Tag Archives: contemporary realistic middle-grade fiction

THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES Launch, Giveaway, and Time Travel Titles!

Do you love a little bit of time-travel/time-bending elements in your middle-grade books? We’ve got some great titles for you – plus we’re celebrating one of our very own Mixed-Up File-rs brand new Middle-Grade with Scholastic!

Time of the Fireflies_Cover

THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES is the story of a beautiful heirloom doll with a secret family curse, a bit of historical fiction from 1912–and time-slipping. The novel has received terrific reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and School Library Journal who said, “Haunting, well-constructed tale . . . A plot filled with suspense, adventure, and mystery. A perfect choice for lovers of ghost stories, historical fiction, or just a good yarn.”

Help Kimberley celebrate THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES by entering the Rafflecopter below to win a signed hardcover copy of FIREFLIES, gorgeous Book Club Cards, and a glow-in-the-dark firefly necklace like this one:

Fireflfy Necklace

THE-TIME-OF-THE-FIREFLIES-Book-Club-Guide.pdf

Watch the mysteriously spooky book trailer right here, too!

Time Travel Middle-Grade Titles – a Mix of New and Oldies!

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

The Infinity Ring series by James Dashner, et al

WARP, Book 1 The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer

Watcher in the Woods by Robert Liparulo

Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder

Nick of Time by Anne Lindbergh

The Last Snake Runner by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Here’s an even bigger list of MG and YA Time Travel books from Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/28181.YA_MG_Time_Travel

Let a book carry you away to another time and place!

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Kimberley Griffiths Little’s best ideas come when taking long hot baths, but instead of a sunken black marble tub with gold faucets and a dragon-shaped spigot, she has New Mexico hand-painted tiles in her adobe home along the Rio Grande. She makes a lot of chocolate chip cookies when writing/revising.

Find Kimberley on Facebook. and Twitter:@KimberleyGLittl Teacher’s Guides, Mother/Daughter Book Club Guides, and book trailers “filmed on location in the bayous/swamps of Louisiana” at Kimberley’s website.

 

Crystal Chan Interview and Giveaway

 

Crystal headshot, color

About Crystal:

Crystal Chan grew up as a mixed-race kid in the middle of the Wisconsin cornfields and has been trying to find her place in the world ever since. Over time, she found that her heart lies in public speaking, performing, and ultimately, writing. She has published articles in several magazines; given talks and workshops across the country; facilitated discussion groups at national conferences; and been a professional storyteller for children and adults alike. In Chicago, where Crystal now lives, you will find her biking along the city streets and talking to her pet turtle. Her debut middle-grade novel, Bird, is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. She is represented by Emily van Beek of Folio Literary Management. Bird has also sold in Australia, the UK, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Romania. Also, Bird is out in audio book in the US, and the narrator is Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue in The Hunger Games.

Bird cover

About Bird (From IndieBound):

Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit–a duppy–into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets and impenetrable silence.

Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree. Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe–just maybe–the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.

 Bird is your debut novel. Can you tell us a little about its journey from idea to book?

I had just finished reading Keeper, by Kathi Appelt, and was sick at home from work. I had also finished my first manuscript and was fretting that I might not have another idea for another novel. Ever. I was thinking about this for hours, and finally I got so sick of myself that I said, Crystal, either you get up out of bed and write your next book, or you go to sleep because you’re sick. But you’re not going to lie in bed thinking about not writing your next book.

And then I started thinking more about Keeper, and how I loved that story; it’s about a girl who thought her mother turned into a mermaid and goes out to sea in search of her. And I thought, A girl who thinks her mother was a mermaid – that’s such a great idea – I wish I had thought of that! But what if… instead… there was a girl whose brother thought he was a bird, but then he jumped off a cliff because he thought he could fly … Then the voice of the protagonist, Jewel’s voice, started speaking and I got out of bed and wrote the first chapter.

Jamaican and Mexican cultures and beliefs play a prominent role in Bird, but seem very out of place in Iowa. What made you decide to introduce that culture clash?

There has always been a culture clash for me! (laughing) I’m half Polish, half Chinese, and grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. Navigating multiple cultures is the only thing I know. For example, my father, who is Chinese, demanded that I become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, and my mother, who is White, said I could be anything I want, which was also echoed by the larger American population. Of course, this was confusing and hard to navigate. Books that address culture clashes are out there but hard to come by, and I wanted to write a book for kids that might be experiencing them.

Do you believe in Duppies?

Possibly! :-)

What’s your favorite thing about middle-grade fiction (as a reader or a writer)?

