Posts Tagged critique giveaway

Interview & Critique Giveaway with Agent Christie MeGill

Welcome to the Mixed-Up Files, Christie! We’re thrilled to have you here. Can you share how you became an agent…and what a typical day is like for you? 

Hi Mindy! I’m so happy to be chatting with you.

My path to becoming an agent is a bit rambling, but I think that’s very common in book publishing! I started out in academic book publishing, but I changed course and became an elementary school teacher. Once I had been teaching for a few years, I returned to writing. I’ve been a writer since I was six years old (and I have the old school assignments to prove it!) but became discouraged during my college writing courses and so I stopped for quite some time. When I started writing for fun again, it was like a new chapter of my life had begun. I started reading contemporary middle grade books, and I knew these were the stories I wanted to create for today’s young readers.

When I found the children’s publishing and children’s writing communities, they made me feel like I’d finally found where I belonged. I stepped away from teaching to stay at home with my growing family, and in early 2020, the early days of the pandemic forced some deep introspection. It became necessary to return to the workforce for a variety of reasons, and when I considered where I’d been and where I wanted to go, children’s publishing was the only path that made sense to me. I was fortunate enough to intern with Writers House, then fill in as a temporary assistant to a kidlit agent, where I learned how much I love agenting. After a few remote internships and lots of searching, I met with Christy at The CAT Agency, and now I’m an Associate Agent who’s building my own list as I continue being mentored by the incredible agents at the Agency.

As for my workday, I’m sure it’s been said before, but there is no typical day! That’s one thing I love about the position. As both a literary and illustration agent for children’s books, I work with illustrators, author-illustrators, authors, and graphic novelists. On any given day, I could be doing an illustration portfolio review for a client, putting together new promotional emails, creating submission lists, sending out manuscripts to editors, communicating with clients, editing manuscripts, looking over contracts, talking with designers and art directors about projects, or collaborating with the CAT team on Agency matters. Our small company is fully remote, which I really appreciate. I try to meet up with the team whenever possible, especially as we travel together to conferences or book events. But we’re tight knit and supportive, which makes such a difference!


It definitely makes a difference. The CAT Agency (and you) are amazing. 😊

What do you love most about middle-grade novels?

Middle grade is magical. I particularly love the optimism. Middle grade novels rarely shy away from the hard realities about life, nor should they. But no matter what, there’s always some glimmer of hope. There’s the prospect of inner growth, or effecting real change in the world, or things generally just getting better. There’s possibility, which so many adults forget is real.

Maybe it’s because my entire world is children’s books, but I feel very connected to my inner child. Middle grade literature is a surprising, but potent, way to nurture and value that younger version of myself. It’s common for me to read a middle grade novel and come across a lesson or a statement that makes such an impact on me, I need to pause and take it in, because I desperately needed to hear it.


What are some of the biggest issues you’ve seen in middle grade manuscripts?

I think one issue is when a middle grade manuscript creates a world that an adult writer wishes were real. I don’t mean high fantasy, alternate worlds, or magic; but situations where there’s no conflict, where every character is nice and kind, and where there are no stakes. Young readers don’t want a sanitized or romanticized world where nothing is ever truly wrong, and they don’t want to be infantilized.

I realize this may seem contradictory to my previous answer, but there’s a difference between finding hope in complex and nuanced realities, versus never coming up against any difficulties.


Wow. I can’t imagine reading a middle grade novel without any conflict.

What do you wish people knew about the life of an agent?

Agents want writers to succeed, and we want to help make books. There are always bad apples who make it seem otherwise, but the kidlit agents I know are passionate and are working hard to build strong relationships with writers and illustrators in order to support them in creating the best books possible for kids.


Since you’re also an author…what do you wish agents knew about authors?

It’s been interesting to watch my experience as an agent concurrently with my experience as an author. I’m very reflective of it, and I think it’s made me even more compassionate on both sides. One thing that I’m aware of is that there are so many intricacies and norms of the book publishing landscape, like the contracts process and what to expect while on submission, and so I do my best to communicate those quirks to creators. I hope it alleviates some anxiety and that feeling of being in the dark while trying to make it in the industry.


I’m sure it’s a huge help!

Can you share a great writing exercise for teachers to use with students?

I have so many! The most powerful thing that teachers can do for a student is to help them realize they have a story to tell. Everyone is a storyteller. No matter how naturally writing comes to a person, everyone has the capability to express themselves.

