27 April 2010

Cretaceous birds

Darren Naish, at Tetrapod Zoology, has written a few interesting posts on (amongst other things) Cretaceous birds recently:
Aberratiodontus wui (China)
Alexornis antecedens (Mexico)
Protopteryx fengningensis (China)

Sloths in the privy

Yes, really.

Carnegie and Greenaway short lists announced

CILIP - the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals - have released the short lists for this year's Carnegie Medal and Kate Greenaway Medal.

The Andrew Carnegie Medal, named for the Scottish philanthropist, has been awarded annually since 1937 to the writer of "an outstanding book for children." In addition to the gold medal, the winner receives £500 worth of books to donate to a library of his/her choice.

This year's short list consists of:
Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Bloomsbury (Age range 11+)

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
Bloomsbury (Age range 9+)

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, by Helen Grant
Penguin (Age range 14+)

Rowan the Strange, by Julie Hearn
Oxford University Press (Age range 12+)

The Ask and the Answer, by Patrick Ness
Walker (Age range 14+)

Nation, by Terry Pratchett
Doubleday (Age range 11+)

Fever Crumb, by Philip Reeve
Scholastic (Age range 9+)

Revolver, by Marcus Sedgwick
Orion (Age range 12+)

Pratchett and Reeve have both received the Carnegie Medal before, Pratchett for The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (2001) and Reeve for Here Lies Arthur (2008). The Graveyard Book was last year's winner of the Newbery Medal; if it wins the Carnegie it will be the first book to receive both medals. (Sharon Creech is the only author thus far to hold both medals, but they were awarded for different books in different years.)

The Kate Greenaway Medal, named for the nineteenth-century artist, has been awarded annually since 1957 to the illustrator of "an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people." As with the Carnegie Medal, the winner receives a golden medal and £500 worth of books to donate to a library of his/her choice; since 2000, the winner has also been awarded the £5000 Colin Mears Award.

This year's short list consists of:
Leon and the Place Between, illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith and written by Angela McAllister
Templar (Age range: 8+)

Harry & Hopper, illustrated by Freya Blackwood and written by Margaret Wild
Scholastic (Age range: 6+)

The Great Paper Caper, by Oliver Jeffers
HarperCollins (Age range: 4+)

Millie's Marvelous Hat, by Satoshi Kitamura
Andersen (Age range:4+ )

Crazy Hair, illustrated by Dave McKean and written by Neil Gaiman
Bloomsbury (Age range: 6+)

The Graveyard Book, illustrated by Chris Riddell and written by Neil Gaiman
Bloomsbury (Age range: 9+)

The Dunderheads, illustrated by David Roberts and written by Paul Fleischman
Walker (Age range: 8+)

There are Cats in This Book, by Viviane Schwarz
Walker (Age range: 2+)

Riddell has already received the Greenaway Medal twice, for Pirate Diary (2001) and Jonathan Swift's “Gulliver” (2004). And there's The Graveyard Book again. (No book or author/illustrator has yet won both the Carnegie and the Greenaway.)

(Amazon UK links provided for reference. Most, if not all, are probably also available from Amazon US. Supporting independent booksellers, as always, is recommended.)

The winners will be announced on 24 June.

25 April 2010

Victoria Cross: F. W. Holmes


Lance-Corporal, 2nd Battalion the King's Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry)

Born: 15 September 1889, Tottenham, Middlesex
Died: 22 October 1969, Port Augusta, South Australia, Australia

Citation: At Le Cateau [France] on 26th August [1914], carried a wounded man out of the trenches under heavy fire and later assisted to drive a gun out of action by taking the place of a driver who had been wounded.

(London Gazette issue 28985 dtd 25 Nov 1914, published 24 Nov 1914.)

Medal of Honor: G. H. O'Brien, Jr.


