Kwame Alexander and Celeste in conversation at the American Library in Paris
Kwame Alexander at the Library: Poetry, Basketball, and Earl Grey Tea
29 March 2022
La Présidentielle 2022 in the American Library in Paris
10 April 2022

So, You Think You’re Smarter than the Average YA Reader?

In Divergent, by Veronica Roth, how many fears does Tris originally have in her fearscape?

In Darius the Great is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram, what day or days of the week does Darius’s mom cook Persian food?

In Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins, what weapon does District 4’s Finnick choose to battle with?

If you shouted the answers to those questions out loud, you would have had a blast at the Library’s 10th Annual Literary Reaping on 25 March! This year, Children’s and Teens’ Services Librarians Celeste Rhoads and Kirsty Reid McCulloch, and Children’s and Teens’ Services Intern Pallas-Amenah Morgan, with the help of some amazing Game Makers (judges), took teens through the streets of post-apocalyptic Chicago, down into the bewitching cellars of Hogwarts, and all the way to 1980’s Iran. Teen contestants were tasked with decorating cupcakes that perfectly blended into nature, commanding a knowledge of the ancient gods that rivaled the likes of Percy Jackson, and shooting Nerf guns at villainous fiends like President Snow! And, of course, the competing teams were riddled with trivia from both classic and contemporary teen literature.

A roll of a dice decided which of the six teams would begin the game. First up was Dumbledore’s Army—named after the popular Harry Potter series. The teens is this group took a startling lead at the beginning of the game, followed closely by The Mockingjays—named for The Hunger Games—and The Coveys—based on the romantic trilogy, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. However, the other three teams were not far behind, and there was quite a bit of entertaining tension as Camp Half-blood—from the Percy Jackson series—and The Greasers—from The Outsiders—competed neck-in-neck! The Firekeepers—named for the break-out novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter—also made a consistently valiant effort during the game, keeping The Greasers and Camp Half-blood on their toes as a reminder that the competition was far from over!

Our Game Makers for the evening—including Library volunteer Pauline Charruyer, the Library’s Master Shot Film Club coordinator Clarence Tokley, and YA author Amy Plum—had a lot of fun making sure that the game wasn’t too easy. From trick questions to points being awarded to teens that complimented their costumes, Game Maker Pauline especially made herself known as a judge that strikes when you least expect! Much like Katniss’s Hunger Games, competitors were reminded to keep an eye out for deception, and to rely on their teammates to ensure victory.

But that isn’t to say that sportsmanship didn’t extend outside of those teams as well. When tasked with taking down a YA literature villain, teens from every team cheered on the one given the chance to take a shot. These instances were some of the highlights of the night, as teens gathered in excitement to see which one of their comrades would succeed in aiming their Nerf gun to successfully take down President Snow (The Hunger Games), Voldemort (Harry Potter), or Ms. Coulter (His Dark Materials).

During the cupcake decorating competition, the teams were tasked with using icing and other edible decorations to mimic the scenery in a photo. Teens marveled at one another’s creative attempts.

Children’s and Teens’ Services Intern and Percy Jackson fan, Pallas-Amenah, was very keen on introducing the night’s competitors to the Greek gods challenge, in which each team had to recreate the godly family tree. Befittingly, the team Camp Half-blood came out on top (along with Dumbledore’s Army) in that portion of the competition!

As things heated up and the game came to a close, spectators watched with baited breath as The Coveys and The Mockingjays competed to answer their final trivia questions and claim the ultimate victory. Jumping ahead thanks to some stellar answers during the trivia, The Coveys answered one final question before being proclaimed the Victors of the evening! Each team competed wonderfully, and so of course everyone was given a prize (in the form of a Young Adult read) to take home and keep!

The Children’s and Teens’ Services staff at the Library looks forward to hosting the Literary Reaping each year, and we take great joy in making sure that attendees enjoy an evening of friendly competition and YA-themed games. Long-time Library patron and Young Adult literature fan, Emerson, age 17, says:

The Literary Reaping is my favorite event at the library! I love the trivia, challenges (and of course the pizza), but most of all I love meeting other people my age who are just as passionate about reading as I am. I love the Reaping because it’s never hard to have an amazing time and meet so many new people!

Game Makers (from left to right): Amy Plum, Pauline Charruyer, and Clarence Tokley.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! At the end of the day, the Reaping is nowhere near as cutthroat as the deadly Hunger Games, and teamwork and sportsmanship always prevail during the competition. We hope to see many returning faces at next year’s Literary Reaping, as well as plenty of new faces ready for a challenge!

Do you think you have what it takes? Try your hand at this YA Literature Pop Quiz, Part 1.

May the odds be ever in your favor…