25 February 2010

Top 100 Children's Novels: 45-41

The next installment (45-41) of Betsy Bird's "Top 100 Children's Novels" list is up at A Fuse #8 Production.

I've read The Golden Compass* (by Philip Pullman, number 45 on this list; aka Northern Lights), Ramona the Pest (Beverly Cleary, #43) and The Witch of Blackbird Pond** (Elizabeth George Speare, #41).

I really recommend looking at Betsy's posts - she's putting a lot of work into them. For each book, she has not only its place, the title, the author's name, and the original publication date; she includes comments from people who nominated the book, the publisher's synopsis, her own comments, quotes from other reviewers, links to related web pages, links to video clips of film versions (and stage versions, and author interviews, and...), and pictures of the covers from many different editions, including foreign covers (such as the Danish cover I used for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).

* Carnegie Medal winner
** Newbery Medal winner

RIP: Bob Doe

Wing Commander Robert Francis Thomas "Bob" Doe DSO DFC*
10 Mar 1920 – 21 Feb 2010

ZUI this article from The Telegraph:
Wing Commander Bob Doe, who died on February 21 aged 89, was the joint-third most successful fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, credited with 14 victories and two shared.

Yet Doe had struggled to become a pilot, barely passing the necessary exams to gain his wings. He lacked confidence, was poor at aerobatics and disliked flying upside down – not an auspicious beginning for a fighter pilot.

On August 15 1940 – dubbed Adler Tag (Eagle Day) by Hermann Goering, the day he claimed he would destroy Fighter Command – the 20-year-old Doe was on standby with his Spitfire as part of No 234 Squadron at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, waiting for his first scramble. Years later he recalled: "I knew I was going to be killed. I was the worst pilot on the squadron."


In just eight weeks he had risen from being his squadron's junior pilot to a flight commander with at least 14 victories. A few weeks later he was awarded a Bar to his DFC.

The son of a head gardener, Robert Francis Thomas Doe was born at Reigate on March 10 1920. A shy, sickly boy, he left school at 14 to work as an office boy at the News of the World. He was one of the first young men to apply to the RAFVR and started to train as a pilot at a civilian flying school. He gained a short service commission in the RAF in March 1939.


Doe remained in the RAF [after the war] and, after appointments with the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, was sent to Egypt in May 1950 to command No 32 Squadron, equipped with Vampire jet fighters. He had never flown a jet before, so on his way to the squadron he managed to stop off at a maintenance unit and borrow a Vampire for a few hours to familiarise himself. By the time he left in May 1953, No 32 had built up a reputation for esprit de corps envied by all the other RAF and Army units on the base.


Much-admired but always modest, Doe never considered himself a hero, saying that he had been "just doing my duty". But he did write about his wartime experiences in Bob Doe, Fighter Pilot, published in 1989.

Bob Doe is survived by his third wife, Betty, and by five children and three stepchildren.

The Wikipedia article on Doe includes a list of his kills, but the numbers don't add up correctly.

23 February 2010

RIP: John Babcock

John Henry Foster "Jack" Babcock
23 Jul 1900 – 18 Feb 2010

Canada's last veteran of World War I has died. ZUI this article from CTV News:
John Babcock, Canada's last known First World War veteran, has died at 109, the Prime Minister's Office said Thursday night.

Born on a farm in Ontario on July 23, 1900, Babcock signed up for the military as a teenage volunteer, but ended up digging ditches in Canada while pining for the battlefield.

Frustrated, the young Babcock later lied to military staff while volunteering in Halifax and told them he was 18, when in fact he was two years younger.


Babcock was one of 1,300 ... soldiers who were underage, and he endured hours of drill training as he waited for his chance to prove himself in battle.

By the time the war ended in 1918, however, Babcock had yet to serve.


Celebrated in Canada, Babcock never sought the spotlight, and he spent his final years living in Spokane, Washington.

In fact, he often seemed uneasy about his status as Canada's oldest veteran.

"I really didn't accomplish very much," Babcock said. "I went there and I did what the people above told me to do."

Babcock's death leaves only three other confirmed WWI veterans still alive: Frank Buckles (US Army), Claude Choules (Royal Navy) and Florence Green (Women's Royal Air Force). Douglas Terrey, of England, claims to have served in the British Army Ordnance Corps in 1917, but no official records of his service have been located.

Another WWI veteran found

I missed a bit of news last month: Another confirmed WWI veteran has been located, bringing the total up to four. ZUI this article, dated 16 Jan 2010, from The Telegraph:
Florence Green served with the Women’s RAF (WRAF) in 1918 and although she did not see front-line action, the charity Veteran’s Aid said she qualifies as a veteran of the war.

