Out of this, about twelve months ago, was born the idea that has now become Middle Grade Strikes Back. YA seemed to be getting all of the attention on social and traditional media (maybe not as far as reviews were concerned, but certainly in articles and editorial). YALC had been announced. YA books seemed to be being favoured over middle grade in awards. And Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was regularly appearing on lists of all-time favourite YA books. Yes, the YA crowd were even trying to claim Harry Potter as one of theirs!
At the time I did not know who to approach or how to 'do it', so I thought it would be just a UK middle grade awareness campaign that I kicked off on my own blog in the hope that others might follow. However, something happened on 26th March 2014 which ended up changing all of this. At 8pm on that day we witnessed the very first #ukmgchat on Twitter, and six hugely successful #ukmgchat months later I remembered my initial idea and realised that I now had a list of UK based middle grade fans who might just be interested in taking part.
At the time of writing this we have somewhere between 40 and 50 regular and occasional contributors who have signed up to be part of Middle Grade Strikes Back because they are passionate about middle grade fiction in the UK, and the list is already looking like a who's who of current UK writers of fiction for this age group (celebrity writers not included, although we are more than happy to welcome them into the fold should they so desire). And it's not an exclusive club either. If you love books for 8-13 year olds and you are based in the UK then please tweet or email us - the more the merrier is (one of) our (unofficial) motto(s).
So what will you find on Middle Grade Strikes Back? That's like asking how long is a piece of string? But I reckon we will at the very least have:
- lists of favourite books
- reports from book festivals
- and much, much more.
Before I sign off on this launch post I feel there is one more thing that needs to be clarified. Yes, we are fully aware that the term 'middle grade' originated in the US, and technically it has little meaning over here. Some prefer to call it 'junior fiction'. Some might just say 'books for 8-13 year olds'. We decided to use 'middle grade'.
Welcome to Middle Grade Strikes Back - we're here to reclaim our Potter!
by Darren Hartwell from The Book Zone (For Boys)