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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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Courage and Civil Rights: An Interview with Tanya Lee Stone

Interviews, Nonfiction

On this day, many of us retell the stories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his speech, the bravery of Rosa Parks on the bus, and the students of Little Rock. But few realize that the seeds of the civil rights movement began during World War II.

courageIn Courage Has No Color, award-winning author Tanya Lee Stone tells the story of our nation’s first black paratroopers who integrated the army six months before Truman’s executive order calling for “equality of treatment and opportunity” in the military in 1948.

Tanya met Walter Morris, the sergeant who decided to train his men in the service company of the Parachute School as paratroopers. He wanted them “to act like soldiers, not servants.” Because of Morris’ leadership, the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, the Triple Nickles, was born.

At the end of the war, black and white servicemen had shared experiences that began a shift in society. “White Americans found it difficult to ignore the fact that they had been fighting Hitler while perpetrating atrocities and inequalities on their own black citizens—especially when those black citizens had done their part to unite in the fight against the same foe,” Tanya writes.

Courage Has No Color earned four starred reviews, was named Publishers Weekly Best Books 2013 and Kirkus Best Books of 2013, and received many honors, including the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award and NAACP Image Award Finalist. Tanya took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

Tanya Lee Stone

MUF: This is an amazing story about the courage and patriotism of the Triple Nickles. You tell the largely hidden story of the Japanese balloon bombs, giving meaning to the firefighting these paratroopers did in 1945. Yet these paratroopers never went overseas to fight Hitler. Was it hard to write about that disappointment?

TS: Yes, it was. It was a tricky thing to piece together as well. There was a lot of disappointment and sadness involved with this story as well as pride and accomplishment, heroism and honor.

MUF: Sergeant Walter Morris was a true leader and, it seems, a storyteller. I was saddened to learn that he died in October 2013. Was he happy to see his story told?

TS: Oh, he was elated. And the book came out the day after his birthday, so he had it in his hands. I was on the phone with him during his birthday party and a lot of the Triple Nickles men were there, and we were all whooping and hollering. It was an honor and a joy to have gotten to know Walter these last ten years, and not only was he happy to see his story told, he was able to participate in that telling. I will forever be grateful for that.

MUF: This book began as a picture book, and it sounds like you resisted turning it into a longer work for middle grade readers. Can you talk about that decision?

TS: The phone call I received from Hilary Van Dusen at Candlewick came at a moment when I was probably more tired than I had ever been from writing. I had just finished The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie right on the heels of Almost Astronauts, with a picture book in between. Ashley Bryan had read the picture book version of Courage Has No Color and the praise he gave me bolstered my confidence. And did I mention I was tired? So when Hilary told me she wanted me to expand it to the scope of Almost Astronauts, I was resistant. We both agreed that I was tired, and I asked her for some time to think about it. Of course, my sister-by-choice, Sarah Aronson didn’t hesitate at all in reminding me that she had been telling me that for some time! Once I took a nap and thought about it some more, I knew most certainly it was the right choice.

MUF: One of the things children’s books do—and you do well—is to tell the truth, with room for hope. Was it hard to write your last chapter, “We will have a colorless society one day”?

TS: I don’t think I would characterize it as hard, and my research in that area didn’t surprise me, but it was certainly sobering. Of course, that is balanced by many of the forward steps our culture has taken. There is certainly room for great improvement.

MUF: You’re an award-winning writer of children’s nonfiction books. I know that takes a lot of research and firsthand interviews with amazing people. Tell us: Have you ever jumped out of a plane?

TS: Ha! I almost did—in college—but I chickened out! I will never forget what it felt like to climb to the Drop Zone and look out the door of that plane, though!

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A Salute to Veterans!

Authors, Book Lists, For Kids, Holiday, Inspiration, Librarians, Nonfiction, Parents, Teachers

Happy Veterans Day!!  To all those individuals who serve or have served our country proudly as members of the U.S. armed forces, and the families who sacrifice a lot to support their service, we thank you!

flag

 

Did you know that Veterans Day was created to celebrate the end of World War I?

