Doesn’t time fly? Well it does when you’re a pigeon!! Get it? Oh please yourselves, Scrooges… talking of which, great book to read at this time of year: Dickens’ “Christmas Carol”. And there are other interesting seasonal items to be borrowed from the latest display in your library… take a look!

Mrs Myhill gets to sound like a parrot at the end of terms; and I should know, I have several parroty friends (ok, so they’re parakeets, but there’s not a lot of difference) (ok, there is really, and I should know how annoying it is when people do that cos they're always getting pigeons and doves mixed up, kuh!) ANYWAY… she goes on and on to every class about the books being due back on the first day back cos the computer can’t cope with longer than a fortnight blah blah blah. I know the whole speech backwards (that’d make it more interesting, and you lot might actually listen if she did it backwards)… but I BET half of you STILL bring your books back late. I’ll be keeping a watch and making notes.

Back to the display… it now says Merry Christmas. After she’d done the Black History Month display for October, Mrs Myhill seems to have started planning the other months straight away. She already had the letters for CARNEGIE and now she had BLACK HISTORY MONTH but wanted to write WW1 CENTENARY for November, then MERRY CHRISTMAS for December… so… COMPETITION TIME…how many new letters did she have to make? And how many more copies of the old letters did she have to add too? Give your answers to her before the end of the term, and the first correct one will win a book prize. (Secret P.S… I was watching when she put up the new display, and do you know what? She hadn’t worked it out correctly herself! She quickly had to print out one more letter. That made me laugh so much I practically fell off my perch. Have you ever heard a pigeon laugh? Well next time you’re in the library, listen out… I’m always laughing…)

     

What a moving display in the library over the Remembrance weekend. I was peeping in to see why there were people in there on a Saturday, and realised they were all there to see the exhibition and remember students and staff from a century ago, who died so that we… people and pigeons alike… could be free.

Did you know that pigeons were used extensively in the world wars? Last weekend I flew (ok, I hitched a lift most of the way) up to Bletchley Park where the codebreakers worked throughout WW2. It was interesting but it wasn’t until we reached the end that I became really excited. In the last hut there was a WHOLE HUT dedicated to us; to pigeons!! There was a film, and photos, and lots of objects connected to us. I had to be a bit careful as some people thought I was a live exhibit, though surely I don’t look old enough to have flown in the wars?

Wikipedia says about us in the First World War…

Homing pigeons were used extensively during World War I. In 1914, during the First Battle of the Marne, the French army advanced 72 pigeon lofts with the troops.

The US Army Signal Corps used 600 pigeons in France alone.

One of their homing pigeons, a Blue Check hen named Cher Ami, was awarded the French "Croix de Guerre with Palm" for heroic service delivering 12 important messages during the Battle of Verdun. On her final mission in October 1918, she delivered a message despite having been shot through the breast or wing. The crucial message, found in the capsule hanging from a ligament of her shattered leg, saved 194 US soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division's "Lost Battalion"

                

 

United States Navy aviators maintained 12 pigeon stations in France with a total inventory of 1,508 pigeons when the war ended. Pigeons were carried in airplanes to rapidly return messages to these stations; and 829 birds flew in 10,995 wartime aircraft patrols. Airmen of the 230 patrols with messages entrusted to pigeons threw the message-carrying pigeon either up or down, depending on the type of aircraft, to keep the pigeon out of the propeller and away from airflow toward the aircraft wings and struts. Eleven of the thrown pigeons went missing in action, but the remaining 219 messages were delivered successfully. Pigeons were considered an essential element of naval aviation communication when the first United States aircraft carrier USS Langley was commissioned on 20 March 1922; so the ship included a pigeon house on the stern. The pigeons were trained at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard while Langley was undergoing conversion. As long as the pigeons were released a few at a time for exercise, they returned to the ship; but when the whole flock was released while Langley was anchored off Tangier Island, the pigeons flew south and roosted in the cranes of the Norfolk shipyard. The pigeons never went to sea again.

Oops, that last bit isn’t so good; still, we had a pretty good record at helping you all. So what I want to find out now is; do I have any relatives who worked in the wars? And… when is there going to be a book written called “War Pigeon”? (With of course a film and stage-show…)

See you next month when I’ll be allowed to talk about C-r-s-m-s

Wooohooowooo… Isn’t it great to be back?! And, two weeks in, it’s almost like we were never away (well that’s what I keep hearing people saying).

Me? Yes thanks; I had a great holiday; took the family all the way to Broadstairs. Do you know it? The fledglings found it a bit far to fly, but we wanted to go abroad this year and made them make the effort… Lots of “Are we nearly there yet?” etc, and we did stop for a sandwich break en route (really nice little girl shared hers with us by dropping it and running off). Did any of you travel that far?

