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Good with the books

By PAT JENKINS

The Mirror

Ninety-two kids showed Tuesday how fun it can be to read.

They were centerstage for the fifth annual Battle of the Books, the competitive but fun-filled test of book knowledge for elementary schoolers in the Federal Way Public Schools system.

Before a standing-room crowd at Decatur High School, teams of four from each of the 23 elementary schools were quizzed about the events, characters, settings and authors of 16 books that the students had read and virtually memorized in preparation for the competition.

In the end, Meredith Hill was the team that answered the most questions correctly and left with the coveted trophy as Battle of the Books champions.

"I wasn't sure if we'd win," said David Camp. Marshall Herrick added, "There were a few questions we weren't sure about."

Very few. Camp, Herrick and teammates Paul Jaquish and Zach Martin were right on 22 of the 25 questions. They finished just ahead of second-place Panther Lake (21). Adelaide, Mirror Lake, Star Lake and Twin Lakes (20 apiece) tied for third.

To rousing applause and cheers, the Meredith Hill victors accepted their trophy on a stage, posing for photos as relatives and friends crowded in front to congratulate them.

During recesses and free time at home, the teams read and studied books such as "Laser," "The Stranger Next Door," "The Great Chicken Debacle" and "Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism." For Tuesday's finals, they listened as Tom Murphy, school district superintendent and master of ceremonies, read the questions one at a time. They started with "In which book does a child learn how long snow takes to melt?" and ended with "In which book do you find children climbing a banyan tree?" Teams had 30 seconds to answer each one.

The optional competition, which is organized by school librarians, started slowly with only two schools involved the first year. Now it's districtwide.

Jeri Dyberg, librarian at Meredith Hill, was thrilled with her school's victory and happy for all the contestants. "Everyone works so hard," she said.

Similarly, Murphy applied the "winners" tag to all of the teams that reached the finals and all the other third, fourth and fifth-grade students who competed in preliminary rounds at the schools.

The effort put in by students and competition organizers "is validation" of the district's emphasis on reading and literacy, Murphy told the audience Tuesday.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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