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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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  • Destination: Books!

    Summer is the perfect time of year to get out and see the world.  Here are some destinations you can visit inside the pages of these books:

    FLORIDA

    Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

    Description from Indiebound: Life isn’t like the movies and 11-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She’s smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. Afterall, it’s 1935 and money and sometimes even dreams are a scarce. So when Turtle’s Mother gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn’t like kids, Turtle says goodbye and heads off to Florida to live with relatives. Florida’s like nothing Turtle’s ever seen before though. It’s full of rag tag boy cousins, family secrets to unravel . . . and even a little bit of fun. Before she knows what’s happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of her shell and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Inspired by family stories, two-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer L. Holm blends family lore with America’s past, in this charming, gem of a novel rich in history, humor and the unique flavors of Key West.

    The Postcard by Tony Abbott

    Description from Amazon: When Jason’s grandmother dies, he’s sent down to her home in Florida to help his father clean out her things. At first he gripes about spending his summer miles away from his best friend, doing chores, and sweating in the Florida heat, but he soon discovers a mystery surrounding his grandmother’s murky past.

    An old, yellowed postcard…a creepy phone call with a raspy voice at the other end asking, “So how smart are you?”…an entourage of freakish funeral goers….a bizarre magazine story. All contain clues that will send him on a thrilling journey to uncover family secrets.

    MEXICO

    What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau

    Description from Indiebound: Clara Luna’s name means “clear moon” in Spanish. But lately, her head
    has felt anything but clear. One day a letter comes from Mexico, written in Spanish: Dear Clara, We invite you to our house for the summer. We will wait for you on the day of the full moon, in June, at the Oaxaca airport. Love, your grandparents.

    Fourteen-year-old Clara has never met her father’s parents. She knows he snuck over the border from Mexico as a teenager, but beyond that, she knows almost nothing about his childhood. When she agrees to go, she’s stunned by her grandparents’ life: they live in simple shacks in the mountains of southern Mexico, where most people speak not only Spanish, but an indigenous language, Mixteco.

    The village of Yucuyoo holds other surprises, too– like the spirit waterfall, which is heard but never seen. And Pedro, an intriguing young goatherder who wants to help Clara find the waterfall. Hearing her grandmother’s adventurous tales of growing up as a healer awakens Clara to the magic in Yucuyoo, and in her own soul. What The Moon Saw is an enchanting story of discovering your true self in the most unexpected place.

    Jungle Crossing by Sydney Salter

    Description from Indiebound: On a summer vaction to Mexico, popularity-obsessed Kat ends up on a teen adventure tour where she meets Nando, a young Mayan guide (who happens to be quite a cutie). As they travel to different Mayan ruins each day, Nando tells Kat his original legend of Muluc, a girl who lived in the time of the ancient Maya. The dangerous, dramatic world in which Muluc lived is as full of rivalry, betrayal, and sacrifice as Kat’s world at middle school. And as she makes new friends and discovers treasures in Mexico, Kat begins to question her values and those of her friends back at home.

    CANADA

    Archipelago by David Ward

    Description from Amazon: Twelve-year-old Jonah and his mother, a well-known photographer, are on a self-healing mission, exploring the natural beauty of the Queen Charlotte Islands. They are each trying in their own way to get over the tragic loss of father and husband whodied in a rock climbing accident months before.

    One day, a mysterious girl appears wading in the waters near their floathouse, and an even more mysterious mist saves Jonah from his own plunge off a clifftop, Jonah is plunged into a time travel adventure that takes him back 14,000 years when the Charlottes were one of the stops for the ancient peoples making their way from Asia over the Bering Strait and down through the Americas. It is a time when the seas were much lower than they are in the 21st century because of the proliferation of ice and the different climate – and so the map of the islands had changed significantly. For Jonah this is a healing quest, teaming with Akilah, the girl from that other time who teaches him survival skills he has never dreamed of. There is menace in the confrontation with the Crossers – more recent arrivals from the Bering Strait – and from all manner of natural hazards. The burgeoning friendship with Akilah arouses all Jonah’s generous instincts and yearning for love. Above all, he discovers personal strengths that help him get past the loss of his father, qualities and realizations that he brings back to his mother when the adventure is complete.

    Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

    Description from Indiebound: Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert had decided to adopt an orphan. They wanted a nice sturdy boy to help Matthew with the farm chores.  The orphanage sent a girl instead – a mischievous, talkative redhead who the Cuthberts thought would be no use at all.  But as soon as Anne arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever.  And the longer Anne stayed, the harder it was for anyone to imagine Green Gables without her.

    ENGLAND

    The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

    Description from Indiebound:  When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of mysterious secrets. There are nearly one hundred rooms, most of which are locked, and the house is filled with creepy old portraits and suits of armor. Mary rarely sees her uncle, and perhaps most unsettling of all is that at night she hears the sound of someone crying down one of the long corridors.

    The gardens surrounding the odd property are Mary’s escape and she explores every inch of them—all except for the mysterious walled-in, locked garden. Then one day, Mary discovers a key. Could it open the door to the garden?

    Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

    Description from Indiebound: On holiday in Cornwall, the three Drew children discover an ancient map in the attic of the house that they are staying in. They know immediately that it is special. It is even more than that — the key to finding a grail, a source of power to fight the forces of evil known as the Dark. And in searching for it themselves, the Drews put their very lives in peril.

    This is the first volume of Susan Cooper’s brillian and absorbing fantasy sequence known as The Dark is Rising.

    INDIA

    Boys without Names By Kashmira Sheth

    Description from Indiebound:  For eleven-year-old Gopal and his family, life in their rural Indian village is over: We stay, we starve, his baba has warned. They flee to the big city of Mumbai in hopes of finding work and a brighter future. Gopal is eager to help support his struggling family, so when a stranger approaches him with the promise of a factory job, he jumps at the offer.

