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Lynn Neary

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

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This morning, at its annual conference in Seattle, the American Library Association gave out its prizes for children's and young adult literature. Its awards include the prestigious Caldecott and Newbery medals. NPR's Lynn Neary reports.

Much-loved poet Mary Oliver died Thursday of lymphoma, at her home in Florida. She was 83. Oliver won many awards for her poems, which often explore the link between nature and the spiritual world; she also won a legion of loyal readers who found both solace and joy in her work.

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When thousands of young people descended on the National Mall earlier this year for the student-led March for Our Lives, singer Jennifer Hudson ended the event with an emotional rendition of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

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Madame Tussaud is a familiar name — you may have visited one of her wax museums. But chances are, you don't know a thing about the life of the real Marie Tussaud. For example, she was tiny, which is why writer and artist Edward Carey has called his new novel about her Little.

I met him at the Madame Tussaud's location in New York's Times Square (the biggest one in the U.S.) to find out more about what inspired the book. The massive video billboards and the cacophony of 42nd Street feel like the right setting for a museum filled with famous figures built from wax.

Eight-year-old Lucy Gray is wide-eyed and quivering with anticipation when I arrive at her house in suburban Maryland. I am sorry to report that I am not the object of her excitement. She is thrilled because she will soon be cooking with my companion, Molly Birnbaum, editor in chief of America's Test Kitchen Kids.

For the first time, a writer from Northern Ireland has won the prestigious Man Booker Award. The prize, given to works of fiction written in English and published in the U.K., was announced at a ceremony Tuesday evening in London.

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Every year at BookExpo, the publishing industry's annual conference, a few books emerge as front-runners in the competition for readers. This year, There There by Tommy Orange is one of those books. Set in Oakland, Calif., it explores the lives of Native Americans who live in cities, not reservations — lives like that of its author, who himself grew up in Oakland.

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There's a well-known Russian folktale, "Snegurochka," that tells the story of an elderly couple who yearn to have a child; they create a little girl out of snow, and she comes to life. In her novel The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey reimagined that story and set it in her home state of Alaska — and now the story has made one more leap, to the theatre at Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage.

Novelist Richard Powers lives in a house perched on a hillside, just on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. "It's very much a tree house," he says with a laugh. "That's why I live here."

His latest book, The Overstory, brought him to the old growth forests of Tennessee. The novel follows the lives of nine different people, all determined to save ancient trees from destruction. Their lives become entwined as they fight to save virgin forests, with unforeseen consequences.

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Mary Higgins Clark has made a good living off of murder. She creates characters that readers can identify with, then puts them in scary situations — and her fans love it.

Known as the "queen of suspense," Higgins Clark has sold 100 million copies of her books in the U.S. alone, but she didn't publish her first book until she was a widow in her early 40s. When Higgins Clark turns 90 on Christmas Eve, she'll still be turning out two books a year.

Among the many movies opening for the holidays is one with a new take on an old story. The Man Who Invented Christmas, starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer, is about Charles Dickens and the creation of A Christmas Carol. It's a distinctly literary tale — which isn't surprising, since one of the film's producers is a well known bookseller taking his first dip in the world of film.

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Binge-watching your favorite TV show is sometimes compared to reading a really good novel in a single sitting: You tell yourself you'll watch just one more episode. Before you know it, you've watched three, just like you keep moving to the next chapter of a book you just can't put down.

But Matthew Weiner says writing a novel is nothing like writing for TV, and he should know. He's the guy who created the very binge-worthy show Mad Men, and is now trying his hand at being a novelist.

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