This year's TES children's literary quiz has drawn a record entry, reports Geraldine Brennan.
Children's literature has become the new Olympics this month as the TES-sponsored Kids' Lit Quiz looks set to double last year's entry of 650 keen 12 and 13-year-old readers.
Around 200 schools are expected to register for the 13 regional heats leading to the final in Newcastle on December 6, with a massive boost for reading at key stage 3 as school teams of four from Years 7 and 8 go into training. There may still be time to enter but schools will have to be quick.
You can follow the progress of the quiz heats on www.tes.co.uk, which will publish regular results.
Quizmaster Wayne Mills is about to arrive from New Zealand for the opening heat at Broxbourne school, Hertfordshire, next Monday. A team of children's authors (Linda Newbery, Dennis Hamley, Jean Ure and Michael Lawrence) has lined up to pit their wits against at least 32 teams of four pupils each.
The adults are not eligible for a place in the final.
Mr Mills, a lecturer in education at the University of Auckland, will invite the winning team to take on New Zealand's finest next June.
Last year's UK winner, Dunblane high school, beat the New Zealand teams on their home ground. The quiz has a high profile in New Zealand and is covered by national television.
The UK regional heats include two in Wales, one in Scotland and others in areas not covered in the first quiz last year, including the South-west England heat at Newquay Tretherras school next week.
Librarian Liz Hurley is expecting at least 240 pupils from 15 schools. "We had a great time selecting our two teams," she said. "I was running between classrooms throwing in chocolate bars when anyone got something right. It has built up an appetite for reading in the school, and boys are as enthusiastic as girls."
There may still be time for schools to enter the maximum of two teams of four selected from Year 7 and Year 8 pupils.
Two heats in the South of England expect to have space: Portsmouth on December 1 (contact Peter Bone on 023 9232 6612 or firstname.lastname@example.org, by November 26) and Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire on December 2 (contact Sue Dyer on 01296 388204 or email@example.com).
Schools from other regions should go to www.kidslitquiz.com or send an email to the national quiz organiser Eileen Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Sample questions from quizmaster Wayne Mills 1 Who helped Jim, the runaway slave, escape to freedom?
2 Who or what lived under the bridge that the Three Billy-Goats Gruff had to cross?
3 What was the panther's name in the Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling?
4 What was the name of the heroic collie dog created by Eric Knight?
5 Astrid Lindgren wrote about a fiercely independent red-haired girl. What was her name?
6 Who created a super-computer called a C Cube from stolen fairy technology?
7 What is the name of the teenage male with an American female minder called Jack Starbright?
8 How many books are there in the Narnia series?
9 Who wrote Hacker, Pig-Heart Boy and Noughts Crosses?
10 Name one of the orphans who were adopted by Tiller and Sairy and went to live in Ruby Holler.
Answers on books pages in Friday magazine of December 3