Big welcome to all those new faces (well, not just to their faces, obviously; the rest of them is welcome too). I recognise some of you; you seem to be mini versions of other people here. And I think I spotted some of you on Open Days too? Never forget a face I don’t.

So, I’m back to basking in the sun on the library roof; peering in at all you studious quiet students reading away. Of course I also espy those trying to hide behind the shelves or take a quick nibble of some food in your bags; but it’s not really worth it you know. Mrs Myhill gets proper grumpy about people like that and won’t do you any favours like letting you off book fines, or helping you on the computers. Nah, much better to keep on her right side. She can be quite friendly sometimes.

I love it in the lunch-hour when everywhere else seems a bit noisy and frenetic. When you’re new that can seem a bit much sometimes. Why not pop up to the library and have a quiet moment, reading or doing your homework? It’s always peaceful up and is a nice space in which you can catch your breath, relax a bit and get yourself ready for the next challenges. And you can always talk to Mrs Myhill if you’re worried about stuff; she’ll help you!

Look forward to seeing you around; keep looking up and you might see me… and I will try not to poop right in your eye.

 

So… how are you all doing? I’ve been REALLY busy since we last “met”… honing my amazing acting skills ready for the House Drama competition on Friday. I’m a dab hand at impressions; not just of cuckoos and eagles and ducks and stuff, but of some of the teachers too… If you ever hear a teacher and you can’t see them; look up! It might be me! I’m pretty good at singing (I’m sure you’ve heard me), and can do a nifty tap dance, whenever I can find a tap to dance on. I've done the odd act in a magic show too, popping out of a hat...

I’ve wanted to be on stage since I was a mini-fledgling. I mean, I had to have a career in mind, and knew I’d not get into the forces (I’m pigeon-toed), and besides, I was really stage-struck. From my perch above the library windows, I get a good view of all those play scripts and they really inspire me.

There are, however, a couple of problems for me about Friday. One is that I’m not sure which house I’m in. You lot are all ok; and even the teachers have a house. The only people (if you’ll excuse me labelling myself thus) who don’t seem to be in houses are Mrs Myhill and moi (I pick up the odd bit of French when I dive-bomb past the language classes). Now she (Mrs M, the librarian) is ok cos she’s JUDGING the competition so it’s a good job she isn’t in a house or she might be a little bit bias… But me… I should be in a house shouldn’t I?

And the 2nd problem? Well, no-one’s actually asked me to be in their play. I expect that’s cos I’m not in their house, or maybe they don’t realise what a thespian I am (look it up if you don’t know that word…). I suppose it might be too late for this year now… I’ll just have to watch again. AND maybe I could help Mrs M!! Now that’s an idea. Must dash. I need to go and ask her.

Before I do; have a great half-term holiday. Think of me all alone in school (ok, along with all my relations) and see you all when you get back. I’m compiling a booklist for my next blog; you won’t want to miss that.

And good luck to all of you who ARE performing on Friday… you lucky lucky people

 

 

 

 

WHAT excitement! Not only were the blinds down, so I had to peep in the side windows, but they had FOOD and FIZZY DRINKS in the library! I was so tempted to fly in; one of the windows was open… but I knew they’d just start screaming and throwing things.

It was the final of the “Carnegie”… the BIG children’s book prize. There were 16 of them swanning around in there, missing lessons, gawping at the screen and stuffing themselves with crisps, chocolate and fizz. All because they’d read between 3 and 8 (all) of the books shortlisted for the prize. Then they’d met every Thursday and talked about the books.

The prize-giving was screened live from the British Library, hosted by June Sarpong (who, to be honest, didn’t always really seem to know what she was doing). The best bit was a speech by a blind girl; really inspirational. She was so articulate and passionate about reading, and was delivering her speech reading from Braille at normal speed; really something.

The Amnesty prizes for diversity went to Levi Pinfold for his illustrations of AF Harrold’s “The Song from Somewhere Else”, and to Angie Thomas for her amazing “THUG” (The Hate U Give) which tells the story of 16-year-old Starr following the fatal shooting of a male friend by a white police officer. That was one of our students’ favourite books from the list.

They all had more to eat… and drink… and then the main medals were awarded. The Carnegie Medal went to Geraldine McCaughrean for “Where the World Ends”, based on a true story of a remote island off Scotland where, in the 18th Century, a group were stranded for 9 months. Our group’s top choice was “After the Fire” by Will Hill; about a religious cult, but they had placed the winner 4th and weren’t too disappointed at it being chosen!

Geraldine McCaughrean has been on the shortlist loads of times before, and she won way back in 1988 when I wasn’t even an egg in my great-grandmother’s eye… though I reckon Mrs Myhill had already been around a good 50 years by then.

It was a great morning, and I hung around afterwards hoping that they’d sweep their bits of food rubbish out of the window… but no luck there.

Hope lots of people get to read those Carnegie books; they sound great… and hope too that even more students join in the fun next year!