Tag Archives: bibliophile

Review! The Fallen Star by Tracey Hecht

19 Jun

The Fallen Star
Series: The Nocturnals #3 (#1, #2)
Written by Tracey Hecht
Illustrated by Kate Liebman
208 pages – ages 7+
Published by Fabled Films Press on May 2, 2017

Synopsis- It was a nice night out, and the Night Brigade (Dawn the fox, Tobin the Pangolin, and Bismarck the sugar glider) were out watching shooting stars. That is, until one star keeps coming towards them. After a big explosion, a big rock is found in a crater – but that’s not the only change! Whenever animals are eating the fruit, they are getting sick to their stomachs, and something is taking the only cure! It is up to the Night Brigade to solve this mystery before it’s too late!

What I Thought- Hecht has a really great series going on here, and this book is no different. The story is one that little kids can read with no problem, while still possessing a conflict – a good bridge into chapter book stories. I definitely like how Hecht includes endangered nocturnal animals in her books, which inspire kids to look them up. There are really nice watercolor illustrations by Liebman at the beginning of each chapter that add to the story. The story is simple and age-appropriate for young kids, and Hecht’s writing style is perfect for an early chapter book. I can’t wait for the next book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress

6 Jun


Illustrated by Matthew C. Rockefeller
320 pages – ages 9+
Published by Delacorte Press on April 25, 2017

Synopsis- Sebastian was a brilliant kid, going to a school for math and science. He always planned everything out, and disliked change and trying new things. Then he met a pig in a teeny hat. And everything changed. Now he’s helping a girl find her presumed dead (but apparently still living) grandfather. That’s not so bad, except that two creepy thugs are trying to find him too. Things are starting to look interesting…

What I Thought- This book is pretty funny – the narration is very tongue-in-cheek, with humorous chapter names, and the story is full of wacky events that are somehow believable.  Sebastian and Evie are two very different characters, but they both make the book complete. Sebastian wants to stay out of trouble, but he also wants to do what’s right. Evie doesn’t want to be alone in this world, and will do anything to be get her family back. This is a really great combo! Kress’ writing style is very light-hearted, having written a book where having a character ride a llama across a zoo and having a tree grow in the middle of a building seem like completely natural things. Kress uses all the creative room in her plot line, and keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. There are neat black-and-white illustrations from Rockefeller throughout the book that really bring all of the aspects together. Kids will love to read this book! Kress has written a wonderful beginning to a new series, and I cannot wait to read the next book! I also think I will definitely check out some of the other books by Kress, considering how much I enjoyed this one.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! The Eldridge Conspiracy by Don M. Winn

1 Jun

The Eldridge Conspiracy
Series: Sir Kaye the Boy Knight 4 (1, 2, 3)
Written by Don M. Winn
Illustrated by Dave Allred
167 pages – ages 8+
Will be Published by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC on June 16, 2017

Synopsis- There is a plot of treasonous measures being taken against the neighboring kingdom of Eldridge, and Sir Kaye the Boy Knight has uncovered the horrid conspiracy! It could lead to the invasion of his country of Knox, and even more – to the death of Eldridge’s king and Kaye’s father, Sir Henry! Kaye and his friends, Reggie and Beau, set out to do what they can to prevent it. But time is of the essence, and with an evil baron trying to get them all out of the picture, it isn’t certain they even have a chance!

What I Thought- I really enjoyed this fabulous conclusion to the Sir Kaye series. Winn knows how to bring the tension up in the series, raising the stakes in the book to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. It is interesting to see Kaye unfold as a character; he fluctuates, learning and then forgetting as he lets pride or guilt or some other emotion take control of his actions. Altogether, this makes for a maximum learning experience for both Kaye and the reader. Winn writes a good story for younger kids who have progressed from early chapter books, but aren’t quite ready for another step up – the chapters are short, with a mildly challenging age-appropriate vocabulary, and neat black-and-white illustrations throughout the story. The series is good for kids who like knights and medieval times, and show that sometimes it is hard to do what is right, but having honor is a good thing to strive for. Morals are taught in the books, as well as just plain old essential character traits. Winn has written a good series about a kid who strives to do his best even when times are hard, and a lot of things can be learned from that. I am sad to see this series come to a finish, but I look forward to seeing more come from Mr. Winn!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

WOO! I’m giving away a #CaptainUnderpants prize pack thanks to @Scholastic!

