Browsing the archives for the contemporary realistic middle-grade fiction tag.


  • OhMG! News

    New-Oh-MG-critter



    July 11, 2014: Apply for a Thurber House residency!

    Thurber House has a Children’s Writer-in-Residence program for middle-grade authors each year and  guidelines and application form for the 2015 residency were just released.

    This unique residency has been in existence since 2001, offering  an opportunity for authors to have time to work on their writing in a fully furnished apartment, in the historic boyhood home of author and humorist, James Thurber. Deadline is October 31, 2014. For details, go to READ MORE

    July 10, 2014:

    Spread MG books in unexpected places 7/19
    Drop a copy of your own book or of another middle-grade favorite in a public place on July 19 -- and some lucky reader will stumble upon it.
    Ginger Lee Malacko is spearheading this Middle Grade Bookbomb (use the hashtag #mgbookbomb in social media) -- much in the spirit of Operation Teen Book Drop.  Read more ...

June 16, 2014:
Fizz, Boom, Read: Summer reading 2014

Hundreds of public libraries across the U.S. are celebrating reading this summer with  the theme Fizz, Boom, Read! Find out more about this year's collaborative summer reading program and check out suggested booklists and activities. Read more ...
 

April 30, 2014:
Join the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and help change the world

The conversation on diversity in children's books has grown beyond book creators and gate keepers to readers and book buyers. What can you do? Take part in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign May 1 though 3 on Tumblr and Twitter and in whatever creative ways you can help spread the word to take action. Read more ….

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 ...

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  • Crystal Chan Interview and Giveaway

    Interviews, New Releases

     

    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). 

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

    10 Comments

    Interview with Kurtis Scaletta–and a giveaway!

    Authors, Giveaways, Interviews

    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:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

    18 Comments

    April New Releases: 13 Middle-Grade Novels

    Book Lists, New Releases

    So many books to buy or place on hold at your library this month! Here are a few hand-picked middle-grade titles for your to-read list:

    Hide and Seek (Capture the Flag, #2)Hide and Seek by Kate Messner
    José, Anna, and Henry are junior members of the secret Silver Jaguar Society, sworn to protect the world’s most important artifacts. When they discover that the society’s treasured Jaguar Cup has been replaced with a counterfeit, the trio and their families rush to the rain forests of Costa Rica in search of the real chalice. But when the trail runs dry, new mysteries emerge: Who can they trust? Is there a traitor in their midst? With danger at every turn, it will take more than they realize for José and his friends to recover the cup before it falls into the wrong hands. This is the sequel to Capture the Flag. (April 1.)

     

    All My Noble Dreams and Then What Happens by Gloria Whelan
    Rosalind inhabits two worlds in 1920s India. There is the world of her heritage—English to the core, with a strict father who is a major in the British Indian Army, a muted mother, and a tutor to educate her within the walls of the luxurious estate her family occupies. And then there is the world of her homeland—or the land that feels like home, anyway. The world where followers of Gandhi surround her, and the streets are full of poverty and the whispers of independence.  When she has a chance to meet the Prince of Wales, Rosalind must decide if she has the courage to speak up about the injustice she witnesses in the streets of India. (April 2)

    The Key and the Flame by Claire M. Caterer
    Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard is given an old iron key that unlocks a door—in a tree—that opens to the stunning and magical medieval world of Anglielle. Holly is joined on her journey by two tagalongs—her younger brother Ben, and Everett, an English boy who hungers after Holly’s newfound magic and carries a few secrets of his own. When Ben and Everett are sentenced to death by the royals, whose fear of magic has fueled a violent, systemic slaughter of all enchanted creatures, Holly must save them and find a way back home. But will she be able to muster the courage and rise above her ordinary past to become an extraordinary hero? (April 2)

    The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley
    Things aren’t looking good for fourteen-year-old Mehrigul. She yearns to be in school, but she’s needed on the family farm. The longer she’s out of school, the more likely it is that she’ll be sent off to a Chinese factory . . . perhaps never to return. Her only hope is an American woman who buys one of her decorative vine baskets for a staggering sum and says she will return in three weeks for more. Mehrigul must brave terrible storms, torn-up hands from working the fields, and her father’s scorn to get the baskets done. The stakes are high, and time is passing. An intergenerational story of a strong, creative young artist in a cruelly oppressive society. (April 2)

