With remarkable retention of the minute details of character traits, story lines, venues and conflict, 60 middle school students competed Feb. 23 to win District 11 Battle of the Books bragging rights.
Twenty three-person teams representing each of Anoka-Hennepin School District’s six middle schools met at Coon Rapids Middle School for the climactic contest.
One wrong answer meant elimination and after countless rounds, Roosevelt Middle School’s Page-Turning Monsters were named victorious – but not until after an incredible act of good sportsmanship by the Jackson Middle School Avengers.
When the Monsters (Marin Taylor, Jaime Pedrow and Gabby Meyers) missed a question in the 21st round, the Avengers (Victoria Brinton, Taylor Kemp and Vanessa Vaudrey) were declared Battle of the Books district champions.
And then something remarkable happened.
“During the applause, the Avengers caught my attention and let me know that the last question asked had two possible answers, and that the Page-Turning Monsters’ answer had also been correct,” said Battle of the Books moderator and teaching and learning specialist Julie Scullen.
And so both teams faced off for several more head-to-head rounds until the Avengers finally missed a question, making the Page-Turning Monsters the ultimate winners.
“There was applause for both of these phenomenal teams,” Scullen said. “We are so proud to have such great kids here in our Anoka-Hennepin Schools.”
Reaching championship battleground
To qualify for the district Battle of the Books championship, teams had to read 25 young adult books chosen for this year’s contest and win building battles waged at their own schools two weeks ago.
The list of Battle books always starts with nominees for the Minnesota Maud Hart Lovelace Award, Scullen said. Teachers and media specialists suggest classics and current “hot reads” to round the list out to 25.
Next, teachers from all over the district read the books, promote them with students and write some 375 questions to be posed on the battleground.
The top three teams from each middle school building move on to the district-level Battle of the Books. (Because Anoka Middle School for the Arts has two buildings, two teams are pulled from each of those buildings.)
Finally, district Battle teams were seated at small tables in the Coon Rapids Middle School media center for the Feb. 23 championship round.
Surrounded by their fans – dozens of parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians – teams competed in the game-show-style contest with only their wits and wisdom and the retention of all things read as their battle equipment.
Enthusiasm for the competition was evident as some students wore homemade team jerseys for the competition, some made banners, some quizzed each other repeatedly as preparation for the championship – and all put on their thinking caps.
“This is just so much fun. To see the enthusiasm, the energy and rally for reading … to see kids get so excited to do this is so good, so encouraging,” said Simone Simon, Coon Rapids Middle School teacher and Battle of the Books promoter.