20 January 2013

Victoria Cross: J. Prettyjohn


Bombardier, Royal Marine Artillery

Born: 11 June 1823, Dean Prior, Devon
Died: 20 January 1887, Manchester

Citation: Reported for gallantry at the Battle of Inkerman, having placed himself in an advanced position; and noticed, as having himself shot four Bussians.
(Despatch from Lieutenant-Colonel Hopkine, Senior Officer of Marines, engaged at Inkerman, and letter from Colonel Wesley, Deputy Adjutant-General.)

16 January 2013

Medal of Honor to be awarded for Afghanistan

ZUI this article from the Pueblo (Colorado) Chieftain:
Clinton Romesha, the newest recipient of the Medal of Honor, insists "any other soldier would have done the same things" but the former Pueblo man is slowly coming to grips with the attention that comes with the nation's highest award for bravery in combat.

Romesha (pronounced Rome-e-shay) will receive the medal from President Barack Obama on Feb. 11 at the White House. The award honors Romesha for his bravery and leadership during a vicious, daylong battle with Taliban fighters on Oct. 3, 2009, in Afghanistan. Eight U.S. soldiers were killed in the fight.


Romesha was a section leader in the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team. He went from position to position under fire, is credited with killing numerous Taliban attackers inside the outpost and, despite his own wounds, rescued wounded U.S. soldiers without regard for his own safety.
The official White House press release can be found here.

08 January 2013

100 best children's novels

A couple years ago Betsy, at A Fuse #8 Production, did a poll, asking readers to nominate the best children's chapter books. She repeated it again last year. Unfortunately, I almost completely missed it - in fact, by the time I found out about it she was already almost through reporting the results.

Here (finally) is the new list:

1. Charlotte’s Web, by E B White (#1 in 2010)
2. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle (#2)
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J K Rowling (#3)
4. The Giver, by Lois Lowry (#7)
5. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C S Lewis (#4)
6. Holes, by Louis Sachar (#6)
7. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E L Konigsburg (#5)
8. Anne of Green Gables, by L M Montgomery (#9)
9. The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin (#11)
10. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson (#13)
11. When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead (#39)
12. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J K Rowling (#14)
13. The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner (#83)
14. The Hobbit, by J R R  Tolkien (#12)
15. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (#8)
16. Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt (#20)
17. Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh (#16)
18. The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander (#82)
19. Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (#23)
20. Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo (#15)
21. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (#10)
22. The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper (#29)
23. Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen (#26)
24. Ramona the Pest, by Beverly Cleary (#43)
25. The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis (#34)
26. Winnie-the-Pooh, by A A Milne (#30)
27. Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (#42)
28. The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman (#45)
29. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, by Jeanne Birdsall (#48)
30. Matilda, by Roald Dahl (#18)
31. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (#27)
32. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor (#37)
33. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C O’Brien (#32)
34. Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls (#46)
35. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume (#44)
36. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare (#41)
37. The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D Schmidt (--)
38. Frindle, by Andrew Clements (#49)
39. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick (#52)
40. Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli (#17)
41. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L Frank Baum (#40)
42. Gone-Away Lake, by Elizabeth Enright (#63)
43. Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson (--)
44. Okay for Now, by Gary D Schmidt (--)
45. Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell (#50)
46. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi (#60)
47. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (#25)
48. The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket (the series as a whole was #71)
49. My Father’s Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett (#72)
50. Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry (#56)
51. The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, A Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, by Kate DiCamillo (#22)
52. Betsy-Tacy, by Maud Hart Lovelace (#70)
53. The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman (#80)
54. Half Magic, by Edward Eager (#31)
55. All-of-a-Kind Family, by Sydney Taylor (#79)
56. A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (#28)
57. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, by Joan Aiken (#58)
58. Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome (#94)
59. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo (#97)
60. Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis (#47)
61. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl (#19)
62. Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker (#107)
63. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson (#55)
64. The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois (--)
65. Wonder, by R J Palacio (--)
66. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly (--)
67. A Long Way from Chicago, by Richard Peck (#64)
68. The High King, by Lloyd Alexander (#88)
69. The Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan (--)
70. Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech (#68)
71. Each Little Bird That Sings, by Deborah Wiles (--)
72. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin (#81)
73. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson (--)
74. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume (#36)
75. The Saturdays, by Elizabeth Enright (#51)
76. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney (--)
77. My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George (#73)
78. Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild (#65)
79. The Egypt Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (#100)
80. The Four-Story Mistake, by Elizabeth Enright (--)
81. The Witches, by Roald Dahl (#96)
82. The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden (#108)
83. Ozma of Oz, by L Frank Baum (--)
84. The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (--)
85. Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine (#92)
86. Peter Pan, by J M Barrie (--)
87. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger (--)
88. The BFG, by Roald Dahl (#54)
89. The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary (--)
90. The Children of Green Knowe, by Lucy M Boston (#98)
91. Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren (#95)
92. Flipped, by Wendelin Van Draanen (--)
93. Journey to the River Sea, by Eva Ibbotson (--)
94. Ramona and her Father, by Beverly Cleary (#89)
95. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (--)
96. The Horse and His Boy, by C S Lewis (--)
97. The Diamond in the Window, by Jane Langton (--)
98. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J K Rowling (#35)
99. The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner (#117)
100. Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech (#75)

