Top photo by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash
The Oregon Battle of the Books has been a tradition in Oregon schools for 15 years, but this year, one special team competed for the first time: a group from New Bridge High School at Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility.
The event, known as OBOB, is a trivia-style reading competition where students compete against one another by answering questions based on a specified list of books.
Typically, the OBOB teams compete in person, a requirement that kept Rogue Valley’s team out of past competitions.
Instead, the New Bridge students, led by English and social sciences teacher Tracy Linstad, participated in OBOB within their school.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all OBOB competitions are happening virtually via Zoom, giving the team of New Bridge students their first chance to participate against other schools.
The competition was held this past weekend, and although the New Bridge team did not advance, Linstad says they competed well and had a good time. “I’m proud of them and the way they represented our school,” she says.
We asked several of the students to review one of the OBOB books they read, and to share about their connection with reading and the program. Here are their responses.
Book review: “Lovely War” by Julie Berry
Review by A.B.
“Lovely War” by Julie Berry is a Historical Fiction romance novel dealing heavily in ancient Mythology. Based during the time of the Great War, Lovely War tells of the miracles and mishaps of four young men and women influenced by the war in Europe, and of the divine intervention that led them down their paths. Told from the perspective of the captive Greek goddess Aphrodite, the main character’s stories touch on every issue associated with Love and War, Pride and Prejudice, Music and eternal Silence. A lyrical masterpiece that proves that love truly does conquer all.
Why I Read, by A.B.
I began reading at a young age through the help of my older brother. For me, reading has never just been about passing the time or learning something new. Opening a book enables me to open a gate into a universe other than my own. It lets me focus on the perspectives of other characters and get out of my own head. To me, reading is more than a hobby, it’s my survival mechanism. And joining Oregon Battle of the Books is allowing me to branch out beyond my four walls to other like-minded individuals.
Book review: “Spellslinger” by Sebastien de Castell
Review by H.P.
“Spellslinger” by Sebastien de Castell is a magical journey worth traveling. A fantasy that makes you feel like it’s real, this book pulled me in after a couple of pages. The main character Kellen is desperate to show that he has what it takes to be a mage. He wants to prove himself before his sixteenth birthday because that is when his life is determined. Kellen must pass all three exams in order to be a true mage and take his place in fighting for his people. Although lacking magic, but thriving on wits and trickery, he struggles to keep up with the other magic casters in his class. With characters from giant squirrel cats to a mysterious Argosi wanderer, this book has it all. Captivating and comical it has so much in store, as Kellen’s fight to prove himself and find his true place uncovers a secret that would take only a miracle to bring to light.
Why Do I Read? by H.P.
Why do I read? That’s a great question. I read because it’s been my escape since I was young. The pages take me to places beyond these walls, and my bedroom walls. To feel like the characters, to feel the love, attention, and everything I was neglected of for so long, it was the perfect escape. But also to feel relatability to their stories and the way they make it out in the end; it fed me a sense of hope. Books are my tool for dealing with things I can’t handle; they give me strength. I will never stop reading because when I’m old and can’t go places they will be my wings to fly.
Book review: “Dry” by Jarrod and Neal Shusterman
Review by E.L.
“Dry,” written by Jarrod and Neal Shusterman, is set in an alternate dystopian Californian setting. The water is becoming more and more scarce when one day all the taps run out. With her parents now missing, Alyssa leads her brother Garret on a quest around the Southern California metropolitan area in search of water. Dodging close calls with water-zombies and other people who will do anything it takes to get the basic needs it takes to survive, Alyssa learns about the darkest parts of herself and things she will do to keep her family and herself alive.
Why I Like to Read, by E.L.
Reading. Most people view it as a chore. I, however, see it as a lifestyle. In our current day and age, everything is printed: labels for products, signs on the street, and so much more. What about books, though? Books are a true joy; I remember as a kid in elementary our district had a reading competition. You had to read as much books as you could in a certain time span then write summaries about them. As the youngest kid to compete (Kindergarten) going up against K-6th graders, I received 3rd place. Third place, however, for me wasn’t good enough. I got an obsession. I began going to my library and checking out books to read on my free time and it developed from a frustration from me getting 3rd place to an escape I could use when my parents were fighting. Reading had always been there for me as an escape, especially after I got locked up. In my Juvenile Detention, I only came out of my room for 30-60 minutes a day. What did I do with my other time? I fell into reading. I discovered that there is always a good book to pick up when you have nothing else to do. During my time in detention was also the first time I’d heard about OBOB. We had the 12 OBOB books we’d read for extra credit, and I’d read them all within a couple weeks. When I’m in bed sleepless I know I’ll always have my book to comfort me through the night.