Reviews and Blog Posts: NPR

Best Music of 2013 - Critics have spoken...now have your say!

Best Albums of 2013

With 2013 coming to a close, the “best of” music lists have been pouring in the past few months. Best albums, best cover songs, best tracks, best photos, best music appearances on television - the possibilities are endless and critics never seem to tire of list-making.

Here is a round-up from some of the more influential sources:

Colour My World

Marian McPartland

Marian McPartland once noted, "The Key of D is daffodil yellow, B major is maroon, and B flat is blue." The beloved jazz pianist and host of NPR's Piano Jazz for over 30 years has left the recording studio, after sharing a rainbow of musical journeys with fellow artists.

If you are new to jazz or want to pay tribute to McPartland and her musical family, visit NPR's tribute Twilight World. McPartland interviewed her guests with the language of music, co-creating unique musical experiences. She had a gift for drawing musicians out, and the intimacy of their conversations drew listeners in. 

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: NPR's Back-Seat Book Club Pick for June

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid

I'm so excited NPR has selected Diary of a Wimpy Kid for the Backseat Book Club for 9 to 14-year-olds because I LOVE this book. It's been awhile since I was 9-14, but this book made me feel like a kid again.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid started out as a web comic on funbrain.com and it was so popular that the book series was born. Part of the appeal of these books is that they look and sound like the actual diary of a kid.

Heart of a Samurai: NPR's Back-Seat Book Club Pick for May

Heart of a Samurai

In 1841, fourteen-year-old Nakahama Manjirō is fishing with friends when their boat is shipwrecked on an island off the coast of Japan. They are rescued by an American whaling ship and after requesting to stay aboard the ship, Nakahama becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States. This incredible true story is the basis for NPR's Back-Seat Book Club selection for May.

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus is the story of a boy who is a simple fisherman but dreams of becoming a samurai. He never lets go of his dreams, despite living in a society where there is no chance for changing your station in life. After his rescue from the island, he is given a great opportunity: travel to California and begin a new life.

NPR Back-Seat Book Club Pick for April: Seedfolks

Seedfolks

Transformation is the theme of April's selection for NPR's Back-Seat Book Club for 9 to 14-year-olds.

In Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman, an eight-year-old girl named Kim starts an unexpected revolution in her Cleveland neighborhood with one simple act: planting lima bean seeds in a vacant lot. When a neighbor observes her action and shares her concern for the seeds with another neighbor, who decides to plant his own garden, the transformation of trashed lot to community garden begins.

NPR Back-Seat Book Club: The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society

NPR's Back-Seat Book Club for 9 to 14-year-olds has selected a best-selling, eccentric adventure for March: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.

The Mysterious Benedict Society is a curious story, indeed! It all starts with several children answering the following newspaper ad: "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" Once the chosen few have passed a series of bizarre tests, they are trained, their special gifts are sharpened, and they are set for – what else – an undercover mission to stop evil!

February Picks for NPR's Back-Seat Book Club

The Hundred Dresses

This month NPR's Back-Seat Book Club for 9 to 14-year-olds has two selections: The Hundred Dresses and Shooting Kabul.

The Hundred Dresses is a 1944 classic by Eleanor Estes. In this age where bullying is a serious topic, the story of Wanda Petronski, who is teased for her name, where she lives, and the fact that she wears the same faded dress every day, will really hit-home with readers. Wanda insists she has one hundred beautiful dresses at home and when the girls at school mock her for it, she stops coming to school and her family decides to move to a bigger city.

NPR's Back-Seat Book Club January Selection

The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963

NPR's Back-Seat Book Club for 9 to 14-year-olds has announced their selection for January: The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963.

The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963 is the award-winning story of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, who take a trip to Alabama in the summer of 1963. Young readers will relate to Kenny, the 10-year-old narrator of the story – his authentic observations and reactions really bring the experiences of an African American family in the 1960s to life.

NPR's Back-Seat Book Club Selects a Great Winter Read

Breadcrumbs

NPR's Back-Seat Book Club for 9 to 14-year-olds has announced their selection for December, and it's a magical winter book for kids and parents/caregivers to read together.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu is the story of fifth-graders Hazel and Jack, who are best friends until a magic mirror and an evil queen turn Jack's heart to ice. Hazel knows what she has to do: go on a quest to save Jack's life!

It's an enchanting fantasy with beautiful black and white illustrations (and a gorgeous cover) that really bring the story to life. Breadcrumbs is a middle grade chapter book, but the story is sure to captivate readers of all ages.

NPR's Back-Seat Book Club for ages 9-14

The Graveyard Book

National Public Radio (NPR) has started a special project for listeners ages 9-14: the Back-Seat Book Club. Beginning in October, the show All Things Considered would like young listeners and their parents to read a selected book each month and then join in the conversation with that book's author. They want to know what you think and give the author a chance to answer questions you have about the book!

The first selection in the Back-Seat Book Club is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, which is perfect for Halloween. It's the story of Nobody Owens, a boy who is normal in every way – except that he has been raised by ghosts in a graveyard.

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