Browsing the archives for the Bobbie Pyron tag.

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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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Fact or Fiction: Research and the middle-grade novel

Interviews, Writing MG Books

Okay, so here’s a conversation I’ve had far too many times: my husband/stepchildren/visitor asks, “Why are you reading a book called The Idiot’s Guide to Surviving a Lightning Strike (or The Flora and Fauna of the Blue Ridge Parkway, or How To Box)?” And I answer, “It’s research for a new novel I’m working on.” And invariably, the annoying person would respond, “But why do you do so much research? It’s fiction and it’s for kids!” Now, the short answer would be because I am, in my other life, a librarian, so research comes as naturally to me as breathing. But there’s more to it than that. To help me explain and explore the reason why research is so important when writing fiction for kids, I sat down and talked with a couple of my writer buddies, Sydney Salter and Patti Sherlock. Sydney writes for teens and middle graders. Her books include My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters, Swoon at Your Own Risk, and her middle-grade novel, Jungle Crossings. Patti writes all over the age-group spectrum, from middle grade to teen to nonfiction for adults. She’s the author of the award-winning novel, Letters from Wolfie, and her most recently released adult memoir, A Dog for All Seasons. Okay ladies, we’ve all heard it before: it’s fiction and it’s for kids. Why is is so important to research even the tiniest details? Sydney: Kids are people too! They deserve the best books we can write. That includes writing truthfully and accurately. Plus, these days, many adults gravitate towards kids fiction. Patti: I think it’s important to do careful research for kids books because out there, combing a book for errors, are eight-eleven-and thirteen-year-old geeks who have encyclopedic minds for facts, and who check for errors just for fun. If they write to your publisher and prove you got something wrong, you’re in trouble! Too true! I always have this imaginary reader sitting on my shoulder when I write who lives in the place I’m writing about and who knows everything there is to know about that place or the subject. So what is your research process when you’re working on a new novel? Do you do a lot of research up front or do you do research on an “as needed” basis? Patti: I came across this good piece of advice many years ago: while you’re writing a story, guess at the facts and then go back and research them later. That prevents you from getting bogged down in research and neglecting the story. I don’t heed this fully. It really depends on the story. When I wrote Letters from Wolfie, I researched the subject for months before putting down the first line. Sydney: I always do a lot of research before I write; I’ve found that the tidbits I discover while researching help me plot the story. Do you like doing research? Patti: I love research! I love it almost as much as I love writing. My favorite kind is interviewing people who have knowledge on the particular subject. Sydney: I love research so much that I have to set deadlines to start writing! Otherwise, I’d keep studying. One of my favorite things about being a writer is the freedom I have to learn about a variety of subjects. Oh I know! I think sometimes I use research as an excuse to put off the actual writing! Patti, you mentioned you really like to interview people who are subject specialists. What kinds of sources (besides books and the internet) do you both like to use for research? Sydney: I love to travel to fun locations–like swimming through underground rivers in Mexico before writing Jungle Crossings. mostly, I learn by reading. Until I had published books on the shelf, I felt shy about talking to real people. Now I’ve learned that real people love to talk about their expertise. I’m quite chatty these days! Patti: I love research that involves going to the source. Here’s a for-instance: when I was researching pulling horses for my kids novel, Four of a Kind, I went out to a dairy where they fed hay from a wagon pulled by horses. The man showed me how to harness, ect., then invited me to go along while he worked a pair of colts. As we pulled away from the barn on the wagon, I asked, “What’s the worst thing that can happen when you’re training colts?” He said, “A runaway.” About fifteen minutes later, the colts were galloping along, and he said, “Uh oh, hang on.” I asked why and he said, “We got a runaway!” He ran the colts into an area of mud, which slowed them down. I didn’t fall off, but now I had a new idea for a complication for the main character in the book! That’s something you couldn’t have gotten out of a book or off the internet! I worry sometimes that when kids are doing research, they rely too much on printed and electronic sources. There’s nothing like talking with a real live person. I’m curious, have you ever done a ton of research for a particular thread or subplot in your novel only to have it chopped in the revision process? Sydney: Oh yes, I researched and wrote a big, honking scene about the Mayan creation myth for Jungle Crossing. I thought it was so clever telling it in the form of a play my characters watched. But in the revision process, I cut all 1,500 words–and yes, the book was better for it. And doing the research still helped the overall story. Patti: Oh yeah, I’ve had to discard whole threads of the story! And then there’s the flip side: have you ever dug up facts that took your book in a different direction? Sydney: Yes, with my mummy story I’m working on. Once I found about a bit more about Egyptian afterlife, I was able to go from a total satire to a more conventional, yet still funny, YA paranormal. I love the way research informs plot! Well put, Sydney. I think when it comes right down to it, whether it’s reading books on the subject or actually or physically doing what you’re writing about, fiction and fact are really inseparable when writing for kids. Bobbie Pyron writes for teens and middle graders. Research for her first book, The Ring, took her into a boxing ring. To research her next book, The Ring by Bobbie Pyron Dog’s Way Home (March, 2011) she spend an awful lot of time hanging out with her dogs. To find out more about her, visit her website

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Our Nine-Book Giveaway Winner (and our Second Summer Giveaway)!


And the winner of our nine-book giveaway is…

Megan Oliphant!

Congrats, Megan!  We hope you’ll enjoy each book.  Please send an email to with your mailing address, and we’ll send the books to you.

For those who didn’t win, don’t worry.  Our summer giveaways are just getting started!  In fact, our second giveaway starts today!

We have the following three titles to give away to one lucky reader:

To enter, simply leave  a comment below.  Earn extra entries by blogging, tweeting, or facebooking this giveaway (don’t forget to share a link to your blog or tweet).  This giveaway is for US/CAN residents only (sorry, we can’t ship these internationally).  The winner will be chosen on Tuesday, July 6, 2010.

We also want to thank the authors who have donated books to our summer giveaways.  We appreciate your willingness to help spread the word about great middle-grade books!