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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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New Releases!

Book Lists

Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks! The Superbowl may have not have been all that super…and the groundhog may be predicting more winter…but we are happy! Why?

We have NEW books to read!

Let’s get to it!

Congratulations, Mixed Up Files Member, Jeniffer Duddy Gill!!!!!

The Secret of Ferrell Savage, by J. Duddy Gill

Middle school romance is hard enough, but cannibalism really gets in the way. This humorous look at first crushes and family secrets is sure to be devoured.

Ferrell Savage is finally twelve, and finally eligible to compete in The Big Sled Race on Golden Hill—the perfect chance to impress Mary Vittles. Mary is Ferrell’s best friend…and maybe, someday, something more.

Except the “more” Ferrell first finds is more information about his family. It turns out that his great, great, great uncle had an encounter with Mary’s great, great grandfather. And the encounter was, well, let’s just say…edible. Sure, the circumstances were extreme, but some facts might just be romantically indigestible. At least now Ferrell understands why his family is vegan.

But even as Ferrell and Mary encounter blackmail, a second sled race, and a particularly enticing bag of beef jerky, Ferrell realizes that he might still have a chance with Mary. If, that is, his family secret doesn’t eat them alive.

Lady Thief: A Scarlet Novel, by A C Gaughen

Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.
(If you haven’t read SCARLET, check it out!!!)
snickerIntroducing an extraordinary new voice—a magical debut that will make your skin tingle, your eyes glisten . . .and your heart sing.Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck’s about to change. A “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere—shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog’s floppy ears—but Midnight Gulch is the first place she’s ever seen the word “home.” And then there’s Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity’s never seen before, words that make Felicity’s heart beat a little faster.Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer

In this third book in Marissa Meyer’s bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.
Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she’s just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

The New Olympians, by Kate O’Hearn

Emily and her companions, including the winged horse, Pegaus, must confront a legion of Olympic enemies in this third book of an action-packed series.

When Emily’s father and the goddess Diana return from a visit to Earth, they bring with them disturbing news. There’s a horse called Tornado Warning that’s winning all the races, with times faster than anyone’s ever seen. What could this mean? Emily, Joel, Paelen, Pegasus, and the sphinx Alexis return to Earth to investigate—and discover a CRU plot to clone Olympians and Nirads using DNA retrieved from their previous time in the human realm.

The CRU has already created dozens of Nirad warriors, Dianas, Paelens, Cupids, and Pegasuses. Now they want to create their own Emily clone—even if the original is killed in the process. Can Emily and her friends put a stop to the CRU’s plans before Jupiter finds out and carries through on his own threat to destroy the Earth?

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done, by Stephen Pastis

 
 He doesn’t like to pull rank. To reveal that he’s this guy: Timmy Failure, founder, president, and CEO of the greatest detective agency in town, perhaps the nation. But he is.

And he’s about to crack the biggest case of his generation: a school competition to find a stolen globe. It’s his ticket to bringing home a $500 prize, which is guaranteed to set him up for life. But someone is clearly trying to game the system. Hoodwink. Con. Defraud. So it’s up to Timmy Failure, with the dubious help of Total, his lazy polar-bear partner, and his unlikely new ally, eccentric Great-Aunt Colander, to find a way to avenge these shenanigans. Defeat this injustice.
If he can only get his entry form in on time.

Ice Dogs, by Terry Lynn Johnson

ice dogVictoria Secord, a fourteen-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods is entirely up to her.

The author Terry Lynn Johnson is a musher herself, and her crackling writing puts readers at the reins as Victoria and Chris experience setbacks, mistakes, and small triumphs in their wilderness adventure.

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Great Horse Books for your Horsie Kid!

Book Lists

Now that school’s back in, your horsie child will definitely need some daydreaming material for after school (and perhaps in it, but you didn’t hear that from me!) Doesn’t everyone read horse books instead of doing homework?

No? Well, that was maybe just me.

Anyway, I’m posting (in my opinion) the top horse books out there for younger readers. A caveat: I have read and enjoyed these horse books personally and *I* turned out okay, so don’t worry mom, give that book to your horsie kid and let them have at it! These books are clean with easy print and (for some) great discussion points that can be discussed. (see underneath the list for how you can add your favourites!)

I will not tell you to buy from a particular bookseller. Amazon, B&N, Indie, the choice is yours. This is why I won’t provide links in this article, but don’t worry, you can find them easily.

And now, in no particular order, the list!

War horse
- For older children, (12-ish?) but certainly an excellent book for horse fans. Handles the gritty subject of war and the unique aspect of a horse sent away to be in it.

The Black Stallion series
- This is a nice long series. Some get into the odd region (Flame and the UFO, for one), but the biggest highlight is Alec’s bond with The Black, and the adventures they have. Easy to read and a good length for young readers.

Wild Girl
- Just read this a while ago. Recommended for cultural aspects as well as the horse connection.