Second Lieutenant, US Marine Corps Reserve; Company H, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein)

Born: 10 September 1926, Fort Worth, Texas
Died: 11 March 2005, Midland, Texas

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a rifle platoon commander of Company H, in action against enemy aggressor forces [on 27 October 1952]. With his platoon subjected to an intense mortar and artillery bombardment while preparing to assault a vitally important hill position on the main line of resistance which had been overrun by a numerically superior enemy force on the preceding night, 2d Lt. O'Brien leaped from his trench when the attack signal was given and, shouting for his men to follow, raced across an exposed saddle and up the enemy-held hill through a virtual hail of deadly small-arms, artillery, and mortar fire. Although shot through the arm and thrown to the ground by hostile automatic-weapons fire as he neared the well-entrenched enemy position, he bravely regained his feet, waved his men onward, and continued to spearhead the assault, pausing only long enough to go to the aid of a wounded marine. Encountering the enemy at close range, he proceeded to hurl handgrenades into the bunkers and, utilizing his carbine to best advantage in savage hand-to-hand combat, succeeded in killing at least 3 of the enemy. Struck down by the concussion of grenades on 3 occasions during the subsequent action, he steadfastly refused to be evacuated for medical treatment and continued to lead his platoon in the assault for a period of nearly 4 hours, repeatedly encouraging his men and maintaining superb direction of the unit. With the attack halted he set up a defense with his remaining forces to prepare for a counterattack, personally checking each position, attending to the wounded and expediting their evacuation. When a relief of the position was effected by another unit, he remained to cover the withdrawal and to assure that no wounded were left behind. By his exceptionally daring and forceful leadership in the face of overwhelming odds, 2d Lt. O'Brien served as a constant source of inspiration to all who observed him and was greatly instrumental in the recapture of a strategic position on the main line of resistance. His indomitable determination and valiant fighting spirit reflect the highest credit upon himself and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

20 April 2010

Top 100 Children's Books: My list

Herewith my own personal top-ten list. This is not the list I actually submitted back in January; I forgot several books that definitely would have made the list if I'd thought of them.
1. Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome (#94 on the Top 100 list)
2. The Invisible Island, by Dean Marshall
3. The Children of Green Knowe, by Lucy M Boston (#98)
4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C S Lewis (#4)
5. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, by E L Konigsburg (#5)
6. Gone-Away Lake, by Elizabeth Enright (#63)
7. Operation Yes, by Sara Lewis Holmes
8. Time at the Top, by Edward Ormondroyd
9. The Time Garden, by Edward Eager
10. Henry Huggins, by Beverly Cleary (#66)

It was hard to narrow it down to just ten books. The last few to be trimmed included Five Children and It, by E Nesbit (#112); Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion, by Julie Campbell; The Vanishing Shadow, by Margaret Sutton;, and The Duck-Footed Hound, by Jim Kjelgaard.

Update 1815 27 Apr 10: My count for the top 100:
Three (Swallows and Amazons, The Children of Green Knowe and Henry Huggins) were on my original top-ten list;
I'd read 57 (possibly 59) 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).

* I've read three others (including one of the seven I'd never heard of) since they were listed in the poll, bringing my total up to 63, or possibly 65, of the 100 - just under two-thirds.

19 April 2010

Top 100 YA books

Now that we've reached the end of Betsy's Top 100 Children's Novels list, Adele at Persnickety Snark is starting a Top 100 YA Titles poll. See here for details. Entries must be received by 30 April.

18 April 2010

Victoria Cross: W. Speakman


Private, Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment); attached 1st Battalion, The King's Own Scottish Borderers

Born: 21 September 1927, Altrincham, Cheshire
Died: TBD

Citation: From 0400 hours, 4th November, 1951, the defensive positions held by 1st Battalion, The King's Own Scottish Borderers, were continuously subjected to heavy and accurate enemy shell and mortar fire. At 1545 hours, this fire became intense and continued thus for the next two hours, considerably damaging the defences and wounding a number of men.
At 1645 hours, the enemy in their hundreds advanced in wave upon wave against the King's Own Scottish Borderers' positions, and by 1745 hours, fierce hand to hand fighting was taking place on every position.
Private Speakman, a member of B Company, Headquarters, learning that the section holding the left shoulder of the Company's position had been seriously depleted by casualties, had had its N.C.O.s wounded and was being overrun, decided on his own initiative to drive the enemy off the position and keep them off it. To effect this he collected quickly a large pile of grenades and a party of six men. Then displaying complete disregard for his own personal safety he led his party in a series of grenade charges against the enemy; and continued doing so as each successive wave of enemy reached the crest of the hill. The force and determination of his charges broke up each successive enemy onslaught and resulted in an ever mounting pile of enemy dead.
Having led some ten charges, through withering enemy machine gun and mortar fire, Private Speakman was eventually severely wounded in the leg. Undaunted by his wounds, he continued to lead charge after charge against the enemy and it was only after a direct order from his superior officer that he agreed to pause for a first field dressing to be applied to his wounds. Having had his wounds bandaged, Private Speakman immediately rejoined his comrades and led them again and again forward in a series of grenade charges, up to the time of the withdrawal of his Company at 2100 hours.
At the critical moment of the withdrawal, amidst an inferno of enemy machine gun and mortar fire, as well as grenades, Private Speakman led a final charge to clear the crest of the hill and hold it, whilst the remainder of his Company withdrew. Encouraging his gallant, but by now sadly depleted party, he assailed the enemy with showers of grenades and kept them at bay sufficiently long for his Company to effect its withdrawal.
Under the stress and strain of this battle, Private Speakman's outstanding powers of leadership were revealed and he so dominated the situation, that he inspired his comrades to stand firm and fight the enemy to a standstill.
His great gallantry and utter contempt for his own personal safety were an inspiration to all his comrades. He was, by his heroic actions, personally responsible for causing enormous losses to the enemy, assisting his Company to maintain their position for some four hours and saving the lives of many of his comrades when they were forced to withdraw from their position.
Private Speakman's heroism under intense fire throughout the operation and when painfully wounded was beyond praise and is deserving of supreme recognition.

