NPR Staff

Louis Sachar knows a few things about writing for kids. His first book, Sideways Stories From Wayside School, came out in 1978 — and the wacky collection is still in print.

His 1999 Newbery Medal winner, Holes, centers on a boy wrongly confined to a juvenile detention facility. It's mysterious and creepy, and it's still flying off the shelves.

So if he says kids will love a scary eco-bioterror-mystery-thriller-comedy, you just might trust him.

The vote by the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on openly gay troop leaders last week was a blow to some religious conservative organizations that have long been connected to scouting, especially the Mormon church, which has deep roots in the Boy Scouts.

The church, also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has used the Boy Scouts as its official program for young men for more than 100 years, according to Quin Monson, a political science professor at Brigham Young University.

If anything was going to make the case for putting warning labels on music, it was 2 Live Crew at the turn of the 1990s. The hip-hop group's output was so sexually explicit that it eventually became the subject of an obscenity case that made its way through some of the highest courts in this country. The man at the center of it all was Luther Campbell, a.k.a Luke Skywalker, the alter-ego that helped make 2 Live Crew one of the most legendary and notorious rap acts ever.

Beryl Markham was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from East to West. The British-born Kenyan woman was also a racehorse trainer, a writer and a fearless adventurer.

Once famous as an aviation pioneer, she's largely dropped out of the public consciousness. But novelist Paula McLain has put her back in the spotlight — as the protagonist of her new novel, Circling the Sun.

It's been nearly a year since a police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American 18-year-old, in Ferguson, Mo. Since then, more deadly police encounters across the country have prompted anger, activism and reform.

Many of those incidents began with traffic stops — routine events that quickly turned deadly. And attorney Eric Broyles says that the risks for citizens are not distributed evenly.

Andrew Gulli has an unusual passion: finding unpublished short stories by famous American authors. He searches through libraries and archives, finds works, researches to confirm they've never been published — then publishes them in the literary magazine he edits, The Strand.

What does a couple do for its 40th anniversary?

If you're Penn and Teller, you play Broadway. Thirty years after they first played New York, the duo are back with a new show. And it's no quiet celebration, either. In the course of a single performance, they make a cellphone ring inside a dead fish, swallow both needles and fire — and make a rare African spotted pygmy elephant disappear.

Jason Isbell is riding high this week: His new album Something More Than Free is number one on Billboard's country, rock and folk charts. The musician from rural Alabama got his start with the Southern rock band Drive-By Truckers, and then went solo. For the past few years, he's been sober, after drinking brought him "close to the point of no return."

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