In my quest to again read all of the Bluestem and Caudill nominees for the 2015 awards, I’ve come across two Bluestem titles that fit in well with our recent stormy weather.  Both titles are recommended for boys and girls in the third grade and up.

Night of the Twisters, by Ivy Ruckman. Based on the real life events of June 4, 1980, the book tells the story of three friends (two boys and a girl) and their families as they struggle to survive a series of tornadoes that strike their town. Unlike typical twister patterns, the tornadoes that hit Grand Island, Nebraska on that night stalled over the town for a three hour period. Several different tornadoes hit within that time, devastating the area. As you would expect, the book is action-packed and suspenseful. Dan, Arthur and Stacey must rely on their wits, each other, common sense, and the lessons they have learned from their parents. The book uses wonderful imagery, which rings true for me as someone who grew up in tornado country, describing not just what the characters see and do, but what they smell, how the air feels, and what they hear. Because this book was inspired by real events, there is more that kids and adults can learn once they have finished the compelling read.

Wild River, written by P.J. Petersen, is the tale of twelve-year-old Ryan Harrison and his 16 year old brother Tanner. Ryan is an introverted computer and video game lover who could not be more different than his big brother Tanner, an outgoing, athletic, outdoorsy and popular teen. At Tanner’s insistence, the two embark on a kayaking and camping weekend, when one of Tanner’s friends has to back out of the trip at the last moment. What starts as a simple weekend quickly turns dangerous on the rain swollen river. Tanner is knocked unconscious when the kayak flips over while he wasn’t wearing his life jacket. Metaphorically in over his head, Ryan has to figure out what to do in an environment that is completely foreign to him. My favorite part of the book is when Ryan realizes that the best thing he has learned playing video games is that if you try something a few times and it doesn’t work, you need to try something else. It sounds like advice we could all take to heart.

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