Arts & Culture

Junot Díaz wanted to write a children's book for more than 20 years. In the meantime, he wrote several grown-up books, including The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. He also won a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, among other accolades.

Now he has finished that children's book. Islandborn is about a curious, Afro-Caribbean girl named Lola.

Leslie Ovalle / WLRN News

Guests for Sundial on Wednesday, Feb. 28:

City of Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli discussed the city commission vote that banned assault weapons even though state law forbids local governments to pass gun laws.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School opened its doors to students today for the first time since the Feb. 14 mass shooting.  WLRN reporter Caitie Switalski spoke to us about how students, parents and faculty handled being back in the school. Also, MSD student David Hogg told us how he felt on his first day attending class after the shooting. 

The Library of Congress hosted a very special guest at story time this week:

Dolly Parton.

The country music legend is also a champion of early childhood literacy, through her Imagination Library. Every month, the nonprofit program mails a free book to more than a million children — from infants to preschoolers.

Zadie Smith is justly celebrated for her chameleon-like gifts as a writer. In novels like White Teeth and On Beauty she's ventured deeply into the lives of a multi-racial assortment of immigrants to Great Britain and the United States. Her characters run the gamut from aspirational working-class kids, self-important academics, pensioners, young dancers and, to date, one Chinese-Jewish Londoner with a fixation on Golden Age Hollywood.

The first Bible I ever purchased was a New International Version Student Life Bible; it was black with neon pink and green lettering. I picked it up from the bookstore of a church I was invited to in my late teens. This "expanded" version featured maps, reading plans, and questionnaires geared toward teenagers who wanted to learn how to effectively apply biblical principles to their daily lives. In other words, how to learn to be the "salt of the earth."

You don't need me to tell you how exciting or important Marvel Studio's Black Panther has become. It's one of the most anticipated films of the year — and broke records for pre-release ticket sales.

Apocryphal stories about our nation's first president abound.

Wooden dentures? Experts say disabusing the public of this myth is like ... well, pulling teeth. (And George Washington did have several pulled, having suffered mightily from dental problems.)

Finland has a tendency to beguile. Saunas are so important that both the president and prime minister keep official ones. The country has the most heavy metal bands per capita. It's experimenting with a basic income.

As superhero origin stories go, this one is pretty low-key. No radioactivity. No other planets. Just a Swede, his love of pastry, and a noble quest for accuracy. It's a bun, it's some cream, it's ... Semla Man!

Alicia Zuckerman / WLRN

Judy Blume turns 80 today (February 12), and she celebrated all day yesterday at the nonprofit bookstore she and her husband George run in Key West. It was hard to keep track of how many fans who showed up called her their "childhood hero" (present company included). 

Blume works four days a week at the Books & Books at The Studios of Key West, including all day every Sunday.

Larry Blackburn

The story of Elena Hoyos and the man who called himself Count Carl von Cosel is a Key West legend.

It's a true story if unbelievable in its macabre details. And it's been retold in histories, websites — and on stage. A new version of a musical about the story, Undying Love, is opening in Key West. On Valentine's Day.

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