30 May

Captain Underpants – (the name elicits giggles – doesn’t it?) is the very first series I read when I was a kid. I begged my mom to pick them up for me when I saw the first three books in the series at a yard sale – The Adventures of Captain Underpants – Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets – Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds) – Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants. Although Mom kind of looked at me a little funny with the Professor Poopypants one, she knows fine literature and got it for me anyway.  I read and re-read these books until they literally fell apart.  I then sought out new additions to the series and loved every one of them. I still am a strong advocate for Captain Underpants. It is a great series to get kids to start reading independently. It is a fun series that will engage all kinds of readers.

I was THRILLED to see that DreamWorks is making a Captain Underpants movie!!! The movie hits theaters on June 2nd. It is my hope that kids will see the movie and want to start reading about Captain Underpants other adventures! To celebrate this Earth shattering event, Scholastic sent me new Captain Underpants books, AND is offering a prize pack for one of you!

One randomly picked commenter from this post will receive:

The Adventures of Captain Underpants (Book 1, now in full color!)

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Official Handbook

Captain Underpants: Wacky Word Wedgies and Flushable Fill-Ins

That’s right – just comment below to be entered to win! Winner will be selected randomly and announced one week from today.

One of the giveaways is the original Captain Underpants book (with some additional content) but in full color!

The illustrations are the same but the color really makes them come alive!

The other two books are complimentary to the movie. These books feature the CGI images of Captain Underpants, Harold and George.

 

I know you all are saying”ERIK, WE NEED TO KNOW MORE!”

So check this out – Visit PilkeyPower.Scholastic.com

Follow Scholastic on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Check out the movie’s trailer!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Mine! by Jeff Mack

26 May

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a nice story about sharing!

Mine!
By Jeff Mack
40 pages – ages 3+

Will be Published by Chronicle Books on May 9, 2017

Theme/Topic- Sharing
Genre- Fiction
Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Mine!”

Synopsis from Publisher: “Start with one rock. Add two mice. The end result? A never-ending battle! Or is it? Using only one word, along with many brightly colored and lively illustrations, Jeff Mack brings his hallmark humor to this rollicking book that will have readers of every age reconsidering whether “Mine!” is the best answer.”

What I Thought- This was a fun book that had a theme on sharing. Mack has a way of using very few words to tell a story – in “Mine!”, he only uses the title word with varying repetition and punctuation to create the story. His illustrations are also very light-hearted, and read like a comic. Mack has a way of writing a wacky story that kids will enjoy reading.

Activities and Resources- There is a nice list of activities to teach sharing at Connectability.ca HERE!

Raisingchildren.net.au has a nice article with ideas on encouraging sharing HERE!

There is a good informational article from Handinhandparenting.org explaining about the psychological why kids want to share and act the way they do HERE!

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Review! Cheesus Was Here by J.C. Davis

22 May

Cheesus Was Here
By J.C. Davis
272 pages – ages 13+
Published by Sky Pony Press on April 11, 2017

Synopsis– Delaney Delgado isn’t the biggest fan of God. After all, if there was a God, why would he have let her sister die? It’s just easier to think that He doesn’t exist then to think he has a vendetta against her family. When she buys a piece of cheese-a Babybel cheese wheel!-appears at a convenience store, she thinks nothing of it. Until the Baby Jesus is revealed underneath the wrapping. Suddenly her town is full of “miracles” and hopeful tourists. Delaney is sure the miracles are fake, even as more and more keep appearing. Enlisting her best friend, she sets out to prove them wrong. But can she handle the truth?

