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Battle of the Books reading list available; teams sought for competition

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MASSENA - Teams are now being formed for the Massena Public Library’s 2014 Battle of the Books, which will be held in April.

The reading list of the 20 books is now available at the library’s circulation desk or in the children’s room.

“We’ve had a couple of teams sign up. We’re hoping, now that we’re starting on the new year, that other teams will be getting together with adult to lead them,” library Director Elaine Dunne-Thayer said.

Battle of the Books is a book-based trivia tournament for children in grades four through six, who make up a team of three to four participants with one or more adult coaches.

Libraries hold local competitions to determine which team will compete at the regional battle, which is held at St. James School in Gouverneur.Book Battle programs are competitions similar to Jeopardy or whiz quiz games, but the 20 questions in each match come from a controlled list of books that participants read in preparation for the matches.

Ms. Dunne-Thayer said eight teams competed in the local 2013 competition.

“It’s not bad,” she said, but still smaller than the 14 to 15 teams that signed up when the library began holding a local competition several years ago.

“It’s hard because we’re competing with so many other after-school activities. It takes a lot of commitment,” she said.

This year’s books include The Adirondack Kids by Gary and Justin VanRiper; The Evolution of Calpurnia Tateby Jacqueline Kelly; The Graduation of Jake Moonby Barbara Park; The Indian in the Cupboardby Lynne Reid Banks; Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai; Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell; Liar, Liar: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Deception by Gary Paulsen; and The Million Dollar Shotby Dan Gutman.

Also on the list are My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George; Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes; The One and Only Ivanby Katherine Applegate; One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia; Pinch Hit by Tim Green; Savvy by Ingrid Law; Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan; The Seer of Shadowsby Avi; Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors; Storm Runners by Roland Smith; Ungifted by Gordon Korman; and What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World by Henry Clark.

“There are some titles that have been there before. We always do that. They always bring back some favorite titles,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

The list also contains “a big mix or more challenging titles and less challenging,” she said.

“We have Adirondack Kids, which has never been on the list. It’s nice to have a local book,” she said. “It’s a real mix of contemporary and traditional. We’re hoping that it’ll attract people.”

Teams have their own methods for ensuring every book on the list is ready, and many of them choose to split up the list among team members, according to Ms. Dunne-Thayer.

“The idea of being on a team is to split up the list. One child doesn’t have to read all 20 titles. People become experts on books or certain titles of books,” she said.

“We’re always so impressed. These kids really know the books. Some have signed up and gone all the way through (the three years). I think that any child that has put three years into the program deserves recognition. We try to call them out and award them,” she said.

Teams that have already signed up may be using some of their holiday break to read some titles. But there’s more time off before the tournament that they can use to catch up on the reading.

“They have their winter break and also time off for Easter,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

For more information about entering the tournament, call Youth Services Library Assistant Samantha Page at 769-9914.

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