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1. Troop 259 On The Trail To The Summit: Mt. Tallac, CA

Recently a small group from Boy Scout Troop 259 hiked to the summit of Mt. Tallac, CA high above Lake Tahoe.  It was my first ascent of that peak which is a 9.6 mile round trip along the main trail from the Mt. Tallac Trailhead parking lot to the summit.  Although I have hiked and backpacked at the same or higher elevations, this adventure got my attention, especially through the switchbacks in the steep mid-section of the trail.  But I digress.


Our group actually started the trip the evening before, driving from Sacramento to Echo Lake.  We were fortunate to have access to an overnight way-station to help us acclimate to the higher elevation.  By the next morning, all were eager to make the short drive to the Mt. Tallac Trailhead on highway 89 a few miles to the west of South Lake Tahoe.  In the parking area, we learned a wilderness permit is required, even for day hikes, as the boundary of the Desolation Wilderness is only a short distance beyond the Trailhead.  Wilderness permits for day hikes are available next to the bulletin board at the Trailhead.  However, overnight permits must be arranged and paid for ahead of time.


The first part of the hike traverses a long and slowly ascending ridge line above and to the west of Fallen Leaf Lake.  Along the way, the small but picturesque Floating Island Lake can be seen on the right (west) side of the trail with Mt. Tallac reflected in the background.
  

This first segment of the trail takes about 1-1/2 hours (nearly two miles) from the Trailhead (at 6,480 feet elevation) to Cathedral Lake (around 7,400 feet).  Note:  There is a very rustic trail that splits off to the right of the main trail about 0.2 mile before arriving at Cathedral Lake--not for the faint of heart.  Cathedral Lake is a popular watering hole and is the last available water on the trail to the summit.

(Photo courtesy Brittany Krawczyk)

As a rule of thumb, you may need two liters of water to get you to the summit and back down to the parking lot unless you have a filtration or sterilization method with you.  Although there are ups and downs en route to Cathedral Lake, the incline is gradual and some of the "ups" are just teasers to what lies ahead.


At Cathedral Lake, the main trail swings westward through a well-shaded stretch on the way up toward the tree line about a half-mile or so ahead.  In no time, the increase in elevation goes from noticeable to "no-doubt-about-it."  I heard the word "relentless" several times on the way up.


A hiking stick or hiking poles will get well used on the way up and even more so on the way back down.  This is the section of the trail where resolve may be tested.  The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow but you will know you are going up for the next mile.  It is breathtaking in more ways than one.  After leveling out for a short stretch, the trail becomes steeper still.  At this point in the hike, you will hear the mantra repeated by anyone who is already on the way back down:  "You're almost there!"  You may doubt the veracity of their encouraging words.  Yet you will likely join in the chorus on your way back down as you encounter other hikers on their way up.


Eventually, we arrived at the summit at 9,735 feet.  The last two hundred meters or so are somewhat of a scramble as the trail disappears in the midst of boulders and rocks.  Dig deep during this final ascent, for the reward of spectacular views is worth the extra effort.

(Photo courtesy Brittany Krawczyk)
Lake Tahoe stretches out before you to the northeast, along with bits of Emerald Bay and Cascade Lake slightly in the foreground.

 
To the southwest (below), Gilmore Lake is clearly visible with Pyramid Peak on the horizon.  In total, the hike up took about 3-1/2 hours and the hike down a bit less.  When (not if) you go, plan to have lunch or a snack at the top to give you time to enjoy the views.


In another setting nearly 85 50 years ago, Eric Sevaried began an adventure above the Arctic Circle, chronicled in his book "Canoeing With The Cree".  Although our adventure was a day hike and the number of visitors large by comparison, Sevaried's words rang true for me on that day, gathered with my fellow Scouts atop Mt. Tallac:  "Such sights as this are reserved for those who will suffer to behold them."  It was indeed a great day for Scouting!

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2. What you already know

It’s going to take me a little while to recreate my habits talk in this space. I wrote down the sequence of points I wanted to address and examples I wanted to use, but I wound up not using my notes at all, except to read a couple of Charlotte Mason quotes. But I recall pretty well what I said, and what questions were asked, and I’m gradually jotting it down to share here. I’ve gotten a lot of sweet notes from the moms in attendance, and it’s clear the topic struck a chord. Preparing the talk was a fun experience for me—it reinforced something I learned from Alexis O’Neill, a children’s book author and frequent school-presentation giver, in a workshop she gave for children’s writers last year. She was speaking about school visits, but her point speaks to a wide range of situations. She said, “You have to remember that you already know a great deal about your subject. Things you take for granted, your knowledge about publishing and writing, are topics of great fascination to your audience. There’s a lot you can say that comes just from what you already know inside and out. That’s what they want to hear.”

