Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a surreal TV comedy show from the 1970s beloved of all students bar me, adopted the catchphrase ‘…. and now for something completely different,’ as a segue between sketches.
Well, my visit to Ysgol Esgob Morgan in St Asaph on the fourth day of Book Week was completely different. Ysgol Esgob Morgan is the innovative junior school where Tim Redgrave, the head, came up with the ludicrously brilliant idea of having a patron of reading. Even more ludicrously brilliant – he chose me! So not for them the straightforward author talk for Book Week – oh no – they’d been there and done that. They wanted something completely different.
Mrs Ritchie, the Y3 teacher and Lit Co suggested a book quiz. Not just any old book quiz – a staff book quiz. And by staff she meant everybody – teachers, teaching assistants, governors, cooks, caretakers, the school secretary, the postman… all the staff. Mrs Ritchie didn’t want just any old questions on any old books, either, but a book quiz about my books and my books only. What better way for everyone to get to know their patron of reading than through her writing Mrs Ritchie reasoned. Genius!
I prepared the questions. This is where attending heats and finals of Wayne Mills’ Kids Lit Quiz over the years came in useful. The vital ingredients of a good quiz are:
♥The questions need to be varied and stimulating. Throw in a few multiple choice and finish-the-end-of-the-sentence types (thanks to Bethan Hughes for that one) as well as the usual ‘What did so-and-so have for breakfast’ variety. My name-the-book- the-object-appears-in round* was, I felt, a master stroke even Wayne Mills would applaud.
My questions for ‘Are All Brothers Foul?’
♥The audience needs something to do, too. I prepared loads of general book questions for them.
♥Rewards: Rewards are important. In this instance rewards = sweets. A big blue bowl was procured from a magic cupboard in the staffroom into which was poured 1 large bag of Waitrose toffees and 1 large bag of fruit chews. Yes, yes, I know sweets are bad for you but give me a break. I am a child of the 1950s. Old habits die hard.
♥Good team names. Ours were: Mrs Ritchie’s Readers, The Reluctant Readers of Rhyl and The Magic Monkeys
Mrs Ritchie’s Readers L-R: Mrs Bailey (Y6), Ms Thomas (TA), Mrs Mooney (TA), Mrs Ritchie (Y3) and Mrs Safhill (school governor)
♥ Next: appoint reliable markers. Everyone knows teachers are big cheats, especially when competing against each other. I carefully selected three reliable Y6s: Scott, Oliver and Kaila. Oliver and Scott are the school librarians – you don’t get more reliable than that.
Scott, Oliver and Kaila were presented with books as a reward for all their hard work.
Sometimes sweets are just not enough.
♥ Be prepared for controversy. The Reluctant Readers of Rhyl (above), were very popular with the crowd and demanded several recounts. Mrs Dalton seen here clearly disputing Oliver’s meticulous adding up! The Reluctant Readers of Rhyl. L-R: Oliver, Mrs Dalton (Y6) Mr Hatwood (Y4) Mrs Gatsfield, Mrs Fowkes (Y5) and Chris (a school volunteer) I think Mrs Greenough, (secretary) on the far right of the photo, is dying to rescue Oliver
♥Have fun – most important!
Pupils at Ysgol Esgob Morgan cheering the worthy winners of the book quiz- the radiant Mrs Ritchie’s Readers (it was close though – all three teams knew their Pielichaty prose)
And all that was just in the first hour. Wait until you find out what happened next!
*Here’s your starter for 10, reader. Can you do better than Ysgol Morgan?
The following three objects were shown to the teams:
1. A fox fur
2. A tube of Pringles
3. A Huddersfield Town shirt.
Can you name the books in which they feature? The first correct answer in the comments box will receive a book and a bag of wine gums!