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From mystery to history

Boonsboro team wins Battle of the Books

Boonsboro team wins Battle of the Books

March 26, 2006|By PEPPER BALLARD

A "Dealing with Dragons" character was not awarded silver and gold, a compliment, crystal, pots and pans or pearls for sharing a loaf of bread, but those were some of the answers Battle of the Books contestants shared Saturday, to their own necklace-biting disappointment.

That character actually was awarded "good teeth," an answer only two teams gave. But by the end of the morning-long competition at Eastern Elementary School, members of three teams ? two from Boonsboro Elementary School and one from Old Forge Elementary School ? flashed their best toothy smiles after taking top honors at the Washington County Free Library-sponsored reading comprehension competition, which is in its 19th year.

"Ballistic Books Are Back," a fifth-grade Boonsboro Elementary team, won the event with 140 points. "Old Forge Spell Books" finished in second place with 135 points, and "BSI: Book Scene Investigators," a fourth-grade Boonsboro Elementary team, took third place with 130 points.

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Eight teams, whittled down from 21 public, private and home-schooled teams that competed in a March 7 written competition, answered 40 questions Saturday about 20 books ? ranging from mystery to history ? that they started reading in the fall, said Donna Parks, who is head of the library's children's department.

On Saturday, the teams, made up of either seven or eight fourth- through sixth-graders, huddled together to brainstorm answers to Parks' questions and scribbled their answers on large sketchbooks.

The room was silent. Some parents scribbled down scores. Some pumped their arms or snapped their fingers, depending on the outcome of the question.

One parent, Will Kutzera, 40, kept score on the back of his program. He said he was trying to figure out how his 10-year-old daughter, Maddie, and her St. Mary's School team, "The Chapter Chasers," ranked. He was keeping track partly because he found scoring the brain game fun and partly because he wanted to make sure his daughter's team beat his friend's team, he said with a smile.

"It's just good to see competition on how much you enjoy reading or how much you enjoy using your brain," he said. "The brain is just as important as the muscles."

And the thrill of competing in a sport is not much different than the thrill of competing in Battle of the Books, said "BSI: Book Scene Investigators" member Skyler Casto, 9, who also is a softball and basketball player.

"It's a fun feeling when you get a shot and it's a fun feeling when you get a question right," she said.

James Shifler, 10, a fifth-grader at Cascade Elementary School, looked a little glum after the winners were announced. He said he figured his team, "The Page Hoppers," finished in last place.

"We got an F. We got 42 percent," he said.

His teammate, Caitlyn Wilson, 11, told him to look on the bright side.

"At least we made it this far," she said.

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