Bluestem Award List 2023-24

Awards , Kids , Book List

Amari and the Night Brothers

Title: Amari and the Night Brothers
By: Alston, B. B.
Published: 2021

Illinois Grades 3-5 Readers’ Choice Award. Suggested ages and summaries are from the publisher or each item’s library catalog record.

Thirteen-year-old Amari, a poor Black girl from the projects, gets an invitation from her missing brother to join the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and join in the fight against an evil magician.

Ages 8 to12

The Magical Imperfect

Title: The Magical Imperfect
By: Baron, Chris
Published: 2021

When Etan is asked to deliver a grocery order to the outskirts of town, he realizes he's at the home of Malia Agbayani, also known as the creature. Malia stopped going to school when her acute eczema spread to her face, and the bullying became too much. But he believes he might have a cure for Malia's condition, if only he can convince his family and hers to believe it, too. Even if it works, will these two outcasts find where they fit in?

Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

Title: Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book
By: Dawson, Keila V.
Published: 2021

A nonfiction picture book about The Green Book, a travel guide for African Americans during segregation, and the man who wrote it.

Ages 5 to 9

Maya and the Robot

Title: Maya and the Robot
By: Ewing, Eve L.
Published: 2021

In desperate need of a friend--and a science project--Maya finds a robot named Ralph in Mr. Mac's convenience store, and once she gets him up and running, a new world of connection opens up.

Ages 8 to 12

Long Distance

Title: Long Distance
By: Gardner, Whitney
Published: 2021

To help her settle into her new life in Seattle, her parents send Vega off to summer camp to make new friends. Except Vega is determined to get her old life back. But when her cellphone unexpectedly calls it quits and things at camp start getting stranger and stranger, Vega has no choice but to team up with her bunkmates to figure out what's going on!

Ages 10 and up

Ahmed Aziz's Epic Year

Title: Ahmed Aziz's Epic Year
By: Hamza, Nina
Published: 2021

Ahmed Aziz is having an epic year--epically bad. After his dad gets sick, the family moves from Hawaii to Minnesota for his dad's treatment. Even though his dad grew up there, Ahmed can't imagine a worse place to live. He's one of the only brown kids in his school. And as a proud slacker, Ahmed doesn't want to deal with expectations from his new teachers. But Ahmed surprises himself by actually reading the assigned books for his English class: Holes, Bridge to Terabithia, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Shockingly, he doesn't hate them.

Ages 8 to 12

The Only Woman in the Photo: Frances Perkins and Her New Deal

Title: The Only Woman in the Photo: Frances Perkins and Her New Deal
By: Krull, Kathleen
Published: 2020

Biography of Frances Perkins, the first female member of the presidential cabinet, and architect of much of the New Deal legislation as Secretary of Labor.

Ages 4 to 8


Title: Allergic
By: Lloyd, Megan Wagner
Published: 2021

At home, Maggie is the odd one out. Her parents are preoccupied with the new baby they're expecting, and her younger brothers are twins and always in their own world. Maggie thinks a new puppy is the answer, but when she goes to select one on her birthday, she breaks out in hives and rashes. She's severely allergic to anything with fur! Can Maggie outsmart her allergies and find the perfect pet?

Ages 9 to 12

Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures!

Title: Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures!
By: Lowery, Mike
Published: 2020

Discover all there is to know about sharks and other underwater creatures! Including: Amazing--but true!--shark facts; A deep dive into awesome marine science; Hilarious deep sea jokes; How to draw sharks instructions; A comprehensive underwater field guide; and so much more! It's time to find out everything awesome there is to know about the underwater world of sharks!

Ages 7 to 10


Title: Shelter
By: Matheson, Christie
Published: 2021

While ten-year-old Maya attends an elite private school on scholarship her classmates are unaware that she and her family are living in a homeless shelter, but on one poignant day Maya discovers having a house is not the only way to have a home.

Ages 8 to 12


Title: Chunky
By: Mercado, Yehudi
Published: 2021

Hudi's parents push him to try out for sports. Hudi would rather do anything else, but then he meets Chunky, his imaginary friend and mascot. Together, they decide to give baseball a shot. As the only Mexican and Jewish kid in his neighborhood, Hudi has found the cheerleader he never had.

Ages 8 to 12

The Great Stink

Title: The Great Stink
By: Paeff, Colleen
Published: 2021

This funny and informative picture book tells the story of Joseph Bazalgette, a 19th century engineer who designed London's first comprehensive sewage system. In doing so, he saved thousands of lives from cholera outbreaks that regularly plagued the city. This STEM-focused story provides a window into the past and shows how one invention went on to affect generations to come.

Ages 4 to 8

The Unforgettable Logan Foster

Title: The Unforgettable Logan Foster
By: Peters, Shawn
Published: 2022

Logan, an undersized twelve-year-old orphan with a photographic memory and no filter, discovers that his foster parents are superheroes in grave danger and only Logan's highly logical mind can save them.

Ages 8 to 12

The Floating Field

Title: The Floating Field
By: Riley, Scott
Published: 2021

On a tiny Thai island without room for a soccer field, a group of resourceful teen boys gathers scraps and works together to build a floating field so they can play the game they love.

Ages 7 to 11

The List of Things That Will Not Change

Title: The List of Things That Will Not Change
By: Stead, Rebecca
Published: 2020

Despite her parents' divorce, her father's coming out as gay, and his plans to marry his boyfriend, ten-year-old Bea is reassured by her parents' unconditional love, excited about getting a stepsister, and haunted by something she did last summer at her father's lake house.

Ages 8 to 12

Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie and Doom

Title: Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie and Doom
By: Swanson, Matthew
Published: 2021

Eight-year-old Ben takes a fortune cookie literally, and believing he has only one day left to live, tries to do everything he has always wanted to before nightfall.

Ages 8 to 12

The Elephants Come Home

Title: The Elephants Come Home
By: Tomsic, Kim
Published: 2021

Lawrence Anthony and Françoise Malby love animals-so when they hear that a herd of wild African elephants needs a new home, they welcome the herd to their wildlife sanctuary--Thula Thula--with open arms. What follows in this beautifully illustrated true story is an extraordinary cross-species friendship that will move readers and warm the hearts of animal lovers at every age.

Ages 3 to 8

Katie the Catsitter

Title: Katie the Catsitter
By: Venable, Colleen AF
Published: 2021

When Katie gets a job catsitting for her mysterious upstairs neighbor, life gets interesting. First, Madeline has 217 cats and they're not exactly normal cats. Also, why is Madeline always out exactly when the city's most notorious villain commits crimes? Is it possible that Katie's upstairs neighbor is really a super villain?

Ages 8 to 12

Ways to Make Sunshine

Title: Ways to Make Sunshine
By: Watson, Renee
Published: 2020

The Hart family of Portland, Oregon, faces many setbacks after Ryan's father loses his job, but no matter what, Ryan tries to bring sunshine to her loved ones.

Ages 7 to 10

New from Here

Title: New from Here
By: Yang, Kelly
Published: 2022

Knox works to keep his family together as they move from Hong Kong back to northern California during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus.

Ages 8 to 12

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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