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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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Indie Spotlight: Birchbark Books , Minneapolis MN

Book Lists, Indie Spotlight

birchbark logoImagine a bookstore founded and owned by a world-renowned poet and author for adults and children. Such a unique store exists. It’s Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, created fourteen years ago by Louise Erdrich as part of her passion to ensure that true stories of the native people are told and known, and their laguages not forgotten. Birchbark Books is a teaching store, infused with a generous and welcoming spirit.  We’re talking today with store manager Susan White, about whom the website says. “If you are lucky enough to visit when Susan White is there, you will feel mysteriously better all day.”birchbark storefront

MUF:  Susan, who comes to Birchbark Books, in person and online? What experiences do you strive to provide for native readers? For non-native readers?
Susan: Ours is a neighborhood store, only 800 square ft., but people visit from all over the world, especially from France, Germany, and Great Britain, and from all over North America.  Last week we had visitors from New Zealand. People make pilgrimages!  Our online catalog serves customer in th U.S. and Canada. What makes us so unique is that we serve many communities.  Our mission is to provide accurate and truthful books about native people of the Midwest and all over the country, but we are also a carefully curated full-range bookstore for children and adults.Birchbark Interior

MUF: Your catalog and staff recommendations include so many interesting titles that we have seen nowhere else, and especially intriguing books written for, or appropriate for, children.  As middle-grade authors, we would love to know some of the titles, you particularly recommend to boys and girls ages eight to twelve?birchbark house
Susan: All our children’s books, whether native or not, are chosen for truth and beauty.   Recommendations?  First of all would be Louise Erdrich’s award-winning Birchbark House Series (The Birchbark House, The Game of Silence, The Porcupine Year).  Louise grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series and loved it, but she  knew Laura’s mother was wrong when she said “there is nothing here.” Louise set the Birchbark House novels in the same place to show how much was there when seen from the eyes of the native Ojibwe.  How I Became a Ghost is by Tim Tingle , who sets his series in the 1835 Trail of Tears and writes from the character of a boy who didn’t survive it.  Moose Tracks and Wolf Shadows by Mary Cassanova are especially great for reluctant readers.  I would also recommend Summer of the Wolves, by Polly Carlson-Voiles and a native-title picture book, Black Elk’s Vision, A Lakota Story, by S.D. Nelson.Birchbark How I Became a GhostBirchbark Black ElkBirchbark-- summer of the wolves

Birchbark moose tracksMUF: We’re told that one of the most wonderful things one can take away from a visit to Birchbark Books—guaranteed forgiveness— is absolutely free.  Please tell our readers about the forgiveness booth and other features of your shop—reading spaces, native arts— that create its special atmosphere.
Susan: The forgiveness booth is meant to replace the confessional booth.  Everyone is forgiven and you don’t have to confess anything. You can get a glimpse of it in Bill Moyers’ interview of Louise : http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04092010/watch2.html. 

Despite our small size, we carry not only books but native arts, cards, and jewelry in the store, which we buy directly from the artists.  There is a loft where kids can go to read, and the younger ones can hang out in the Hobbit Hole below. 

The Forgiveness Booth

The Forgiveness Booth

Dharma

Dharma’s favorites: DOG SONGS by Mary Oliver and E.B. WHITE ON DOGS

MUF: Everyone who works at Birchbark Books seems to have a dog helping them peruse the books.  Do these four-footed aides spend their days in the shop, or do they mostly work from home?
Susan: We usually have a dog in the store.  Most often it’s my own dog Dharma.  She’s the Queen Bee and has good bookstore manners.

MUF: Do your native language materials include some introductory books for the curious beginner?
Susan: We’re part of the native language revitalization movement, especially of the Dakota, Ojibwe and Lakota languages.  We carry language materials for adults and children, including several children’s books with CDs.  Some of these materials are hard to find, and we have a large and varied selection.  Louise and her sister Heid have formed Wiigwaas (Birchbark) Press that publishes books in Ojibwe only.  So far they have three books of animal stories. We also have many bilingual books.

MUF:Do you have any  events at the store that would be of special interest to middle-graders?  Anything coming up this spring?
Susan: Of course we don’t have a lot of space for events, but we have had author signings with many young adult and children’s authors, including Phyllis Root.  This spring we’re planning to do feature her new book, Plant a Pocket of Prairie, illustrated by Betsy Bowen.  It’s coming out in May.screenshot_1266

MUF: If a family from out of town made a day visit to Birchbark Books, would there be a family-friendly place nearby where they could get a snack or a meal afterward?  And if they could stay a little longer, are there some other unique activities or places of interest nearby that they shouldn’t miss?Birchbark crafts
Susan:  Right next door is the Kenwood Restaurant, and at the end of the block is Bockley Gallery (www.bockleygallery.com)with works by contemporary native artists.  We’re only two blocks from Lake of the Isles where there are trails for hiking. And of course there are many museums and attractions throughout Minneapolis.

MUF: Thank you so much, Susan, for sharing this wonderful store and its passion with us.  Readers, if you have visited Birchbark Books or are intrigued and think you would like to, please leave a comment.

