New York Herald Tribune Spring Book Festival Awards

In 1937 two awards of $250 each were established by the New York Herald-Tribune for the best books for younger children and for older children published between January and June. In 1941 the system of awards was revised. Three awards, of $200.00 each, were given to the best books in the following three classes: young children, middle-age children, and other children. Each year a jury, composed of distinguished experts in the field of juvenile literature, was chosen to make the selections.

1937 Seven Simeons, by Boris Artzybasheff. For younger children. Illustrated by the author. (Viking.)

The Smuggler’s Sloop, by Robb White III. For older children. Illustrated by Andrew Wyeth. (Little.)

1938 The Hobbit, by J. R. Tolkien. For younger children. Illustrated by the author. (Houghton.)

The Iron Duke, by John R. Tunis. For older children. Illustrated by Johari Bull. (Harcourt)

1939 The Story of Horace, by Alice M. Coats. For younger children. Illustrated by the author. (Coward.)

The Hired Man’s Elephant, by Phil Stong. For older children. Illustrated by Doris Lee. (Dodd.)

1940 That Mario, by Lucy Herndon Crockett. For younger children. Illustrated by the author. (Holt)

Cap’n Ezra, Privateer, by James D. Adams. For older children. Illustrated by I. B. Hazelton. (Harcourt.)

1941 In My Mother’s House, by Ann Nolan Clark. For younger children. Illustrated by Velino Herrera. (Viking.)

Pete by Tom Robinson. For middle-age children. Illustrated by Morgan Dennis. (Viking.)

Clara Barton, by Mildren Mastin Pace. For older children. (Scribner.)

1942 Mr. Tootwhistle’s Invention, by Peter Wells. For younger children.
Illustrated by the author. (Winston.)

I Have Just Begun to Fight: The Story of John Paul Jones, by
Commander Edward Ellsberg. For middle-age children. Illustrated
by Gerald Foster. (Dodd.)

None But the Brave, by Rosamond Van der Zee Marshall. For
older children. Illustrated by Gregor Duncan. (Houghton.)

1943 Five Golden Wrens, by Hugh Troy. For younger children. Illus-
trated by the author. (Oxford.)

These Happy Golden Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. For middle-
age children. Illustrated by Helen Sewell and Mildred Boyle.

Patterns on the Wall, by Elizabeth Yates. For older children.

1944 A Ring and a Riddle, by M. Ilm and E. Segal. For younger children.
Illustrated by Vera Bock. (Lippincott)

They Put Out to Sea, by Roger Duvoisln. For middle-age children.
Illustrated by the author. (Knopf.)

Storm Canvas, by Armstrong Sperry, For older children. Illustrated
by the author. (Winston.)

1945 Little People in a Big Country, by Norma Cohn. For younger children. Illustrated by Tashkent Children’s Art Training Center in Soviet Uzbekistan. (Oxford.)

Gulf Stream by Ruth Brindze. Illustrated by Helene Carter. For middle-age children., (Vanguard.)

Sandy, by Elizabeth Janet Gray. For older children. (Viking.)

1946 Farm Stories. Award divided between Gustaf Tenggren, illustrator, and Kathryn and Byron Jackson, authors. For younger children. (Simon & Schuster.)

The Thirteenth Stone, by Jean Bothwell, illustrated by Margaret Ayer. For middle-age children. (Harcourt)

The Quest of the Golden Condor, by Clayton Knight. Illustrated by the author. For older children. (Knopf.)

Other than The Hobbit and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s These Happy Golden Years, has anyone read or reviewed any of these prize-winning books? I know of the authors Jean Bothwell, Elizabeth Janet Grey, Armstrong Sperry, Roger Duvoisin, Elizabeth Yates, John Tunis, and Ann Nolan Clark, but not these particular books of theirs.

Saturday Review of Books: June 18, 2016

“In 1946 in the Village our feelings about books . . . went beyond love. It was as if we didn’t know where we ended and books began. We didn’t simply read books; we became them. We took them into ourselves and made them into our histories. While it would be easy to say that we escaped into books, it might be truer to say that books escaped into us. They showed us what was possible.” ~When Kafka Was the Rage by Anatole Broyard


Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

Mission at Nuremberg by Tim Townsend

Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend.

Townsend, Formerly the religion reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is a veteran on the “God beat”, having written for several U.S. newspapers and other publications. In this book, he has given readers interested in World War II and its aftermath an insightful look at a quiet and unassuming hero, Lutheran pastor and chaplain Henry Gerecke. Pastor Gerecke was fifty years old when he enlisted in the Army Chaplain Corps in 1943. He was at the upper limit of the acceptable age range for the chaplaincy, but the army was in desperate need of more chaplains to meet the spiritual needs of the men in the U.S. Army who were fighting both in Europe and in the Pacific.

