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The Bluestem Award: Illinois' Grades 3-5 Readers' Choice Award

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The Bluestem Award: Illinois' Grades 3-5 Readers' Choice Award is a relatively new book award that had its first winner in 2011. The award winner is chosen out of a list of 20 nominees. The books can be classics or new titles, but in order to be eligible to vote, students have to read at least four from the nominee list.

Online voting takes place between February 15th and March 15th. If your school is registered with the program, and you have read (or listened to) at least four of the nominated books, you can vote for your favorite during that time! 

Looking for a place to talk about the Bluestem books and complete activities based on the books all while eating delicious snacks? Sign up for Beyond the Book at the Dundee Library! It meets every second Tuesday of the month. In November, we're reading Tuck Everlasting.

The Nominees

Absolutely Almost
by Lisa Graff

Cover of Absolutely Almost

Ten-year-old Albie has never been the smartest, tallest, best at gym, greatest artist, or most musical in his class, as his parents keep reminding him, but new nanny Calista helps him uncover his strengths and take pride in himself.

Becoming Babe Ruth
by Matt Tavares

Cover of Becoming Babe Ruth

Examines the childhood and formative years of the baseball icon, who learned early that life is what you make of it and to honor the place from which you came.

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.
by Kate Messner

Cover of The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.

Gianna has less than one week to complete her leaf project if she wants to compete in the upcoming cross-country sectionals, but issues like procrastination, disorganization (and her grandmother's declining health) seem destined to keep her from finishing.

Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile
by Marcia Wells

Cover of Mystery on Museum Mile

Sixth grader Edmund Xavier Lonnrot, codename 'Eddie Red,' has a photographic memory and talent for drawing anything he sees. When the NYPD is stumped by a mastermind art thief, Eddie becomes their secret weapon to solve the case.

El Deafo
by Cece Bell

Cover of El Deafo

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! Author/illustrator Cece Bell describes her hearing loss at a young age and her experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful - and very awkward - hearing aid.

The Fourteenth Goldfish
by Jennifer Holm

Cover of The Fourteenth Goldfish

Ellie's scientist grandfather has discovered a way to reverse aging, and consequently has turned into a teenager, which makes for complicated relationships when he moves in with Ellie and her mother, his daughter.

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable
by Dan Gutman

Cover of Mission Unstoppable

On a cross-country vacation with their parents, twins Coke and Pepsi, soon to be thirteen, fend off strange assassins as they try to come to terms with their being part of a top-secret government organization known as The Genius Files.

Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse
by Tamera Will Wissinger

Cover of Gone Fishing

In this novel told through poems, nine-year-old Sam loves fishing with his dad, so when his pesky little sister horns in on their fishing trip, he is none too pleased.

The Journey That Saved Curious George
by Louise Borden

Cover of The Journey That Saved Curious George

Tells the true story of Hans and Margret Rey, the creators of Curious George. In 1940, the Reys fled their Paris home as the German army advanced on the capital city. They began their harrowing journey on bicycles with their children's book manuscripts among their few possessions.

Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters
by Rachel Vail

Cover of School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters

It's the start of the school year, and nothing feels right to Justin. He didn't get the teacher he wanted, he's not in the same class as his best friend, and his little sister, Elizabeth, is starting kindergarten at his school. Elizabeth doesn't seem nervous at all. Justin is very nervous about third grade. And to top it off, he's lost his favorite stuffed animal, but he can't tell anyone, because technically he's too old to still have stuffed animals. Right?


Lulu's Mysterious Mission
by Judith Viorst

Cover of Lulu's Mysterious Mission

When Lulu's parents go on vacation, the formidable Ms. Sonia Sofia Solinsky comes to babysit and Lulu behaves as badly as possible to get her to leave until Ms. Solinsky reveals her secret.


The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher
by Dana Alison Levy

Cover of The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

Relates the adventures of a family with two fathers, four adopted boys, and a variety of pets as they make their way through a school year, kindergarten through sixth grade, and deal with a grumpy new neighbor.


Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
by Robert C. O'Brien

Cover of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Having no one to help her with her problems, a widowed mouse visits the rats whose former imprisonment in a laboratory made them wise and long lived.

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands
by Katherine Roy

Cover of Neighborhood Sharks

An up close look at the ocean's most fearsome and famous predator and the scientists who study them - just twenty-six miles from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Rain Reign
by Ann M. Martin

Cover of Rain Reign

Struggling with Asperger's, Rose shares a bond with her beloved dog, but when the dog goes missing during a storm, Rose is forced to confront the limits of her comfort levels, even if it means leaving her routines in order to search for her pet.

Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914
by John Hendrix

Cover of Shooting at the Stars

In 1914 France, a British soldier writes to his mother about the strange events of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when German and Allied soldiers met on neutral ground to share songs, food, and fun.

Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Cover of Sit In


A celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement.

Spirit Animals: Wild Born
by Brandon Mull

Cover of Wild Born

As a dark force engulfs the land, the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers who each have forged a rare bond with their spirit beasts - a bond that gives great powers to all of them.

Tuck Everlasting
by Natalie Babbitt

Cover of Tuck Everlasting

The Tuck family is confronted with an agonizing situation when they discover that a ten-year-old girl and a malicious stranger now share their secret about a spring whose water prevents one from ever growing any older.

The War That Saved My Life
by Kimberly Bradley Brubaker

Cover of The War That Saved My Life

A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.