What I Thought- This was a really good book – I like how Davis has made it so it isn’t really in favor of or against religion – just a town that is receiving “miracles” and a girl trying to disprove it with a friend that hopes to prove it. The book is rather true to teenage life. The dialogue is spot on even with a bit of cuss words but it isn’t overly done. Davis has created a small town that is full of mostly religious citizens and adds the contrast of a character that has given up on God. I was drawn to the quirky story line with the deeper human story behind it. Davis balances heartbreak wonderfully with humor to make the story incredibly emotionally full. The opposing views of the townspeople and Delaney leads for an interesting read. I had an interesting time with this book. When first cracking it open, I thought I was going to love it, but was immediately put off by the atheistic main character. After delving into the book further I found that Delaney’s perspective allowed me to look introspectively at my own beliefs. I grew to appreciate the story more than if I had never disliked the character initially. Weird, I know; but true. This was a very good book, thought provoking book. I would like to read more from Davis in the future.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! Battle for the Land’s Soul by LRW Lee

8 May

Battle for the Land’s Soul
Series: Andy Smithson Series
Written by LRW Lee
210 pages – ages 9+
Published by Woodgate Publishing on May 8, 2017 (TODAY!)

Synopsis from Publisher- Good vs Evil. Destiny Demands the Battle be Fought. But at What Cost?
It’s clear Abaddon, the evil shape shifting ruler of Hadession, Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, must be dealt with if Oomaldee’s citizens are to ever live in peace. But how? What lengths will Andy have to go to in order to wage war against a being whose power stems from evil itself? Will Abaddon plunge the land into darkness or will light triumph?

What I Thought- For those of you out there unfamiliar with the Andy Smithson series, if the rest of the books weren’t enough to convince you to give LRW Lee a try, than this book should be reason enough. Lee has written a thrilling conclusion to her marvelous series. We finish the saga of Abaddon and his reign of terror, but sadly we have to say goodbye to Andy. Throughout this series I have enjoyed seeing Andygrow and flourish as a character. We see him grow from a self-centered American teenager into the wise, just and tempered monarch of an entire country. Lee fleshes out the rest of the cast as well, and readers learn more about them as they root them on. The character development intimately connects the reader with them and connects them to the story. This book is full of action, described in an enticing way. The text forces the reader into Andy‘s mind. It is written in such a way that Lee encourages the reader to ask the same questions that Andy is facing. The setting is well-described, with a perfect combination of giving details and leaving the imagination some free range. The world of Oomaldee and its neighboring countries are fascinating, and the reader appreciates getting a chance to “see” the lands as the characters travel through them. Lee really writes a gripping story, and I could not put this book down – don’t tell my parents this, but I stayed up incredibly late into the night to finish reading it! I really enjoy reading Lee’s adventures, and discovering the life lessons hidden between the pages. There is also a lot of symbolism in the book, making it good for reading in school as well. Lee writes age-appropriate novels, sometimes with darker themes, but always in a balanced way for kids to handle. This was a marvelous end to a fabulous series, and though I’m sad to see it go, I am happy to say that Lee has ended the book and series in a fulfilling way. I cannot wait to read what Lee comes up with next!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

May The Fourth Be With You! – Double Review! The Thornton Burgess Library

4 May

Today I welcome back a special guest reviewer that takes over graces my blog once a year!

Welcome back Darth Vader and May the Fourth Be With You!

shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh

Darth?

shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh

Darth why are you just standing there breathing?

I FEEL A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE.

Really? What kind of disturbance? I thought we were here to review the Thornton Burgess books – you know Peter Cotton Tail and Jimmy Skunk?

YES. THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE.

Which one?

shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh

Okay- never mind I will just get on with the reviews. 

