Obama’s 2015 Battle of the Books Fun

Sidony Ridge, Senior Reporter and Editor

In the previous week, a number of Obama’s students had participated in a fun battle of literary knowledge through trivia and teamwork, against other schools.  This competition is known as Battle of the Books, which took place at the Carnegie Main Library, and had consisted of several schools, each being tested on their knowledge of a list of books. Having held two middle schools and a high school level, Obama entered teams for all levels. In the middle school competitions there were: The Bookworms, The Celestial Griffins, and The Guardians of Literature. In the high school were The Unicorn Gang and Students of Liberty. The different levels gave a wider span of students a chance to compete, interact with other schools, and read more for fun with new novels ranging from Historical Fiction to Adventure and Graphic Novels.

Beginning in the early second quarter, the lists of books to read were handed to all competitors (if you want to see the list, see below) and everyone got started reading! In this competition, they would be tested on trivial facts found in the book, which could be anything from a character’s favorite color to the name of a certain place, and for each question they would also need to know the author’s name.  With such a long list of books it would seem almost impossible to be able to remember everything.

However for Hailey Treloar, a junior at Obama and team member of Students of Liberty, it was just a matter of making sure everyone’s read the books and had a good understanding of at least two books.


Which books were your favorite your seemed to stick out most?

I think More Than This, everyone really seemed to enjoy that. I personally really liked Fake I.D., I thought that it was a good representation and that it was really well written and had enough detail but not so much that you were overloaded with “Oh my God, this could be a question!” Trying to dog every page or what have you. The other ones I wasn’t really all that thrilled about, none of them really stuck out to me beside those two.

Was there any challenge or rush to get through the books?

Yes, yes there was. At the very day of the competition I skipped school to read and even then we still didn’t read three of the books.

So how did your team do?

We got fourth, out of…how many, eight?

Yeah…I think seven or eight

Yeah, we didn’t do too bad. We probably would’ve done better if we had read all the books but we did fine for not having read three of them.

So during the competition were you all working as a team on each question or were you all scrambling?

Well each person specializes kind of like I specialized in Fake I.D. so I would take over the answers for that one. Krista specialized in More Than This and Jahlia [Finney] was Fifth Wave, Tayde [McDonald] was supposed to be Aristotle and Dante vs. the Universe and Hawkeye she…she was great, and Zack seemed to know a lot about the other books that we didn’t end up reading.

What kind of questions did you find were really good and which ones not so much?

Some really good questions were probably, like, “what event happened” whereas these were maybe like the Hawkeye questions “what was his favorite car” . I mean I had read the book – almost everybody had read the book – but we didn’t remember the specific detail of what type of car it was, but events were a bigger thing, like whenever they asked in Fake I.D. “What made the main character notice/doubt the other character” was an event, so events were easier for us to answer than specific details.

What kind of books do you hope they do next year if you do it?

Um, contemporary, no graphic novels no more of those, ‘cause War Brothers was really simple…um…so you really didn’t take notice of a lot of things. And Hawkeye was nonlinear and…if I mean I read graphic novels I wouldn’t’ve entered a book competition. And I know a lot of people that graphic novels are books, but I think they’re graphic novels as opposed to books. So I hope there aren’t any graphic novels and I hope they don’t have two really big books like the Fifth Wave and The Diviners were really big and had a lot going on in them so I hope they try and keep them really small like the first year.

What did you find was the most challenging parts when reading, was it hard to focus and get into some books?

Yes, Midwinter Blood, I started it and I just couldn’t get around to continuing with it, it was just really boring and I didn’t like the way it was written…um… The Madman’s Daughter was the same way, it was written on a – for me anyway – it read more like a middle school book  than it did for teenagers and then you had the Nazi Hunters book, which was just non-fiction.

Yeah, that was really hard to get into! It took me like a month!

There was so much detail and dates and all that.

I was worried they were gonna put in names of people…

Yup, the Nazi Hunters was definitely one of the ones that was hard to get into and the Fifth Wave and The Diviners were a commitment because I do believe that both of them are part of a series or they are going to be a series , which is a huge commitment to get into, whereas More Than This was a one-shot and Fake I.D. again a one-shot.