While WWI wasn’t officially over until the Peace Treaty was signed in Versailles on June 28, 1919, fighting ceased on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, or November 11, 1918. In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11th to be Armistice Day.  In 1936 Congress declared November 11th an official national holiday. At the time it was meant to honor the veterans of WWI.

Unfortunately, as we all know, another  world war was yet to come.  But thankfully, WWII ended on VJ day, August 14, 1945.  People across the United States celebrated the newfound peace.

 

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And in 1954, President Eisenhower officially declared November 11th to be a national holiday recognizing the veterans of all wars, as well as those currently serving in the U. S. Armed forces.  Being a veteran, I find this day special and am proud to have served as an officer in the U.S. Navy.

So why the history lesson?  I think it’s important to remember the significance of this day and it’s not just because everyone gets time off work or school.  As a way to  celebrate a veteran, why not check out some of these great books that celebrate those who serve our country faithfully:

 

 

  Veterans Day by Elaine Landau

This nonfiction title explains why and how Americans celebrate Veterans Day. Part of the “Celebrating Holidays” series, the book traces the history of Veterans Day back to the conception of Armistice Day. It explains how and why the holiday expanded from a time to honor World War I vets to a day to honor all American veterans. The book includes information about the symbols associated with the holiday, including flags, poppies, and monuments. It shows how Americans celebrate the day on a national, local, and individual level. The book is divided into five short chapters, which can be read independently of each other. Sidebars, photographs, and captions provide additional information.

 

 

 

 

 

America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven

The White Table is set in many mess halls as a symbol for and remembrance to service members fallen, missing, or held captive in the line of duty. Solitary and solemn, it is the table where no one will ever sit.

As a special gift to her Uncle John, Katie and her sisters are asked to help set the white table for dinner. As their mother explains the significance of each item placed on the table Katie comes to understand and appreciate the depth of sacrifice that her uncle, and each member of the Armed Forces and their families, may be called to give

 

 

Cherry Ames, Veteran Nurse by Helen Wells

With a heart of pure gold and a true yearning to make a difference in the world, eighteen-year-old Cherry Ames leaves her hometown and enters nursing school, embarking on a lifetime of adventures. Follow Cherry through the entire 20-volume series as she grows from a student nurse to a fully qualified RN, all the while making friends, pushing the limits of authority, leading her nursing colleagues, and sleuthing and solving mysteries. Smart, courageous, mischievous, quick-witted, and above all, devoted to nursing, Cherry Ames meets adventure head-on wherever she goes.

 

 

 

D-Day Day by Day by Anthony Hall

The hardcover reference titles in the Day by Day series examine the evolution of conflicts and wars in a chronological timeline, from the first skirmish to the last battle—and everything in between. These books are a historical companion to each major war in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The fate of soldiers, battalions, armies, can change in the blink of an eye—with this comprehensive book readers can follow the conflicting sides in their strategy, weaponry, and policies.

 

Don’t Know Much About American History by Kenneth C. Davis

As best-selling author Kenneth C. Davis knows, history can be fun, fascinating, and memorable. When his don’t know much about® history was published in 1990, it was a sensation. The book delivered a fresh take on history with its wit and unusual detail. Davis now does for young people what his earlier book did for adults. In his trademark question-and-answer style — peppered with surprising facts, historic reproductions, and Matt Faulkner’s lively illustrations — Davis introduces our ancestors who settled the East and expanded the West, as well as those who had been living here all along. His sure touch brings the drama and excitement of the American story vividly to life.

 

 

 


Arlington: The Story of Our Nation’s Cemetery by Chris Demarest

AMERICA’S RESTING PLACE. The story of the national cemetery–from the Revolutionary War to the present. Arlington recounts the complicated history of one of the nation’s most famous and most-visited national monuments and its fascinating daily life. Carefully researched and documented, Chris Demarest’s watercolor paintings capture the spirit and pathos of the last resting place of more than 300,000 Americans who have served their country.

