ARLINGTON — The wreckage of squashed bananas and shattered pretzels littered the grass. Shirts were stained white with whipped cream and teeth were stained black by Oreo cookies. Doughnuts dangled from a string between three trees on the edge of the battlefield.
Librarian Abby Bormann called out orders amidst the chaos, a megaphone her only tool for corralling more than 50 children and teens fueled by the thrill of starting summer break.
The students were challenged to participate in the Hungry Games, a series of food-themed contests, to kick off Sno-Isle Libraries’ summer reading program Monday afternoon. The reading program started June 1 but many students are just now starting their summer breaks.
On Monday, kids lined up to “Face the Cookie,” where they balanced an Oreo on their forehead and tried to get it to their mouths without using hands or arms. They partnered up for the pretzel toss, where one teammate held a crazy straw in their mouth and the other tried to toss five pretzels onto the straw like horseshoes. They tied Twizzlers into knots with their mouths and searched with their faces for a piece of bubblegum buried in a plate of whipped cream.
In one of the most popular tournaments, participants faced off against each other for banana jousting. They mounted their trusty steeds — pool noodles with a horse or shark face on them — and exchanged blows with bananas to see whose would break open first. The person with the last banana in one piece claimed victory.
“For war. For glory. For bananas!” shouted Lucas Gibson, a 12-year-old who goes to Post Middle School. He and his friend, Shayne Shelton, were the first two to joust. Lucas won a squishy stress ball as a prize after Shayne’s banana fell apart.
Friends Katanna Breece and Annabelle Hoffman, both 12, competed in all of the Hungry Games events. They were looking for something to do now that their school is out until fall.
“We’ve been kind of bored for the summer,” Katanna confessed.
Annabelle shrugged. “I just wanted to eat doughnuts off of trees.”
That was the final challenge of the day: trying to eat a doughnut hanging off of a tree without using hands.
After the games, Bormann urged students to stop by the library, across the street from the battlefield, and sign up for the summer reading program. All 21 Sno-Isle Libraries have programs this summer for elementary-age kids and middle or high school students. They can sign up in person at one of the libraries or online at sno-isle.org/explore-summer.
By keeping track of how many hours they read, participants can get books as prizes and be entered into a drawing for a gift certificate to their nearest book store.
There also are dozens of summer reading events at libraries around Snohomish and Island counties.
“Each branch is doing something different,” Bormann said. “We’re focusing on games and gaming.”
Upcoming activities in Arlington include a Harry Potter game day and a Doctor Who trivia and costume contest. Calendars of events for all of the libraries are available at sno-isle.org/events. Other libraries have planned activities with music, magicians and presentations from Sarvey Wildlife Center, among other highlights.
The summer reading program, called “Explore Summer,” goes until Aug. 31.
Sheamin Kim, 12, is excited to start her summer reading. She loves books and planned to go find a new one at the library after finishing the Hungry Games.
“If I could live in the library, I would,” she said.
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.