[London Gazette issue 39418 dated 28 Dec 1951, published 25 Dec 1951.]

Note: Though the award was authorised by King George VI, this was the first VC actually presented by Queen Elizabeth II.
this article from AFP about Speakman's recent visit to Korea.

Medal of Honor: L. R. Kaufman


Sergeant First Class, US Army; Company G, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division

Born: 27 July 1923, The Dalles, Oregon
Died: 10 February 1951, near Yongsan, Korea

Citation: Sfc. Kaufman distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. On the night of 4 September [1950] the company was in a defensive position on 2 adjoining hills [near Yongsan, Korea]. His platoon was occupying a strong point 2 miles away protecting the battalion flank. Early on 5 September the company was attacked by an enemy battalion and his platoon was ordered to reinforce the company. As his unit moved along a ridge it encountered a hostile encircling force. Sfc. Kaufman, running forward, bayoneted the lead scout and engaged the column in a rifle and grenade assault. His quick Vicious attack so surprised the enemy that they retreated in confusion. When his platoon joined the company he discovered that the enemy had taken commanding ground and pinned the company down in a draw. Without hesitation Sfc. Kaufman charged the enemy lines firing his rifle and throwing grenades. During the action, he bayoneted 2 enemy and seizing an unmanned machine gun, delivered deadly fire on the defenders. Following this encounter the company regrouped and resumed the attack. Leading the assault he reached the ridge, destroyed a hostile machine gun position, and routed the remaining enemy. Pursuing the hostile troops he bayoneted 2 more and then rushed a mortar position shooting the gunners. Remnants of the enemy fled to a village and Sfc. Kaufman led a patrol into the town, dispersed them, and burned the buildings. The dauntless courage and resolute intrepid leadership of Sfc. Kaufman were directly responsible for the success of his company in regaining its positions, reflecting distinct credit upon himself and upholding the esteemed traditions of the military service.

17 April 2010

Top 100 Children's Novels: The rest of the story

Wondering what other books people nominated for the poll? Look here.

And here.

They're listed in alphabetical order by author's name. Lots of good books here, some of which I hadn't thought of in years.

15 April 2010

National Library Week

Just thought I'd mention that this is National Library Week. Go thank a library worker!

Top 100 Children's Novels: The roundup

First off, here is the complete list of the books, with links to the posts in which Betsy described them.

Once Betsy got down to the Top 20, she asked for predictions of which books would be in the Top Ten. Here is a list of books that were listed in people's predictions, but weren't actually Top Ten books.

The book in the #100 slot (The Egypt Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder) had nine votes, for a total of 39 points. These are the books in the #101-120 positions. Only three of the books that were on my original submission made the Top 100, the highest at #66; one more is here: Five Children and It, by E Nesbit (#112, with 34 points).

Eric has posted his final analysis of the Top 100: Country of original publication, percentage of books which were part of a series, distribution of books by decade in which originally published, &c. He also has lists of what the Top 25 would have been if Betsy had used different scoring methods. Charlotte's Web is obviously a well-loved book - it retains the #1 slot in all of these alternate lists.

Casa Camisas offers a list of "The Best 100 Children’s Books of . . . THE FUTURE (dun dun dun!)" - a statistical refactoring of books 9-100 (together with a promise that it would be updated after books 1-8 were announced).