 

 

Courage Has No Color  by Tanya Lee Stone

World War II is raging, and thousands of American soldiers are fighting overseas against the injustices brought on by Hitler. Back on the home front, discrimination against African Americans plays out as much on Main Street as in the military. Tanya Lee Stone examines the little-known history of the Triple Nickles, America’s first black paratroopers, who fought in an attack on the American West by the Japanese. The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, in the words of First Sergeant Walter Morris, “proved that the color of a man had nothing to do with his ability.”


 

Enjoy your day off and if you happen to see a veteran, give them a handshake, a hearty “thank you” or even a hug for their service.

 

 

***

Jennifer Swanson is a middle school science instructor and an author of over 14 nonfiction books for kids. She is a  graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and is proud to have served her country for over nine years.

 

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Remembering the Eruption of Mount St. Helens

Book Lists, Librarians, Nonfiction, Science, Teachers

On May 18, 2013 at 8:32 am PDT, I hope you paused 
to celebrate the amazing power of our Earth, upon which so much depends.  Many of us throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond remember that moment on May 18, 1980 when Mount St. Helens erupted, changing lives and the landscape of the Washington Cascades forever.  This anniversary offers an excellent opportunity to connect middle grade readers with an array of informational text and online resources that tell this amazing story — massive destructive power unleashed in seconds, as well as incredible stories of survival and regeneration as the Earth continues to heal.

Books

Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens by Patricia Lauber (book cover above)
This is my favorite book on the eruption!  Vivid photographs illustrate Lauber’s engaging description of the run-up to the eruption, the have-to-see-it-to-believe-it impacts on all living things within reach of the explosion, and the dramatic recovery that continues today, 33 years later.  Readers will be enthralled as they figure out how the terms “survivors” and “colonizers” apply in a special volcanic context.

Volcanoes & Earthquakes by James Putnam & Susanna van Rose
Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness Books are always kid favorites.  This book explores earth science events around the world, including the eruption of Mount St. Helens.  The photo-heavy format of DK books, with limited and supportive text, makes the book a great option for readers who may be fascinated with volcanoes but struggle with challenging text.

 

Gopher to the Rescue! A Volcano Recovery Story 
by Terry Catasus Jennings & Laurie O’Keefe

OK, Gopher isn’t technically nonfiction, but the National Science Teachers Association liked it so much, they named it to the 2013 Outstanding Science Trade Books for K-12, calling it “A good story that gives an unusual perspective on a current topic, showing succession after a volcano eruption on Mt. St. Helens.

Will It Blow?: Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens
by Elizabeth Rusch; ill. by K.E. Lewis
Readers who wonder what’s next for Mount St. Helens and other active volcanoes can put on their scientist/detective caps and tackle the question, “Will it blow — and when?”  Interactive, engaging, and grounded in the real-life work that challenges scientists right now.

 

Teaching Resources

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Visit the US Forest Service’s rich, interactive website on everything related to the eruption and rebirth!  Students can take a webcam peek at the mountain in real time, or watch archived video of a period of significant eruptions from 2004.

US Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program: Mount St. Helens
This site is filled with accessible scientific information from the United States Geological Survey.  Students can hear directly from USGS scientists about what happened leading up to, during, and after the eruption in a video that uses dramatic images from that day.

NOVA Program on the Eruption of Mount St. Helens (Public Broadcasting System)
This YouTube clip from an episode of the award-winning science program, NOVA on PBS, shows both real and simulated images of the eruption and its aftermath.

Gallery of Earth Images: NASA’s Space Place
See NASA satellite images of active volcanoes, from Mount St. Helens to all corners of the world.

Dave Crockett:  A First-Person Account by KOMO-4 (Seattle) News Photographer
The thoroughly riveting video was shot by a Seattle news photographer who was on Mount St. Helens that morning, because he “had a hunch that something was about to happen.”  Crockett was caught right in the middle of the action and miraculously survived.  Dave’s story reminds us also to honor the 57 people– loggers, campers, scientists – who were nearby but not as fortunate.

 

On May 18, 1980, Katherine Schlick Noe stepped out into a beautiful Seattle morning and heard what she thought were two distant sonic booms. She’s been fascinated with the story of Mount St. Helens ever since. Visit her at http://katherineschlicknoe.com.

 

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