman playing the victim. Magic saves her, and then she marries a prince. CinderSilly is the anti-Cinderella! She is a young girl, who proves that you can make your own magic.

How can teachers, librarians, and drama teachers use this book in their classrooms?

­I ran CinderSilly as part of the Fairytales and Feelings series for 7 years before completing the book. Over that time, we carefully integrated tools for teaching social and emotional intelligence. In fact, we packed so many great things into the book, I wanted to make sure they were a solid resource to anyone who wanted to draw upon them. So, we put together a supplemental book entitled Empowered Princess, filled with crafts,activities, and discussion topics which is available on CinderSilly’s website. CinderSilly is also available through Follett Library Resources, Baker & Taylor, and the Barnes & Noble Bookstore catalog.

The artwork for the book is gorgeous! Tell me how you found your artist.

I am the former theatre director of the Denver Children’s museum. While I was there, I had the honor of working with Jill Haller, the exhibits director. She and her husband Thom were two of the most creative individuals I had ever met in my entire life. Jill created the Center for the Young Child, (among other amazing exhibits) while I was there and I saw first hand how captivating her work was for children. I knew I wanted to create this book to work with the two of them. They produced such a beautiful product, the book is displayed in the Denver Art museum gift shop. From the time we began the art work, it took four years to complete.

Will there be more books in the Fairytales and Feelings series?

Yes, we are working on the next project. Sign up at cindersilly.com, and you will be the first to know.

Thank you so much for joining us here. I’m looking forward to more empowering fairy tales from you!

 

0_0_0_0_250_262_csupload_52321984_large
Jennifer Duddy Gill is the author of The Secret of Ferrell Savage. (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, February 2014)

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