One great writing exercise that works especially well for the beginning of the school year is to guide students in finding inspiration in the everyday. Students should have a notebook they carry with them daily for a week, and their job is to notice what’s around them and write down anything that could be part of a story. It can be as minor or as major as they want, and it can come from everywhere: conversations, simple observations, books, articles, movies, homework assignments. Once they’ve begun gathering snippets of life, they can go over their list and consider what elements could be used for a story. Does anything stand out to them? Are there any emerging commonalities or themes? Is there room for metaphor or symbolism?

The students can then connect topics they’re interested in with elements from their list to find story seeds, then develop an outline, and finally, a story.

Of course, this writing exercise is great for authors of all ages!


Thanks for the amazing writing exercise! I’m sure teachers, students, and authors will love it. We enjoy posting helpful writing exercises—we’ll have to invite you back to share some more. 😊

What are your favorite middle-grade novels…and why do you love them so much?

Oh no, the impossible question! There are so, so many middle grade novels and authors I adore. Honestly, it makes me a little jealous of the tween readers today – I didn’t have this variety when I was growing up! But I’m so glad that I’m still a middle grade reader, and I’m thrilled that young reads have the reading options they do.

When I first decided to write middle grade, I went to my local bookstore and browsed the kid’s section. One title jumped out at me, and it’s the first middle grade book I read as an adult and MG writer: Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz. Her books are still favorites of mine. I also love The Vanderbeekers series by Karina Yan Glaser, the Front Desk series by Kelly Yang, From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks, and The Boys in the Back Row by Mike Jung. I’m drawn to these books because they’re masterfully constructed stories with tween characters who are so real, they could be kids in my own community.

I’m also a big fan of scary stories. I love Small Spaces by Katherine Arden, The Girl in White by Lindsay Currie, Ghost Hunters by Ellen Oh, The Stitchers by Lorien Lawrence, and Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko. These books are layered and deep, blending frights with heart in a way I aspire to achieve as an author.


These sound incredible! I need to add a bunch of them to my must-read list.

What do you look for in chapter books and graphic novels?

As a newer agent, I tend to be very selective in these areas. There are so many amazing books coming out in both of these formats, and so I’m looking for stories that will really stand out and do something new.

Chapter books have a big responsibility—they’re coming to kids during a foundational moment in their reading lives. I really like to see chapter books that are fun, engaging, and accessible to the age 6-8 age range.

As for graphic novels, I look for stories with strong character and plot arcs, and illustrations that understand how to tell a story. There’s a steadily growing market of nonfiction graphic novels, and I’d love to see more of these. I’m also interested in young graphic novels that are lively and sweet, with characters we haven’t seen before.

Additionally, I represent picture book authors and I’m always looking for stories with stand-out characters, sweet humor, and lots of heart. I always love to see author-illustrated dummies, too.


Thank you for sharing that with us! I have a feeling you’ll see some wonderful queries soon.

Can you tell us a bit about Middle Grade Book Village?

Middle Grade Book Village is a longstanding community of middle grade readers. It’s a website that features interviews with middle grade authors, reviews of middle grade books, cover reveals, and much more. It’s volunteer-run by some of the most amazing and enthusiastic book people I’ve ever met, and everyone’s appreciation for kidlit really comes through in everything we do.

The Village also hosts a weekly book chat on Twitter on Mondays at 9 pm EST using the #MGBookChat hashtag. Everyone is always welcome! Once a month, there’s an open chat with no specific theme, which is a great time to get to know the community of readers.

We also maintain and share a calendar of the middle grade books released every week, which can also be found on the website.

I’m absolutely honored to be a part of the MG Book Village team. It’s a welcoming, supportive, and warm place full of people who care deeply about middle grade books—very much like The Mixed-Up Files…of Middle Grade Authors!


Thanks, Christie. Middle grade books are so amazing, it’s wonderful to have groups like ours celebrate them and boost their visibility.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?  

I’m currently working on revisions for a spooky middle grade novel of mine that I’m incredibly excited about—I hope I’ll get to share details soon! Most of my day is spent talking and thinking about kidlit, which I adore, but I also enjoy baking, taking nature walks, and horror movie marathons. I recently started rollerblading for the first time since I was a teenager, and now I’m telling everyone they should brainstorm their childhood hobbies and try them again just for fun. I’m from New England, and while I now split my time between New York and California, New York City is my forever home. I’m a cat person, and my kitty Juniper is the best assistant I could ask for.