That’s a rough paraphrase from memory, over a year later. You can see her words really resonated with me. They struck me as applying to many things in my life besides writing. All of us have a wealth of stories and experience tucked in our minds. For the right audience, what you know through life experience—those aspects of life you take for granted because the ideas have become a part of the air you breathe—can make a compelling narrative. In the case of this habits talk, I hadn’t realized until I began preparing it that the degree to which my parenting style was influenced by Charlotte Mason’s ideas about habit formation was, even among my fellow homeschoolers, somewhat unusual. Honestly, I would have said that when it came to mothering, I was more influenced by unschooling philosophy and La Leche League than CM. And yet, sixteen years after first encountering Charlotte’s writings, I can see how profound and lasting her influence has been. On my parenting, I mean. On our learning style, sure; I’m keenly aware of her influence there—we’re living-books, narration, nature-study learners through and through. But the habit-training part? That’s the part I’ve internalized so thoroughly that I stopped really noticing it.

Well, this is a very meta post, isn’t it! Talking about the talk but not talking the talk itself. ;) I’ll get there. It just struck me that Alexis’s insight is a great takeaway for our kids, too (and really, when you think about it, is closely related to CM’s emphasis on narration): there are topics about which you already know a great deal. When you share that knowledge with enthusiasm and conviction, people are interested. I love to hear a kid talk animatedly about some personal passion, some arcane subject that has captured his or her mind. That gorgeous light in the eyes, the tumbling words, the eager gestures. It’s one of the most beautiful sights in the world.

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3. Book Spotlight and Giveaway!!! THE HOOK UP, Kristen Callihan


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Book Information



Title: The Hook Up

Author: Kristen Callihan

Release Date: September 8, 2014

Genre: New Adult




Summary

The rules: no kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all… No falling in love

Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy right?

Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule…

Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: she's shut him down. Completely.

That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It's a good thing Drew knows all about winning.

All’s fair in love and football…Game on

Excerpt

My mother once told me that the most important moment in my life wouldn’t be when I won the National Championship or even the Super Bowl. It would be when I fell in love.

Life, she insisted, is how you live it and who you live it with, not what you do to make a living. Given that she told me this when I was sixteen, I basically rolled my eyes and worked on practicing my pass fakes.

But my mother was insistent.

“You’ll see, Drew. One day, love will creep up and smack you upside the head. Then you’ll understand.”

My mom, it turns out, was wrong in one regard. Love, when it came for me, did not creep. No, it walked up to me, bold as you please, you know, just in case I wasn’t paying attention. It did, however, slap me upside my head.

And while I’d be happy to tell my mom that she was right about that, she’s dead. A fact that hurts even more now that I’ve been struck down. More like shot down. Cut off at the knees. Totally fucked. Whatever you want to call this disaster. Because the object of my affection hates me.

I am man enough to acknowledge that the cluster fuck that is my current love life is entirely my fault. I wasn’t prepared for Anna Jones.

I still cringe at the memory of when I first laid eyes on her at the beginning of the semester. Being late for class, I’d rushed to a seat in the back row, and was trying to remain unnoticed. I can’t go anywhere on campus without getting attention. And though it sounds like an awesome thing, it gets tiring.

When the roll call reached the back row, a soft voice, rich and thick as maple syrup, slid over me.

“Anna Jones.”

Just her name. That was all she’d said. It was like a hot finger stroking down my spine. My head snapped up. And there she was, so fucking pretty that I couldn’t think straight. I might as well have been sacked.

Breathless, my head ringing, I could only gape. I’m not going to say it was love at first sight. No, it was more like oh, hell-yes-please, I’ll have that. With a helping of right-the-fuck-now on the side.

Thinking maybe I was overtired and simply overreacting to something that wasn’t really there, I stared at Anna Jones and tried to make sense of my extreme reaction.

As if feeling my gaze, she’d turned, and fucking hell… Her eyes were wide, almost cat-like, with the corners tilting up just a bit. At first, those eyes appeared brown, but they were really bottle green. And so clear. And annoyed. She glared at me. I didn’t care. One word was playing a loop in my head: mine.

I don’t remember the rest of the class. I watched Anna Jones like a condemned man getting his last view of the setting sun. While she tried to ignore me. Admirably.

