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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Star bookworms step into the world spotlight

The Canberra Grammar team, from left, Terri Robb (coach), Vinudi Rajapaksha, Elliott Bennett, Avi Jain, Benjamin McBride, Renee Jones (coach), Photo: Katarina Lloyd Jones

Four Canberra Grammar School (CGS) students  will show off their literary prowess at the 2024 Kids’ Lit Quiz World Final in Canberra on July 10.

This marks the first year the quiz final will be held in Australia, says team coach Terri Robb, but it isn’t the first time CGS has been successful in the competition, having won national finals in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018. 

The quiz is based around literature and aimed at giving students the opportunity to celebrate the “sport” of reading.

Terri says 60 to 70 CGS students tried out for a spot on representative teams. Vinudi Rajapaksha, 13; Elliott Bennett, 12; Avi Jain, 12 and Benjamin McBride, 13, were the top four performers and were placed into the team that won the national heats. 

“This year [our teams] finished in first, third, fifth and sixth place. So, our four teams did extremely well, they’re all very avid readers.”

 Avi, whose favourite book is Homer’s The Odyssey, says: “All of us have done this a lot of times before, so we did have prior experience for the test.

“And we got first Primary Team, 2022,” says Elliott, who’s enjoying Philip Reeve’s book, Railhead.

Vinudi, Elliott, Avi and Benjamin went on to beat 34 other schools in the ACT, and 328 across Australia, winning the national heats and proceeding to the finals where they will compete with students from Canada, Indonesia, NZ, South Africa, Thailand and America.

“It differs throughout all the stages, but in the heats we get a piece of paper and questions are read out and we have to write them down, and they can be anything from books to mythology, or even different types of books” says Benjamin who is currently reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

“There was a question about anthologies and atlases in the heat.”

Terri says: “They draw the questions from fairytales and nursery rhymes, mythology, legends, contemporary books, classic books, a whole range, so they’ve got to be across the board with a lot of things” 

All four students say they particularly enjoy the mythology questions.

“We all read Percy Jackson, and we all like Rick Riordan,” says Benjamin.

“Anything Egyptian, Greek, Norse [mythology],” says Elliott.

Fellow team coach Renee Jones says the national heats are more collaborative, and are similar to a trivia night, whereas in the World Final there is no time to discuss and it is more reliant on individual knowledge. 

Avi says they have been preparing for the finals by researching authors and “just reading books”. 

Vinudi says sometimes they try to think of what sort of questions may be asked when they’re reading books, and test each other. 

Benjamin says they also like to look for unknown facts about authors, as well as dedicating a lot of time to buzzer practice.

“It’s really hard to be the first one to press it, and then in the finals you lose points if you get it wrong,” says Avi.

“In the Australian final, a lot of people accidentally bumped the table and the buzzer went off and they had to try and guess the answer if they didn’t know,” says Benjamin. 

“Basically, if they accidentally did that, everyone would say Harry Potter as the answer,” says Vinudi, whose favourite book series at the moment is Wings of Fire. 

The team says they are excited to meet their competitors, as they all have a shared interest in reading.

“At the heart of the quiz, it’s all about friendship and making new connections across different countries and areas,” says Avi.

The international teams will spend four days in Canberra, says Terri, and all competitors will be staying together on campus.

“We’re doing lots of get-to-know-you games and activities,” says Terri. 

“They’ll be eating lunch and dinners together, having movie nights together, going to the zoo, going to the National Library, going to the portrait galleries, lots of places like that.”

Obviously their place in the world finals is indicative of the students’ love of reading, but they enjoy plenty of other hobbies too, the students say. 

Benjamin and Elliott often play tennis together, and Avi says he enjoys cricket, while Vinudi says she enjoys spending her free time drawing and bird watching.

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Katarina Lloyd Jones

Katarina Lloyd Jones

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