Guidelines for writing OBOB questions


  • Prepare for writing questions by first reading and then rereading the book to write the questions. It is also important to consider the other books on the list when writing questions to avoid conflicts.
  • Questions are either of the In Which Book type (answers include both title and author name as printed on the OBOB brochure and bookmarks and toucanbob website); or the “In the Book” type. In both cases full answers include both title and author name as printed on the OBOB brochure and bookmarks and toucanbob website.
  • All questions are written in present tense (does/do or is/are).
  • Limit questions to a maximum of twenty words each, including the words "In which book.”
  • Cite a page number for each question’s answer. Some questions may not have a page number as the answer may come from the whole book, a chapter, foreword, etc. Those questions should be identified with the appropriate section.
  • Use correct grammar. It is not acceptable to say, "In which book does a character ride their horse?"
  • Try to avoid "killer" questions. (These are questions that require a photographic memory.)
  • Use significant events, character development, major themes, and unique settings in time or place.
  • Make the question as direct as possible. Do not use archaic and unique words unless they appear in the book and are necessary to the clarity of the question. Do not use the word “protagonist”. “Character” or “main character” works better for this competition.
  • Avoid obvious questions.
  • Use direct quotes only when they are an integral part of the story - for example, a phrase repeated throughout the book. If direct quotes are used, make sure they are unedited!


“In Which Book” Questions:

  • Use direct quotes only when they are an integral part of the story - for example, a phrase repeated throughout the book. If direct quotes are used, make sure they are unedited!
  • For IWB questions, avoid indicating the gender of the character if possible. Do not use he or he/she pronoun, instead, reword the sentence (i.e. "In which book does a character ride a horse?" or "... is a horse ridden by its owner?"
  • For IWB questions, do not use key words from the title within the questions.
  • Avoid questions whose answers might easily be found in more than one book.

“Content” or “In The Book” Questions:

  • Content questions should have a single answer. Do not start the question with the words “How” or “Why” as the answers elicit a more open and varied response that becomes difficult to judge.
  • Two-part Content Questions should start with the phrase: "Two parts:" Write the variations of acceptable answers in keyword format with the connecting word “AND” between the two answers.
  • Answers to Content Questions should be concise and include acceptable variations of wording with the word “OR” included to make it clear to the reader that any of the stated answers is acceptable.
  • In writing Content Questions, if the answer is to be a person, the question should be framed so that a name is the answer, i.e. “What is the name of the character who climbed the mountain?” List the appropriate answers – “John Smith” OR “John” OR “Mr. Smith”. All of those answers should be acceptable.