The Bluestem Award is the newest childrens' choice award in Illinois. The books selected for this list are well-suited for students in grades 3, 4, and 5.
This is the third year for the award program. Students in grades 3, 4, or 5 are encouraged to read the books on this year's list. Students reading at least 4 books will be able to vote for their favorite book in February, as well as enjoy special activities throughout the school year.
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2013-2014 Bluestem Titles:
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo - New to her Southern town, Opal goes to the store for box of macaroni and cheese, but returns home with a scruffy stray dog! During one unforgettable summer, this lovable pooch helps Opal feel less sad abut thing. Together they make some unusual misfit friends who change her life forever.
Bones: Skeletons and How They Work by Steve Jenkins - Bones come in all shapes and sizes, and can do many amazing things. Packed with illustrations (many of them actual size), this fascinating non-fiction picture book shows the skeletons of humans and all kinds of animals.
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis - In 1936, Bud decides to flee from his foster home (after being attacked by bats) and find his long-lost father. He sees a poster for a jazz band. Is the mysterious man in the photograph his dad? Suitcase in hand, Bud hits the road to find out.
Calli Be Gold by Michele Weber Hurwitz - Calli Gold's family has a motto: Be Gold! It's hard to live up to the triumphs of her sports star siblings and expectations of her on-the-go, ambitious parents. However, things change when she meets a second grader who needs a friend. Will Calli ever find her special talent?
Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything by Steve Cotler - Cheesie Mack enjoys making up new words, writing science fiction stories, battling his older sister, and preparing to playfully disrupt his fifth grade graduation. Chessie's life changes when his buddy Georgie discovers a valuable old coin. Cheesie now has a mystery to solve - but how will he do it?
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker - Pay attention, Clementine! That is what third grader Clementine always hears. In one eventful week, this funny heroine gets into all kinds of trouble. What can you do when you have ideas "springing up" in your brain all the time?
Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley - Once there was a time when people did not know what dinosaurs looked like. In 19th century London, artist and sculptor Waterhouse Hawkins build giant dinosaur models to show how big and amazing they are! This non-fiction picture book shows how this interesting man made an important contribution by mixing art and science.
Edgar Allan' Official Crime Investigation Notebook by Mary Amato - Someone has stolen Slurpy, the class goldfish! And the crook has left a poem behind, creating an even bigger mystery. It's up to detective Edgar Allan to outwit his rivals and solve this case! But how?
Emily's Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor - In the 19th century American west, orphan Emily tries to travel by stagecoach (with her pet turtle Rufus in tow) to live with her Aunt Hilda. Hot on Emily's trail is her evil Uncle Victor, who wants to stop her plan! Can Emily and her new pal Jackson outwit Uncle Victor? A hootin', tootin' adventure!
I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History's Strangest Cures by Carlyn Beccia - How do you cure a sore throat> Put a frog down your throat? Wear a necklace made out of earthworms? Tie a dirty sock around your neck? Believe it or not, people throughout history tried to make these odd cures work. This non-fiction picture book tells you whether strange remedies such as puppy kisses or electric eel shocks helped with colds, stomachaches, and other ailments.
Knights of the Kitchen Table by Jon Scieszka - Joe, Sam, and Fred are celebrating Joe's birthday when he gets a gift from his uncle, a magician. The gift is a book that magically takes the boys to Medieval England where they meet famous knights, battle a dragon and a giant. Full of laughs and adventure - check this out to see if the trio can make it home before dinner!
The Lemonade War by Jaqueline Davies - Evan and Jessie Treski are at war! A lemonade war to be exact. Whoever sells the most lemonade during the last week of the summer will win the respect of their sibling.
Little Wolf's Book of Badness by Ian Whybrow - All Little Wolf wants to do is stay home with his parents and little brother and be polite. This is not acceptable to the fearsome wolves, and he's shipped off to Cunning College to learn the 9 rules of badness from his famous fairy tale uncle, Bigbad. Little Wolf writes hilarious letters home about his adventures and attempt to earn a golden BAD badge from his uncle.
Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, and a Miracle by Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery - The true story of Nubs, a wild dog in Iraq, who befriends American marine Major Brian Dennis. Unable to take Nubs with him to his next base, Brian had to leave his friend behind. Follow Nubs as he sets off on a dangerous desert journey to find his human friend.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry - Based on the true story of people in Denmark who helped 7,000 Jews escape the Nazis during World War II. Narrated by 10-year old Annemarie whose family helps hide her best friend Ellen and aids her family in escaping the country.
Pie by Sarah Weeks - Alice's Aunt Polly is called the Pie Queen of Ipswich, largely because her secret pie crust recipe is so outstanding. When her Aunt Polly passes away, Alice learns that the secret recipe has been left to Polly's huge, mean cat Lardo, and Lardo has been given to Alice. Suddenly Alice has the power to decide who the new Pie Queen might be as everyone in Ipswich goes crazy for pies.
Seaglass Summer by Anjali Banerjee - Poppy Ray longs to be a veterinarian like her uncle Sanjay, but she has never owned a pet. She is able to gain experience with animals while spending a month helping her uncle at his animal clinic off the coast of Washington. While she loves meeting newborn puppies and taking care of dogs, cats and birds; Poppy also learns being a vet is hard, sometimes gross work.
A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson by Michelle Y. Green - The true story of Mamie Johnson, who loved baseball so much she dared to try out for the all-male, all-white Police Athletic League and made the team. She dreamed of playing in the big leagues like her hero Jackie Robinson and finally did! She was one of 3 African-American women to play professional baseball, pitching for the Indianapolis Clowns!
Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan - When William's father leaves, his mother quickly adopts four dogs and a cat to keep her children company. With the help of his little sister Elinor, his mother and the five furry new additions William begins to learn a new definition for family while discovering the magic in his own backyard.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio - Auggie was born with a facial deformity that has kept him from going to mainstream school until now. As a fifth grader Auggie is going to traditional school for the first time. Told through not only Auggie's voice, but those his sister, friends and others. Wonder is the story of rising above differences to accept all people and choose kindness over mean behavior.