Many, many thanks to Betsy, for going to all the trouble of doing this, and also to all the others who participated and made it possible for her to do so.


Tater Tots wrapped in bacon. Yum....

H/T to Tam.

12 April 2010

Top 100 Children's Novels: 2-1

Number 2:
A Wrinkle in Time,
by Madeleine L'Engle.

This, as I recall, was one of the books I bought back around 4th grade from those Scholastic flyers that came to our school each year. (A great deal; my younger daughter's middle school just had a Scholastic book fair a couple weeks ago.) As I recall, I enjoyed it at the time, but when I tried rereading it again four or five years ago I couldn't force myself to finish it. Last year, though, I did reread it as part of my Newbery programme (it was the 1963 winner), and then went on to read the first few sequels.

Number 1:
Charlotte's Web,
by E B White.

I know I read this back around first grade, but my brain is fried from getting up much too early this morning (to take my wife to hospital), so I can't really think of anything to say right now.

But I haven't seen the film version of either of these two books.

11 April 2010

Victoria Cross; Q. G. M. Smythe


Sergeant, 1st Royal Natal Carabineers

Born: 6 August 1916
Died: October 1997, Durban, South Africa

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry in action in the Alem Hamza area on the 5th June, 1942.
During the attack on an enemy strong point in which his officer was severely wounded, Sergeant Smythe took command of the platoon although suffering from a shrapnel wound in the forehead. The strong point having been overrun, our troops came under enfilade fire from an enemy machine-gun nest. Realising the threat to his position, Sergeant Smythe himself stalked and destroyed the nest with hand grenades, capturing the crew. Though weak from loss of blood, he continued to lead the advance, and on encountering an anti-tank gun position again attacked it single-handed and captured the crew. He was directly responsible for killing several of the enemy, shooting some and bayonetting another as they withdrew.
After consolidation he received orders for a withdrawal, which he successfully executed, defeating skilfully an enemy attempt at encirclement.
Throughout the engagement Sergeant Smythe displayed remarkable disregard for danger, and his leadership and courage were an inspiration to his men.

[London Gazette issue 35698 dtd 11 Sep 1942, published 8 Sep 1942.]

Medal of Honor: D. E. Ballard


Hospital Corpsman Second Class, US Navy; Company M, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division

Born: 5 December 1945, Kansas City, Missouri
Died: TBD

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty while serving as a HC2c. with Company M, in connection with operations against enemy aggressor forces [on 16 May 1968]. During the afternoon hours, Company M was moving to join the remainder of the 3d Battalion in Quang Tri Province. After treating and evacuating 2 heat casualties, HC2c. Ballard was returning to his platoon from the evacuation landing zone when the company was ambushed by a North Vietnamese Army unit employing automatic weapons and mortars, and sustained numerous casualties. Observing a wounded marine, HC2c. Ballard unhesitatingly moved across the fire swept terrain to the injured man and swiftly rendered medical assistance to his comrade. HC2c. Ballard then directed 4 marines to carry the casualty to a position of relative safety. As the 4 men prepared to move the wounded marine, an enemy soldier suddenly left his concealed position and, after hurling a hand grenade which landed near the casualty, commenced firing upon the small group of men. Instantly shouting a warning to the marines, HC2c. Ballard fearlessly threw himself upon the lethal explosive device to protect his comrades from the deadly blast. When the grenade failed to detonate, he calmly arose from his dangerous position and resolutely continued his determined efforts in treating other marine casualties. HC2c. Ballard's heroic actions and selfless concern for the welfare of his companions served to inspire all who observed him and prevented possible injury or death to his fellow marines. His courage, daring initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger, sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

08 April 2010

RIP: Neva Morris

Neva Morris (neé Freed)
3 Aug 1895 - 6 Apr 2010

The oldest person in the United States has died. ZUI this article from Radio Iowa:
An Iowan, who became the oldest American earlier this year, died Tuesday morning. Neva Morris of Ames was 114 years old.


Morris lived at Northcrest Community in Ames since 1999. [Her son-in-law Tom] Wickersham, who is 90, also lives at Northcrest. He said Morris had hearing and eyesight problems, but was aware of the fact she was the oldest living American.


The Iowa Department of Aging reports the oldest Iowan now is 113-year-old Dina Manfredini of Johnston.