 

The Adventures of Peter Cottontail
Series: The Thornton Burgess Library
By Thornton W. Burgess
128 pages – ages 6+
Published by Seagrass Press on March 1, 2017

Synopsis from the Publisher- Introduce a new generation to Thornton Burgess’ Peter Cottontail in The Adventures of Peter Cottontail.
The Adventures of Peter Cottontail recounts the hijinks of one of the most endearing and beloved creatures in children’s literature. Full of mischief (and then remorse), Peter has exploits that are delightfully recognizable to anyone who has children and will surely tickle yet another generation of young readers.
Peter Cottontail’s efforts to outwit the ever-hungry Reddy Fox lead to a number of whisker-thin escapes, and his fascination with the hibernation of some of his neighbors, such as Johnny Chuck, leads to his decision to hibernate . . . with riotous consequences.
This reprint of the classic that was originally published in 1914 presents Burgess’ classic style of telling a terrific tale while imparting information about the environment and its creatures.

The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk
Series: The Thornton Burgess Library
By Thornton W. Burgess
128 pages – ages 6+
Published by Seagrass Press on March 1, 2017

Synopsis from the Publisher- Introduce a new generation to Thornton Burgess’ Jimmy Skunk, the good-natured character who is usually left alone because of his potent “perfume.”
Like all of Thornton Burgess’ characters, Jimmy Skunk’s natural instincts are completely accurate, but his personality is easily relatable!
Jimmy Skunk thinks that the old barrel at the top of the hill will be a perfect place for a restful nap. But mischievous Peter Rabbit thinks up a way to upend this plan, very literally, and even arranges that Reddy Fox will get the blame – and a dose of Jimmy’s “perfume.” But Jimmy figures out the truth and makes sure that Peter gets his comeuppance with the help of a nest of yellow-jackets. Later, when Jimmy gets a hankering for some fresh eggs, he and Unc’ Billy Possum wind up in a pretty pickle in Farmer Brown’s henhouse.
Originally published in 1918, this book will inspire giggles and gasps from another generation as readers and listeners will learn about skunks, opossums, and life in the meadow through the eyes of Jimmy Skunk.

What I Thought About the Series- I really enjoyed reading these; they have a way of transporting you to another time. The storied are timeless, and actually took me a bit to realize they were written early 20th century. As a kid, I knew the stories of Peter Cottontail but never really knew who Thornton Burgess was and that there were more stories of his out there! I am glad to know now. – Burgess wrote stories similar to Beatrice Potter, but also charmingly different. The books are accompanied by what appears to be original illustrations. They tell neat short stories with chapters, good for a beginning reader or installments at bedtime. Burgess’ writing is timeless and will connect with any child today. The stories show good clean fun with tricksters, friendships, consequences, and also forgiveness. The book also talks about nature and creates an appreciation for the animals that live outside. I am extremely excited that Seagrass Press is bringing these classics back into print! I love the updated covers – very eye-catching!

I give these books five out of five bookworms!

Now for Darth Vader’s take on the books –

Darth- what do you think about Peter Cotton Tail?

HE WASN’T ON ANY MERCY MISSION AFTER ALL.

Huh? No Peter Cotton Tail just tries to fool Reddy Fox…

PERHAPS I CAN FIND NEW WAYS TO MOTIVATE THEM.

Umm – okay. Well what about Jimmy Skunk? What do you think about him?

HE IS AS POWERFUL AS THE EMPEROR HAS FORESEEN.

What emperor? There’s only Farmer Brown.

IT IS OF NO CONCERN. SOON THE REBELLION WILL BE CRUSHED,

Darth, I need you to focus. I’ve got a blog to run here and… ahk ahk gasp

Darth that was uncool. You need to stop force chocking me. Every year it’s the same thing. Just tell me how many book worms you’d give the books.

I WILL GIVE THEM 10,000 DEATH STARS.

Nice Darth but my rating scale is in bookworms and it only goes to five

I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING.

*sigh*

Okay you win, 10,000 Death Stars. Any last words Darth?

 

 

My May 2017 Upper Bucks Free Press Article is out! Illustrating with the Papps

1 May

I write for the UBFP Newspaper!

