The Area-Wide Middle School Book Battle was held on May 4 at Pattonville Heights Middle School with 20 in-person teams and six that joined virtually. Holman Middle School, Pattonville Heights Middle School and Remington Traditional School each had a team competing at the event.
The team from Nipher Middle School won the Book Battle edging Ladue Middle School with a tie-breaker question.
The book battle gives middle school students in the St. Louis, Missouri, area the opportunity to meet and discuss current books of interest. The Area-Wide Book Battle Committee creates a list of 20 books that includes a variety of genres and reading levels.
There are 10 rounds with five questions each and the committee develops questions for each book that are formatted so each answer is the title and author of a book on the list. Some of the questions are fairly obvious, while others require a deeper understanding of the book. In addition, trivia rounds and tiebreaker questions require team members to provide details from the books. All questions are kept securely at Remington Traditional School throughout the book battle process and only members of the Area-Wide Book Battle Committee have access to them with Remington Traditional committee members selecting the final questions.
Two authors presented during the event. Lisa Fipps, author of Starfish which was on this year’s reading list, visited via Zoom. Another author, Emily Bain Murphy, is a local author who wrote Splinters of Scarlet which was selected to be on the Missouri Association of School Librarians Truman Nominee List for 2022-2023. She presented to the competitors and gave them a sneak peek at one of the books on next year’s list.
Pattonville Heights Middle School teacher librarian Julie Harder said there is no standard requirement for students to be selected for a team.
“Every school does it differently,” she said. “At Heights, we have tryouts and they have to answer questions and the highest scores on the tryouts win. After that, they might decide to specialize in certain books to prepare for the Book Battle.”
One team per middle school may register and teams may be made up of sixth, seventh, and/or eighth grade students enrolled in the registered school with a maximum of eight students per team. There is no minimum number of participants on a team but only six students will be allowed to play at any one time.
The student team members this year from Pattonville were:
Pattonville Heights Middle School (placed 9th overall): Liam Conner, Christi Dyer, Sophia Hershberger, Ellie Lamy-Bearskin, Morgan Leb, Molly Maue, Riley Orach and Sydney Stranghoener; coached by Sarah Slane and assistant coach Tara Jones
Holman Middle School (Placed 15th): Eli Dukes, Macie Bowersox, Abby Edmonds, Harry Vandernoot, Hadley Skouby and Lexi Volz; coached by Emily Difani and assistant coach Jessica Brandenburg.
Remington Traditional School (Placed 17th): Noelle Wilson, Taylor Flores, Lydia Fantahun, Eli McDaniel, Juliana Huling, Lakshita Raja, Elizabeth Ruffus, Justyce Sanders; coached by Lisa Kraemer and assistant coach Ben Johnston.
Teams began reading and preparing for the competition in October. This year’s list included 20 books:
- Alone by Megan E. Freeman
- Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston
- The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
- The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
- The Bridge Home by Dusti Bowling
- Free Lunch by Rex Ogle
- Ground Zero by Alan Gratz
- It's the End of the World As I Know It by Matthew Landis
- The Memory Keeper by Jennifer Camiccia
- Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga
- Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt
- The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
- Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
- Starfish by Lisa Fipps
- Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan
- The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods
- Verify by Joelle Charbonneau
- We're Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey
- When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
- White Bird: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio
Scholastic Book Fairs supported the author visit and provided some of the prizes and Main Street Books supplied additional prizes as well as brought books to sell and get autographed.
Book Battle organizers from Pattonville School District are Julie Harder and Rachel Woodson at Pattonville Heights, Angie Huesgen and Trina Cornell at Holman Middle School, and Jill Ramig and Diane Langston at Remington Traditional School.