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'Battle of the Books' authors to give free talks; competitions start in late March

'Battle of the Books' authors to give free talks; competitions start in late March
Carroll County Public Library's Meet the Author series starts March 18 with talks from two middle-grade authors whose works will be part of the 2019 Battle of the Books. (Courtesy photo)

Students will once again get to meet the faces behind the words of the books they are reading this year, as four authors of middle-grade books visit Westminster for the Battle of the Books Author Celebration Series.

The events jump start the Carroll County Public Library’s (CCPL) Battle of the Books, a series of tournaments where students team up with their classmates and a coach and compete to answer questions about a list of current books.

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There will be two evenings featuring two authors each. Hena Khan and Natalie Dias Lorenzi will visit Monday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m. Ru Xu and Cammie McGovern will visit Friday, March 22 at 6:30 p.m.

Both events will be held in the Scott Center Theater of Carroll Community College. All are welcome at this free and family-friendly series. No registration is required.

Each author talk will be followed by an interview by Ted Zaleski, and an audience Q&A. Authors will then be available to sign books. A Likely Story Bookstore will offer copies for sale the night of for those who don’t bring their own.

Hena Khan,a Maryland native, is the author of both middle grade and picture books. “Amina's Voice,” which brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American girl appears on the elementary school reading list. More info about her work is available at www.henakhan.com.

Natalie Dias Lorenzi, of northern Virginia, is the author of “A Long Pitch Home.” The book, described as “a sensitive and endearing contemporary novel about family, friends, and assimilation” by CCPL is on the elementary school book list. More information about her work is available at natalielorenzi.com.

Ru Xu is the author of “NewsPrints” and its just-released sequel “EndGames,” graphic novels that follow Blue, an orphan who disguises herself as a newsboy during wartime. “NewsPrints,” appears on the middle school book list. Xu, who grew up in Indianapolis, is also the creator of the web comic “Saint for Rent.” More info about her work is available at www.ruemxu.com.

Cammie McGovern is the author of books for audiences from middle grade to adult and one of the founders of Whole Children, a resource center that runs after-school classes and programs for children with special needs. “Chester and Gus,” about the bond between an aspiring service dog and an autistic boy in need of a friend, appears on the elementary school book list this year. More info about her work is available at www.cammiemcgovern.com.

The first Battle of the Books for 2019 takes over Francis Scott Key High School on March 29 at 6:30 p.m. as the Taneytown-area elementary schools compete. Eight more battles are scheduled to follow through April 26.

Students in grades four to eight can participate and in recent years, the program has expanded to include students who are home-schooled or attend private schools in the county.

Working with a coach, participants prepare for months to become experts in the books, which are chosen by librarian staff and educators from the Maryland Black Eyed Susan Book Award list. The night of the battle, all the practice comes down to a few seconds that students have to answer questions about the books.

In previous years, the competition has drawn close to 1,500 students.

For full details about the Battle of the Books, visit library.carr.org/programs/BoB.asp.

The Battle of the Books at Westminster High School in 2017. This year, the book battles between schools begin March 29 with eight more to follow through April 26.
The Battle of the Books at Westminster High School in 2017. This year, the book battles between schools begin March 29 with eight more to follow through April 26. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)
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