Misty of Chincoteague series
- Misty is cannon in horse literature. These are clean books, easy to read with excellent illustrations. You simply cannot go wrong with Marguerite Henry!

King of the Wind
- This is a great retelling of how Sham became the Godolphin Arabian. Wonderful cultural eye-opener, as well. Great talking book!

Gunner: Hurricane Horse
- A great true story, and close to home! Recommended!

My Flicka Flicka (series)
- Another cannon in horse books. These three showcase the wild brilliant difficult western life as it was, with characters you really enjoy and get behind.

Terri Farleys Phantom Stallion Series
- I’ve talked with this author and her Phantom series is great. She puts her money where her mouth is, too – she works with mustang rescues in her home state, and gives back thru SCBWI too!

Black beauty
- EXCELLENT book. Told from “the horse’s mouth”, so to say. Can’t beat it, and the cultural aspects are great as well.

Beauty by Bill Wallace
- A top author, a great person. He understood the horse and dog psyche – and a boy’s – in a unique way. He will be missed!

National Velvet
- Who wouldn’t want The Pie? A great clean book full of action!

A Horse Called Dragon
- A wonderful book that integrates the story of one wild stallion with the breed he helped to create, the Pony of the Americas. A great series!

Summer Pony
- Ah, Ginny and her rent-a-horse. This is a great book!

Justin Morgan had a Horse
- Interesting aspects of breed beginnings from Justin and his morgan horse. Should definitely read!

The Red Pony
- This one is for older children only. Expect to have some talks, as it deals with difficult subjects.

PLEASE NOTE: As I read thru older books (and newer!) that are recommended, I’ll add to this list! So if you have a horse book you’d love to have added, please put it in the comments here and I’ll check it out!

Thank you, and have a great horsie weekend!

—-

Jen K Blom is an author living in Berlin, Germany, where she writes children’s books about all sorts of kids and all sorts of animals. Her award-winning middle grade book POSSUM SUMMER was published in 2010, and her upcoming horse book BLUE APPALOOSA comes in 2013, with others to follow! You can follow her on Twitter, check out her Facebook and visit her blog.

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Ordinary Kids, Extraordinary Stories

Book Lists, Writing MG Books

I love contemporary realistic middle-grade fiction. As a kid, I was delighted to discover Beverly Cleary’s BEEZUS AND RAMONA. Finally, a big sister with an embarrassing little sister, just like me! Judy Blume’s ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT’S ME MARGARET? was a hot topic on the sixth grade playground where my friends and I whispered about scenes in the book and smoothly segued into conversations about ourselves. That’s what I love most about stories featuring ordinary* kids, they reflect on real life and let readers know they are not alone.

Today’s contemporary realistic fiction moves beyond just school and friendship stories, and adds a little extra spark. Is it because today’s readers are more sophisticated? Or that authors are competing with TV, Internet, and video games? Probably both. In any case, the books listed below cover common issues among ordinary kids in a unique way.

HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL by Donna Gephardt follows David as he navigates the first difficult year of middle school, loses and gains friends, and deals with bullies–all very common issues for this age. Extra spark: David aspires to be like Jon Stewart on the Daily Show and becomes a local celebrity with his own YouTube videos.

THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z by Kate Messner follows Gianna as she struggles to complete a huge school project and deals with a rival on the track team. Extra spark: Gianna lives in a funeral home and is embarrassed by her father driving to her school in his hearse. Also, she must deal with her grandmother’s diagnosis of dementia.

A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT by Linda Urban follows Zoe who dreams of playing piano at Carnegie Hall, but is instead stuck with an organ. And her best friend recently deserted her. Extra spark: her father is afraid to leave the house, her mother works all the time, and the boy bully she was afraid of becomes a friend.

THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLS by Frances O’Roark Dowell follows two best friends as they drift apart in middle school. Extra spark: the story is told in alternating points of view, letting us know neither is the mean girl. They’re both under peer pressure and trying to find their best self.

SCHOOLED by Gordon Korman follows the worst loser in school who is secretly nominated for class president and tortured throughout the school year. Bullying, conformity, peer pressure, check. Extra spark: this year’s nominee is a kid seemingly straight from the sixties, the last kid on a hippy-style commune. His first time attending school is as a complete innocent venturing into the playground jungle.

What are your favorite contemporary realistic middle-grade stories? And what gives them that extra spark?

*By ordinary kids I mean kids with functional families that go to school, as opposed to kids possessing magical abilities or orphans.

Karen B. Schwartz writes contemporary realistic middle-grade fiction, and is currently working on I AM NOT A PINK GIRL about a tomboy, Alex, and her ultra-feminine stepmother-to-be, Dee Dee, who’s determined to make a lady out of Alex. Extra spark: Dee Dee has a murky past full of secrets that Alex is determined to reveal in an attempt to stop the wedding.

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