She’s adorable. Furry assistants are the best! Fingers and toes crossed that your spooky middle grade novel quickly sells.

Thank you so much for joining us at the Mixed-Up Files, Christie! It’s been wonderful chatting with you. 😊

Thank you! You do so much for the middle grade community, and your efforts are very much seen and appreciated. It’s been fantastic to speak with you!

Aw, thanks for your sweet comment…and your generous giveaway.

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a
5 page MG critique or a picture book critique from Christie!

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The lucky winner winner is: 

Mia Geiger!



Do you have a question for Christie? She’s a wealth of information.
Leave it in the comments, and she’ll pop by and respond. 🙂

To find out more about Christie, visit her website, The CAT Agency, Twitter, and Instagram

Giveaways & Interview with Author Lindsay H. Metcalf

I’d like to welcome Lindsay H. Metcalf to the Mixed-Up Files blog to celebrate the launch of her MG, Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices.

Photo credit: Anna Jackson

Credit: Anna Jackson

Lindsay H. Metcalf is a journalist and author of nonfiction picture books: Beatrix Potter, Scientist, illustrated by Junyi Wu (Albert Whitman & Company, 2020); Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices (Calkins Creek, 2020); and No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, a poetry anthology co-edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley (Charlesbridge, 2020). Lindsay lives in north-central Kansas, not far from the farm where she grew up, with her husband, two sons, and a variety of pets. You can reach her at


This is such an amazing, unique, and emotional story, Lindsay. I’ll never look at food the same way again. How did you come up with the idea for Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices and did anything surprise you along path to publication?

Family combine at corn harvest

Family combine at corn harvest

Thank you! I suppose this is the story I was meant to write. I grew up on a farm in Kansas. During wheat harvest, my mom would drive a grain truck with me and my little brother fighting over who had to straddle the gear shift in the middle. We would chop weeds out of the soybean fields and lay irrigation pipe along the corn fields. I know I complained, but looking back, I see a family working together, leaning on one another.

The photo that sparked FARMERS UNITE! came via text from my dad:

Here I was, someone intimately connected to agriculture through my family, and I’d never heard the story of the farmers who had driven their tractors cross-country to Washington, DC, to demand action from Congress. They were losing their farms because market prices had bottomed out, and they needed to get the attention of the public, who relied on the farmers to eat.

A lot surprised me along the path to publication—namely how many forms this story took. During the course of my many revisions, everything changed, including the main character, length, target audience, tone, title, and illustration style. At its core, this story was always about a group of hardworking people coming together to seek a change that would improve their lives and the lives of those they served. It’s about a grassroots group of people working together, leaning on one another, just as my family does out in the field.


Wow! I love hearing about your connection to this story. I’m so glad your dad texted you that photo. It’s amazing how much changed during revisions, but now that I read it, I can’t imagine it any other way.  

What type of research did you have to do—and do you have any research tips to share with our readers?

You know I love research! I read everything I could find on the tractorcades. There was one self-published book on the topic, which helped me understand the timeline. I also conducted interviews myself, read oral histories transcribed by a small-town library, and scoured newspaper archives. Then, when Carolyn Yoder at Calkins Creek bought the story, I had to start the research process again. She had seen some dynamic archival photos of the tractor protests and thought they should illustrate the book. Oh, and she wanted me to find them. I found that idea intimidating, but by the end of the process, I was having fun.

During my research, I had to reconcile two opposing perspectives. On one hand, the newspaper stories and national photo archives focused on a handful of days in which the farmers’ protests on the National Mall turned sour. The American Agriculture Movement had driven thousands of tractors into DC during rush hour, snarling traffic. Police literally penned them in by ringing the Mall with buses, police cruisers—any city-owned vehicles they could find. Some of the protesters got upset and lit an old tractor on fire. What I learned from reading oral histories and actually talking to people was that the vast majority of protesters had come to speak with lawmakers and earn their respect. So my advice is to keep researching until you have a good idea of the full picture. Each source is created from a certain perspective, and it’s the researcher’s job to root out the gaps in information.


Thanks for your amazing tips, Lindsay! I feel like I just took a research workshop. And I love the tractor protest photos you found.

Do you have any favorite quotes in the book? One that jumped out at me is: These first “tractorcades” energized farmers for the next step—to remind lawmakers in Washington, DC, that food doesn’t grow in grocery stores.