The second class ended I shot up, and so did she. We nearly collided in the middle of the aisle. And then it all fell to shit.


Pre-order Link


Author Biography

Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather do. She is a three-time RITA nominee, and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading. 


Social Networking Links


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4. 36 books to look out for this autumn!

I love a good bit of juicy anticipation and so today I bring you a round-up of the books being published this autumn which I’m most looking forward to reading.

Out in September

Bears Don’t Read by Emma Chichester Clark (Harper Collins)
How to Hide a Lion from Grandma by Helen Stephens (Alison Green Books)
A World of Your Own by Laura Carlin (Phaidon)
The New Small Person by Lauren Child (Puffin)
Is there a dog in this book? by Viviane Schwarz (Walker)
The Fairytale Hairdresser and Father Christmas Paperback by Abie Longstaff (Picture Corgi)
The Moon Child by Cate Cain (Templar)
Terror Kid by Benjamin Zephaniah (Hot Key)

september

How to Write a Story by Simon Cheshire (Bloomsbury)
The Giant Game of Sculpture by Hervé Tullet (Phaidon)

september2

Out in October

I am the Wolf…and Here I Come! by Bénédicte Guettier (Gecko Press)
Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle (Chronicle Kids)
How the Library (not the Prince) saved Rapunzel by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown Petrie (Frances Lincoln)
Snow by Sam Usher (Templar)
Wall by Tom Clohosy Cole (Templar)
Woozy the Wizard: A Spell to Get Well Paperback by Elli Woollard and Al Murphy (Faber)

october

How to Train Your Dragon: A Journal for Heroes by Cressida Cowell (Hodder)
The Adventures of Hermes by Murielle Szac, translated by Mika Provata-Carlone (Pushkin)
The No. 1 Car Spotter Goes to School by Atinuke, illustrated by Warwick Johnson Cadwell (Walker)
The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Emily Gravett (Bloomsbury)
A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond (Hodder)
The Rising by Tom Moorhouse (OUP)

october2

The Snow Merchant by Sam Gayton, with new illustrations by Chris Riddell (Andersen)
How to be a Space Explorer by Lonely Planet Kids (Lonely Planet)
Book by John Agard, illustrated by Neil Packer (Walker)
Atlas of Adventures by Lucy Letherland (WideEyed)
The Dolls’ House Colouring Book by Emily Sutton (V&A)
Gravity by Jason Chin (Andersen)
Star Cat: Book 1 by James Turner (David Fickling)

october3
october4

Out in November

Claude Sets Sail by Alex T Smith (Hodder)
Pigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown Thief Paperback by Alex Milway (Walker)
Les Miserables retold by Marcia Williams (Walker)
Papercraft Christmas Paperback by Ellen Giggenbach (Templar)
Write and Draw Your Own Comics by Louie Stowell (Usborne)
The Story of Britain by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom (Franklin Watts)

november

I’m also really looking forward to a new novel from Mal Peet, The Murdstone Trilogy – though this is being marketed as an adult book.

Dates for publication listed here may be subject to change. A couple of these books have already been released in the US, but will be making their UK début this Autumn.

What new book are you most looking forward to reading this autumn?

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5. Live event with editor Andrew Harwell and literary agent Jenny Bent

Live Blog Live event with editor Andrew Harwell and literary agent Jenny Bent
 

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6. Marvel to reprint Dark Horse Star Wars comics as STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION

Huh, well blow me down with a womp rat. Over the 20 years of Dark Horse’s Star Wars license they built up a healthy business in selling collected editions of their “expanded universe” stories. However that ended when Disney purchased Lucesfilm and reassigned the Star Wars license to their “in house ” publisher Marvel.

Although the entire “expanded universe” is expected to be rewritten in the wake of Episode VII coming next year, many thought the comics would go to the big remaindered table in the sky, especially since Marvel’s graphic novel backlist is, ahem, a work in progress.

Well, it’s turns out Marvel couldn’t resist the low hanging fruit of keeping the Dark Horse Star Wars comic in print — at least in a $34.99 collectors edition in the “Epic Collection” format. The first collection will be out in April, 2015, leading the way to the new film.

ANd perhaps, the content of these reprints would even give a clue to wheat might still be canon in the new Star Wars timeline?

