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...
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."
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.
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."
Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in her Birchbark 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 the Birchbark series.
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...
You entered the book giveaway for The Healing Spell, and the random number generator has selected you, yes you! to win this fabulous book!
The author would love to personalize her signature for you; please email kglittle at msn dot com and let Kimberley know to whom she should sign the book. Include your mailing address, and The Healing Spell will be headed your way. Congratulations!
Welcome! We’re excited to celebrate the book release of one of our very own members—Kimberley Griffiths Little’s The Healing Spell published by Scholastic Press launches TODAY!
July 1 is the perfect pub date for The Healing Spell because the final chapters in the story take place during the 4th of July weekend. Those last scenes include a shotgun, a wedding, a death, a confession, a storm and a very cute boy. But not in that order.
We caught up with Kimberley for an interview and a bonus—a giveaway of a signed hardcover of The Healing Spell! Leave a comment to be entered! The winner will be announced Saturday, July 3rd.
From the jacket flap: Twelve-year-old Livie is living with a secret and it’s crushing her. She knows she is responsible for her mother’s coma, but she can’t tell anyone. It’s up to her to find a way to wake her momma up.
Stuck in the middle of three sisters, hiding a forbidden pet alligator, and afraid to disappoint her daddy, whom she loves more than anyone else, Livie struggles to find her place within her own family as she learns about the powers of faith and redemption.
Livie’s powerful, emotional, and sometimes humorous story will stay with readers long after the last line is read.
Welcome to From the Mixed-Up Files, Kimberley!
We’re curious how a writer who grew up in San Francisco, lived a couple of stints in Oklahoma and Utah, and now makes her home on the banks of the Rio Grande happened to write such a convincing story about a girl growing up in the swamps of Louisiana.
I can answer that question in four words: A Family Road Trip.
About twelve years ago, my family and I drove the corridor of Highway 10, stopping in Louisiana and New Orleans for several days to explore. We met with a Cajun tour guide whose enthusiasm and knowledge and fascinating stories immediately captivated me. We also took a boat into the bayous and swamps with another guide who showed us where he lived along the banks and hunted and fished and took us out to his crawfish traps.
Four more words: I fell in love. Hard. I couldn’t stop thinking about my experiences in Louisiana and the magic I felt there and the people of the bayous. I started reading dozens of books, everything I could get my hands on—from native Louisiana writers, memoirs, professors writing about the history—to fisherman and wildlife photographers.
I returned again and again, staying in a cabin on the bayou, eating crawfish, dancing to live Cajun bands, visiting all the museums, watching documentaries. Last year I did a two week road trip with a friend from the South and we met with seven different traiteurs in their homes to hear about their experiences as a traiteur – a religious folk healer tradition that goes back three hundred years in the Cajun culture when they first arrived in the Louisiana swamps.
Unusual settings have always been a springboard for my work.
How many times did you revise the book, and did you end up taking out anything you loved?
When the story and my characters were bursting in my mind and I knew I was ready to begin writing, I wrote the first draft in a little more than three weeks during the summer when it was hot and muggy—the same season as the book. I felt like I was *living* Livie’s story right along with her. It was a bit surreal.
I spent 3-5 years revising—which included breaks to write and revise other manuscripts–but I kept going back to The Healing Spell because I loved it so much and the characters were so alive in my mind. I had a lot of interest from various editors, but the story was finally ready when an editor at Scholastic stayed up all night to finish reading the manuscript. The next morning she made an offer to my agent, as well as offering on two other manuscripts for a three-book deal.
I didn’t take out anything that I loved during the writing—or the editorial process. I actually got to add more depth to many scenes, especially the ones with T-Jacques Landry, a boy Livie knows down the bayou, as well as a whole new chapter. (Chapter Twelve, in case you’re curious!)
Did you base any of your characters on real people?
No one in particular, but many of the Cajun people and their stories in Greg Guirard’s book, Cajun Families of the Atchafalaya were incredibly inspiring to me. Then I had the most unusual experience last April of 2009 when I was introduced to a man who fit the character of Livie Mouton’s daddy—so perfectly it was like destiny to meet him and his wife.
Mr. Elward Stephens is an older version of J.B. Mouton, Livie’s daddy, in The Healing Spell.
He lives in a house that he built himself on Bayou Long, fishing out the back door, making his own cypress pirogue (small canoe-like boat), growing up barefoot in the woods and swimming in the bayou as a kid—and speaking French and listening to French music while we danced in his living room! He and his wife are two of my favorite people in Louisiana.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently writing a companion book to The Healing Spell, which is already under contract with Scholastic, but the publication date is not firm yet. Miz Mirage Allemond, the folk healer traiteur who lives in the swamp that Livie meets, is such an intriguing character that I wanted to know more about her. The new project is from the viewpoint of Shelby Jayne, Miz Mirage’s eleven-year-old daughter. Plus it has a ghost! And secrets! The title is still To Be Decided.
Thank you, Kimberley, and Happy Book Release Day!
Readers, we hope you enjoyed the interview!
If you’d like to a chance to win a hardcover of Kimberley’s new book, make sure you post in the comments section. Tweets and Facebook and Blog posts earn you more entries. The winner will be announced Saturday!
Kimberley is celebrating ALL DAY today so leave questions; she’ll answer, and let’s have a good time! Laissez les bon temps rouler!
From the Mixed-Up Files is the group blog of middle-grade authors celebrating books for middle-grade readers. For anyone with a passion for children’s literature—teachers, librarians, parents, kids, writers, industry professionals— we offer regularly updated book lists organized by unique categories, author interviews, market news, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a children's book from writing to publishing to promoting.
In 1968, E. L. Konigsburg’s middle-grade novel, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, won the coveted Newbery Award for Excellence in American Children’s Literature.This site is named in honor of her beloved book.We hope you approve, Ms. Konigsburg.And thank you.Your book has touched generations of readers, and, if we have anything to say about it, will continue to do so for generations to come.