Thursday, July 4, 2013

The World Final of the 2013 Kids' Lit Quiz - With Photos!

The Quiz

Wow. First let me say how impressed I am with the kids who took part in this world final. Their knowledge of literature is phenomenal! I don't think I could have correctly answered half of the questions they were presented with yesterday afternoon!

Despite what you may think, the "sport of reading" is exciting to watch! It works like this: The quizmaster asks the questions (which are pretty detailed, and usually quite cryptic) and the first team to press their buzzer gets to answer. If they get it wrong, they lose a point, and the other teams can still have a go at answering the question. Whoever gets it right gets two points. At the end of the competition, the team with the most points wins.

There were ten rounds, each a different category, and the competition became more intense the closer we got to the end. The South African team had been in second or third place most of the afternoon. In the final round, the New Zealand team, which had been behind us, suddenly came back, answering correctly a number of times. Then on the very last question, South Africa hit the buzzer first, answered correctly, and won the competition by one point! So exciting!

The quiz final was held at Durban Girls' College.

Look, look! My books!
The 6 teams on the stage, all ready with their hands on the buzzer!

The winning team from Roedean School, Johannesburg, South Africa. Congratulations! You are the top young readers in the world! (Photograph by Linda Whelan)

 The Gala Dinner

The gala dinner was held at uShaka Marine World. I assumed we'd be going to one of the restaurants there, but no. A buffet dinner was set up within the aquarium itself! So we were sitting right next to tanks of gigantic fish, sharks, sting rays, jellyfish, and other marine life. So cool! And what is extra cool about this aquarium is that the entire thing is built inside what's meant to be an upside down shipwreck.
Dinner was set up within the aquarium itself. So cool!

So it's all inside the rusted interior of an imagined shipwreck.

Our table was right next to one of the aquarium tanks.
Cool literary decor on the tables. I got to take the flowers home!

See? It's like an upside down shipwreck! You can see a table and some steps on the ceiling!

More upside down stuff! I can imagine ancient sailors steering this ship...
Gcina Mhlope (famous SA author, poet, playwright, director, actor) regaling us with an inspiring story.
And ... My husband will probably NOT be impressed when he sees I've put this picture here!

It was an all-around awesome evening. Oh, and the cherry on the top? The quizmaster himself--the guy who came up with this entire quiz idea 20-something years ago, the guy who makes up ALL the quiz questions every single year, the guy who must have read TONS AND TONS of children's books in his lifetime--has read my first book! And thought it was great!


Quizmaster, Wayne Mills. (Photograph from

In case you're interested, these were the schools that, out of all participating schools in their country, made it into the final:

Australia: Canberra Grammar School
Canada: University of Toronto Schools
New Zealand: Takapuna Normal Intermediate School
South Africa: Roedean School
United Kingdom: Cockermouth School

USA: Squadron Line Elementary School


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow! What a place for a buffet. And the Quizmaster has read your book. That is just awesome. Glad the event was so amazing.

Andrew Leon said...

Man, I want to have dinner in a sunken ship!
>more envy!<

So it's just over children's books? Still, that's a huge field, especially today.

Cathy Keaton said...

An upside-down shipwreck aquarium? That is THE coolest thing ever! What a spectacular event that must have been. And, those kids are so lucky to have participated. It sounds like all that competition would have a blast.

Thanks so much for sharing photos and some details of the night, Rachel. ;)

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Congrats South Africa! Wow you got a thumbs up from the Quiz Master? Awesomeness! And this quiz sounds great and far from boring. Thank you for sharing all of this with us. Oh and love the photos.

J.L. Campbell said...

Those are some very interesting picture. Like the concept for the quiz. Anything to encourage reading, I say.

Cally Jackson said...

Wow, I would have loved to participate in an event like that when I was a kid! And that is SO COOL that the quiz master has read your book! Did you squee? Or did you manage to hold yourself together? :-)

Anonymous said...

Congrats... the locations looks awesome. I love the upside down room.

Carol Riggs said...

I've never heard of this event, but it sounds really interesting! Thanks for sharing your experience. Love the big aquarium tank and that pic of you. :)

Cherie Reich said...

Oh, wow! It all looks so amazing! And I love the gala dinner. Wow! I really want to go there. :)

nutschell said...

woww! Looks like it was an awesome event! Thanks for sharing--love the photos!

michelle said...

Hey Rachel!
Congratulations, what an awesome event and also a great honour and opportunity for you as an author.
Wow! It sounds like you had loads of fun! And I hope you got to sell some books?
I'm very familiar with The Aquarium - I often do corporate gigs in this venue. It's simply stunning.
Writer In Transit