In addition to being the oldest person in the United States, Morris was the second-oldest person in the world at the time of her death. (The oldest person in the world is Japanese, and the now second-oldest is French.) She is the fourth supercentenarian listed by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) to die since the death of Daisey Bailey on 7 March; the other three were Jane Gilsenan of New York (8 May 1898-8 Mar 2010), Florence Poe of Missouri (24 Aug 1897-21 Mar 2010) and Antonietta Rocca-Cerizza of Italy (7 Oct 1899-29 Mar 2010).

The GRG's list of validated living supercentenarians (people who have reached their 110th birthday) currently includes 74 people (3 men and 71 women), ranging from Kama Chinen of Japan (born 10 May 1895) to Domenica Di Tomasso-Ciccheli of Italy (born 11 Feb 1900). The oldest person in the United States is now Eunice Sanborn of Texas (born 20 Jul 1896), the world's fourth-oldest person; a total of 19 supercentenarians live in the US, two of them in Iowa.

Top 100 Children's Novels: 4-3

Along about eighth grade I was walking through the Waukegan Public Library when I spotted a book display the librarians had set up; one of the books was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C S Lewis. It looked interesting, so I read it - then went looking for the rest of the series, of which this is the first. (The first published, that is; it's the second by internal chronology.) Since then I've reread the entire series several times, and really enjoyed the latest film version (though I haven't seen the sequel yet).

Lewis was a religious man, and a lot of people complain about the Christian symbology in these books. I personally didn't notice a thing until I got to the last book in the series, The Last Battle.

For some reason I didn't think of either this book or the next one when I submitted my top-ten list to Betsy back in January. I had this at #2 on my Top Ten prediction.

Yes, some clown decided to retitle this as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when it was released in the US. I was introduced to the series when my mother-in-law, having read several articles about the Harry Potter craze, borrowed the first two books (this and Chamber of Secrets) from the library in order to see what all the fuss was about. I've read all seven of them, of course (my 14-year-old daughter has read them all several times each), and have seen all but the latest movie.

I had this correctly at #3 on my Top Ten prediction. Most of the people who are commenting on Betsy's blog seem to agree with me that A Wrinkle in Time and Charlotte's Web will be in the top two slots. I had those at #4 and #1, respectively....

This is the Finnish cover; no idea who the artist was, but I'd like to see more of his/her/its work. The Ukrainian cover, as usual, is also very good, and I like the Swedish one, too.

06 April 2010

Top 100 Children's Novels: 5

This was the first Newbery winner I read because it was a Newbery winner - my sister showed me a review in the paper shortly after the award was announced, and it sounded interesting. Haven't seen either the 1973 movie (The Hideaways, with Ingrid Bergman as Mrs F) or the 1995 tv movie (with Lauren Bacall).

It's an excellent book, and I can't believe I didn't think of it when submitting my top-ten list. I did, however, have it at #4 on my Top Ten prediction.

05 April 2010

Top 100 Children's Novels: 7-6

Number 7:
The Giver,
by Lois Lowry.

If you look at the comments on Betsy's post, you'll see that the main factor in how much people liked this book seems to have been whether or not it was the first dystopian story they'd read. If it was, then they mostly loved it; if not, then maybe (probably) not so much.

In my case, I'm sure that if this book had been available when I was 13 I would have loved it. As it was, though, I was almost 40 when it came out, and then I didn't get to it until I started reading the Newbery Medal winners three years ago. (It was the 1994 winner.) If I recall correctly, the first dystopia I read was 1984, back when I was in high school, and I've been a big S M Stirling fan for years. So while I did like it - especially the basic concept - it came nowhere near getting a place in my Top Ten prediction.

Number 6:
by Louis Sachar.

Another book I hadn't read until I started reading the Newberys (it won in 1999), though I had seen part of the movie when my girls were watching it on telly. And I find it very hard to believe it's in the Top Ten.... (Obviously, therefore, it wasn't in my Top Ten prediction either.)

Just for the record, the #7 and #6 spots in my Top Ten prediction were The Phantom Tollbooth (actually #10) and Diary of a Wimpy Kid (probably won't place).

