Sunday, March 02, 2014

Cannibalism and Other Stories: ACT 2014

Copyright, William Hall, 2014.  All rights reserved.

"What was the name of the castaway who tells his companion, Friday, that cannibalism is wrong?"

This question, the first of ten in the opening category of "cannibalism", kicked off the 2014 ACT regional heat of the Kids' Lit Quiz competition on Friday, 21 February.  Excited whispers immediately followed as each team conferred on the correct answer and we were up and away in the third heat of the third year of the Kids' Lit Quiz in Australia.  You can read about the short (but glorious!) history of the Kids' Lit Quiz in Australia here.

Who would have have thought so many children's stories would feature cannibals - from Robinson Crusoe to Pippi Longstocking, to Jack and the Beanstalk to The Odyssey?  And who would have thought that so many of the participants would know these stories?  One team scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in this category (as the mother of half that team I'm both proud and a little disturbed that my twin sons appear to be experts on cannibals!)

Remember, there's no reading list because the Kids' Lit Quiz is all about reading for pleasure so the kids participating in the Quiz know the answers from their reading interests and general knowledge, not from swotting. That's what makes the Quiz fun - it really is the sport of reading.  The more you read, the more fun you'll have.

Copyright, William Hall, 2014.  All rights reserved.

Other categories included questions on riddles, sport, trees and literary knowledge - all referencing books likely to be read by children aged 10 to 13 years of age.

Copyright, William Hall, 2014.  All rights reserved.

Everyone learns something!  Do you know which is the oldest letter in the alphabet, said to be over 30,000 years old? 

The teams see the ten categories of questions for the first time at the start of the quiz when they get to decide which category they'll choose for double points.  In the ACT heat, the teams that chose "riddles" for double points found those questions quite challenging and the scores in this round were generally low.

One team chose the last category ("trees") for double points, a good tactic to try and either catch up or blitz the field in the last round. There was a question on Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree (published in 1943).  Did you know this story was voted the 66th best loved book in the UK in 2003?  Here's the full list of the 200 best loved books.  Guess which book was the most popular?

Copyright, William Hall, 2014.  All rights reserved.

In each quiz there is one visual category (where pictures need to be identified).  Until it starts, no team knows which round will be the visual category.   At the ACT heat, the visual category was on the topic of partnerships.

Audience questions follow the same categories as the quiz questions but relate to general fiction.  These questions are asked between quiz rounds so the children can see their parents and teachers are readers too.  In the partnerships category, the audience was shown an ampersand which forms part of a trade mark and asked to identify the partnership.   The answer was "Mills and Boon" - the well-known publisher of romantic fiction since the 1930s.

Copyright, William Hall, 2014.  All rights reserved.

Book prizes are awarded to both teams and audience members.   Each of the 4 members of the team with the highest score in each round gets to choose a book.  If that team has already won a round, the second placed team get the book prizes and so on.  In this way, at least 40 children in each heat win at least one book.  Additionally, the teams placing first, second and third win book prizes.  Travel assistance to the National Final is also awarded to the first placed team.

As always, quizmaster Wayne Mills recommended a number of books he'd found to be good reads, exhorting children to write the titles on their hands so they wouldn't forget. If they'd written down all the recommended books there would have been a lot of ink on their arms as well as their hands!  

Wonder by R J Palacio was recommended to all educators as well as children.  A couple of the other recommended books were City of Ember by Jeanne Du Prau and Mortal Engines by Philip Reeves. See Good Books Not to be Missed on the left sidebar for some more of the many, many books Wayne recommends.

Copyright, William Hall, 2014.  All rights reserved.



Our thanks to Allen & Unwin and Penguin Books for donating the books used as prizes in the ACT heat.  See the book publishers page under the Reading for Australia header for all of the publishers supporting the various heats of the 2014 Kids' Lit Quiz Australia competition.  From this list, you can link through to each publisher's website for lots of information about books and authors - see in particular the children's and young adult fiction pages on each site.

Tania McCartney was there!  Tania is a Canberra-based children's author who signed copies of her books and talked to many of us during the lunch break, taken after round 5.   Tania is also the founder of Kids' Book Review, a fantastic online resource for kids who love to read.  Kids' Book Review also donated books to the 2014 Kids' Lit Quiz competition.  Thank you Tania and Kids' Book Review.  See you next year!

Thanks also to Canberra Grammar School for hosting the ACT final and to Wayne Mills (quizmaster), Nicole Deans (national coordinator) and Janine Hudson (ACT coordinator) of Kids' Lit Quiz Australia for providing a great day of literary fun and games.

Last but not least, thank you to William Hall for allowing us to reproduce his wonderful photos here.  Please visit William Hall Photography to see more photographs of the ACT regional heat (you will need to register on the site to view the photographs).

Next Stop: New Zealand 

Wayne has now returned to New Zealand to start the search for the 2014 New Zealand national Kids' Lit Quiz team.  Over 400 schools participate in the Quiz in New Zealand so it takes until June to work through the local competitions.  In between heats and regional finals in New Zealand, Wayne will also visit Singapore in April to run the first ever Kids' Lit Quiz competition there (a pilot quiz was held in October 2013) and - see below - will return to Australia later this month to find the Australian national team.

Did you know that the singer Lorde is a former Lit Quiz kid?  Lorde's team represented New Zealand at the 2009 world finals in Johannesburg and Lorde credits her love of reading for her songwriting success.

Sydney Heat and Australian National Final

The winning ACT team, Canberra Grammar School's Team 2, now joins Bulimba State School and Orange Public School's A Team at the Australian final on 22 March in Sydney.  These teams will be joined by the winner of the Sydney heat on 21 March.

Copyright, William Hall, 2014.  All rights reserved.

Schools in the Sydney area should contact Nicole Deans at to register for the Sydney heat.  Anyone who is interested in seeing the Kids' Lit Quiz in action is welcome to attend the final Australian heat on 21 March and the national final on 22 March, both at Mt Annan Christian School in western Sydney.

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