 

I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the May 2017 issue! The online version was published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (see page 17).

Hope you enjoy it!

 

Illustrating with the Papps

 

by Erik Weibel

Robert and Lisa Papp are a husband-and-wife artistic duo! They work as professional book illustrators, but also tend to work on anything that involves painting. Lisa Papp has illustrated several picture books, and written a few as well. “Madeline Finn and the Library Dog”–a book she wrote and illustrated–has been nominated for several awards, including being a 2017 finalist for the Children’s Choice Book Award. Robert Papp always liked drawing, and his love of art flows through into his work. He creates art “for almost everything. And for anyone that needs his services.” He has drawn for cookbooks, advertisements, board games, and his art will even be featured on postage stamps in 2018.  I had the wonderful opportunity to interview these Bucks County artists.

When did the two of you realize that you both wanted to be professional illustrators?

Lisa: Even though Rob and I attended the same art school, we had different paths into illustration. As Rob will tell you, he was enamored with illustration in school. I was in love with fine art, and had no real interest in illustration. If you had told me then that I would be an illustrator, I would have thought you crazy. I adored fine art. I loved painting what I wanted, the way I wanted. And though I had deadlines…art shows to create work for, there was a great sense of freedom. Though Rob was focused on illustration, he also enjoyed fine art. We would paint all week preparing for shows on the weekend. When Saturday morning came, we would pack his Mercury Capri with our homemade art stands and all the framed art we had created that week and spend the afternoon at a beautiful park selling our work. Usually we did pretty well. This was the early 90’s, Rob and I were fresh out of school and it was a good time for fine art. People appreciated original paintings and were willing to buy them. It was great and I assumed that’s what I would be doing forever. But everything changes, and you have to change with it. When fine art took a hit, we had to shift.

 

So my path to illustration was a slow and winding one. When I got my first picture book, “Rudolph Shines Again”, I found a whole new joy in illustration. And today, writing my own stories, which I then get to illustrate, is everything I could dream of.

 

Rob:  I always drew. Ever since I was little. I drew Superman and Batman. Cartoon characters, Snoopy, and always drew pictures to accompany my book reports in school.  So it was no surprise that I wanted to be an “artist”, even though I didn’t know exactly what that meant.

 

In art school, that changed when I discovered exactly what an “illustrator” was.  I learned that someone actually hires you and pays you for your art. No longer did I have to create a piece of art first and then HOPE someone will buy it. 

The two of you paint in very different styles. Do you think that being involved in each other’s work has helped you grow as an artist?

Lisa: Yes, definitely. Just when I think I’ve created something impressive, I will see a piece that Rob is working on and think, “oh, I guess I’ve got to try a little harder.” It’s wonderful that we can give each other a fresh eye, and help when one of us is struggling with a piece. I feel very lucky indeed.

Rob:  In general, being around art is always inspiring, but having someone that inspires me IN THE SAME HOUSE is really neat. It takes a lot of pressure off knowing that when I have a question, the answer can be as close as the next room over. So many times when you are completely involved in a piece, you can be blinded as to what it needs. Lisa always has a great eye for what needs to be done when I can’t see it. I don’t think my art would be as good without Lisa’s help.  

 

Other than your own or each other – who’s art work do you admire and why?

Lisa: I am a big fan of Lisbeth Zwerger, an Austrian illustrator. She has a fantastic imagination and the skills to back it up! Her watercolors are pure magic. Never overworked, and I love her color palettes as well. She’s just one of those people you describe as, “born to be an artist.” I love her whimsy, and I admire her incredible skill. It’s so inspiring to page through her work, I’m always left in awe.

 

Rob: When I stated out being an illustrator for paperback books, I learned from, and was inspired by the golden age of paperback illustrators. Not many people would know their names, but they would have been exposed to their amazing art. James Bama and Robert McGinnis produced 1000’s of covers in the 1970’s and eventually became equally amazing fine artists.  Peter Caras was my illustration instructor and not only an incredible artist, but as a teacher, I can credit him directly for teaching me how to be an illustrator.

