For Wayne Mills, Kids’ Lit Quiz has been a labour of love that has taken him away from his native Auckland, across the globe, from October to December every year for the last twenty seven years. In my conversation with him on Wednesday afternoon, he said that voracious, sophisticated readers needed nurturing and he wasn’t seeing that happening so he decided to do something about it. That has been his vision and his passion since he embarked on his quest nearly thirty years ago, and he linked it directly to the preservation of democracy. A concept that might be giving us all a little more food for thought in the light of current political movements.
He has certainly succeeded in that aim: at the end of Wednesday’s proceedings, it was clear that this had been the most competitive and highest scoring North East contest since its inception four years ago. The scores were exceptionally high and I am delighted to report that our teams – although they did not win – acquitted themselves very, very well. They won several rounds between them – on France, Royalty, and Harry Potter - and each team member was able to choose a book so they have not returned empty handed! There were also only three marks separating one of our teams from the team who won second place.
Lucy (our willing substitute) and I also tried our hand at the questions from our seats in the audience and – to our great surprise – our two best categories were Royalty and Ships! I also won one of the quiz rounds directed at the adults, seemingly the only audience member to know James Clavell’s Shogun novels; clearly I was the only Richard Chamberlain fan in the audience!
Wayne Mills also takes the opportunity to recommend his favourite reads of the last year, both contemporary and classic. He recommended Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, which is most coincidental as one of our pupils requested that same author for the library the following day! He also recommended Geraldine McCaughrean’s Where the World Ends which won the Carnegie medal in 2018. For science fiction fans, he also recommended Philip Reeve’s trilogy Railhead. So, a very worthwhile competition and we will be adding his recommendations to our library bookshelves!