Oh, thank you! Many of my favorite quotes came from the farmers themselves, so when Carolyn suggested I add more, I couldn’t help myself. Some advice that’s always stuck with me since journalism school: Quote someone only when you can’t say it better yourself. Behold…

“You bet we started crying in our milk.” – Marjory Scheufler, a Kansas farmer

“We’re going to stay here (in Washington) until the snow stops and the songbirds go to singing.” – Gerald McCathern, a Texas farmer

“It’s just as silly for a tractor to be in the streets of Washington as a skyscraper in my cornfield.” – Leonard Cox of Kansas


What are some of the differences between middle grade and picture book nonfiction?

This book is kind of a genre buster. Traditional middle grade nonfiction is sometimes novel-length and goes into a lot more detail. You’re going to laugh, but you know I wrote FARMERS UNITE! as a picture book for young readers because you critiqued it! After acquisition, Carolyn and I worked through a couple big revisions, and she encouraged me to make the story more “vivid.” I didn’t hold back and included details about tear gas and the fallout of financial troubles facing farmers. Those themes, plus the longer text, at 2,000 or 2,500 words, pushed the audience into middle-grade territory. We also included 12 pages of back matter.


You’re right—I did laugh. I was surprised when I first found out your picture book morphed into middle grade, but it was such a fantastic decision. Your book and discussion and activity guide are perfect for grades 3 – 7! In addition to those amazing questions and activities, do you have a writing or research exercise to share with our readers?

I do! I just created a handout for a National Council of Teachers of English presentation this month. With the questions provided in my “Detecting Bias in Sources” handout, students can test the credibility of each source and discover ways to deepen their research. These are techniques I use as a journalist as well as an author. Readers can also go to my website to browse some of the sources I used in the book — oral histories and images of the tractorcades from the Smithsonian.


What’s something unique people don’t know about you?

I was a cheerleader in high school. I surprised my mother-in-law with this fact when it came up in conversation today. I surprised myself with the realization that I had never told her this in the 17 years that I have known her. So there you go.


Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

This story went through 27 drafts, plus or minus a couple, before we arrived at the polished final version. I say we, because so many people had a hand in the process, including you, Mindy, as one of my critique partners. Say it with me: Writing is revising.


Writing is revising! You do such an amazing job with both of those—and you’re a research queen. Thank you again for stopping by the Mixed-Up Files to celebrate your launch with us, Lindsay.

Thanks for having me, and thanks for helping me bring the farmers’ story to young readers!

You’re welcome. I’m sure they’ll love the farmers’ story as much as I do!


Enter this Rafflecopter for a chance to win a copy of Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices (US Only).

In the late 1970s, grain prices had tanked, farm auction notices filled newspapers, and people had forgotten that food didn’t grow in grocery stores. So, on February 5, 1979, thousands of tractors from all parts of the US flooded Washington, DC, in protest.

Author Lindsay H. Metcalf, a journalist who grew up on a family farm, shares this rarely told story of grassroots perseverance and economic justice. In 1979, US farmers traveled to Washington, DC to protest unfair prices for their products. Farmers wanted fair prices for their products and demanded action from Congress. After police corralled the tractors on the National Mall, the farmers and their tractors stayed through a snowstorm and dug out the city. Americans were now convinced they needed farmers, but the law took longer. Boldly told and highlighted with stunning archival images, this is the story of the struggle and triumph of the American farmer that still resonates today.
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Enter this Rafflecopter for a chance to win a 5 page middle grade or picture book critique from Lindsay H. Metcalf! (Lindsay’s critiques are amazing!)

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Winners will be announced on Thursday, November 19. Good luck!

Everything You Need to Know About Teacher’s Guides-Plus Book & Critique Giveaways!

Natalie LorenziI’m thrilled to welcome Natalie Dias Lorenzi back to the Mixed-Up Files. Natalie’s first novel for children, Flying the Dragon, was published in 2012 and has been honored on best-of-the-year lists from the International Reading Association, the Cooperative Children’s Books Center, the Bank Street College of Education, and the New York Public Library. Her next novel, Someplace Like Home, will be published in 2016. It’s a companion novel to Flying the Dragon and follows the journey of 10-year-old Ravi as he leaves Pakistan with his mother and sister to live in the United States, not knowing if his father will ever be able to join them. Ravi adapts to a new country and a new school and meets his friend Hiroshi, one of the protagonists from Flying the Dragon. While Hiroshi’s story had kite-making and kite-fighting woven through it, Ravi’s will be filled with the love of his favorite sport back home, cricket, and the one that replaces it in the U.S.: baseball. Natalie has taught elementary school and English for Speakers of Other Languages in Virginia, and in international schools in Italy and Japan. She is currently a librarian at an elementary school in Fairfax, Virginia.