Marvel is excited to announce the release of an oversized dose of a galaxy far, far, away – Star Wars comics are coming to Marvel’s prestigious Epic Collection format – STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
 
Let the dark times begin! Marvel welcomes Star Wars to the Epic Collection program, with this first volume of a series focusing on the years that follow Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith! After the end of the Clone Wars, the Republic has fallen and Palpatine exerts his ruthless grip on his new Galactic Empire. Now, the few Jedi that remain must decide whether to hold true to their faith, or abandon it completely in the face of a brutal purge — one carried out by the new Dark Lord of the Sith. Rise, Darth Vader!
 
“We’re thrilled to be bringing our innovative Epic Collections to a galaxy far, far away,” says Marvel SVP Sales & Marketing David Gabriel. “We’ll be bouncing around to different periods of Star Wars history with each Epic Collection, constructing one huge tapestry, collecting full unbroken runs of all the greatest Star Wars comics from the past 35 years.”
 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB. will offer a new way for fans to collect and read iconic Star Wars stories across the past 35 years of published titles. These oversized, self-contained color collections will bring the adventures of the Rebellion, the Galactic Empire and more to the masses with exciting new Epic Collections.
 
COLLECTING: STAR WARS: REPUBLIC 78-80, STAR WARS: PURGE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — SECONDS TO DIE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE HIDDEN BLADE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE TYRANT’S FIST 1-2, STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE LOST COMMAND 1-5, STAR WARS: DARK TIMES 1-5
AUTHOR: JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN, ALEXANDER FREED
ARTIST: LUKE ROSS , DOUGLAS WHEATLEY, JIM HALL, CHRIS SCALF, MARCO CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA, RICK LEONARDI

 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
WRITTEN BY JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN & ALEXANDER FREED
ART BY LUKE ROSS, DOUGLAS CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA & RICK LEONARDI
440 PGS./Rated T …$34.99
On-Sale April 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7851-9398-2
© 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. Used under authorization. All rights reserved.
 

 

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7. Lessing's books to Harare

       As New Zimbabwe reports, Lessing donated entire book collection to Harare, as Nobel laureate Doris Lessing:

bequeathed her entire personal collection of over 3,000 books to the Harare City Library in Zimbabwe.
       Interesting also to learn:
A Book Aid International said they were fascinated by the variety and breadth of Lessing's library, describing it as "A collection to aspire to !"

"We found books not just in every room of Lessing's home, but on shelves in every space where shelves could be fitted, in hallways, under stairs -- there were books everywhere," said an official.
       Neat. I guess the only thing that surprises me is that the collection constitutes only three thousand titles. Granted. many of my books are boxed up and piled up out of easy reach, but my collection is ... several times bigger. I suppose I could live with a working library of 3000, carefully selected -- but it's cutting it close ..... Read the rest of this post

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8. writing historical fiction without invoking too much history

My current novel-in-progress will fit a loosely defined literary genre of historical fiction.  That is, it will be fiction artistically grounded in a period of American history--an era in the mid-1870s--when an organized labor movement began its contest with the laissez-faire business interests of the period.  The story moves through the violent birth and tragic demise of the Molly Maguires, a secret society of Irish immigrant mine workers who struck back at the railroad magnots who owned the mines and the lives of the mineworkers.  The railroad owners, often called the 'robber-barons' in American history, also owned the justice system of Pennsylvania at the time, a state where the deep underground anthracite coal mines were fueling American industry.  After the robber barons crushed an early attempt by the miners to form a labor union, they embarked on a campaign to exterminate a continued, violent resistance of the Mollies to the desperate wages and deplorable working conditions in the mines.

 The Young Molly Maguires was conceived as a YA novel,  and looks at the lives of several teen-aged boys and a girl, the sons and a daughter of Molly families in a local mine patch of the Pennsylvania mountains.  I'd done a fair amount of reading as a boy about Irish immigrant life, and whatever I could find about the Mollies.  In those days without the internet and its search engines there wasn't much, but enough to whet the appetite of a boy for reading about avengers of impossible causes.  There was even a Sherlock Holmes story that revolved around the existence of the Mollies.  A lot of the early stuff portrayed the Mollies as a totally villainous band of outlaws, and the newspapers of the times described them as worse than the secret society of Thugs in India, robbers and assassins devoted to the goddess, Kali.  Heady stuff, but that sort of press coverage effectively distracted readers from sympathetic concern for the desperate attempts of workers to wrest a living wage from the robber barons.

