Anoka Middle School for the Arts hosted the eighth annual Anoka-Hennepin Battle of the Books Feb. 28.

Teams of readers from each of the district’s six middle schools qualified for the district battle after coming out ahead in building battles.

To succeed, students read 25 young adult books selected by Anoka-Hennepin teachers and correctly answered questions about the books, conferring with teammates.

Nineteen teams of students participated in the district battle, three each from Coon Rapids Middle School, Jackson Middle School, Northdale Middle School, Oak View Middle School and Roosevelt Middle School, and two from each of the Anoka Middle School for the Arts campuses (Fred Moore and Washington).

Many teams divided and conquered, reading many but not all 25 books on the list.

Olivia Surratt, a seventh-grader representing Anoka Middle School for the Arts, read 20 of 25.

“I like to read,” she said. “I have an hour-long bus ride, so I read on the bus.”

Students voted on their favorite books, this year naming “Fourteenth Goldfish” by Jennifer L. Holm the best comedy and “The War that Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley the best drama.

The book students were most surprised to have liked was the classic “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls.

“We always toss in one book that your parents may have read,” said Julie Scullen, teaching and learning specialist for reading in the district and Battle of the Books coordinator.

Many teams dressed for success, including The Magical Caticorns, of Jackson Middle School. The group of seventh-grade girls wore cat ears with unicorn horns and painted whiskers on their faces. They brought along plush mascots as well.

“I can sense the excitement and the energy,” said Cory McIntyre, executive director of student services, before the competition began.

After a practice round and one additional round where all teams provided correct answers, teams started to drop out after incorrectly answering tough questions.

Students had to be careful to enunciate to distinguish similar titles on the list, such as “Ghost” by Reynolds and “Ghosts” by Telgemeier.

A seventh-grade team from the Anoka Middle School for the Arts Fred Moore campus, creatively named The Only Students I Have Ever Really Liked, emerged victorious after narrowly missing a question in one of the early rounds. Chloe Dowd, Sophia Mitchell and Sophie Schmit took home the big trophy for AMSA.

Preparations for the 2019 Battle of the Books will begin immediately.

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