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Students drill for Battle of the Books

East Lincoln Middle School students (left to right) Cooper Hart, Laurel Johnson and Angel Becerra practice for the regional competition of Battle of the Books. Most team members have read at least 20 books in preparation for the competition.
Sarah Grano/ Lincoln Times-News
Bookworms with a competitive edge have found a place to shine at East Lincoln Middle School.
The eight students participating in Battle of the Books have won the district competition and have started preparing for the regional competition.
“We just quiz each other on the authors constantly,” said Suzanne Matthews, a member of the club.
The students have scheduled time after school to have mock competitions, but they also drill each other while switching classes and eating lunch.
Two members of the club have read all of the 27 books that make up the Battle of the Books book list. Most of the team members have read at least 20 of the books.
The district competition took place at North Lincoln High School’s auditorium underneath bright lights. It was the rookie team’s first competition.
“I felt very nervous. It’s like you’re going up on a stage and you’re about to sing your first song,” said Katherine Dail, a club member. “The light’s just in your eyes the whole time.”
The team had to answer questions on the 27 books and also name the book’s author.
“They’re not obvious questions,” said Amanda Vickers, who acts as the club’s advisor along with Lori Marco. “They could be about any little thing in the book.”
Books on the Battle of the Books list range in length and skill level. Students seem to favor fantasy books like “Dealing with Dragons” by Patricia C. Wrede and “The Giver” by Lois Lowry.
“I like other worlds,” said Katherine. “I like magic and sorcery and princesses and princes.”
“Watership Down,” despite it’s fantastical premise of talking rabbits, has proven to be the most disliked of the books.
Cinnamon Mittan, a club member, didn’t like the book’s small print and long length.
“I didn’t like Watership Down that much because it’s all about rabbits,” said Cinnamon. “I’m not really a rabbit person.”
The club is made up of a variety of students, but they all share one common characteristic.
When looking for club members Vickers asked fellow teachers one question: “Do you have a student who always has their nose in a book?”
Although members of the club compete in sports, watch television and play video games, they all make time for reading.
“I love to read,” said Katherine. “Books take me to another world, and it takes me away from all my problems, like math.”
The rush of winning a competition hasn’t hurt their motivation.
“I don’t take it so seriously that it’s not fun, but I take it seriously enough that I finish the books and know the authors,” Cinnamon said.
Few of the members of the team expect to come home from the regional competition victorious, but they don’t seem too nervous.
“I know what’s going on now,” said Suzanne.
She wasn’t quite so laid back during the first competition in which she shook and tightly held on to a pack of gum.
“I squeezed it so much that it was in shreds,” Suzanne said.
Her advisor has faith in the team. “I think they’re going to do really well. They really surprised us at the district competition,” said Vickers. “They pulled it off.” by Sarah Grano

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