Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- a program in VOA Special English about music and American life. And we answer your questions.
This is Doug Johnson. Two-Thousand-Four has arrived.
On our show today,
The newspaper "U-S-A Today" recently listed the most popular books of last year in the United States. It creates the list from information about the number of books sold during the year. Phoebe Zimmermann tells us about a few of them.
The top book on the list is "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by British writer Joanne Rowling. This book is the fifth in the best selling series of children's stories about the boy wizard, Harry Potter.
Each of the books in the series tells about what happens to Harry and his friends during one year at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. In "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," Harry again defeats the evil Lord Voldemort. But he suffers a great loss.
Joanne Rowling reportedly is working on the sixth book in the series, although we do not know when it will be ready for the publisher. She has said that the series will end with a seventh book as Harry Potter finishes his education at Hogwarts.
"U-S-A Today" says the second most popular book of the year was "Doctor Atkins' New Diet Revolution" by Robert Atkins. Doctor Atkins is famous for helping people lose weight by eating fewer carbohydrates and more protein. This means that people on the Atkins diet are free to eat fatty meat products and can still lose weight. This newest book reportedly tells people how to burn even more calories and lose weight.
The newspaper says the third most popular book in the United States last year was "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown. The newspaper says that more than five-million copies are in print.
"The Da Vinci Code" is an imaginary story about an art expert who tries to solve a murder mystery. The mystery involves the Roman Catholic Church and questions some of its beliefs. The questions asked in the book involve clues to the murder believed to have been left in artworks by Leonardo da Vinci.
The information provided in the book has led some readers to question the teachings of their church. Religious leaders and history experts have both praised and criticized "The Da Vinci Code." They say Dan Brown has given a new meaning on an old story that has not been proved. And they all say that it is important to remember that it is a work of fiction and not to be read as truth.
At the end of the year, the American movie industry reports about the most popular movies of the year. The results are based on the number of tickets sold in theaters throughout the United States.
The most popular movie of two-thousand-three in the United States was released in December of two-thousand-two. But it earned most of its money in two-thousand-three. "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" earned more than three-hundred-forty-million dollars in the United States last year.
The story continues the one begun in the earlier movie "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." A third and final "Lord of the Rings" movie has just been released. All the "Lord of the Rings" movies are from books by British writer J-R-R Tolkein. They tell about a magic ring that has powers to destroy life in a place called Middle Earth. A human-like creature called a Hobbit is the hero of the stories. His name is Frodo Baggins, and he must destroy the ring to save his world.
The second most popular movie in the United States last year was "Finding Nemo." It is a cartoon made for children, but adults enjoyed it too. "Finding Nemo" earned more than three-hundred-thirty-nine-million dollars in the United States last year. It is about a small fish who has lost his son, Nemo, in the ocean. The movie follows Nemo and his father as they try to find each other again.
The third most popular movie in the United States last year earned more than three-hundred-five-million dollars. It was "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." The idea for the movie came from a popular ride at the Disneyland amusement park in California.
It is about a pirate named Jack Sparrow who is played by the actor Johnny Depp. Jack Sparrow is looking for his lost ship. The ship has been seized by pirates who have been cursed by a sailor they betrayed. Jack Sparrow must find the pirates, their ship and their hidden gold to defeat them. Officials of the Disney Company say the movie was so popular that they are planning another Jack Sparrow pirate adventure. And they say that Johnny Depp will star din the new movie.
Each December, "Billboard" magazine lists the most popular albums, records and performers of the year. Steve Ember tells us about a few of them.
"Billboard" magazine says two-thousand-three was the first year since nineteen-ninety-four that the same artist has the number one single and album of the year. The album is Fifty Cent's, "Get Rich or Die Trying." The single is "In Da Club":
"Billboard" says the second biggest album of the year was Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me." The album was released in two-thousand-two, but became extremely popular in two-thousand-three. Here is the title song from that album. Norah Jones also wrote the song.
The magazine says third most popular record album in the United States last year was performed by country music singer Shania Twain. The album is called "Up!" We leave you now with a song from that album, "Forever and For Always."
This is Doug Johnson wishing you a very happy new year.
This program was written by Nancy Steinbach. Paul Thompson was the producer. And our engineer was Wayne Shorter.
I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA's radio magazine in Special English.