    But there is no factory, just a stuffy sweatshop where he and five other boys are forced to work for no money and little food. The boys are forbidden to talk or even to call one another by their real names. Locked away in a rundown building, Gopal despairs of ever seeing his family again.

    But late one night, when Gopal decides to share kahanis, or stories, he realizes that storytelling might be the boys’ key to survival. If he can make them feel more like brothers than enemies, their lives will be more bearable in the shop—and they might even find a way to escape.

    Saraswati’s Way by Monika Schroder

    Description from Indiebound: If the gods wanted Akash to have an education, he is told, they would give him one. But Akash has spent his entire twelve years poor and hungry. So he decides to take control of his own life and try for a scholarship to the city school where he can pursue his beloved math.  But will challenging destiny prove to be more than he has bargained for? In this raw and powerful novel, fate and self-determination come together in unexpected ways, offering an unsentimental look at the realities of India.

    GERMANY

    Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner

    Description from Amazon:  Originally published in 1929, Erich Kastner’s engaging tale has delighted readers young and old, for generations. It’s Emil’s first train ride alone and he’s excited, and a little nervous.On the train, his fellow passengers are impressed with how polite and grown-up Emil is, and the man in the bowler hat offers him some chocolate—but Emil keeps checking his coat pocket, where he’s pinned the money that he is taking to his grandmother. Soon, though, Emil finds himself getting sleepy . . . and the next thing he knows, the man in the bowler hat is gone— and so is the money! With the help of some new friends Emil becomes a detective and tracks the thief through the city. With its enduring themes of leadership, courage, and teamwork, there are many lessons to be learned by the grownups and the children, alike, and the delightful illustrations by Walter Trier make this rollicking, heartwarming tale come alive.

    Second Fiddle by Rosanne Parry

    Description from Indiebound: When 13-year-old Jody and her friends save a badly beaten Russian soldier from drowning, they put into motion a chain of events that will take them from Berlin to Paris and straight into danger. Jody must quickly learn to trust herself, because in the time directly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the border between friend and enemy is not as clear as it once was.

    Award-winning author of Heart of a Shepherd Rosanne Parry offers a fast-paced, coming-of-age story filled with adventure, music, friendship, and intrigue.

    OCEAN VOYAGES

    The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed by Heather Vogel Frederick

    Description from Indiebound:  October 1835. Patience Goodspeed, almost thirteen years old, departs from Nantucket aboard her father’s whaling ship. Between kitchen duty and whale blubber stench, this voyage is far from a pleasure cruise. At least Papa lets Patience assist the ship’s navigator since she’s so good at calculations.

    But the smooth sailing doesn’t last long. Mutinous mates maroon most of the crew, including Patience’s father and brother, on a deserted island. Can Patience rescue everyone before it’s too late?

    Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Description from Amazon: The discovery of a treasure map sets young Jim Hawkins in search of buried gold, along with a crew of buccaneers recruited by the one-legged Long John Silver. As they near their destination, and the lure of Captain Flint’s treasure grows ever stronger, Jim’s courage and wits are tested to the full.

    With a wonderfully funny introduction by award-winning Eoin Colfer.

    FANTASTICAL DESTINATIONS

    Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains by Laurel Snyder

    Description from Indiebound: THIS IS THE tale of Lucy and her best friend, Wynston. Until recently, they spent their days paddling in the river, picking blackberries, and teasing each other mercilessly. But now, King Desmond has insisted that Wynston devote every spare second to ruby-shining and princess-finding. Lucy feels left out. So she sets off for the Scratchy Mountains to solve the mystery of her missing mother. When Wynston discovers that Lucy is gone, he tears after her, and together they embark on a series of strange and wonderful adventures.

    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

    Description from Indiebound: This ingenious fantasy centers around Milo, a bored ten-year-old who comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room. Joining forces with a watchdog named Tock, Milo drives through the tollbooth’s gates and begins a memorable journey. He meets such characters as the foolish, yet lovable Humbug, the Mathemagician, and the not-so-wicked “Which,” Faintly Macabre, who gives Milo the “impossible” mission of returning two princesses to the Kingdom of Wisdom.

    1 Comment

    1. Jane  •  Jun 3, 2013 @10:22 pm

      The 39 Clues are great books for learning just a tad about different places and historical themes. For those of us wary of how certain books and multi-media conglomerates (which shall remain unnamed) tend to treat history, no worries! What’s presented is accurate, albeit not terribly detailed — so that when the twins’ “treasure hunt” takes them to Philadelphia, they learn about Ben Franklin – and follow him & the clues to France, thus learning about his time as our Ambassador there. In Russia, they learn about the Tsars, the revolution, about Anastasia possibly escaping the massacre; in Japan, they learn about the culture of the Samurai; in Austria, they learn about Mozart. There’s enough fact to make it a great introduction, but not so much that it’s a bonafide history lesson. In fact, it’s a great teaser to get the kids interested in research juuust a little bit more about [insert attention grabber here].

      Each book is written by a different author, but all follow the same story: an orphaned brother and sister set off on a treasure hunt, pitted against other family members – some bumbling, some downright evil. They are accompanied only by their au pair (who is uber cool) and have to rely on their very different skill sets-and each other. Along the way, they learn more about their family, its history, and even how their parents died.

      It’s suspenseful without being scary, full of history without being work, and a fabulous “together read” because it keeps adults interested, as well. We started when my (avid & advanced) reader was 8 – some words were challenging, and that made it perfect. Just tough enough. HIGHLY recommend it!

      [Reply]

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