 

Of course living here in Pennsylvania, I cannot neglect the brilliance of N.C. and Andrew Wyeth.

 

Ms. Papp, when did you decide to write a book, in addition to illustrating?

Lisa: I think I like writing more than I do illustrating. At least, it comes a bit easier to me. I have always written, though I never read books growing up. Writing seems second nature to me. As I began to illustrate other people’s stories, I realized I had my own stories I wanted to tell. Picture books seemed like a good place to start.

To learn more go to  Lisapapp.com and Robertpapp.com. For more on books and reading, visit my blog at ThisKidReviewsBooks.com

 

Blog Tour! Posted by John David Anderson

30 Apr

I have ANOTHER great book to tell you about today!

From John David Anderson, author of the acclaimed Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, comes a humorous, poignant, and original contemporary story about bullying, broken friendships, and the failures of communication between kids. In middle school, words aren’t just words. They can be weapons. They can be gifts. The right words can win you friends or make you enemies. They can come back to haunt you. Sometimes they can change things forever.

Posted
By John David Anderson
384 pages – ages 9+
Will Be Published by Walden Pond Press May 2, 2017 (Tuesday!)

Synopsis From Publisher- When cell phones are banned at Branton Middle School, Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench come up with a new way to communicate: leaving sticky notes for each other all around the school. It catches on, and soon all the kids in school are leaving notes—though for every kind and friendly one, there is a cutting and cruel one as well.
In the middle of this, a new girl named Rose arrives at school and sits at Frost’s lunch table. Rose is not like anyone else at Branton Middle School, and it’s clear that the close circle of friends Frost has made for himself won’t easily hold another. As the sticky-note war escalates, and the pressure to choose sides mounts, Frost soon realizes that after this year, nothing will ever be the same.

What I Thought- John David Anderson really knows how to hook your attention. He also knows how to capture the facets of teenagers in middle school and spin them into wonderful characters. The plot makes for a compelling story. The book is full of realistic bits and pieces of life that is so true you don’t even stop to think about it – it flows so easily. Anderson has a way of writing backstory in a reasonable and comprehensive way. The characters are so realistic, and I could relate to several of them. It was neat seeing how the presence of another person can alter the unspoken “system” of a group of people. Anderson is a master at making things believable, and I enjoy reading his work. It was a pleasant surprise to see that he is equally able to write realistic fiction as well as superhero and fantasy books. I cannot wait to see what else Anderson comes up with!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

CRITICAL PRAISE
“Written with understated humor and fine-tuned perception, Frost’s first-person narrative offers a riveting story as well as an uncomfortably realistic picture of middle school social dynamics.” — Booklist (starred review)
“Anderson dives into the world of middle school with a clear sense of how it works and what it needs. Kids, and the rest of the world, need more books like this one.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Anderson captures the tumultuous joys and pains of middle school with honesty, creating characters with whom readers will find common ground and insight. Words have lingering and persistent power, Anderson makes clear, but so does standing up for others and making one’s voice heard.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Acute observations about social media and school life and a smart, engaging narrator make this a journey well worth taking. Readers might even want some Post-it notes to mark the good parts.” — The Horn Book

 

WHO IS THIS JOHN DAVID ANDERSON?!?!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John David Anderson is the author of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Sidekicked, Minion, and The Dungeoneers. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org

Check out the other dates on this tour!

April 17 Librarian’s Quest
Walden Media Tumblr
April 18 Nerdy Book Club
April 19 For Those About to Mock
April 20 Teach Mentor Texts
April 21 Unleashing Readers
April 22 Next Best Book
April 23 Bluestocking Thinking
April 24 Litcoach Lou
Book Monsters
April 25 Kirsti Call
April 26 Educate-Empower-Inspire-Teach
April 27 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Ms Yingling Reads
April 28 Maria’s Melange
Novel Novice
April 29 The Hiding Spot
April 30 This Kid Reviews Books
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