Let the battle begin! It may not have been a “Hunger Games” battle to the death, but the tension in the air was just as palpable and the trophies towering on the table, just as tantalizing.

This battle, held Saturday morning at Bettendorf Public Library, was a battle of books. Battle of the Books began eight years ago through North Scott schools and now has spread to numerous Iowa school districts, including Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley.

The battle has three levels, all centering around the knowledge the children have of the Iowa Children’s Choice Award books, said Christine Garrow, Scott County youth librarian. The first round begins at schools where teams of two or three students compete against other classes.

The team that wins goes on to compete at the district level, where they compete against other schools in their district.

The final phase is the Regional Battle of the Books.

This year’s Regional Battle was made up of eight teams of three students from West Liberty, Durant, North Scott, Bettendorf, Walcott, Pleasant Valley and Calamus-Wheatland school districts and Rivermont Collegiate.

With the timer ticking, the battle began with 10 rounds of questions and 10 questions per round. Each team had 30 seconds, huddling together, whispering ideas of the correct author and title among this year’s list of 22 Iowa Children’s Choice Award books. With a total of 8 points to be won per question; 5 points for correct title and 3 points for correct author.

The team from Calamus-Wheatland School had an interesting strategy.

“One of us read all 22 books, another read half of the books, while I memorized the author’s names. I remember the names by associating something silly to the author,” said Brianna Williams, a sixth-grader at Calamus-Wheatland. “For example, one of the books is about baseball and the author’s last name is Green, so I associate it with the green grass of a baseball field.”

Her team included Declan Tighe, a sixth-grader, and Beth Tulley, a fifth-grader.

Iowa Children’s Choice books are nominated by students in grades 3-6, with the only stipulations being the book had to be published in the last five years and be written by an American author.

“Once the students nominate their books, teachers and librarians take that huge list and perform a criteria check by reading and rating them,” said Shalar Brown-Knupps, chair of the Iowa Children’s Choice Awards.

Brown-Knupps added that the list can be a challenge to narrow down because the books need to grab the attention of girls and boys whose interests cover a broad range.

The room hushed as the two teams to fight it out in sudden death were announced: Pleasant Valley vs. North Scott. PV’s team consisted of Giavanna Mariani, Katelyn Jensen and Luisa Tekelo, all sixth-graders, and North Scott’s team had Brooke Burken, Alexis Ramos, and Brittany Bullock, also all sixth-graders.

Standing at the microphone one team had 30 seconds to answer the author and book title correctly; if not the other team had an opportunity to answer it.

After a few nail-biting moments, Pleasant Valley team was announced the winners of this year’s Re-gional Battle of the Books.

“It feels awesome to finally come back and win it!” Giavanna said of their team.

“We made it to regional’s in fourth grade, and last year we were third in the district competition, but never won. This feels great!”

2011-2012 Iowa Children’s Choice Award Books:

Elise Broach, “Masterpiece”

Michael Buckley, “NERDS”

Andrew Clements, “Extra Credit”

Matthew Cody, “Powerless”

Julia DeVillers, “Liberty Porter, First Daughter”

Jody Feldman, “Gollywhopper Games”

Victoria Forester, “Girl Who Could Fly”

K.L. Going, “Garden Of Eve”

Lisa Graff, “Umbrella Summer”

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Tim Green, “Baseball Great”

Katy Kelly, “Melonhead”

Marlane Kennedy, “Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes”

Gordon Korman, “Schooled”

Ingrid Law, “Savvy”

Ann Leal, “Also Known As Harper”

Ann Martin, “Everything For A Dog”

Hannah McKinnon, “Franny Parker”

Roland Smith, “Tentacles”

Lauren Tarshis, “Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree”

Raina Telgemeier, “Smile”

Sarah Weeks, “Oggie Cooder”

Nathan Wilson, “100 Cupboards”

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