    The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors
    When Ben Silverstein is sent to the rundown town of Buttonville to spend the summer with his grandfather, he’s certain it will be the most boring vacation ever. That is, until his grandfather’s cat brings home what looks like . . . a baby dragon?
    Ben takes the wounded dragon to the only veterinarian’s office in town: Dr. Woo’s Worm Hospital. But as Ben and his friend Pearl discover once they are inside, Dr. Woo’s isn’t a worm hospital at all — it’s actually a secret hospital for imaginary creatures, and now it seems a rather large, rather stinky, and very hairy beast has escaped from the hospital. (April 2)


    Story's End (Storybound, #2)Story’s End
      (Storybound Book #2) by Marissa Burt
    Heroes, Villains, and characters of all kinds lived out new Tales filled with daring quests and epic struggles when a King ruled the land of Story long ago. Then the King disappeared, and over the years, nearly everyone forgot that he had ever existed. Now an evil Enemy has emerged, determined to write a new future for Story that he will control. And an ordinary girl named Una Fairchild is inextricably tangled up in his deadly plan. Una and her friends Peter and Indy are desperate to find a way to defeat the Enemy. But Una soon discovers that the real key may lie in her own mysterious ties to Story’s past–and to the long-forgotten King, who could be Story’s only hope for survival. (April 2)

    The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff
    Thirteen-year old Jemma has no clue about her supernatural powers, let alone that a Prophecy says she is the one who will save her country from the evil Agromond rulers and the sinister Mist they create. Then, some very disturbing discoveries reveal the truth of who she really is, propelling Jemma into dark dangers that she faces with her two telepathic golden rats, and her friend Digby. But in the end, her own untapped powers might be the only hope for a kingdom in peril. Magic, mystery, and mayhem spice this action-packed medieval-flavored fantasy debut. (April 9)

    Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
    In a magical kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone’s joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change: Rump can spin straw into gold. Magical gold. His best friend Red Riding Hood warns him that magic is dangerous. With each thread he spins, Rump weaves himself deeper into a curse. There’s only one way to break the spell: Rump must go on a quest to find his true name, along the way defending himself against pixies, trolls, poison apples, and one beautiful but vile-mannered queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—Rump just might triumph in the end. (April 9)

    Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino
    Eleven-year-old musical prodigy Elvis Ruby was supposed to win Tween Star, the most coveted reality show on television. None of the other contestants even came close to his talents. But in the middle of the biggest night, with millions of people watching, Elvis panicked. He forgot the words to the song. He forgot the tune. He forgot how to play every single instrument he’d ever known and froze on national TV. So Elvis must run from the paparazzi camped outside his door and spend the summer working with his aunt and cousin at Piney Pete’s Pancake Palace in the remote wilds of New Jersey. It’s the perfect place to be anonymous, that is until Elvis meets Cecilia, a girl who can’t seem to help blurting out whatever’s on her mind. (April 16)

    Hero on a BicycleHero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
    Italy, 1944: Florence is occupied by Nazi forces. The Italian resistance movement has not given up hope, though, and neither have thirteen-year- old Paolo and his sister, Costanza. As their mother is pressured into harboring escaping POWs, Paolo and Costanza each find a part to play in opposing the German forces. Both are desperate to fight the occupation, but what can two siblings, with only a bicycle to help them, do against a whole army? Middle-grade fans of history and adventure will be riveted by the action and the vividly evoked tension of World War II. This is the first novel by Hughes, who has written more than 50 books and has twice won the Kate Greenway award for illustration in Britain.

    The Ability by M.M Vaughan
    When Christopher begins at his new school, he is astounded at what he can do. It seems that age twelve is a special time for the human brain, which is capable of remarkable feats. Schoolmates Ernest and Mortimer Genver, at the direction of their vengeful and manipulative mother, are testing the boundaries of the human mind. All this experimentation has definite consequences, and Chris soon finds himself forced to face them … or his new life will be over before it can begin. (April 23)

    TGirl from Felony Bay, Thehe Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson
    The last year has been rougher than sandpaper for Abbey Force and her dad. He’s in a coma after his accident a year back, wherein he was framed for a terrible crime he didn’t commit. And their home on the eastern coast of South Carolina had to be sold to pay off his debt. The new family that moved into Abbey’s old house has a daughter named Bee who is just as curious about all the No Trespassing signs and holes being dug out by Felony Bay, in the corner of what used to be Abbey’s home. It appears someone’s been poking around a mystery that dates all the way back to the Civil War—and it just might be the same someone who framed Abbey’s dad. (April 30)

    The Hero's Guide to Storming the CastleThe Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy
    Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don’t you? They’re the Princes Charming, who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses–Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose–to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms. But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening–even if no one will ever know it was they who did it. (April 30)

                                 Book descriptions courtesy of publishers and IndieBound.

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