I think I've read 58 of these.

There was a big turnover between the two polls - 24 of the 100 books on this list weren't on the 2010 list (though three of them were on Betsy's additional post which listed the books that almost made the top 100 -  numbers 101-120).  Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, was #21 in the previous poll; it's the highest-ranked book from last time that fell off the list completely. Other books that appeared last time but don't here are:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J K Rowling (#24)
James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl (#33)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J K Rowling (#38)
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame (#53)
Ramona Quimby, Age 8, by Beverly Cleary (#57)
Inkheart, by Cordelia Funke (#59)
Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli (#61)
The Secret of the Old Clock, by "Carolyn Keene" (#62)
Henry Huggins, by Beverly Cleary (#66)
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, by Bruce Coville (#67)
The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trentoon Lee Stewart (#69)
The Borrowers, by Mary Norton (#74)
Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse (#76)
The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau (#77)
Johnny Tremaine, by Esther Forbes (#78)
The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge (#84)
On the Banks of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (#85)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J K Rowling (#86)
The View from Saturday, by E L Konigsburg (#87)
Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan (#90)
Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar (#91)
Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink (#93)
The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks (#99)

(I've read 15 of those.)

Note: I actually started writing this post several months ago, but got bogged down in deleting all the superfluous HTML which Blogger had for some bizarre reason inserted into the list - there was actually far more HTML than list. (Was it really necessary to specify "style="background-color: white; line-height: 15px; text-align: left; text-decoration: none;" twice - once before the item number and again before the book's title - for each of the 100 books??) Apologies to Betsy and everyone else for the delay....

06 January 2013

Book list - 2012

Here's the complete list of books I read in 2012. I didn't set a goal for this year, so I can't report success in reaching it (nor, of course, must I admit to failure, either).

An asterisk indicates a reread. Numbers refer to the order in which the books were read.

"Adult" Fiction (XX books)
1. Dead As a Dinosaur - mystery, by Frances and Richard Lockridge
2. When The Star Kings Die - SF, by John Jakes
5. Mask of the Sun - time travel, by Fred Saberhagen
7. Golden Reflections - time travel/AH (short stories), edited by Joan Spicci Saberhagen and Robert E Vardeman
8. Island in the Sea of Time - AH, by S M Stirling *
9. Metzger's Dog - thriller, by Thomas Perry *
11. Case for Three Detectives - mystery, by Leo Bruce
12. A Century of Progress - SF/AH, by Fred Saberhagen
13. Eye of the Storm - thriller, by Jack Higgins
14. Empress of Outer Space - SF, by A Bertram Chandler *
18. Cold War Hot: Alternate Decisions of the Cold War - AH, by Peter Tsouras
21. Time Crime - SF/AH, by H Beam Piper
22. Null-ABC - SF, by H Beam Piper
23. Rendezvous with Rama - SF, by Arthur C Clarke *
25. In the Courts of the Crimson Kings - AH/SF, by S M Stirling *
26. Some Like It Hawk - mystery, by Donna Andrews
27. 1632 - AH, by Eric Flint *
28. 1633 - AH, by David Weber and Eric Flint *
31. 1634: The Baltic War - AH, by David Weber and Eric Flint
32. 1634: The Bavarian Crisis - AH, by Eric Flint and Virginia DeMarce
33. 1635: The Eastern Front - AH, by Eric Flint
35. Caravan to Vaccares - thriller, by Alistair MacLean *
36. Under the Andes - adventure, by Rex Stout
37. Grantville Gazette II - AH (short stories), edited by Eric Flint
38. 1636: The Saxon Uprising - AH, by Eric Flint
39. Grantville Gazette III - AH (short stories), edited by Eric Flint
40. Ill Wind - SF/TEOTWAWKI, by Kevin J Anderson and Doug Beason *
41. Grantville Gazette IV - AH (short stories), edited by Eric Flint
42. Grantville Gazette VI - AH (short stories), edited by Eric Flint

