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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Judy Blume / Country, Nation, State: What's the Difference? / Music by Big and Rich - 2004-09-24

Broadcast: September 24, 2004


DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

This is Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Country music from Big and Rich ...

A question from Nigeria about some place names ...

And a report about an award for children’s writer Judy Blume.

Judy Blume

American children's writer Judy Blume has won many awards. Her books have sold more than seventy-five million copies. They have been published in more than twenty languages. Now the National Book Foundation will honor her with its two thousand four Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Faith Lapidus has more about Judy Blume and her books.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Judy Blume is sixty-six years old. But book critics say this grandmother has never forgotten what it feels like to be a child. She writes mostly about the struggles of growing up. She published her first such book in nineteen sixty-nine.

Judy Blume says she writes about real life and real feelings. And she says children recognize themselves and their own problems in her books. These are problems like not having friends. Or worrying about physical development. Or being afraid to grow up. Some of the children in her books are trying to understand why their parents have separated. Others are not sure about their religious beliefs.

Not everyone praises Judy Blume, however. Some parents feel that children should not read about some of the subjects that she writes about. Her books have often been removed from libraries or placed in restricted areas as a result of challenges by parents. The American Library Association says five of her books are among the one hundred most frequently challenged books.

Not surprisingly, Judy Blume is active against censorship. She says people try to ban books because it satisfies their need to feel in control of their children’s lives. She says they think if children don’t read about a subject, they won’t know about it. She argues that children need to know about ideas different from those of their parents.

Judy Blume is the first writer of young-adult literature to receive the National Book Foundation medal. This honor was established in nineteen eighty-eight. It will be given at the National Books Awards ceremony in New York City in November.

Country, Nation, State: What's the Difference?

DOUG JOHNSON: Our VOA listener question this week comes from Katsina State, Nigeria. Shamsu Rabiu Galadunchi would like to know the difference between a country and a nation. Our listener also asks how a town, a district, a city, a suburb and a state are different.

This is a good question, because some of these terms have similar meanings or mean more than one thing.

The American Heritage Dictionary, for example, says a nation is a "relatively large group of people organized under a single, usually independent government; a country." Now this is how the definition for country begins: "a. A nation or state. b. The territory of a nation or state ... (and) c. The people of a nation or state."

So you see how nation and country can often mean the same thing. The United States, for example, could be called either a country or a nation. It could also be called a state.

Internationally, a country is defined as a state. The word state can also mean the highest political power within a country, as well as an area of territory with a country. The United States has fifty states, such as Texas, Oregon and Michigan.

The Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary says a city is a place "of greater size, population or importance than a town or village." A suburb is an area outside a city. People who live in a suburb may or may not work in the city. But most usually do. An example of a suburb is Bellevue, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest. It is next to the city of Seattle.

An example of a town is Hampden, Massachusetts. About five thousand people live there.

A district can mean a legal division of an area for a purpose, like a school district. It can also be a name given to an area within a city because of local ties to an industry or activity. Chicago, for example, has an area known as the Meat Packing District.

Another kind of district is Washington, D.C. D.C. is the District of Columbia. It was created with land from two states, Virginia and Maryland, to serve as the home of the federal government.

Big and Rich

DOUG JOHNSON: Big Kenny and John Rich, two new stars in country music, met six years ago in Nashville, Tennessee. Bob Doughty has the story of Big & Rich.

BOB DOUGHTY: Kenny Alphin, known as "Big" Kenny, was performing at a club. John Rich went to see the show. He must have liked what he heard, because soon the two men were writing songs together. They formed a band. Their first single, “Wild West Show,” came out early this year.


In May, Big & Rich released an album. “Horse of a Different Color” took about four months to reach number one on the country music charts. Here is the first song on that recording. It's called “Rollin’ (The Ballad of Big & Rich).”


Big & Rich are nominated for two Country Music Association awards, including Duo of the Year. The C.M.A. Awards ceremony is November ninth at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.

We leave you with another song from Big & Rich. This one is called “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy).”


DOUG JOHNSON: This is Doug Johnson. Before we go, we want to follow up on our report earlier this month about the history of the former punk rock band The Ramones. On September fifteenth Johnny Ramone died. He had prostate cancer. He was fifty-five years old.

This program was written by Brian Kim, Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver. Paul Thompson was our producer. And our engineer was Jim Sleeman.

I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Our e-mail address is Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.