04 April 2010

Victoria Cross: G. P. Gibson


Acting Wing Commander, Reserve of Air Force Officers; 617 Squadron

Born: 12 August 1918, Simla, India
Died: 19 September 1944, Bergen-op-Zoom, Holland

Citation: This officer served as a night bomber pilot at the beginning of the war and quickly established a reputation as an outstanding operational pilot. In addition to taking the fullest possible share in all normal operations, he made single-handed attacks during his "rest" nights on such highly defended objectives as the German battleship Tirpitz, then completing in Wilhelmshaven.
When his tour of operational duty was concluded,he asked for a further operational posting and went to a night-fighter unit instead of being posted for instructional duties. In the course of his second operational tour, he destroyed at least three enemy bombers and contributed much to the raising and development of new night-fighter formations.
After a short period in a training unit, he again volunteered for operational duties and returned to night bombers. Both as an operational pilot and as leader of his squadron, he achieved outstandingly successful results and his personal courage knew no bounds. Berlin, Cologne, Danzig, Gdynia, Genoa, Le Creusot, Milan, Nuremberg and Stuttgart were among the targets he attacked by day and by night.
On the conclusion of his third operational tour, Wing Commander Gibson pressed strongly to be allowed to remain on operations and he was selected to command a squadron then forming for special tasks. Under his inspiring leadership, this squadron has now executed one of the most devastating attacks of the war - the breaching of the Moehne and Eder dams [on 16 May 1943].
The task was fraught with danger and difficulty. Wing Commander Gibson personally made the initial attack on the Moehne dam. Descending to within a few feet of the water and taking the full brunt of the anti-aircraft defences, he delivered his attack with great accuracy. Afterwards he circled very low for 30 minutes, drawing the enemy fire on himself in order to leave as free a run as possible to the following aircraft which were attacking the dam in turn.
Wing Commander Gibson then led the remainder of his force to the Eder dam where, with complete disregard for his own safety, he repeated his tactics and once more drew on himself the enemy fire so that the attack could be successfully developed.
Wing Commander Gibson has completed over 170 sorties, involving more than 600 hours operational flying. Throughout his operational career, prolonged exceptionally at his own request, he has shown leadership, determination and valour of the highest order.

(London Gazette Issue 36030 dated 28 May 1943, published 25 May 1943.)

Medal of Honor: M. Lemert


First Sergeant, US Army; Company G, 119th Infantry, 30th Division

Born: 25 March 1890, Marshalltown, Iowa
Died: 29 September 1918, near Bellicourt, France

Citation: Seeing that the left flank of his company was held up, he located the enemy machinegun emplacement, which had been causing heavy casualties. In the face of heavy fire he rushed it single-handed, killing the entire crew with grenades. Continuing along the enemy trench in advance of the company, he reached another emplacement, which he also charged, silencing the gun with grenades. A third machinegun emplacement opened up on him from the left and with similar skill and bravery he destroyed this also. Later, in company with another sergeant, he attacked a fourth machinegun nest, being killed as he reached the parapet of the emplacement. His courageous action in destroying in turn 4 enemy machinegun nests prevented many casualties among his company and very materially aided in achieving the objective.

01 April 2010

This day in history: 1 Apr

1858: At Jhansi, India, Lieutenant Hugh S Cochrane, 86th Regiment (the Royal Irish Rifles), dashed forward under heavy musketry and artillery fire to capture an enemy cannon. He also showed conspicuous gallantry in attacking the enemy's rear guard, despite having three horses shot from under him. At Betwa, India, Lieutenant James Leith, 14th Light Dragoons (The 14th King's Hussars), made a single-handed charge to rescue a fellow officer who had been surrounded by a large number of rebel infantry. Cochrane and Leith were awarded the Victoria Cross.

1863: Captain John S Mosby, with approximately 70 men, was attacked shortly after dawn at Miskel's Farm, in Loudoun County, Virginia, by 150 men of the 1st Vermont Cavalry. Despite having just been awakened as the Vermonters approached, the Confederates killed or wounded 24 of the enemy and captured 82 prisoners, along with 95 fully equipped horses, with the loss of only one man killed and three wounded.

1873: 562 people died when the White Star Line's SS Atlantic sank after hitting an underwater rock off Nova Scotia.

1893: The US Navy rank of Chief Petty Officer was created.

1918: The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) were combined to form the Royal Air Force.

1924: Adolf Hitler was sentenced to five years in jail for his participation in the Beer Hall Putsch. He only served nine months of the sentence, during which time he wrote Mein Kampf.

That same day, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) was formed.

1934: Patrolmen H D Murphy and Edward Bryan Wheeler, Texas Highway Patrol, were killed in a gunfight with Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.

1944: 40 people were killed when American aircraft accidentally bombed the Swiss city of Schaffhausen.