Sue Cowing is the author of the puppet-and-boy novel You Will Call Me Drog, Carolrhoda 2011, Usborne UK 2012

 

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Teaching with Themed Literature Units: Older Middle Grade

Book Lists, Teachers

Recently, I wrote about the value of Themed Literature Units, structured units of study designed to develop crucial literacy skills as students read, write about, discuss, and sometimes respond artistically to high-quality children’s literature.  My previous post, “Finding My Way: Teaching with Themed Literature Units,” introduces a strategy for organizing meaningful literacy instruction around memorable middle grade literature.  The post also offers a glimpse into three classrooms where teachers and middle grade students are reading great books on themes such as “Adapting to new situations,” “Taking risks to help others,” and “Courage is inside all of us.”

Today, I’d like to expand our list with an additional themed literature unit for older middle grade readers in an unusual context — a middle school Spanish class.

Overcoming Obstacles in the Search for Identity ~ 8th grade
Ceinwen Bushey is teaching 8th grade Spanish in a Seattle middle school.  She developed her unit, “Overcoming Obstacles in the Search for Identity” to help her students understand their own quests for identity and to recognize similar struggles in other adolescents in Latin America.  She introduced her students to the unit this way:  ”For most teenagers like yourselves, middle school is a time of fast growth – physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. It’s also a time for developing your sense of identity, self-esteem, and relationships with your peers. This is true for kids all around the world, but some have it tougher than others. Imagine having to deal with all the things everyday teens have to deal with, then adding to them some really big obstacles. Think about what it would be like to have to move to a new country, learn to speak a new language, make new friends, eat food you’ve never seen before, not have MTV to watch, not have iPhones or iPads or Facebook, and have people thinking you look weird because you’re different from them. Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to read, write, and discuss the lives of kids your age that are trying to figure things out, just like you, but who are from Latin America and have to overcome really big obstacles like the ones I just mentioned. They are teenagers who have to move to the United States from other countries, and try to figure out who they are; they’re searching for their identity. The end goal of our work together is to promote cross-cultural understanding and develop awareness that the journey toward understanding oneself is universal; that is, it connects us all to one another.”

Big Ideas
The unit guides students to understand two big ideas:
The path to self-discovery is a universal human experience and connects us all; and
Tough experiences are often the ones that teach us the most about ourselves.

Book List
            

As older middle grade readers grow, they yearn to figure out who they are and how they can make a difference in this world.  Ceinwen Bushey’s unit guides her middle schoolers to take a cross-cultural look at ways that young people, like them, find ways to overcome the obstacles in their lives as they search for identity.

Katherine Schlick Noe teaches beginning and experienced teachers at Seattle University. Her debut novel, Something to Hold (Clarion, 2011) won the 2012 Washington State Book Award for the middle grade/young adult and has been named a 2012 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People.  Visit her at http://katherineschlicknoe.com.

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Happy New Year!

Holiday

Here we are on the last day of 2012. What an amazing year for middle grade books! There were so many memorable, heart-stopping books published this year — sci fi and fantasy, humor and history, graphic novels and nonfiction, love and death and everything in between. Join me on a poetic journey through some of the fantastic middle grade novels of 2012…

Once Upon a Toad there was a young reader

Who devoured stories like a fearless leader.

This year was no different, she read book after book,

Fantasy, reality, historical; whatever it took.

She cried over Ivan, witnessed some Drama, and cheered for Wonder(ful) Auggie,

Had a Laugh With the Moon, wore a Fake Mustache, and looked In a Glass Grimmly.

Next on her list was Glory Be, May B, Stealing Air, and The Marble Queen,

Followed by Jake and Lily, The Templeton Twins, not to mention Ivy and Bean.

She raced through The Fire Chronicle and Liar & Spy,

Then got Caught in The Genius Files and Starry River of the Sky.

No time to spare, there were still lots more books,

about Dorks who keep Diaries, one Wimpy Kid, and The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook.

She discovered The Upside of Ordinary, A Hero for WondLa, then poured over Son,

Just in time to See You at Harry’s, be A Whole Lot of Lucky, and try Flying the Dragon.

Next she figured out The 39 Clues while Stealing Popular and loving The Mighty Miss Malone,

But wait, Amber Brown was back, and while on Will Sparrow’s Road, she was never alone.

Then it was a Summer of the Gypsy Moths; the year was just flying by,

Three Times Lucky, Mr. Terupt Falls Again, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, oh my!

As the leaves began to fall, she curled up in her room,

With The Fault in Our Stars, The False Prince, and Gustav Gloom.

She raced through True Legend, Unstoppable, and Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities,

Made sure to read The Great Unexpected, Joshua Dread, and The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee.

Who Could That Be at This Hour? she thought, when she heard a knock,

She was Almost Home when she looked at the clock.

2013 was at the door; it’s practically next year,

She had to hurry up and finish Double Dog Dare.

And now that she’s done, there’s only one thing to do,

Start all over again with books that are new!

 

A very happy new year from all of us at From the Mixed-Up Files! Keep reading and keep writing!

 

 

Michele Weber Hurwitz, the author of Calli Be Gold (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House 2011) and an upcoming middle grade novel in spring 2014, can’t wait to see what books are in store for 2013.

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