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'Battle of the Books' on Long Island

The Sayville Library sent a team called

The Sayville Library sent a team called "The House of Sayvilleclaw" -- a play on Harry Potter books -- to a past Suffolk Library System Battle of the Books competition. This year's competition takes place Saturday (Aug. 11, 2012) at Stony Brook University. Credit: Handout

Vignesh Gunasekaran, 14, of Commack, has been preparing all summer for Suffolk County's 16th Annual "Battle of the Books." Thirty-six teams of six students, all entering sixth to ninth grades, read the same eight young adult novels and compete to answer trivia questions about them.

Vignesh's team from Smithtown Library, for instance, meets every Wednesday evening. Young adult librarian and team coach Will Salas tells his aspiring team members that if a character's shoe size is mentioned, memorize it. "I do know some kids on the team who take notes and highlight," Vignesh says.

This year's books include titles such as "Close to Famous" by Joan Bauer and "Cosmic" by Frank Cottrell Boyce. A sample question from "Cosmic": Which color of quick-drying, low-odor paint does Liam discover in a book on his father's bedside table? Answer: Antarctic Glow.

The teams arrive at Stony Brook University with team names and in costume. A few years ago, for instance, a team came as characters from cereals, such as Captain Crunch. Their librarian coach came as a jug of milk. Judges pose questions, one at a time; the team has five seconds to answer. "It's just so much fun," says Barbara Moon, Suffolk County Youth Services Consultant.

WHAT Suffolk Cooperative Library System "Battle of the Books"

WHEN | WHERE Elimination rounds at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday, with finals at 6 p.m. Aug. 11, at the Javits Lecture Center, Stony Brook University campus, Stony Brook

INFO Get free tickets to view the first rounds at your local library; no tickets necessary to watch the finals; see suffolkbattle.org

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