This book was especially poignant for me for a couple of reasons: one, my father-in-law, John Early, was an army chaplain during World War II. Although he served stateside for his entire war, he could easily have been sent to Europe and then to Germany to minister in some of the same circumstances that Gerecke served in. In fact, Gerecke’s personality, background, and ministry reminded me of my father-in-law quite a bit. Both men came from rural homes and ministered in small, lowly places before the war. Both men were humble evangelical preachers who longed to see men (and women) come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Both attended chaplain school at Harvard University, and both worked hard with the help of a much appreciated chaplain’s assistant to counsel, preach, lecture, file paperwork, write letters of condolence, and do many more services to the soldiers under their care. My father-in-law spoke often and fondly of his assistant, Donald.

The second reason that the book spoke to me had to do with Chaplain Gerecke’s particular assignment, after the surrender of Germany, to attend the trial at Nuremberg and minister to the high-ranking Nazis who were on trial there. According to the Geneva Conventions and U.S. army regulations, the United States was responsible to provide spiritual comfort to the Nazi prisoners. having a German chaplain did not seem advisable since the prisoners were being held in strict confinement and their captors were concerned that they might be the object of attempts to help them escape or commit suicide. Because he could speak German and because he was recommended by colleagues as a dedicated Lutheran minister, Gerecke was asked to extend his service in the army and come to Nuremberg to minister to such notorious criminals as Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s foreign minister, Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect, and Hermann Goering, head of the German Air Force and Hitler’s designated successor. Gerecke found himself preaching and eventually administering communion to some of the world’s worst criminals, men who were responsible for the torture, rape, and death of millions. What an amazing story of courage, spiritual discernment, and grace!

There are aspects of this story that Townsend discusses thoroughly and then leaves as open questions. Should Gerecke have given communion, a sacrament in Lutheran theology, to men who may have only been “jailhouse converts”? On the other hand, should he have honored the request of one of the Nazis to commune, even though the man made it clear that he did not believe in or put his trust in Christ, but simply wanted to receive communion as a sort of insurance? (Gerecke refused communion to the man under those circumstances.) Can or should a Christian minister promise forgiveness to men who sinned against so many, a great number of whom were Jews whose understanding of forgiveness might be much different from a Christian understanding and who might very well resent the offering of forgiveness on their behalf without their consent? What was Gerecke’s role as a minister of the gospel in the face of such evil men? Does the gospel, the good news of God’s grace and forgiveness, extend to such perpetrators of such horrible crimes? I appreciated Townsend’s discussion of such thorny and difficult moral and theological dilemmas and his leaving it to the reader to decide for himself what the answers to those questions might be.

“Those chaplains believed that God loves all human beings, including perpetrators, and so their decision was more about how to minister to the Nazis, not whether they should. The process of ministering to those who have committed evil involves returning the wrongdoer to goodness, a difficult challenge when faced with a leader of the Third Reich. For Gerecke and O’Connor (the Catholic chaplain at Nuremberg) that challenge meant using what they had learned about each defendant to spiritually lead him back from the place where he’d fallen to a place of restoration.
. . . A middle-aged American preacher . . . was attempting to bring what he believed was God’s light into a dark heart. The Nuremberg chaplains were not judging the members of their flocks, nor were they forgiving their crimes against humanity. They were trying to lead those Nazis who were willing to follow toward a deeper insight into what they had done. They were attempting to give Hitler’s henchmen new standing a human beings before their impending executions.”

Excellent thoughtful, challenging nonfiction about a humble but steadfast pastor who served God in the darkest of prisons.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book cover here to go to Amazon and buy something, I receive a very small percentage of the purchase price.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire is billed as a companion novel to Wein’s popular and award-winning World War II story, Code Name Verity. It’s not really a sequel, but it does take place after the events in Code Name Verity and some of the same characters do make an appearance, particularly Maddie, Queenie/Verity’s best friend. However, this new book is really about 18-year old American pilot, Rose Justice, who joins the British Air Transport Auxiliary in order to help end the war. The story takes place in England, France, and later, Germany, as Rose’s flying assignments take her closer and closer to danger and destruction.

Rose Under Fire may not please all of the fans of Code Name Verity because it’s not as psychologically suspenseful as Code Name Verity is. However, Rose Under Fire is a fascinating look at an aspect of the Holocaust and the concentration camps that I didn’t know much, if anything, about. After a series of misadventures, Rose ends up incarcerated in Ravensbruck, the infamous German death camp. It’s 1946, and the war is coming to an end. However, the Germans are determined to fight to the bitter end, and those who have been committing atrocities in Ravensbruck and elsewhere are making every effort to cover their tracks and maintain order before the Allies liberate the camps.

