students earn top honors in FNPL Book Review Contest

Several Norfolk Collegiate students received top honors in the Friends of Norfolk Public Library (FNPL) 2016 Book Review Contest.

The FNPL’s goal is to organize, encourage and strengthen public support for the Norfolk Public Library and enrich the total resources and facilities of the library, including raising money for new books and funding special events, such as the Summer Reading Program.

Each year, the contest receives submissions from students grades four through 12 within public and private schools, as well as home-schooled students. Last year, the contest saw more than 2,000 book reviews.

Carter Woods ’19 placed first within the ninth-grade category with his combative review of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.

“I was interested in how he created a windmill out of pretty much nothing given that his resources were very limited,” said Carter. “I’m sure that must have taken a lot of time and patience,” he continued. “I entered into the contest because I thought it was worth it. If I’m going to write something, I should see what people think of it and to see if others agree with the criticism of a good read.”

Upper School English Teacher Evan Benedict ’04 entered each of his students into the contest with Carter earning first place.

“It’s great if you are winning contest like this or at least having the opportunity to participate in it,” said Benedict. “I also like the fact that it’s sponsored by the Friends of Norfolk Public Library because libraries across America are dying. We just built an incredible library in downtown Norfolk,” he continued. “With book reviews we don’t work with them very much, maybe one or two projects a semester. We work a lot on project based learning or performance tasks were students work together to complete a goal, which encourages group thinking and competitive work. I believe this brings out the best in each student by comparing their works in a friendly, competitive way. I think our students genuinely enjoy writing and submitting things into contest such as this one.”

Our lower school students also joined the contest and placed high within several categories.

Chailea Harvey ’24 received first place within the fourth-grade division for her review of El Deafo by Cece Bell.

“The book I read was very interesting,” said Chailea. “It had lots of detail in the story, and I really liked writing the report.”

Emma McMonagle ’24 placed second within the fourth-grade division with her review of The Tiger Rising by Kate Dicamillo.

“I enjoyed how the [character] expressed his feelings and told how he felt,” said Emma. “The book was kind of sad. He really loved the tiger, and the book taught you life lessons,” she continued. “Reading helps you to imagine things. It’s like a movie happening in your head. It’s really fun.”

“In preparation for the contest, my students simply do a lot of reading,” said Ashley James, fourth-grade teacher. “We identify what makes a good story by talking aloud about what we are reading. We do not prepare specifically for the contest, but we do examine good book reviews and talk about the qualities of those reviews. Additionally, students also write reviews in library class with Mrs. Creekmore, lower school librarian.


Collegiate’s 2016 Book Review Contest winners include:

Grade 4                                                                                                               

  • First Place       Chailea Harvey                       
  • Second Place   Emma McMonagle                 
  • Third Place      Blake Hrisko                          

Grade 5                                                                                                               

  • Second Place   Logan Reed                            

Grade 6                                                                                                              

  • First Place       Graham Fitzwater                  
  • Second Place   Audrey Spurgeon                   
  • Third Place      Bennett Short                         

Grade 9                                                                                                               

  • First Place       Carter Woods                         
  • Third Place      Max Golovsky                        

Grade 11                                                                                                             

  • Third Place      Thomas Batzel