NPR Staff

In school, they called her stupid. Dumb. Lazy.

Eileen Kushner had always had trouble with reading and simple math, and while she was growing up in Detroit during the 1950s, her fellow students didn't make life easy on her. Later, she'd be diagnosed with a learning disability, but at the time, she just had to suffer the slings and arrows of her peers. When she married her husband, Larry, right out of high school and had three kids, she hoped that her life as a stay-at-home mom might hide her learning problems.

Things didn't work out that way.

If Hari Kondabolu cracks you up, you may actually have his mother to thank — he says she's the one who taught him to be funny. Uma Kondabolu was a doctor in India who "left everything behind," her son explains. "That's difficult, and yet she laughed her way through it."

It was only recently that he began to appreciate that his mom's life outlook was at the root of his own comedy. His dark sense of humor and his ability to transform negative things into positive? "That comes from her," he tells NPR's David Greene.

You're at a cafeteria, you've got your lunch ... and then you just don't know where to sit. You don't want to sit alone, but you also don't know who would be friendly and let you sit with them. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Hampton has been there. She's an 11th grader from Sherman Oaks, Calif., and the creator of a new app called Sit With Us.

Hampton spoke about the app with All Things Considered Host Audie Cornish. A transcript of their conversation follows, edited for clarity.

Tim Gunn, Emmy-winning co-host of the show Project Runway, says the fashion industry is not making it work for plus-size women.

In an article for The Washington Post, he called it a disgrace.

UNGA began this week. In case the acronym is unfamiliar, that's the United Nations General Assembly, which has just commenced its 71st session. The Assembly is the time for member nations to gather and discuss international issues.

Think you know UNGA? Take our quiz to test your knowledge.

The nation's first lighthouse celebrates 300 years off the Boston coast on Wednesday. It's called Boston Light and it's manned by Sally Snowman.

"I jokingly say 'womanned.' I'm the 70th keeper of Boston Light. The first 69 were all men," Snowman says.

This isn't just a job. For Snowman, this is a lifestyle. She knows the mechanics, all of the history, she even dresses in period clothing.

"I just think it as the best government housing in the United States," she says.

Mara Wilson says that the most complicated relationship she has ever had is with a fictional 6-year-old girl. That's because you probably know Wilson best as Matilda, from the 1996 film adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic.

"I wanted to be her so badly ... " Wilson tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "She's kind of like my big sister overshadowing me."

Wilson, now 29, was a successful child actress — you may also recognize her from her starring roles as Natalie Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire, or as Susan Walker in Miracle on 34th Street.

Raina Telgemeier's new graphic novel Ghosts is about death. But it's written for children.

Telgemeier tells NPR's books editor Barrie Hardymon that stories serve as a way to begin difficult conversations. "Stories are such a powerful way of communicating ideas and in comforting people," she says.

Robert Glasper is always making music. Solo or with his quartet, the Robert Glasper Experiment, he's released 9 albums and collaborated with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Kendrick Lamar, investigating the sounds and rhythms of jazz and hip-hop in equal measure,

We all have unlived lives, says writer Margaret Atwood, and for her, that alternate life was becoming an illustrator.

"I started drawing comics as a child," she tells NPR's Audie Cornish.

Atwood grew up reading and enjoying comics and, around age 6, she started drawing a flying cat with wings. But, she says, "I wasn't good enough. I knew people who were good enough and I could tell the difference."

Now, nearly 70 years later, Atwood's cat flies again in a graphic novel called Angel Catbird.

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