Mrs Green, who turns 109 next month and is a great-grandmother-of-seven, worked as a waitress in the officers' mess during the war at RAF Marham and Narborough Airfield, both in Norfolk.

Her story came to light after Andrew Holmes, a British correspondent for the United States-based Gerontology Research Group, traced her name using the National Archive.


Mrs Green, who was born on February 19, 1901 and joined the WRAF aged 17, said she had been unaware of her status until very recently.


Before the discovery of Mrs Green's service history, it was believed that British-born Gladys Powers, who died in Canada in 2008, was the last female veteran.

ZUI also this article from the King's Lynn (Norfolk) Lynn News.
[T]housands of women ... "did their bit" between 1914 and 1918 - and Mrs Green has survived them all.

After enlisting in 1918, she recalls working in the officers' mess at Marham and was also based at Narborough airfield. She said: "I enjoyed it. There were plenty of people there and they were very good company. It was lovely."

Unaware of her special status until now, she said: "I am proud."

Mrs Green was born in London but Lynn has been her home for about 90 years. She lives with her daughter, May, and has two other children, June, who lives in Oundle, and Bob, who lives in Cumbria. She has four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

The three other confirmed WWI veterans still alive in January were John Babcock (Canadian Expeditionary Force), Frank Buckles (US Army) and Claude Choules (Royal Navy). Douglas Terrey, of England, claims to have served in the British Army Ordnance Corps in 1917, but no official records of his service have been located.

Top 100 Children's Novels: 55-46

The next two installments (55-51 and 50-46) of Betsy Bird's "Top 100 Children's Novels" list are up at A Fuse #8 Production.

I've read The Wind in the Willows (by Kenneth Grahame, #53 on this list), The Saturdays (Elizabeth Enright, #51), Island of the Blue Dolphins* (Scott O'Dell, #50), Frindle (Andrew Clements, #49), The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy (Jeanne Birdsall, #48) and Bud, Not Buddy* (Christopher Paul Curtis, #47).

Eric Carpenter has done another analysis, this time of numbers 100 through 51, at What We Read and What We Think.

Of the bottom fifty on the list:
Three (Swallows and Amazons, The Children of Green Knowe and Henry Huggins) were on my top-ten list;
I've read 22 (possibly 24) others;
I've seen the film version of one I haven't read;
and I'd never heard of seven of them (The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Thief, Love That Dog, My Father's Dragon, Stargirl, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle** and The BFG).

* Newbery Medal winner
** Which I'm reading now

17 February 2010

Top 100 Children's Novels: 65-56

The next two installments (65-61 and 60-56) of Betsy Bird's "Top 100 Children's Novels" list are up at A Fuse #8 Production.

I've read A Long Way from Chicago (by Richard Peck, #64 on the list), Gone-Away Lake* (Elizabeth Enright, #63) and Number the Stars** (Lois Lowry, #56).

I've read a lot of Nancy Drew mysteries, but I'm not sure if I've read The Secret of the Old Clock ("Caroline Keene," #62) or not. Nor am I certain if I've read Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (Beverly Cleary, #57), though I know I've read at least a couple of books in that series.

Eric Carpenter has posted an analysis of the trends and results of this poll, from #100 through #71, at What We read and What We Think.

* I really should have put this one on my top-ten list, instead of the Enright I did include (Spiderweb for Two).
** Newbery Medal winner.

16 February 2010

The Cybils: 2009 winners

The 2009 Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards) winners were announced Sunday, viz:
Picture Book (Fiction)
All the World, written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee

Picture Book (Non-Fiction)
The Day-Glo Brothers, written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tony Persiani

Easy Reader
Watch Me Throw the Ball!, by Mo Willems

Early Chapter Book
Bad to the Bone, written by Lucy Nolan and illustrated by Mike Reed

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Middle Grade Graphic Novel
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook, by Eleanor Davis

Middle Grade Fantasy & Science Fiction
Dreamdark: Silksinger, by Laini Taylor

Middle Grade Fiction
Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Frog Scientist, written by Pamela S Turner and illustrated by Andy Comins

Young Adult Graphic Novel
Gunnerkrigg Court: Orientation, by Tom Siddell

Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction
Fire, by Kristin Cashore

Young Adult Fiction
Cracked Up to Be, by Courtney Summers

Haven't read any of these yet....

The Cybils announcement to which I have linked includes brief descriptions of each book, as well as Amazon links. Support your local independent bookseller!!

