Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Bluestem Round-Up: My Picks
I finally finished all 20 Bluestem Nominees and I am ready to make some predictions! For everyone following along at home, the Bluestem Award is an Illinois Reader's Choice award for children in grades 3-5. This award is in it's fourth year and it is still finding it's niche, but we have a great line-up of books. As always, this is entirely unscientific and all my humble opinion. Let's see the list!
20. Seaglass Summer by Anjali Banerjee
19. Edgar Allan's Official Crime Investigation Notebook by Mary Amato
18. Little Wolf's Book of Badness by Ian Whybrow
17. A Strong Right Arm: the story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson by Michelle Green
16. Emily's Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
15. Knights of the Kitchen Table by Jon Scieszka
14. Cheesie Mack is not a Genius or Anything by Stephen Cotler
13. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
12. Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
11. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
10. I Feel Better with a Frog in my Throat: history's strangest cures by Carlyn Beccia
9. Pie by Sara Weeks
8. Nubs: the true story of a mutt, a marine, and a miracle by Brian Dennis, Kirby Lawson, and Mary Nethery
7. The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: an illuminating history of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, artist and lecturer by Barbara Kerley
6. Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan
5. The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
4. Calli Be Gold by Michele Weber Hurwitz
3. Wonder by R. J. Palacio
2. Bones: skeletons and how they work by Steve Jenkins
1. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Just like my Monarch Predictions, I just sat down with the list after I had read all the books and just started ranking them based on my gut. I first went through and marked where I thought each book would fall: bottom, middle, or top. Then I went through and gave them number rankings.
There are some surprises like always. I gave most of these books 3 stars on Goodreads. Meaning that they were good, but not awesome. Very few received less than 3 stars so then it was up to thinking about the audience. Little Wolf's Book was good, but seemed a bit immature for the audience-it would make a better Monarch. I know that I said the reverse for Wonder, it would make a better Caudill, but I think it might benefit from the older sibling effect, i.e. the older sib is reading it and that makes the younger sib want to check it out too.
It came down to an oldie but a goodie. I said before that Kate DiCamillo hits the Bluestem sweet spot. Winn Dixie is a book that is perfectly written for the age group, it's got heart, dogs, great characters, and some good laughs. It's also very appealing to boys and girls, making it a universal read. If Winn Dixie doesn't win, it will at least have a strong finish.
With that, I set off for the Caudill list. Soon that is. I have some great spooky books to share for Halloween next week and I can't wait for you to read all about them.