CHILDREN’S writer Ali Sparkes has hailed Portsmouth’s pupils as ‘the brightest in the country’ after her team of authors was beaten in a quiz – all about books.
Ali and fellow authors Guy Bass, Anna Dale and Andrew Norris went head to head against 23 teams of primary schoolchildren for the 2011 Portsmouth Literature Quiz.
Despite the writers clocking up an impressive 71 points out of a possible 80, Solent Juniors won the day with a magnificent 74 points.
Several other schools in Portsmouth came close behind with scores in the high 60s and 70s.
Ali said: ‘The quiz was great fun.
‘The level of enthusiasm was so uplifting and it is impressive just how much the children know about books.
‘It gives us all hope that a whole new generation of fantastic readers and probably writers will take over when we are old and grey and keep us entertained.’
Ali, who has visited many parts of the country to take part in literary events, added: ‘In my experience Portsmouth children are the brightest.’
Guy Bass, winner of last year’s Portsmouth Children’s Book Award, said: ‘I never expected to win against such strong competition.
‘These children are impressive and I’m flattered they choose to read my books.’
Solent Junior team members Alex Charters, Amy Webber, Jasmin Richardson, all 10, and Bethany Hicks, 11, could barely contain their joy when their names were read out.
Alex said: ‘I’m elated and overjoyed to have won.
‘I can’t believe we scored more than the authors – I thought they’d at least get full marks on the rounds based on their books.
‘I love reading and this trophy has made me feel proud of what our team achieved.’
Jasmin added: ‘I’ve read lots of books by the authors and felt honoured to compete alongside them.
‘Reading is so important because it helps your imagination.
‘It’s a lot better than playing computer games.’
Peter Bone, manager of the council’s school library service, which organised the event, was delighted with the strong turnout for the contest which has been running for years.
He said: ‘This is all about creating a buzz around reading which is potentially a solitary activity.
‘I’m really impressed by the levels of knowledge – all of the children are a real credit to their schools.’
Competition runners-up were a team from Northern Parade Juniors and in third place came a second team from Solent Juniors.
All pupils received certificates signed by the authors and the winners for each round were given tokens for the Hayling Island Bookshop.