Top 100 Children's Novels: 75-66

The next two installments (75-71 and 70-66) of Betsy Bird's "Top 100 Children's Novels" list are up at A Fuse #8 Production.

Henry Huggins (by Beverly Cleary, #66 on the list) was on the top-ten list I submitted.

I've read The Borrowers* (Mary Norton, #74), My Side of the Mountain** (Jean Craighead George, #73), Betsy-Tacy (Maud Hart Lovelace, #70), Walk Two Moons** (Sharon Creech, #68) and Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher (Bruce Coville, #67).

But I'd never heard of Love That Dog (Sharon Creech, #75) or My Father's Dragon (Ruth Stiles Gannett, #72).

Update 0930 18 Feb: I'd forgotten that Henry Huggins was on my list....

* Carnegie Medal winner
** Newbery Medal winner

11 February 2010

Top 100 Children's Novels: 90-76

Betsy Bird has posted a few more installments (numbers 90-86, 85-81 and 80-76) of her "Top 100 Children's Novels" list over at A Fuse #8 Production.

None of the titles I submitted are in this group, but I've read most of these: Sarah, Plain and Tall* (by Patricia MacLachlan, #90), The High King* (Lloyd Alexander, #88), The View from Saturday* (E L Konigsburg, #87), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (J K Rowling, #86), The Little White Horse** (Elizabeth Goudge, #84), The Book of Three (Lloyd Alexander, #82), The Graveyard Book* (Neil Gaiman, #80), All-of-a-Kind Family (Sydney Taylor, #79), Johnny Tremain* (Esther Forbes, #78) and Out of the Dust* (Karen Hesse, #76).

As we continue, I expect to see: The rest of the Harry Potter, Little House and Prydain books; most of the other Newbery winners (and maybe some more Carnegie winners); more books by Beverly Cleary; and books by Hugh Lofting, Edward Eager, C S Lewis, E Nesbit, Lucy Maud Montgomery and E B White.

And while I'm thinking about it, I can't believe I didn't include The Invisible Island, by Dean Marshall, on my list....

Update 0941 16 Feb 10: Of the bottom 25 on the list:
Two (Swallows and Amazons and The Children of Green Knowe) were on my top-ten list;
I've read twelve others;
I've seen the film version of one I haven't read;
and I'd never heard of two of them (The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and The Thief).

* Newbery Medal winner
** Carnegie Medal winner

09 February 2010

Top 100 Children's Novels: 100-91

Betsy Bird has posted the first installment (numbers 100-91) of her Top 100 Children's Novels over at A Fuse #8 Production. Children of Green Knowe, by Lucy M Boston, which was on the list I submitted, is number 98, and Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, my number-one choice for this list, is number 94.* I've also read Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren, #95) and Caddie Woodlawn** (Carol Ryrie Brink, #93), and I've seen the film versions of both Swallows and Amazons and The Witches (Roald Dahl, #96).

Stay tuned for the next installment....

* Can't believe it's that low!!!
** Newbery Medal winner

01 February 2010

Book list - Jan 10

The Depths of Courage: American Submariners at War with Japan, 1941-1945 - WW II, by Flint Whitlock and Ron Smith
Eye of the Zodiac - SF, by E C Tubb
Between the Forest and the Hills - YA historical fantasy, by Ann Lawrence
Mortal Engines - YA SF, by Philip Reeve
Predator's Gold - YA SF, by Philip Reeve
The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution - world history, by Gregory Cochran
The Valley of Adventure - children's adventure, by Enid Blyton *
Infernal Devices - YA SF, by Philip Reeve
The Warrior Heir - YA modern fantasy, by Cinda Williams Chima
A Darkling Plain - YA SF, by Philip Reeve
Tom's Midnight Garden - children's, by Philippa Pearce (Carnegie Medal, 1958)
The Sea of Adventure - children's adventure, by Enid Blyton
When You Reach Me - children's, by Rebecca Stead (Newbery Medal, 2010)
The Wizard Heir - YA modern fantasy, by Cinda Williams Chima
The Mountain of Adventure - children's adventure, by Enid Blyton
The Ship of Adventure - children's adventure, by Enid Blyton
Churchill and His Generals - WW II, by Raymond Callahan
The Circus of Adventure - children's adventure, by Enid Blyton

18 books last month, with one reread (marked by an asterisk). To reach my goal of 210 books this year, I have to average 17.5 per month, so I'm currently right on track.

The one Carnegie Medal winner brings me up to 25 of 70. It was the last one held by our local library system, so I'm going to have to start doing ILLs this month.