More objective and factual information about the working conditions and lives of the mineworkers became available from newspaper articles and essays written by labor union leaders following the failed efforts of the earlier union organizers.  By then, the Mollies were finished, and the immigrant waves had shifted to new arrivals from Eastern Europe.  Labor conditions were still very harsh, but they were beginning to improve as union organizing grew nationwide.  The most thorough and engaging documentary book I have read on the time of the Mollies was written by Kevin Kenny, a professor of history, titled, Making Sense of the Molly Maguires, and published in 1998.  For general coal mining lore, I have been a geotechnical engineer and have worked in underground coal mines.  I did some research on the older equipment and techniques, and by 2000, I was ready to begin a first draft of my Mollies novel.

I thought it was an important point for me to keep in mind, relative to all such intriguing old and new data sources, to use only as much historical data as might enhance the 'fictional dream' (as in The Art of Fiction, by John Gardner) for my novel.  There is a recent Writer's Chronicle essay (Sep. 2014) by Debra Spark, Raiding the Larder--Research in Fact-Based Fiction, which addresses the point.  Among the ideas Spark discusses is... when it comes to fiction, information is only interesting because it is part of the story, because it has an emotional or narrative reason for being, and, Indeed all the research for authenticity can get in your way...and not just because it's a time suck.  Colum McCann distinguishes between what is true--or perhaps what is actual--and what is honest in fiction. SimilarlySparks quotes the author Jim Shepard... you're after a "passable illusion," not the truth.  This is fiction, after all.  It's a lie.  You're just trying to make it convincing."  And, discussing author Lily King's use of research for her anthropology-based novel (Euphoria)... the important thing isn't the information but (quoting King) "how you get your imagination to play with all that information."

I have a final draft of my Mollies novel about ready for review.  I've considered the possibility of submitting it through the traditional publishing route, but I'm getting old and do not relish wading through that long and often disparaging process.  Alternately, I had a thoroughly satisfying experience with self-publishing my first YA novel with Amazon, and I might go that route again with this one.  If there are any professional book reviewers (newspapers, YA groups) among readers of this blog who might be interested in providing a no-cost review, with your permission to quote, I would be pleased to hear from you through the 'comments' link below.


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9. A Street with a View - Clémentine Beauvais



Over the summer I finished the first draft of my next French YA novel, which, in stark contrast to the ones before, is not grim and dark but comical and light. And while my first two YA books take place entirely in Paris - and in places I know very well, including my old high school - this one narrates a road trip between the city of Bourg-en-Bresse (just a few kilometres from South Burgundy) and Paris. I know Bourg-en-Bresse and Paris well, but not the places in the middle, through which my three heroines were cycling. And that's where Google Street View comes into play. 

somewhere in France

Using Google Maps and Google Street View to write books is something I've done for quite some time, and I'm sure that most writers do it, though I hadn't quite realised how weird it sounds to people who aren't writers. My mother told me the other day, quite astonished, that she'd heard a famous writer say on the radio that he'd used it for his own novel, which is entirely set in a place in the US that he's never been to. My own response was a blasé 'Well, yes, of course. What's surprising about that?' Google Street View in one tab, Wikipedia in another, the city/ village website in a third, and more tabs containing blog posts or articles on the places in question: normal set-up for any writing session, no?Surely that's a good enough alternative to an expensive flight for the non-New-York-Time-bestselling author...

Well, sure, most of us would always privilege going to the real-world places, and some writers would not dream of writing about a place they'd never visited. There are obvious issues of cultural sensitivity at stake - 'would I truly respect the place, understand it, if I've only seen it through a 360° camera strapped to a car?'. There's the temptation of information overload, at the risk of ending up sounding like Jules Verne. And of course there are issues about the fact that the material given is exclusively visual, sacrificing the characteristic noises and smells which give life and texture to a place. A lot of writers would thus probably say that Street View should preferably be used only for quick fact-checking after seeing a place IRL (In Real Life).

not the most inspiring portrayal of space

But maybe there's something specific, and not necessarily inferior, to writing about spaces that you know only from Street View, in exactly the same way that doing a painting from a photograph is different, but not necessarily inferior, to painting from life. 

Ideally, painters begin with life-drawing; and similarly, as writers, we would already have written about spaces that we know intimately: we've had, so to speak, considerable training in 'life-writing'. In the most restricted sense of 'write what you know', this is the first skill to master as a 'representer' of things, whether verbal or visual. But of course 'write what you know' is underscored by the problematic assumptions that 1) we 'know' things, 2) we 'can' write those things that 'we know' and 3) even if both of the above are true, it makes for good artistic 'representation'.

Enter Google Street View, which presents a relentlessly artificial, 2D, unknowable vision of space. Just as photographs flatten reality and necessarily restrict the painter's visual and sensory navigation of the object to be represented, writing from Street View means subjecting yourself to an already mediated, stiff and alienating representation of space. How could anyone possibly argue that can be a good thing? 