You can visit Natalie Dias Lorenzi’s website, follow her on Twitter, find out more about both books here, and read her book review blog that shows ways to use books in the classroom.


Thanks again for joining us, Natalie. I’d love to know why you think it’s important to have teacher’s guides.

Having a teacher’s guide increases the chances of getting your book into classrooms and into the hands of kids and teachers. With state testing, teachers have loads of paperwork, documentation, data collection and reflection….all of which put a squeeze on their time. Teachers are busy people! But it’s not just teachers who will use your guide—homeschooling parents, book club facilitators, and public librarians use them, too.

As a teacher myself, I use discussion questions and activities that authors and publishers provide on their websites, and it makes my job a lot easier. Especially with novels and longer works of fiction, if I have to choose between two equally-appealing books, I go with the one that has a guide every time.


How detailed should they be?

As detailed as you’d like them to be. Some discussion guides come in the form of bookmarks with a few discussion questions, some are more like a pamphlet, and others can be 50 pages long. It really depends on how much time you have, which leads me to the answer to your next question…


How did you create the teacher’s guide for your middle grade novel, Flying the Dragon?

The mistake I made with the guide for my own book is that I waited too long to put something up on my website for teachers. I’d envisioned a detailed, activity-packed, standards-based resource that I simply didn’t have time to put together. What I should have done was to start small—a bookmark, or pamphlet-style guide at first, and then added a more detailed guide later on. As it was, it took me over a year to post a completed guide for Flying the Dragon on my site! In the meantime, I gathered links that I thought would be helpful for teachers and created this Pinterest page. It’s a quick and easy way to provide resources for your book–background knowledge, other activities, etc.–while you’re working on your own guide.


Wow, I took a peek at your Pinterest page, and I love the videos and the 20 Easy Bento Lunch Boxes article. You put together such interesting sites and guides. Can you share some tips for creating amazing teacher’s guides?

1. Know the curriculum standards for your audience. Keep in mind that while Common Core has swept the country (except for these states), current testing is based on state standards, not Common Core. No matter which standards you use, find the commonalities and stick with those. For example, every grade studies plot and characterization on some level, so find out how deep this standard goes with your target age group, and go from there.

2. While you want to keep standards in mind while writing activities, don’t feel like you have to list every single Common Core standard addressed for each activity. I’ve seen guides with pages and pages of standards. While I appreciate the time and effort that went into compiling such lists, I can tell you that, as a teacher, I don’t even look at those. Teachers know the standards they’re required to teach. When I preview an activity, I automatically know which standards it addresses, and I decide from there if I’m going to use the activity or not.

3. Create a user-friendly layout. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just easy to follow. Have a table of contents for longer guides.

4. Do some research—find guides that you like online and bookmark them. Note the different formats, content, and delivery and then decide what you’re most comfortable with.


What are the biggest pitfalls to avoid when creating a teacher’s guide?

I know I’ve mentioned lay-out already, but I’ll say again here. If your guide is just a long list of questions, it’s fine to have it written in list format. But if you’ve got chapter-by-chapter guides, or if you have distinct sections like pre-reading questions/predictions, a vocabulary section, etc. then make it easy for a teacher to quickly scan your guide to find what she needs. Have clear labels for each section, leave white space and have a table of contents for longer guides.


Can writers create good teacher guides on their own if they don’t have a teaching background?

Yes, they can. I’d have an educator or two look it over and provide feedback if you can. When creating questions, familiarize yourself with Bloom’s Taxonomy, and let Howard Garner’s Theory of Intelligences guide your activities.


Thank you for sharing those links! Do you have any tips for using teacher’s guides?

Every teacher knows what his or her students need. The best way to utilize a guide is to dip in and try out questions or activities that fit the academic, social, and behavioral needs of your students.


That’s great advice. How well do teacher’s guides work for book clubs?

I think guides may work even better for book club facilitators than they do for teachers. Oftentimes, book club leaders aren’t teachers—they’re parent volunteers, or even students themselves at the high school level. Having access to questions and activities makes it easier for them to get a discussion started with readers.


Do you keep a future teacher’s guide or Common Core in mind when writing or revising a middle grade novel?