Did you wanna suggest any certain questions, did you like any questions?

I can’t say I liked any of the questions but there was one that I really hated: it was the Nazi Hunters question, which asked “What was Eichmann’s-“ it actually stated in the question that there were three stages of extermination and “what was the third stage?”  Well, any third stage to any extermination would be THE extermination. And almost every kid in America is raised on knowing the Holocaust and everybody knows that of the three stages, the first one was stripped of their rights and promises and then they were put in the ghettos and then put into the camps, which is what I put  because it’s common sense and even though in the book it says they went to the ghettos as the third step, which is wrong and I went and fact-checked Eichmann’s trial and everything and I showed it to them and they still said that we’re just gonna go with the book. So that questioned really angered me.

Yeah…because I put Final Solution. The Final Solution is….extermination! That really ticked me off.

You can’t say there are three steps, what is the third step? And that literally means the final step. Yeah, there were no questions that were great but that one really pissed me off.

Did you have any misgivings when going there, did you think it was gonna be a lot more intense experience? Was it different from your first time?

A little bit, the first we did it, it was in the basement and there were only five teams and we were all seated in circles and really close together and last year I actually got into a debate – they allowed us to have debates we could debate our answers with the head person – and last year we did Code Name Verity and it asked about a location. The problem is that the entire book is sold off the purpose of lying, that they were hiding details because if the Germans were ever to find the book they would use it so I argued that there would be no way to actually know what the name of the air force was because they would lie and another team got into an argument with me and we kind of… and it was really civil and it was really great and we shook hands or whatever, and I got the point! – But that [the circled seating] seemed more intimate so it was more intense and it seemed to connect the teams more whereas this one seemed really cold, we’re all like five feet away from each other and we didn’t really cheer or laugh with each other it was….kind of… ugh. There are a lot of basement rooms and they could’ve done two different groups and had the finalists compete. Like that seems like….’cause it’s all in one day and seems kind of anti-climactic. Because you’ve been spending months reading these books and building up to going to these and then you get there and you’re separate from everybody else and you have no chance of debating it or anything and it’s not a challenge, it’s either you know it or you don’t, it’s kind of boring so if you made it like a tournament it would be so much cooler.

Yeah because when I first got there, I thought we were going to have a buzzer and it was going to be like jeopardy!

Yea, this one was just more impersonal.

So, afterwards what was happening, how did they score?

Yes, I think it was four points per question and then a point for the author. And afterwards, I felt really disappointed because last year and we were second and we didn’t get a cookie. We got a certificate, photos of everybody, and a gift card, and a notebook and pencils and stuff. And the first place winners got more money on their gift card but they still got a notebook and pencil, and this year we got cookies. What? No. I understand if everybody else got cookies and the first three people get stuff and I wasn’t in third so I really shouldn’t feel that angry that they didn’t get stuff but I mean, there should be a reward system, we dedicated months to reading these books and I know I didn’t like most of the books that I read, so if I’m going to read these books and come to this competition, I kind of want to be rewarded if I win and I didn’t, which I get. But a cookie… everyone just got cookies, that’s like…I don’t know, dumbing it down. It’s really lame…

If you could add any specific books next year, what would they be?

Love Letters to the Dead, because it has enough detail that you have plenty to ask questions from but not completely out of control with so many details that you feel overwhelmed

Is there anything else you want to say?

It would really cool if more people did it, because the more competition there is, the more fun it is.


Next year is the competitions third year running; already there has been an increase in players and, according to Hailey, the more the merrier! For those who competed, it was a fun experience to be in and giving everyone a chance to expand their taste of books to different genres. If you are interested in signing up for next year, Ms. Sirio will make it available to all in the following fall.


High School Book List:

  • The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi
  • The Diviners
  • Hawkeye Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon
  • Fake ID
  • War Brothers: The Graphic Novel
  • More Than This
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  • Midwinterblood
  • The Madman’s Daughter
  • The 5th Wave