Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bluestem Round-Up Part 1

I should be finished up with my Monarch Award Round-Up this week, so I thought that I would go ahead and get a jump start on the next award, the Bluestem Award.  Basically, the Bluestem was created to fill a gap.  The Monarch (grades K-3) were too young, the Caudills (grades 4-8) were too mature, our solid middle grade readers needed something just right.  Enter the Bluestem Award for readers in grades 3-5.  This award was first given in 2011.  It has had some growing pains, which you can see by this year's list, are still being worked out.  Nominees can come from any genre, any year, any topic, so there is still some crossover with the Monarch and Caudills and some of the books are old enough to be the reader's parent.  It should all shake out in the next few years, but let's take a look at some of the books that I have already read from this year's list.

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.  A girl finds a dog at the local grocery store and he brings together an entire community.

My thoughts:  Everything by Kate DiCamillo should be on the Bluestem list.  Well to be fair, that's already true.  This book has heart, it's not too childish, and it has a dog.  It's the 3-5 sweet spot.

Odds:  5-1

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  A classic holocaust story as told from the viewpoint of a ten year old girl.

My thoughts:  I read this ages ago for grad school.  But, I do not reread war books so I am going with my gut.  This already won the Caudill over 20 years ago and while I'm pleased to see few war books on this list, and this is a classic, I just don't think it's the right fit.  I'll be proven wrong I'm sure, but I did not relish reading war stories as a child, nor do I relish it today.  I'm too sensitive for such realistic cruelty.  Give me a fictional President Snow over Hitler any day.  I will now step off my soapbox.

Odds:  12-1, although I'm probably totally wrong and it will win.

Knight of the Kitchen Table:  The Time Warp Trio 1 by Jon Scieszka.  A gang of boys discovers a time traveling calculator and finds themselves in King Arthur's court where they must solve a historical conundrum to get back home.

My thoughts:  It's funny, it's Scieszka, it's got a chance.  I would like to see this series get some more attention because it's much better than the dreadful Infinity Ring series.  Although if we are getting readers into King Arthur again, I would much rather see The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great:  The Knights Tales by Gerald Morris.

Odds:  10-1

Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  Auggie goes to school for the first time as a 5th grader despite his facial deformity and not only learns about being a friend, but teaches the entire school about friendship.

My thoughts:  I adore Wonder!  I do, really and truly, but, it's a better Caudill book.  To me, this is not an easily accessible book for most 3rd graders or your average 4th grader.  Again, prove me wrong.  There is nothing I would love more than to see this win the Bluestem and Caudill, but I think it has a better shot with the Caudill.

Odds:  15-1 (but I love you, Auggie!)

Now, I am not guaranteeing that I will read all of the Bluestems, but I'm going to do my best to get a wide selection.  I just put another four on hold at the library, mostly the non-fiction titles that tend to be a little shorter, but usually very informative.  Are you a fan of this new award?  Let me know and maybe you'll enlighten me why we still need a quota of two WWII books per list.

Happy Reading!

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