Four students from John Muir Magnet School teamed up to claim the school’s first Oregon Battle of the Books Region 5 championship in the Grades 3-5 division March 18 at North Medford High School.

John Muir’s team of Ayla Yangthen, Kena Robertshaw, Junie Christopherson and Naomi Malm edged another Ashland team from Walker Elementary 71-65 to claim the regional crown. By advancing to the final round both teams had already clinched a spot in the state competition, which will be held Saturday, April 8, at Chemeketa Community College in Salem.

“They are so excited,” John Muir BOTB coach Lynn Lotti said. “I don’t think they had any idea that they would do that well, but I noticed at the very beginning of the regional competition that they weren’t getting any questions wrong. Out of 16 questions, they were getting all but one.”

Oregon Battle of the Books is an annual event in which teams of four square off in question and answer showdowns to determine which team better understands the content of 16 preselected books. Questions fall into two subcategories, one which asks students to identify the book being described and another which asks trivia questions. Teams compete in one of three divisions: Grades 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

This year’s Grades 3-5 BOTB reading list included “Because of Mr. Terupt” by Rob Buyea, “Escaping the Giant Wave” by Peg Kehret, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling and “Hook’s Revenge” by Heidi Schulz.

Yangthen, Robertshaw, Christopherson and Malm had to win John Muir’s BOTB competition to advance to regionals. They’ll stay in a motel in Salem the night before the state competition, which will include 20 teams in each division, two from each of the 10 regions.

John Muir Magnet School has 120 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“I would say that every girl on our team actually does not use a lot of technology in their home,” Lotti said. “There’s a lot of reading going on, not just with OBOB. They all have a basic fundamental love of reading and you can see that when you’re working with them. They’re excited about all the characters and they talk about them like they’re real. They’re really living the story.”

Joe Zavala is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-821-0829 or Follow him on Twitter at @Joe_Zavala99.