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Daydreams (and Dragons) Lead Young Writer Paolini to Success


Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver

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HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We hear some music from The Rolling Stones …

Answer a question about the name of his program …

And report about a popular young American writer.

Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini has never attended high school. But he says that he has visited more high schools than anyone else. He made the visits to talk about an extremely popular book that he began writing at the age of fifteen. Pat Bodnar has more.

PAT BODNAR: Christopher Paolini lives in the state of Montana. His parents taught him at home, so he did not go to school. He finished his studies at the age of fifteen. But his family decided he was too young to attend college. So he started writing.

His effort became the book called “Eragon”. It is for children ages twelve and older. It is about a poor farm boy named Eragon who finds a strange blue stone that is really an egg. The egg becomes an imaginary creature called a dragon. The dragon’s name is Saphira. She is beautiful, blue and powerful. Eragon cares for her and she becomes his best friend.

Eragon and Saphira have many adventures as they struggle against an evil king. They also develop a mind link: they know what each other is thinking.

Christopher’s parents published “Eragon” themselves. It became so popular that a major publishing company bought the rights to it. The book has sold more than two million copies so far. The company also agreed to publish the two other books Christopher planned to write about Eragon the Sephira.

The second book has now been published. It is called “Eldest.” It continues the story of Eragon and Saphira and their struggle to save their world from the evil king. And Christopher is traveling around the country talking about how and why he wrote the books.

Christopher Paolini is twenty-one years old now. He has no plans to go to college. He says he has the best job in the world because he gets to write down his daydreams. He is now working on the third book that will complete the adventures of Eragon and Saphira in their imaginary land.

Soon, people all over the world will be able to enjoy “Eragon” in another way. A movie of the book is being filmed in Hungary. It will be released next year.

Meaning of 'Mosaic'

HOST: Our VOA listener question this week comes from China. Eric asks about the meaning of this program’s name, American Mosaic.

We will answer that question as a way to help celebrate the anniversary of Special English. Special English began on October nineteenth, nineteen fifty-nine. Voice of America officials wanted a program to communicate with people learning English. They wanted a way for people to get to know the language and at the same time learn about the United States and world news.

Special English writing is limited as much as possible to about one thousand five hundred words. Special English uses short sentences. And it is read at a slower speed than normal English.

The program “American Mosaic” began in nineteen eighty-five. We wanted to broadcast a show that young people would like. We wanted to tell about American culture, answer questions from listeners and play popular music. But we could not agree about what to call the program. We began with the name “The Friday Program.” And we announced a contest for listeners to send in suggestions for better names.

Two people won the contest. Listeners from China and Egypt both suggested the same name: American Mosaic. Mosaic is spelled m-o-s-a-i-c. The dictionary says that the English word “mosaic” means a picture or design that is made by placing small colored pieces together. You can see colorful mosaics in art and in designs on buildings.

We chose the name “American Mosaic” because the purpose of the show is to create a picture of life in this country through many small stories. Each story is different, like the different pieces of a mosaic. But together, they form a complete picture. We hope that our radio mosaic provides a complete and interesting picture of life in the United States. You can learn more about Special English on our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.

Rolling Stones

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The Rolling Stones are not American. But, the band is probably as popular in the United States as anywhere else in the world. Right now, the group is performing around the country in huge sports centers. Faith Lapidus tells about the Rolling Stones and plays some of their songs -- old and new.

FAITH LAPIDUS: The Rolling Stones started as a band forty-four years ago. Their first shows in the United States were in the nineteen-sixties. Many critics compared the band with the Beatles. Both groups were British, played rock and roll and became major music stars quickly. But, unlike the Beatles, the Rolling Stones were seen as bad boys. Their hair was longer, their clothes were tighter and they acted wilder.

In nineteen seventy-two, the Rolling Stones released the album, “Exile on Main Street.” Some critics consider it their best. The song “Rip This Joint” is an example of the band’s bad boy sound.

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Singer Mick Jagger and lead guitarist Keith Richards write the songs. The band’s drummer is Charlie Watts. Guitarist Ron Wood is the fourth member. He joined the Rolling Stones in nineteen seventy-five.

The album “Some Girls” was released a few years later. A song about New York City, “Shattered,” became one of its biggest hits.

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Last month, the Rolling Stones released their latest album, “A Bigger Bang.” It includes a political song, which is unusual for the band. We leave you with “Sweet Neo-Con.”

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HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.

Our show was written by Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver, who also was our producer.

Send your questions about American life to mosaic@voanews.com. Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

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