Never. I write with readers in mind, not standards. If your book has a science or social studies tie-in, then it may seem like it will fit best with curriculum, but language arts standards apply to any book. Don’t worry about standards as you write; write the best book you can, and teachers will figure out how to use it!


What’s the best way to let people know you have a teacher’s guide for your book?

Provide a link to the guide on your website and make that link easy to find. Let your publisher know about your guide and ask that they post it, as well. Send the link to anyone requesting information about author visits. If you have bookmarks or postcards printed, include the fact that there’s a link to a teacher’s guide on your website and make these available at all your author appearances, school visits, and teacher/librarian conferences.


Where can teachers find guides to their favorite books? If there isn’t a guide available, is there some way they can request one? 

The first place I’d check is the author’s website, followed by the publisher’s site. If you don’t have any luck there, places like Teachers Pay Teachers often have activities up either for free or for a reasonable price. If you can’t find a guide for a book, by all means email the author and/or publisher! They may have something in the works. If not, hearing from you is good incentive to get started on a guide for educators.

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer is another author/educator/guide creator, and some of her guides can be found here.


Thank you for visiting the Mixed-Up Files again, Natalie. You shared a wealth of knowledge about teacher’s guides, and I’m sure it will be a huge help to writers, teachers, librarians, and many others.

* If anyone has questions for Natalie, ask in a blog comment and she’ll stop by to answer them!

If you’re searching for teacher’s guides for great middle-grade novels, here’s a list of links to check out:

Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi

The Map of Me by Tami Lewis Brown

Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School written and illustrated by Ruth McNally Barshaw

Ellie McDoodle: Friends Fur-Ever written and illustrated by Ruth McNally Barshaw

Fiona Finkelstein, Big-Time Ballerina! by Shawn Stout

Penelope Crumb by Shawn Stout

Fudge series by Judy Blume

Mallory series by Laurie Friedman

Chet Gecko series by Bruce Hale

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock

This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J. Cavanaugh

Beyond Lucky by Sarah Aronson

Trouble in the Trees by Yolanda Ridge

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

My Very UnFairy Tale Life by Anna Staniszewski

The End of the Line by Angela Cerrito

The Multiplying Menace by Amanda Marrone

The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson

How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart

Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart

A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk by Jan L. Coates

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas (you can find magical translations using the runic translation chart here.)

When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens (Woman’s History Month Lesson Plan)

Soar, Elinor! by Tami Lewis Brown (Woman’s History Month Activity Kit included in the link)


In addition to the lists of great teacher’s guides for picture books through young adult novels listed on Natalie Dias Lorenzi’s site, you can also find more at these websites:

* Debbie Gonzales has links to guides for middle grade novels and chapter books. To find guides for other genres, click on Sample Educational Guides toward the top of her website.

* Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

*As Natalie said before, don’t forget to check out the websites of your favorite authors and publishers. You should be able to find great teacher’s guides and activities there…and if you don’t it can’t hurt to request them!


Thanks again for all your amazing responses, Natalie—and for offering TWO generous giveaways!

* Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below, and you’ll have a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Natalie’s novel, Flying the Dragon.

Flying the DragonAmerican-born Skye is a good student and a star soccer player who never really gives any thought to the fact that her father is Japanese. Her cousin, Hiroshi, lives in Japan, and never really gives a thought to his uncle’s family living in the United States. Skye and Hiroshi’s lives are thrown together when Hiroshi’s family, with his grandfather (who is also his best friend), suddenly moves to the U.S. Now Skye doesn’t know who she is anymore: at school she’s suddenly too Japanese, but at home she’s not Japanese enough. Hiroshi has a hard time adjusting to life in a new culture, and resents Skye’s intrusions on his time with Grandfather. Through all of this is woven Hiroshi’s expertise and Skye’s growing interest in kite making and competitive rokkaku kite flying.


* Natalie is also giving away a 10 page critique! It can be up to the first ten pages of an MG/YA or one picture book. Let us know in a comment if you’d like to be entered for the critique giveaway.

The lucky winners will be announced on Thursday, April 24. Good luck!

*You must live in the United States or Canada to enter the Flying the Dragon paperback giveaway, but anyone can enter for a chance to win the critique.

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Mindy Alyse Weiss writes humorous middle-grade novels with heart and quirky picture books. She’s constantly inspired by her two daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix who was rescued from the Everglades. Visit Mindy’s TwitterFacebook, or blog to read more about her writing life, conference experiences, and writing tips.