In the fifth-grade battle, all of the answers were a book title and author (from the list of books that we had read and studied over the months leading up to the battle). This year for our sixth-grade battle, the questions can be much harder - the answers will NOT all be the title and auther like in the fifth-grade battle.
The study guide suggestions for the sixth-grade battle specify that the questions can be any of the following types:
- Cover significant events
- Cover character development
- Cover unique settings in time or place
- Ask questions from the preface, epilogue, or biographical info in the book
- Ask questions about details that you normally would never need to know (like the character's address, or the name of the neighbor's pet fish, etc -- these are the types of questions that will differentiate the winning team from the others)
Each sixth-grade team has three - six members who all attend the same middle school. And in case the books weren't a challenge enough, teams are also encouraged to create an interesting book-related team name and dress in costume. There are also prizes for the team name, the best overall costume, and the best use of a book theme. No pressure, right?
The battle is held in early February. Until then, our task is to read and study these books (all summaries copied from Amazon):
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson (poetry/memoir)
"Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
Includes 7 new poems, including "Brown Girl Dreaming"."
Lincoln's Spymaster by Samantha Seiple (nonfiction)
"Lincoln's Spymaster tells the dangerous and action-packed adventures of Allan Pinkerton, America's first private eye and Lincoln's most trusted spymaster.
Pinkerton was just a poor immigrant barrel-maker in Illinois when he stumbled across his first case just miles from his home. His reputation grew and people began approaching Pinkerton with their cases, leading him to open the first-of-its-kind private detective agency. Pinkerton assembled a team of undercover agents, and together they caught train robbers, counterfeiters, and other outlaws. Soon these outlaws, including Jesse James, became their nemeses. Danger didn't stop the agency! The team even uncovered and stopped an assassination plot against president-elect Abraham Lincoln! Seeing firsthand the value of Pinkerton's service, Lincoln funded Pinkerton's spy network, a precursor to the Secret Service. Allan Pinkerton is known as the father of modern day espionage, and this is the first book for young adults to tell his story!"
Nimona by Noelle Stevensen (graphic novel)
"Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel has been hailed by critics and fans alike as the arrival of a “superstar” talent (NPR.org).
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit."
One Crazy Summer by Rita Willilams-Garcia (historical fiction)
"Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She's had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. But when the sisters arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile is nothing like they imagined.
While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer."
The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (science fiction)
"It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before.
Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.
Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long held by the people of New York.
And if Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it."
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (fantasy)
"Eugenides, the queen’s thief, can steal anything—or so he says. When his boasting lands him in prison and the king’s magus invites him on a quest to steal a legendary object, he’s in no position to refuse. The magus thinks he has the right tool for the job, but Gen has plans of his own. The Queen’s Thief novels have been praised by writers, critics, reviewers, and fans, and have been honored with glowing reviews, “best of” citations, and numerous awards, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Newbery Honor, the Andre Norton Award shortlist, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Discover and rediscover the stand-alone companions, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings, all epic novels set in the world of the Queen’s Thief."
Wild Man Island by Will Hobbs (realistic fiction)
"On the last day of a sea kayaking trip in southeast Alaska, fourteen-year-old Andy Galloway paddles away from his group to visit the nearby site where his archaeologist father died trying to solve the mystery of the first Americans. A sudden, violent storm blows Andy's kayak off course and washes him ashore on Admiralty Island, an immense wilderness known as the Fortress of the Bears. Struggling to survive, Andy encounters a dog running with wolves and then a man toting a stone-tipped spear. The wild man vanishes into the forest, but the dog reappears and leads Andy to a cave filled with Stone Age tools and weapons. Running for his life, Andy retreats deep into the cave, where danger, suspense, and discovery await."
Whew. We've definitely got a lot to do! Have you read any of these books before? Have any great ideas for questions, or where to find questions so we can quiz ourselves and be prepared?
No matter what, we're sure to have lots of fun :)