1945: United States troops landed on Okinawa (Operation ICEBERG).

1946: A tsunami, presumably caused by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake near the Aleutian Islands, killed 159 people (mostly in Hilo, on the "Big Island" of Hawai`i) when it struck the Hawaiian Islands.

1970: President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act (Public Law 91-222), requiring surgeon general's warnings on tobacco products and banning cigarette advertisements on US television and radio, beginning 1 January 1971.

2001: A US Navy EP-3E Aries II made an emergency landing in Hainan, People's Republic of China, after colliding with a Chinese J-8 IIM "Finback-B" fighter. The EP-3's crew were detained until 11 April; the aircraft was not released until 3 July.

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122–1204) and Scott Joplin (1867/8-1917) died on this date.

And happy birthday to William Harvey (1578–1657), Otto Fürst von Bismarck (1815–1898), Lon Chaney (1883–1930), Aleksandr Sergeyevich Yakovlev (1906-1989), Anne McCaffrey (1926-TBD), Gordon Jump (1932–2003), Debbie Reynolds (1932-TBD) and Samuel R Delany (1942-TBD).

Top Ten Children's Novels: 8

Number 9:
The Secret Garden,
by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

I've never read this - or even been tempted to - and I haven't seen any of the film versions (1949, 1975 and 1993), but I had it correctly as #8 on my Top Ten prediction. It's certainly been around long enough (originally published in 1911), and I've heard many glowing descriptions of it. I suppose now I'll have to read it....

Go look at Betsy's post quickly, before she deletes her April Fool's joke!

Update 1011 8 Apr 10: The April Fool's joke was to list The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (or Pyjamas, if you prefer), by John Boyne, as the #8 book, complete with spurious point counts and comments. Since the blog as it appears on SLJ's website shows only the top few lines of each post, one had to actually click on the "read more" link to find out that this was the real #8.

Carnegie Medal books

Having finished reading the Newbery Medal winners, I'm continuing with the books which have been awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal - the British equivalent of the Newbery Medal, now awarded by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

The medal was first awarded in 1937, for the best children's book of 1936, but there have been three years when no book was considered suitable, so there are only 71 winners thus far. In addition to the gold medal, the winner receives £500 worth of books to donate to a library of his/her/their choice.

Here's the list. (Dates marked in red indicate the six books I had already read before last year; dates in purple indicate the ones I've read since.)

1936: Pigeon Post, by Arthur Ransome
1937: The Family from One End Street, by Eve Garnett
1938: The Circus is Coming (aka Circus Shoes), by Noel Streatfield
1939: Radium Woman, by Eleanor Doorly
1940: Visitors from London, by Kitty Barne
1941: We Couldn't Leave Dinah, by Mary Treadgold
1942: The Little Grey Men, by 'BB' (D J Watkins-Pitchford)
1943: Prize withheld as no book was considered suitable
1944: The Wind on the Moon, by Eric Linklater
1945: Prize withheld as no book was considered suitable
1946: The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge
1947: Collected Stories for Children, Walter De La Mare
1948: Sea Change, by Richard Armstrong
1949: The Story of Your Home, by Agnes Allen
1950: The Lark on the Wing, by Elfrida Vipont Foulds
1951: The Woolpack, by Cynthia Harnett
1952: The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
1953: A Valley Grows Up, by Edward Osmond
1954: Knight Crusader, by Ronald Welch (Felton Ronald Oliver)
1955: The Little Bookroom, by Eleanor Farjeon
1956: The Last Battle, by C S Lewis
1957: A Grass Rope, by William Mayne
1958: Tom's Midnight Garden, by Philipa Pearce
1959: The Lantern Bearers, by Rosemary Sutcliff
1960: The Making of Man, by Dr I W Cornwall
1961: A Stranger at Green Knowe, by Lucy M Boston
1962: The Twelve and the Genii, by Pauline Clarke
1963: Time of Trial, by Hester Burton
1964: Nordy Bank, by Sheena Porter
1965: The Grange at High Force, by Philip Turner
1966: Prize withheld as no book was considered suitable
1967: The Owl Service, by Alan Garner
1968: The Moon in the Cloud, by Rosemary Harris
1969: The Edge of the Cloud, by Kathleen Peyton
1970: The God Beneath the Sea, by Leon Garfield and Edward Blishen
1971: Josh, by Ivan Southall
1972: Watership Down, by Richard Adams
1973: The Ghost of Thomas Kempe, by Penelope Lively
1974: The Stronghold, by Mollie Hunter
1975: The Machine Gunners, by Robert Westall
1976: Thunder and Lightnings, by Jan Mark
1977: The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler, by Gene Kemp
1978: The Exeter Blitz, by David Rees
1979: Tulku, by Peter Dickinson
1980: City of Gold, by Peter Dickinson
1981: The Scarecrows, by Robert Westall
1982: The Haunting, by Margaret Mahy
1983: Handles, by Jan Mark
1984: The Changeover, by Margaret Mahy
1985: Storm, by Kevin Crossley-Holland
1986: Granny was a Buffer Girl, by Berlie Doherty
1987: The Ghost Drum, by Susan Price
1988: A Pack of Lies, by Geraldine McCaughrean
1989: Goggle-eyes, by Anne Fine
1990: Wolf, by Gillian Cross
1991: Dear Nobody, by Berlie Doherty
1992: Flour Babies, by Anne Fine
1993: Stone Cold, by Robert Swindells
1994: Whispers in the Graveyard, by Theresa Breslin
1995: Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman*
1996: Junk, by Melvin Burgess
1997: River Boy, by Tim Bowler
1998: Skellig, by David Almond
1999: Postcards From No Man's Land, by Aidan Chambers
2000: The Other Side of Truth, by Beverley Naidoo
2001: The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett
2002: Ruby Holler, by Sharon Creech
2003: A Gathering Light, by Jennifer Donnelly**
2004: Millions, by Frank Cottrell Boyce
2005: Tamar, by Mal Peet
2006: ***
2007: Just in Case, by Meg Rosoff
2008: Here Lies Arthur, by Philip Reeve
2009: Bog Child, by Siobhan Dowd
2010: To be announced....