Part of the cover-up involves silencing those who can bear witness to the worst of the atrocities. Rose, who becomes an accidental witness to some of Ravensbruck’s most horrific secrets, is charged by the other women prisoners to survive and tell the world about the things she sees and learns while she is imprisoned.

While I was reading Rose Under Fire, I was reminded of Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. (I highly recommend both the book and the movie.) I thought perhaps that reminder was because Wein’s book takes place in Ravensbruck, the same prison camp where Corrie and her sister Betsy were held. However, it turns out that there is more to the echo than just a common setting. Ms. Wein lists The Hiding Place in her bibliography at the end of her book, and I found the following information in an article online:

“. . . at age eight, she (Elizabeth Wein) first encountered information about concentration camps, in a comic book adaptation of Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. She read the book itself a few years later, and then drew her own illustrated version of Boom’s memoir about hiding Jews from the Nazis at the family’s watch shop in Holland. ‘I was obsessed with her story, frankly,’ Wein says. ‘Something about how they managed to maintain hope resonated with me.’ ~Publishers Weekly

I was reminded of The Hiding Place because Ms. Wein did her research well. The Ravensbruck in Rose Under Fire is the real Ravensbruck, the same horrible place that is shown in Corrie Ten Boom’s memoir and testimony to God’s grace and mercy. Rose Under Fire isn’t a religious or “Christian” book at all, but there are touches of grace: a motherly prisoner who always prays before allowing her brood their daily crumbs of bread, another prisoner who gives her life in Rose’s place, and Rose herself who receives supernatural strength to endure unspeakable suffering. Rose is a poet as well as an aviator, and in her poems (Elizabeth Wein’s poems) she writes about suffering and hope and redemption.

I was reminded of Corrie Ten Boom’s famous statement of faith and courage: “No pit is so deep that He is not deeper still; with Jesus even in our darkest moments, the best remains and the very best is yet to be.”

And there’s the admonition of Elie Weisel, who said, like so many other Holocaust survivors say: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

Rose Under Fire, though it’s fiction, is a true witness to the depravity of man and the tenacity of hope, sure to get a Cybils nomination in the YA fiction category.

An interview with Elizabeth Wein at Playing by the Book.

1946: Events and Inventions

January 19, 1946. The United Nations holds its first general assembly session in London. British Prime Minister Clement Attlee: “Our aim is the creation of justice and security.”

'DSCN5010.JPG' photo (c) 2010, Leonel Ponce - license:, 1946. IBM introduces a new electronic calculator using vacuum tubes.

February 24, 1945. Juan Peron is elected president of Argentina for a six year term, in spite of opposition from the United States.

March 5, 1946. In a lecture tour of the United States, Sir Winston Churchill warns that “an Iron Curtain has descended across Europe.” He urges an alliance between the United States and Great Britain to counter Soviet aggression, especially in the recently liberated (and re-enslaved) Communist countries of Eastern Europe.

March 2-4, 1946. Ho Chi Minh is elected President of North Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh signs an agreement with France which recognizes Vietnam as an independent state.

March 22, 1946. The United Kingdom grants Transjordan, as it is then known, its independence; 3 years later the country changes its name to Jordan.

May 1, 1946. A new plan proposed by Britain and the United States attempts to divide the ancient country of Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states. Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and Jews from other parts of the world have been traveling to settle in Palestine, but the Arab population there is hostile to Jewish immigration into Palestine and to Zionist claims that Palestine is their hereditary homeland.

June 2, 1946. In a referendum, Italians decide to turn Italy from a monarchy into a republic. Women vote for the first time.

July 22, 1946. King David Hotel bombing: The Irgun, a Jewish Zionist terrorist group, bombs the King David Hotel (headquarters of the British civil and military administration) in Jerusalem, killing 90 people.

'Nuremberg Trials' photo (c) 2008, Marion Doss - license:, 1946. As the British move toward independence for India, violence between Muslims and Hindus in Calcutta leaves 3,000 dead. The interim government of India takes charge with Jawaharlal Nehru as Vice President. Street violence between Muslims and Hindus erupts in Bombay. The new British plan is to divide India into two countries, a Hindu-majority India and a Muslim-majority India that would later be renamed Pakistan.

October 16, 1946. The Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals end with 11 Nazi leaders condemned to death. Herman Goering commits suicide by swallowing cyanide hours before his scheduled execution.

November, 1946. The National Health Service (NHS) is created in Britain by the Labor government.

Suggested reading: Exodus by Leon Uris, Justice at Nuremberg by Robert Canot, Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.