The sense of story for middle-grade fiction has to be very, very strong. With adult literature, you can take your time on the page, show off your writing a little bit, and maybe twenty or fifty pages in you can start in the plot. If you give that same methodology to middle-grade kids, they’d chew you up alive. You need to have a strong story, a strong voice, and start it at the first line. I love that.

Why do you write middle-grade?

It’s the voice that came to me! My next WIP is for young adults, so we’ll see where my trajectory goes.

If there was one single thing that you wanted readers to get from Bird, what would it be?

The power of forgiveness can transform you and those around you in startling ways.

What other books do you recommend to readers who enjoyed Bird?

Bud, not Buddy, The Tiger Rising, The Underneath, A Wrinkle in Time. And don’t forget about Bridge to Terabithia!

What advice do you have for someone who wants to write middle-grade fiction?

Accept whatever emotions come up inside you – don’t push them down or ignore them, even if it’s uncomfortable. Because if you don’t allow yourself to feel anger, sadness, grief, or loss, how can you possibly write about these emotions for your characters?

And write from your heart, always. When you write, remember you’re writing from a special space inside, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And practice telling stories – tell stories all the time. When you’re not telling stories, practice listening to others tell their stories. Because that’s all that writing really is: telling a story.

Crystal is giving away a copy of the UK version of Bird (complete with all those weird UK spellings). 

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Jacqueline Houtman  is the author of The Reinvention of Edison Thomas.

Interview with Kurtis Scaletta–and a giveaway!

Kurtis Scaletta, one of the founders of From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors, is the author of the middle-grade novels Mudville, Mamba Point, The Tanglewood Terror and, most recently, The Winter of the Robots. The Minneapolis Star Tribune called his latest book a “ripping yarn with a big heart and a lot of wit and invention,” and Kirkus Reviews called it “a deft mix of middle school drama and edgy techno thrills.” He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three-year-old son and a bunch of cats.

 

kurtis09-s

Welcome back to the blog, Kurtis. How does it feel to be a guest at your own party? 

Ha, thanks. I miss being a part of this blog.

Can you tell us a little about how From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors began?

Several middle-grade authors came together from the Verla Kay boards after a discussion about how middle-grade books just didn’t have the web presence of young adult books. We wanted to champion middle grade with a heavy focus on recommendations to teachers and parents. We’re still struggling to get visibility, for people to even know that middle grade is a thing, a unique and important genre of children’s book.

What’s your favorite thing about middle-grade fiction (as a reader or a writer)?

It was my favorite age as a reader, a real golden age, and writing middle grade allows me to keep delving back into that moment when I began to truly love literature and the idea of writing.

The Winter of the Robots  is such a fun read. How long did it take from first spark of an idea to finished book in your hands?

Thanks! This book took me quite a bit longer than my other books. It took about two years from starting it to putting the final dots and dashes on the I’s and T’s. A lot of that had to do with being a dad.

 

WinteroftheRobots

You do a great job of balancing the level of scientific detail so that it’s engaging and enlightening, without being overwhelming to the point of taking away from the human story. I especially enjoyed the concept of autonomous vs. remote controlled robots. What kind of research did you do? How did you decide how much detail to include?

I spent a lot of time reading up on kids robot competitions, watching videos of their battles, and so forth. I had two readers in the manuscript phase, one who built robots as a kid and one who coaches robot leagues.

How plausible are the robots in the book?

If anything the robots kids are really building are more complicated and imaginative. Of course the big robot requires a bit of suspended disbelief, but there’s nothing there that isn’t possible. It was really important to me that it’s clear to readers how the kids build the robots, where they get the parts and the machines and the mechanical expertise.

Your Minnesota winter setting makes me want to put on a sweater. Can you design a robot to shovel my sidewalk for me?

As soon as I finish ours! And the robots that was dishes, scoop cat boxes, change diapers – for that matter, the robot that potty trains reluctant little boys. Sadly, that’ll take a while since the only robot I’ve made doesn’t do anything but take a few steps and fall apart.

If there was one single thing that you wanted readers to get from The Winter of the Robots, what would it be?

You know, I want kids to finish this book and think, “I could do this.” If I find a kid read this book and is tinkering in the garage I’ll consider the book a success.

What other books do you recommend to readers who enjoyed The Winter of the Robots?

There are great books about realistic kids learning and exploring the worlds around them, like The Higher Power of Lucky and Every Soul a Star and The Reinvention of Edison Thomas.  I really like books that infuse realistic science into a book.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to write middle-grade fiction?

Write up, not down, as Mr. White said. You can have big ideas in books for middle-grade readers, moral ambiguity and complex language, hard-hitting topics and challenging questions. Don’t hold back. The kids can handle it.

Kurtis is giving away a signed copy of The Winter of the Robots. Enter here:

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Jacqueline Houtman is a big fan of science in novels (and in real life).