At a San Jose, Calif. library, a young reader browses a shelf of books featuring a variety of main characters: ducks, hens, white kids, black kids. Libraries help drive demand for children's books with nonwhite characters, but book publishers say there aren't enough libraries to make those books best-sellers.
Credit Courtesy Lerner Publishing
Bad News For Outlaws tells the true story of Bass Reeves, an African-American U.S. marshal in the Old West — shown here disguised as a farmer. The book won a Coretta Scott King award and became one of Lerner Books' best-selling titles.
About 25 years ago, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter were students in a Philadelphia high school and they wanted to impress a girl. So they formed a band ... which would go on to become the Grammy Award-winning hip-hop band The Roots. Questlove, the drummer for The Roots, says that for him, a musical future was preordained. As he recounts in a new memoir, Mo' Meta Blues, his father, Lee Andrews — a member of the successful 1950s doo-wop group Lee Andrews and the Hearts — groomed Questlove for show business from an early age.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. When you looked in the closet this morning, what did you pick out, and why? The power suit, the blouse that fits just right, the jeans and the boots? Even if you wear a uniform or overalls, we all make decisions about what we look like and why. Hair says a lot. So do accessories. But any message is also open to misinterpretation. What we hope to say doesn't always come across that way.
What makes Don Draper dashing is the suit, especially. And the hat, the jaw, the hair, the voice, the way he fixes his attention on a woman. But what makes Don Draper seductive as a person and not just a sexual partner is that he is perpetually a whisper away from being a better man. If he were just dashing, he would be harmless; it's that he's seductive that makes him dangerous. It's how close he seems to becoming better that makes him toxic.
Walter Mosley fooled us: We thought he'd killed off Easy Rawlins, the protagonist of his much-loved series. But it turned out Mosley just needed a break from the work — a long break. Six years later, in May, he came back with Little Green, possibly the best Easy Rawlins to date. Like the rest of the books in the series, it's strongly influenced by Los Angeles, the city that helped shape Mosley himself.
Louise Monaghan's journey to Syria to rescue her kidnapped daughter begins years ago at a club in Cyprus. It was there she met a Syrian man named Mostafa, whom she would marry.
"I was smitten from the first second," she tells NPR's Jacki Lyden. "I felt he was what I needed. He made me feel safe."
But Monaghan was not safe. Mostafa was verbally abusive and beat her. They married, and the couple had a daughter named May. When they divorced, Mostafa was given visitation rights, but he wanted more.
Most NFL punters spend the majority of their time focusing on one thing: kicking the ball, and kicking it well. But Chris Kluwe — the most successful punter the Minnesota Vikings ever had and now signed to Oakland — has a few other things on his mind. Like bad drivers, and the proper degree of pressure for a handshake. And more substantive issues, like gay marriage.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a two-word phrase in which both words start with C and are anagrams of each other. For example, "tranquil sea creature" would be "calm clam."
Last week's challenge from listener Eric Timar of Falls Church, Va.:Write down these five words: "mate," "peck," "miss," "pot" and "blunder." There is something very unusual they have in common. What is it? And, can you name one other word with the same property?
I'm a cookbook reviewer, which means that every night I try recipes from far-flung cuisines or idiosyncratic food bloggers or test-kitchen perfectionists. I've always made a point of steering readers towards practical, thoughtful cookbooks that they'll use every week and hand down to their kids. But privately, there are some cookbooks I never cook from at all: frivolous books full of whimsical sugar art, devoid of nutritional value, and really, best eaten with your eyes.
Anthony Soprano, a waste-management consultant from Essex County, N.J., died this week.
Tony Soprano was — according to reports that aired for six years on HBO — head of the DiMeo crime family, which allegedly ran illicit drugs, untaxed alcohol, illegal sports betting and other criminal enterprises from the back of an adult entertainment venue called the Bada Bing club on Route 17 in Lodi.
Mr. Soprano denied his involvement in organized crime. He said it was a "vicious stereotype" that slurs waste-removal professionals who promote a green, healthy environment.
For one Vermont couple, "local" doesn't mean heading to the farmers market. It means finding a natural salad bar at your picnic spot — or maybe even in your backyard.
Nova Kim and Les Hook live on a lush farm between a large lake and the Connecticut River near the Vermont-New Hampshire border. Over the decades, they've become skilled gatherers of edible wild foods, which they sell to high-end restaurants. But on this drizzly day, they're in their own kitchen, making dressing for a picnic green salad.
If you want a chilly comedown from summer's heat, you can't do much better than the work of Robert Aickman (1914-1981), a master of "strange stories" whose books, long out of print, are now being republished by the small U.K. press Tartarus.
Emma Watson, who shot to global fame as the level-headed, resourceful Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, admits there's a certain irony in her playing a teenager who burgles the homes of celebrities.
Sofia Coppola is no stranger to filmic explorations of fame, privilege and self-loathing in the modern age. In her newest movie, The Bling Ring, she considers the case of a gang of well-off L.A. teenagers whose obsession with celebrity took them to some unexpected places — including the homes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, where they stole millions of dollars' worth of jewelry and clothes and shoes.
He's still a would-be world-conquerer by day, but Gru (left, with minions) has been settling into his role as an adoptive dad by night. His new responsibilities make him a likely recruit for the Anti-Villain League, which asks him to ... well, we shouldn't give too much away.
There will be hits and misses at movie houses this summer, but it's a decent bet Despicable Me 2 will end up in the that-went-well column.
The star, a would-be world-dominating supervillain named Gru, is a hulking, blustering figure with an appetite for mayhem — and a surprising soft spot. He'll boast that he's about to pull off "the crime of the century," then sit down to read his little girls — he's recently, reluctantly, adopted three of them, and they're adorable — a bedtime story.
Booker T. Jones — leader of the soul band Booker T. & the M.G.'s — made it big in 1962 with the song "Green Onions." But since "Green Onions" sounds suspiciously natural for the United States, we've decided to quiz him on Funyuns instead: three questions about the crunchy, onion-flavored snack food.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we head to the barbershop for the guys' take on the week's news. But first it's time for Faith Matters. That's the part of the program where we talk about issues of spirituality and religion. And traditions of faith play a big role in rituals surrounding death.
The Greeks have been eating octopus since ancient times, and it's still on the menu of the country's many psarotavernes, or fish taverns.
On the islands, where the catch is often fresh, octopus is grilled over charcoal, seasoned with fresh lemon and served with ouzo. Friends and families often share this special summer meze during a hot day at the beach.
Dan Brown pets "Sprocket," his family's 4-year-old, sole milking cow, before hosing her down at his farm in Blue Hill, Maine. Brown has become the poster child for Maine's food sovereignty movement.
Credit Kevin Miller / Bangor Daily News
More than 150 people gather to hear farmer Dan Brown speak in 2011. The Maine Department of Agriculture filed suit against Brown, alleging that he was illegally selling unpasteurized milk without a license. Brown, meanwhile, insisted that a local food ordinance adopted by Blue Hill residents protects the rights of farmers to sell directly to consumers without a license.
If you'd like your summer reading to take you beyond the beaten path, librarian Nancy Pearl is here to help. NPR's go-to books guru joins us regularly to reveal "under the radar" reads — books she thinks deserve more attention than they've been getting. Pearl talks with NPR's Steve Inskeep about some of the titles she picked out for the summer reading season.