So the count now is 28 down, 42 to go. I thought I'd read all of the ones that our local library system (Groton, Waterford and Mystic/Noank) had, but it turned out that they hold one other, under its US title, so I've gotten that one. And the ILLs have started coming in - my thanks to the Bedford Public Library, Bedford IN; the Herrick Memorial Library, Alfred University, Alfred NY; and the Westport Public Library, Westport CT.

In the meantime, 54 books have been nominated for the 2010 medal; the shortlisted books will be announced on 23 April, and the winner on 24 June.

* His Dark Materials, Book 1. Published in the US as The Golden Compass.

** Published in the US as A Northern Light.

*** Up through the award for 2005, the winners were referred to by the year of publication. Beginning in 2007, the winners were referred to by the year the award was given, as with the American Newbery Medal. Thus there is no "2006 winner" of the Carnegie Medal. Tamar, the 2005 winner, was published in '05, and received the medal in '06. Just in Case, the 2007 winner, was published in '06 and received the award in '07.

Book list - Mar 10

The Return of Sherlock Holmes - mystery (short stories), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle *
The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century - English history, by Ian Mortimer
Dream Life - YA, by Lauren Mechling
Tentacles - YA, by Roland Smith
The Hanging Hill - children's ghost story, by Chris Grabenstein
The Valley of Fear - mystery, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle *
A Faraway Island - children's WWII fiction, by Annika Thor
We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories from the Band of Brothers - WW II, by Marcus Brotherton
The Long Gone Lonesome History of Country Music - children's music history, by Bret Bertholf
Savvy - children's, by Ingrid Law
Thirteenth Child - fantasy, by Patricia C Wrede
Matilda - children's, by Roald Dahl
Ragwings and Heavy Iron: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Flying History's Greatest Warbirds - aviation, by Martin Caidin
Mare's War - YA, by Tanita S Davis
Tuck Everlasting - children's, by Natalie Babbitt
We Couldn't Leave Dinah - children's WWII fiction, by Mary Treadgold (Carnegie Medal, 1941)
The Circus is Coming (aka Circus Shoes) - children's, by Noel Streatfield (Carnegie Medal, 1938)
The Family from One End Street - children's, by Eve Garnett (Carnegie Medal, 1937)

18 books last month, with two rereads (marked by asterisks). To reach my goal of 210 books this year, I have to average 17.5 per month, so I'm currently slightly ahead of track (55 of 52.5).

The three Carnegie Medal winners bring me up to 28 of 70. My thanks to the Bedford Public Library, Bedford IN; the Herrick Memorial Library, Alfred University, Alfred NY; and the Westport Public Library, Westport CT, for the ILLs.