Bluestem Readers Choice Award

One of the new things I tried at my school library this year was the brand new Illinois Grades 3-5 Reader Choice Award – The Bluestem! It’s a nice blend of older books and newer books, nonfiction, picture books, and chapter books. These were the first books I book-talked to my kids this year and I had over 30 students read 4 books out of the 20. One of my fifth graders even read all 20 of this years list!

So, I got really excited when they released next years list and nabbed up a few copies early and started reading. Here’s this year’s list:
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy
Adventures in Cartooning by James Sturm
All Stations! Distress! April 15, 1912 : the Day the Titanic Sank by Don Brown
Animal Heroes: True Rescue Stories by Sandra Millbrook Markle
Bad news for outlaws: the Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Nelson
Bunnicula: a Rabbit Tale of Mystery by James Howe
Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise
Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
Faith, Hope and Ivy June by Phyllis Naylor
Flight of the Phoenix by R.L. LaFevers
Just Grace by Charise Harper
Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka
Passage to Freedom: the Sughihara story by Ken Lee Mochizuki
Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan
Rules by Cynthia Lord
Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Sisters Grimm: the Fairy‐Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley
Swindle by Gordon Korman
World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney

So, a few reasons I’m really excited for next year’s list. There are THREE graphic novels on that list! Adventures in Cartooning, Knucklehead, and Secret Science Alliance. All of which I’ve read and loved. Out of the three I have to give favorite props to Adventures in Cartooning for having me guffawing my butt off at the fantastic and cheeky storyline.

I love the Sisters Grimm series, so I was very excited to see that on the list (plus I’m hoping it will develop more interest in the rest of the series).

Riding Freedom is a fantastic story as well and illustrated by the fantastic Brian Selznick and who can’t deny the genius of Pam Munoz Ryan?

Dying to Meet You is a start to a series about a boy, a writer, and a ghost stuck in a house which was written all in correspondence. Loved it. I can’t wait to pick up the rest of them.

Flight of the Phoenix is another start to a series, this time about a boy who goes to live with his aunt after his parents die and finds out that there was much more to their family history that he could ever imagine and begins to learn more about the career of being a Beastologist.

Just Grace is a fun series that I would compare to Judy Moody, Mallory, and Junie B. Jones. A fun girl narrator with some interesting adventures.

Rules is a book about a girl who ends up befriending a boy in a wheelchair who cannot speak and has to communicate through a booklet of colorful pictures and a very touching story.

And that’s all I’ve read thus far. As for predictions… this year the award went to Hachiko Waits – a moving and terribly sad story about a dog who waits at the train station for his master day after day, even after he does not come home one afternoon. Based on that assumption – I’m predicting Rules thus far. But I still have quite a few to read.

Have you guys read any of these? What did you think?

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