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CBB Trivia Night 2016—or—You should always listen to Elissa

frog and toad are friends with benefits

The Frog and Toad Are Friends with Benefits teammates holding their prizes: literary-themed soaps. L to R: Terri Schmitz, Stacy Collins, Emily Coolidge Toker, Lauren Rizzuto, Kazia Berkley-Cramer, Sheryl DePaolo. Photo: Lolly Robinson

We needed a lighthearted evening this Monday. A distraction. Some silliness. A challenge.

We needed to meet our match in a trivia team called Frog and Toad Are Friends with Benefits.

gantos june 16

Emcee Jack Gantos. Photo: Elissa Gershowitz

Lucky for us, Children’s Books Boston’s Wicked Boston Trivia Challenge at M. J. O’Connor’s Back Bay, hosted by the one and only Jack Gantos, provided an opportunity to do just that. Lolly, Elissa, and I, with compatriots Lauren, Sarah, and Carli, took up the mantle of Goldilocks and the Free Beers, a team name devised two years ago by then-Horn Booker and punster extraordinaire Shara Hardeson. It was a name that had twice carried us to victory, and our hopes were high that it might do so again.

Librarians, booksellers, editors, authors, illustrators, teachers, students, and other assorted children’s lit nerds greeted each other. Charlesbridge editor Karen Boss got us quiet. Simmons Center for the Study of Children’s Literature director Cathie Mercier announced that all the questions would be New England–themed. And then the questions began.

My joy at starting with a Louisa May Alcott question (the once-separate second volume of Little Women? Good Wives, of course) was tempered by a moment that would shame any former children’s bookseller. I could picture the second book in local author Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. I shelved it for four and a half years, and given Percy’s popularity, that means I shelved a lot of it. The spine was brown. The title included the word sea. But I couldn’t produce the phrase The Sea of Monsters in the time allotted, and that cost us a point.

There were illustrations to attribute to their creators. (Lolly was invaluable.) There were last lines of books to identify. (A true team effort.) We named the publisher of Scientists in the Field (Houghton Mifflin). The sponsor of the Children’s Writer-in-Residence program (the Boston Public Library). The sculptor behind the Make Way for Ducklings statues (Nancy Schön).

Scores were close when we got to the final question, about an island-dwelling children’s book creator who kept his sketchbook in his gas mask during WWII. We could wager two or four points. Elissa suggested the answer might be Ashley Bryan. We went with her answer, but since she wasn’t positive, we only wagered two.

And then the results came in. In second place, Goldilocks and the Free Beers. In first place, Frog and Toad are Friends with Benefits. By two points.

And that’s why you should always listen to Elissa.

Congratulations to the wonderful winning team, and many thanks to the intrepid organizers for an evening that was exactly what we needed.

For more information on Children’s Books Boston events, follow CBB on Facebook.

Goldilocks and the Free Beers

Goldilocks and the Free Beers, L to R: Carli Spina, Lauren Adams, Sarah Brannen, Lolly Robinson, Shoshana Flax, and photographer Elissa Gershowitz

Jack Gantos with team The Violet Beauregardes

Jack Gantos with team The Violet Beauregardes. Photo: Elissa Gershowitz

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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