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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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Book Your Next Birthday Party!

Book Lists

Spring time is birthday season in my house.


Over the years we’ve had a “bow wow ball”, a hunt through fairy land and a teddy bear picnic.

So why haven’t I held a party celebrating Middle-Grade books– a “Book Bash”? It wouldn’t be any harder than pouring a box of Cocoa Pebbles in a new dog bowl (it looks just like kibble!)

With these fun projects you’ll have your own literary themed birthday party in the (book) bag! And of course all these ideas can be adapted to your next book launch, too.

1. “Book” a cake. These days a cake that looks like a book is as close as your grocery store bakery department. Pick your child’s favorite middle-grade title, propose your idea to the baker well in advance, and enjoy!


(cake image courtesy of Publix)

2. Books Books and More Books This one’s easy. Hand out books instead of goodie bags.


Also consider this- If your house and your kiddo are already overrun with toys request guests donate a middle grade novel instead of a gift. All the books are placed in a cute book basket and donated to an underserved library or school! (Be sure to clear this option with your generous birthday boy or girl ahead of time!)

3. Book an author!

These days children’s book authors do Skype school visits all the time. Lots of writers Skype with scout troops and book clubs, too. So how about incorporating an author Skype visit into your party? All it takes is some advance planning (authors are often booked up months in advance), a good internet connection, a computer and a screen or monitor large enough to be seen by all (I have a cable that connects my laptop to my tv screen) Just be sure guests are calm and attentive (so this should probably be scheduled before the cake and games!)

You can find many authors who offer free short Skype visits here.search

Some writers may be skeptical about Skyping in a party setting but I, for one, love to “attend” any party of avid kid readers- especially those who’ve read my books! I’ll even send bookmarks ahead of time!


4. This is a test!

Ready for some fun and games? How about a trivia contest? First prize, of course, will be books! You can write your own questions or follow the lazy moms’ party precept- why do it yourself when you can steal it from someplace else? Here are links to a hand full of internet kidlit trivia questions. You’ll find a slew more if you Google “children’s book trivia”.

Bill Moyer’s PBS Classics Of Children’s Literature Quiz

Braingle Characters of Children’s Lit Quiz

Scholastic Book-box Questions for National Young Readers Week

 5. Break down and buy the game.

Someone has already done most of the work for you– for the older party crowd, at least. All you have to do is shell out more cash. Check out these literary games:

Trivial Pursuit started it all. Maybe everyone you know isn’t battling to fill their tray with pie pieces these days but of course Trivial Pursuit has a book lovers edition.

There’s also an intriguing game called It Was A Dark And Stormy Night, which challenges your knowledge of first lines   

There’s Book Lover’s Scrabble with extra points for words with a literary twist

Or a cool Book Lovers Edition of Memory Challenge.

Perhaps best of all– a book and a game, all in one. Literary Trivia: Fun and Games for Book Lovers.

Now are you ready to party????? What are your favorite book-ish party ideas?

 Tami Lewis Brown is always ready for a party- especially when it’s celebrating the completion of her next middle-grade novel!

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The Winner of The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days


Congrats to emmaline268! You’ve won the signed hardcover copy of The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days, by Michele Weber Hurwitz. You’ll be receiving an email from us shortly. Thanks to all who entered!

SUMMER final cover image (2)

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On Believing in Stories

Authors, Writing MG Books


Last month we went to New York City and splurged on seeing a play. We went from the hyper-busy, noisy street, to the theater’s crowded, buzzing lobby, to the doorway of  the theater itself. Inside was dim and quiet. It was a small space, a curtain-less stage. A family’s dowdy living room sat empty and still and waiting. We had to climb to our seats in the next-to-last row, but I didn’t mind, because I had a good view of our fellow play-goers as they too stepped in out of the din and light, paused and blinked and got their bearings. They’d crossed a real threshold. The little theater filled, strangers packed shoulder to shoulder, and even before the lights went down, I felt the deep, the ancient human magic of it. We’d all signed a crazy pact. We’d agreed to leave the rest of the world behind and fall under the spell of a story. We were going to believe in it, if we could. We were going to let it catch us up and whirl us around and—what I am always hoping for—let it change us.

A playwright, even more than a novelist, stops owning her work the moment it’s out in the world. Our books are read, usually, in solitude, the characters’ voices sounding different in each reader’s mind. But actors speak the playwright’s words; directors choose how to play each scene.  It’s an astonishing feat of trust and collaboration, all in the service of story. Sitting in a theater always makes me think of  sitting around a fire, predators prowling the darkness, stars dazzling the sky, but the big world’s been forgotten  as everyone draws close and listens to the man or woman with the magic velvet voice, the story teller. What happens next? We’re all leaning forward, wanting to know. And why? Why does it happen? The older we grow, the more we need our stories to answer that question, too.

I’m working on a new novel now. In singing, there are things called “head voice” and “chest voice”, and from what I gather, the ideal is to blend them together. On days when the writing doesn’t go well, it’s usually because I’m only using what I think of as my head voice. The words vibrate up there, serviceable and doing what they’re supposed to do—move this scene and plot along—but even as I write them, I know I’m going to have to revise them. My chest voice—the voice that draws from my heart—isn’t weighing in, and without it, the words are just words. It will happen, though. For me, a huge part of writing is persisting, believing that if I keep working, the two voices will come together and I will sing my head off. It’s a trust in the story itself: that eventually it will show me the best way to tell it.

When the New York play ended, we wandered out into the lobby. Reluctant to leave yet, we got glasses of wine in the café. We overheard two women at the next table, discussing the play. One of them had loved it and the other was dissatisfied, and before we knew it we were weighing in, the four of us taking stances, offering opinions, sharing lines we’d loved, and by the way, how brilliant was that thing with the wallpaper? The playwright had created a world we still urgently inhabited. We still had a stake in it. Strangers a few minutes before, here we were talking about families, second chances, and, of course, how we felt about the ending.

At last, we buttoned up, pushed open the theater door, stepped out into the blowing snow and blare of taxi horns. But the magic of the play, the story, came along with us. It changed what we noticed, the way we looked at the people rushing by. I can pull it out now, weeks later.

Tricia’s new middle grade novel, Moonpenny Island, will be published by HarperCollins in winter 2015.


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