The fingers were poised over the buzzers, flags ready to be waved in the air to signal they had the answers on the tip of their tongues.
The National Library - a place you might associate with silence - was alive with the sound of 64 children from 16 schools across the country yesterday, battling it out to be national champions of the Kids' Lit Quiz, an annual competition about literature.
Even the childrens' concentration seemed to generate noise in the library's grand hall.
Often the quizmaster wouldn't get past a few words indicating the beginning of a book, "She couldn't sleep . . ." and like lightening, buzzer after buzzer would be struck and the first school to push would have their answer at the ready, "The BFG".
It didn't always go that way though, as some of the 10 to 13-year-old children choked when under the spotlight, and the silence between receiving the microphone and muttering "pass" could be excruciating.
Even harder to witness was the children the answering just slightly wrong and another team snatching the win.
The Kids' Lit Quiz was started in New Zealand by Wayne Mills in 1991 and since then it has grown internationally.
"We were a sports-mad country, I didn't see children being rewarded for reading and I thought well this might inspire kids to read and recognise good readers."