NPR Staff

Big Bird, the towering yellow bird with confetti feathers from Sesame Street, will eternally be 6 years old, but his character is nearly 50. The man behind Big Bird, Caroll Spinney, is 81 — and has no plans to step out of the suit any time soon.

"I see no reason to quit," Spinney tells NPR's Scott Simon. "I can't imagine walking away from being Big Bird. I mean, that's an awfully good job, and there's not too many of them. So, I just want to keep doing it until I can't do it anymore."

The great Victorian novelist Thomas Hardy was still alive in 1915 when one of his novels was made into a silent movie. Even then, Far From the Madding Crowd was a tempting tale: It follows a headstrong young woman being pursued by a trio of suitors — a sheep farmer, a wealthy landowner and a rakish officer.

Now Hardy's novel is getting another film adaptation, this time starring Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene, the book's heroine. Mulligan tells NPR's Renee Montagne about why she wanted to play Bathsheba and her practice of scrapbooking her characters.

Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, Maus, has some very memorable cover art. It pictures a pair of mice — representing Jews — huddling beneath a cat-like caricature of Adolf Hitler. Behind the feline Hitler is a large swastika.

The Pentagon says women could be eligible for all combat roles in the military by next year, but some women already have been fighting — and dying — for their country. They're serving right alongside elite special operations units, such as the Navy SEALs or Army Rangers.

It's part of an effort to connect with half of the Afghan population that was off-limits to male soldiers: the women. Some military leaders considered reaching them one of the keys to winning the war.

Most days, you can find Ran Duan pouring drinks for guests at The Baldwin Bar, inside a branch of his parents' Sichuan Garden restaurant in Woburn, Mass.

But recently he's been setting aside time each day to practice making a special drink.

Smartphones have become an essential part of many people's lives — 64 percent of Americans own one. And just as smartphones grew in popularity, so too have emojis. There are now more than a thousand emojis, and some of them can really say a lot about how people are using language and communicating.

This week, the bodies of 24 unidentified migrants were laid to rest in Malta, the European island nation in the Mediterranean Sea. They were among more than 800 people who lost their lives last weekend off the coast of Libya when their ship capsized as they were trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach a better life.

Lieutenant Keith Caruana of the Armed Forces of Malta spoke with NPR's Arun Rath about the situation in the Mediterranean — and the toll it has taken on rescuers after more than a decade of trying to save the lives of desperate people seeking safety.

In the latest installment of our occasionial series Weekend Reads, we're celebrating National Poetry Month with The Little Edges, a unique work by American poet Fred Moten. Many of the poems in the book were commissioned, and they focus on real life people and events.

Nick Kroll is the star of a lot of things, including Kroll Show on Comedy Central and The League on FX. And if that wasn't enough, he now has a new film coming out called Adult Beginners. Kroll tells NPR's Rachel Martin that his character in the film, Jake, is in transition.

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