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Battle Over Books Hosted at Maxwell Center

          There is rarely a lack of youthful exuberance on OCU’s campus, especially once warmer temperatures arrive, but this spring the mood heightened even more as OCU hosted Battle Over Books for the first time in the event’s six-year history. Battle Over Books is a fierce, yet friendly, set of competitions among local middle and high school student teams: complete with buzzers and lighting rounds          Nearly 60 high school students participated in the April 10th competition, representing Circleville, Logan, Logan Elm, Teays Valley and Westfall schools. The May 11th middle school rivalry involved more than 80 contestants from Canal Winchester, Everts, Groveport Madison, Hilliard Weaver, Logan-Hocking, New Lexington, and Westfall schools.          Questions for the high school teams were drawn from 12 titles ranging from beloved classics such as The Hobbit, The Princess Bride, and Something Wicked This Way Comes, to Kristin Cashore’s debut fantasy Graceling, Alex Scarrow’s Time Riders science fiction series, and The Warren Commission Report: The Graphic Investigation into the Kennedy Assignation. A live-video conference with author Mindy McGinnis rounded out the day. She graciously spent more than an hour discussing her debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink, which was recently optioned for the big screen. Keenly attuned to her reading audience, McGinnis was hilariously offbeat and genuinely connected with the students. They held their own – gaining insightful and sophisticated queries about her characters, themes, and writing process.          Slightly longer, but equally challenging, the middle school list of sixteen titles included The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candance Fleming, Prisoner B-3087 by Alex Gratz, and The War Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Sharon McKay and Daniel LaFrance. In an impromptu discussion at the end of the day, one student revealed how the graphic novel’s style influenced their own art-making. Others weighed-in on their reading and library habits, the surprise of loving books they had expected to hate, and the sense of team dedication that comes out of the competition.          While the competition was indeed competitive - Circleville High School took the trophy for a second consecutive year, and Canal Winchester claimed the prize at the middle school level - the emphasis was on teamwork between students who simply love to read. Circleville teacher-librarian Trent Roberts put it well, “This is an awesome way to get kids reading and recognize them for their love of reading”.          Kudos goes to Roberts and the other librarians, teachers, and volunteers whose own love of reading made the event possible. They included, Pickaway County Public Library Outreach Services/Public Relations Coordinator Michelle Callahan, Teays Valley H.S. teacher-librarian Lisa Campbell, Circleville High School Library Clerk Terri Carter, Logan Elm H. S. teacher-librarian Jarod Lloyd, Westfall Middle School librarian Cheryl Lorson, Logan-Hocking H.S. language arts teacher Ben Taulbee, and Friends of the Pickaway County District Public Library Sharyn Blecha, Carol Bowling, Elaine Cook, Sandy Edgar, Martha Erchenbrecher, Lynn Kraus, Jane Poulson, Paula Prindle and Gary Wasmer who served as scorekeepers, judges, and timers.          It was a distinct pleasure to host Battle Over Books, and plans to host next year’s events are already in motion.