Children's/YA Fiction (XX)
4. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette - children's, by Jeanne Birdsall
6. Dead End in Norvelt - YA, by Jack Gantos (Newbery Medal, 2012)
10. Poor Tom's Ghost - children's time travel, by Jane Louise Curry
16. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats - children's poetry, by T S Eliot
20. The Callahan Cousins - children's, by Elizabeth Doyle Carey
24. The Blue-Eyed Aborigine - children's historic fiction, by Rosemary Hayes
29. The Grange at High Force - children's, by Philip Turner (Carnegie Medal, 1965)
30. The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler - children's, by Gene Kemp (Carnegie Medal, 1977)
34. Plutonia - children's SF, by Vladimir Obruchev *

Non-Fiction (XX)
3. Cats Are Not Peas: A Calico History of Genetics - genetics, by Laura Gould
15. Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945 - WW II, by Evan Thomas
17. A Natural History of Domesticated Mammals - agriculture, by Juliet Clutton-Brock
19. Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages - history, by Frances and Joseph Gies *

The biggest categories were AH (16) and SF (8). Eric Flint was the most-read author of the year (13 books), as I finally started reading my way through the 1632 series (two of which I'd read before). And 11 of the 42 books were rereads.

My favourites? Mask of the Sun, Some Like It Hawk (the 14th Meg Langslow mystery) and The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler - not necessarily in that order - were the best of the new (to me, anyway) books. Metzger's Dog is an old favourite, which I've read several times.

Having not set a goal for last year, I'm not setting one for this year either. But I do hope to do a lot more reading this year....

George Cross: M. J. Munnelly


Born: 1941
Died: 24 December 1964, London

Citation: The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to make the undermentioned award:
Michael Joseph MUNNELLY (deceased), Journalist, London S.E.24.

Fourteen youths had been drinking at Kentish Town and had travelled in a van to Regents Park Road to a flat where two of them had been invited. They were in an extremely rowdy mood shouting and swearing. The fourteen were refused entry to the flat and some of them immediately attacked the occupier. Others went to a dairy opposite and from crates left outside began to bombard the flat with milk bottles, resulting in all the windows being broken, also the window of the shop next door. Some of the youths were attacking the occupier of the flat, some were throwing dozens of bottles and all were shouting, swearing and milling about. Although there were several onlookers, it appears they were all too frightened to interfere. In an endeavour to protect his property, the dairyman went into the street where he was immediately attacked by being butted, kicked and knifed in the groin. Michael Joseph Munnelly, his brother and a friend were the occupants of a third floor flat and hearing the noise of breaking glass and shouting, looked out of the window and saw the dairyman was on the ground being kicked. All three men decided they must go and help him and ran to the street. They detained two men but Munnelly was hit on the head by some person and released the man he was holding. The van, which had left the scene, then returned and was followed into the next turning by Munnelly's friend who in an attempt to stop the van banged on the side. The van stopped and he grabbed a youth who was sitting next to the driver. This resulted in a cry for help, the rear door of the van opened and several of the youths attacked him until they had kicked him senseless. Munnelly immediately went to his rescue. Bottles were thrown at him, he was kicked and received a fatal stab wound in his lower left abdomen. The youths then fled. Munnelly and the others were mere onlookers who could have stayed in the safety of the flat but without thought for themselves they went to the assistance of the dairyman. Munnelly saw his friend being attacked with knives and immediately went to his rescue. Within a few minutes he was dead. He had given his life to save that of his friend.

[London Gazette issue 43698 dated 29 June 1965, published 25 June 1965.]

Note: Munnelly's friend, Donald Smith, was awarded the George medal, and the dairyman, William Eirwyn Thomas Griffiths, received the British Empire Medal for Gallantry (Civil Division).

01 January 2013

Books - Oct-Dec 12

Plutonia - children's SF, by Vladimir Obruchev *
Caravan to Vaccares - thriller, by Alistair MacLean *
Under the Andes - adventure, by Rex Stout
Grantville Gazette II - AH (short stories), edited by Eric Flint
1636: The Saxon Uprising - AH, by Eric Flint
Grantville Gazette III - AH (short stories), edited by Eric Flint
Ill Wind - SF/TEOTWAWKI, by Kevin J Anderson and Doug Beason *
Grantville Gazette IV - AH (short stories), edited by Eric Flint
Grantville Gazette VI - AH (short stories), edited by Eric Flint

Only nine books this time round, three of them rereads (marked by an asterisk). Don't know if Plutonia was really meant to be a children's book, but the Waukegan Public Library had it in their children's section (back in the late '60s), so that's what I'm calling it here. And I'm still at 58 of 73 on the Carnegie Medal winners.