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Bluestem Book of the Week!

2019 Bluestem Nominees!
Have you read any of the 2019 Bluestem Books?
20 books for grades 3 to 5 are nominated every year for the Bluestem Award, and they are displayed in the Youth Services Department.
Take a look at our staff review for this week’s featured book!

Title: What Was the Great Chicago Fire?
Author: Janet B. Pascal Illustrator: Tim Foley
Lexile Level: 720L
Pages: 112
Recommendations & Comments:
As a fan of Jim Murphy’s Newbery Honor Book The Great Fire (1995), I was doubtful that What Was the Great Chicago Fire? would impress me. The book lacks the both the riveting personal stories and the wealth of documentary detail of The Great Fire, but What Was the Great Chicago Fire? does manage to cover a lot of ground in a relatively brief volume, and does a good job of placing the fire in the context of other disastrous fires throughout history, and of the history of firefighting.
With clarity and economy, Pascal establishes the background of the events of October 8 - 11, 1871, from the use of wood for buildings and sidewalks in the city, to the lengthy drought in the Midwest, to the various theories about just how the fire started (Mrs. O’Leary’s cow is innocent). Pascal chronicles the early missteps that allowed the fire to take hold, and the inexorable progress of the flames, fanned by a stiff wind. The book concludes with the fire’s legacy -- a rebuilding effort that incorporated new ideas on building and gave birth to the “Chicago School” of architecture, making Chicago famous as the center of modernist architecture.
Illustrator Tim Foley’s line drawings bring the details of the narrative to life. Photographs show the city before and after the fire, as well as landmarks, historical artifacts, and a map. Sidebars describe the role of Dalmatians in firefighting, the origin of the term “the windy city,” the historical treasures lost in the fire, and other great fires, ancient and modern. A timeline places the Chicago Fire in relation to the history of Chicago and to other fires, and another timeline places the fire in relation to other events in world history. The sidebars and timelines are a bit arbitrary and offbeat, but the final bibliography for further reading is solid.
Reviewed By: Mary Donovan

Click Here for a List of all 20 Bluestem Nominees

Created by Jen Trotta on Oct 18th, 2018 @ 12:22 PM.
Updated on Mar 18th, 2019 @ 1:01 PM.