Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A Mighty Battle Hath Been Waged!

Dawn broke on the second of February, in the Year of Our Lord two thousand and eighteen.

A mighty battle was set to be waged at high noon on the sacred grounds of Gastineau Community School, at the edge of a rain forest, thick and dense with wooded spruce, silvery salmon, and of course—the fearsome bear.

The young soldiers rose with the eagle’s cry at dawn to prepare for combat, a standoff which would now and forever be known as THE BATTLE OF THE BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKS!

Ms. Ferguson, the school librarian, sounded the rally cry on behalf of the Alaska Association of School Librarians and commanded all spectators and combatants to remain quiet and seated in the war theater such that the rules could be announced and the questions posed.

One mother knew well the strife her young soldier had endured under cover of darkness and a clip-on reading lantern, engaged in a months-long reconnaissance for the grueling contest: 

Reading (and re-reading) Freckle Juice by Judy Blume, Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Ms. Rapscott’s Girls by Elise Primavera, Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors, and some half-dozen others. Some of these were declared “SO BORING” and took a fortnight to conquer, whereas others were engrossing and surrendered with ease.

But ALL would face a dark reckoning that morning on the frontlines.

Battalions A through F clashed fiercely in a struggle for the ages 7 through 11 as Ms. Ferguson, armed with a heavy-artillery wireless microphone strafed the battlefield blitzkrieg-style with questions such as “In which book do two of the characters take a seat on a rock and strike a bargain?”

There was frantic scrawling with pencils and much whispering amid the three-soldier platoons, so that secret intelligence would not be collected across enemy lines.

Some of the supposedly correct answers yielded “challenges,” in which front-line infantry would confront the three judges with an alternative route to victory, only to have their pleas fall upon deaf ears.

All fought valiantly to acquire the high value target of participation in district-level battle, but only one team—the Three MouseCatEars known to civilians by their secret code name of “Team A”—was destined to prevail.

It was only by the grace of Divine Providence that the sole casualties in this conflict were the bruised egos of the defeated warriors, and a little bit of time spent reading a few books they didn’t necessarily like very much.

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