Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

NASA has released the first picture of Jupiter taken since the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around the planet on July 4.

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The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

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Now there are some weeks when pre-chopped vegetables and a rotisserie chicken are the only things between us and five nights of Chipotle.

Parents are busy. For some of us, figuring out how to get dinner on the table is a daily struggle. So I reached out to food experts, parents and nutritionists for help. Here is some of their (and my) best advice for making weeknight meals happen.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

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Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

Pages

November Kids' Book Club Pick: 'The Red Pyramid'

Nov 1, 2012
Originally published on November 19, 2012 12:21 pm

Mention the name Rick Riordan to adults, and they might say, "Huh?" But kids? They know. Riordan has been burning up the best-seller lists with three different series of books that all feature modern-day kids entangled in the lives of ancient gods. The Red Pyramid — the December pick of NPR's Backseat Book Club — features a brother and sister who have no idea they are descended from age-old sorcerers until their archaeologist father accidentally unleashes ancient gods into modern society.

Dangerous? Absolutely. But also very cool.

If you have kids, then you know there's something almost magical when they reach the age when they begin to tackle mythology in school. The world of Greek, Roman, Norse and Egyptian gods, goddesses and heroes is intoxicating for students. The special powers. The cylindrical family trees. The rivalries. The vanities. The names that march across the tongue like Roman armies. It really is delicious stuff. If you want proof, just look at a kid's notebook when they're in a mythology unit — the doodles and drawings in the margins reveal just how deep the obsession goes.

Riordan certainly knows how mythology can cast a spell over young people. Before he became a best-selling author, he was a schoolteacher, and — not surprisingly — mythology was one of his favorite subjects to teach. All of his best-selling series (the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, the Heroes of Olympus series and The Kane Chronicles) follow a similar pattern: A modern-day preteen must complete a difficult mission, or the world will descend into complete chaos. Along the way, they usually discover special powers, overcome big fears and fulfill a destiny etched in stone hundreds of years ago.

In The Red Pyramid, brother-sister pair Carter and Sadie Kane aren't exactly close. They've been living in separate homes since their mother died, but tragedy brings them back together when their father accidentally blows up the British Museum. He had a secret plan that went horribly, terribly, disastrously wrong, and his missteps lead to the shattering of the ancient Rosetta Stone. (Yes, that Rosetta Stone.) The accident unleashes ancient gods from captivity, including the Egyptian god of chaos — an evil, revenge-filled deity named Set. Carter and Sadie must save their father and set things right. Once they are reunited, strange stuff starts to happen: Special powers emerge when they figure out how to work together (how I wish I could use that ploy to get my kids to cooperate). The Kane kids eventually discover that they are descended from the most powerful magicians in ancient Egypt.

Riordan is very much a teacher at heart. You can sense the research that went into this book — he salts his story with all sorts of historical background so that young readers don't even realize they're being schooled. From the hieroglyphs to ancient geography to the world of the pharaohs, the book is a fantastic academic resource wrapped up in a hair-raising adventure. Visit Riordan's website to learn more about the world of mythology and the research that goes into his books. He also serves up some fun games and resources for teachers, parents and kids. Riordan says one of the things he loves most about his job is that he gets to stay connected with young people. So let's help him maintain his link with readers. Make sure to send us your questions for Rick Riordan.

Happy reading!

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