Because, in both cases, it alerts the painter or the writer to the fact that the material cannot possibly provide a truthful kind of 'knowledge' about the object at all. Therefore it becomes not just desirable but absolutely imperative for something more to emerge - a stylisation, an appropriation of the object or the place. And this process comes from a source material so limited, so other, that you can't revert back to things you think you know. 

In other words, you just can't ignore, when you're writing a place from Street View (or indeed any travel guide book, like Verne used to do), that your vision of it is absolutely untrue. You just know you don't know it enough to write authentically about it; therefore, the only way you can go is towards further imagining that place. You have to make these impersonal snapshots of roads and monuments somehow become part of an authentic-sounding world. What must it smell like, this little pond on the side of the road? What must it feel like, this avenue, in the summer?



This creative distance is necessary anyway to any writing about place, whether or not you've been there, lived there, or not at all. You might feel you know your house, your street, your city, but of course your vision of them will always already be mediated - by yourself. The troubling difference, with Street View, is that someone else (someone totally faceless, nameless and in fact quite uncannily threatening) has done the mediating for you, placing you by necessity in a position to notice your alienation from this place.

Writing place 'from Google Street View' is of course not the only way we should proceed - that would be an absurd claim - but it can be a very refreshing endeavour in its own right - and a welcome process of distance-taking from 'truthfulness' in writing. 

_____________________________________

Clementine Beauvais's space is split between Britain and France. She writes books in French of all kinds and shapes for all ages, and in English humour/adventure series, the Sesame Seade mysteries, with Hodder, and the Holy-Moly Holiday series with Bloomsbury. She blogs here about children's literature and academia and is on Twitter @blueclementine.  

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10. Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Ahhh, the fall. A sweet, sweet time for those in charge of booklists, displays, and story times. Back to school and fall books are perennial favorite subjects until it’s time to rediscover the fall and early winter holiday collection. However, if you’re not quite ready to break out your fall books collection, Hispanic Heritage Month is an ideal time to highlight or expand your collection of books that celebrate the diversity of Hispanic cultures. What started as a week-long celebration in 1968 is now a month long (September 15-October 15) of Hispanic history, arts, and culture.

 

marisol

(image taken from author website)

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match captures the reality of many biracial children in an upbeat and endearing spitfire of a character. Marisol doesn’t see anything weird with mismatches: green polka dots and purple stripes, peanut butter and jelly burritos, or brown skin and red hair are pretty cool in her eyes. When Marisol tries to match, she finds that things are confusing and boring. Thanks to an intuitive teacher, she regains confidence in her unique viewpoint and look. This bilingual story is charmingly illustrated and told through a very realistic child narrator.

papa

(image taken from HarperCollins website)

Arthur Dorros and Rudy Gutierrez’s Papa and Me is a loving, gentle, and authentic look at a father-son relationship. Papa is encouraging, wise, and just plain fun to be with. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the story. (See also Mama and Me by the same author.)

tooth fairy

(image taken from Random House website)

As a huge fan of cross-cultural children’s books, The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Perez is one of my favorite Latino-oriented picture books.  When Miguelito puts his tooth under his pillow and falls asleep, two magical creatures appear in his room to lay claim to his tooth. The Tooth Fairy asserts ownership because Miguelito is in the United States, but El Raton Perez, the tooth-collecting mouse who collects teeth in Latin America and Spain, defends ownership due to family tradition. Thankfully, they both work out a compromise.  This is a fun and unique way of presenting a rite of passage in many cultures.

 

rebozo

(image taken from Random House website)

What can you do with a rebozo (a long scarf)? You can accessorize a dress, play hide and seek, keep a grandmother or baby brother warm, use it as a blindford while attempting to burst a pinata…so many things! Not only is this is celebration of a close-knit family, but it’s also a tribute to creativity.  (See also What Can You Do With a Paleta? by the same author.)

What are your favorite picture books featuring Latino characters and culture? Tell us in the comments!

 

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11. Sponsor Me: Camp NaNoWriMo

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12. #645 – Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

Flora and the Penguin                    2014

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Flora and the Penguin

Written and illustrated by Molly Idle
Published by Chronicle Books 2014
978-1-4521-2891-7
Age 4 to 8 (+) 32 pages
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“Flora is back and this time she partners with a penguin. Twirling, leaping, and gliding on skates and flippers, the duo mirror each other in an exuberant ice dance. But when Flora gives the penguin the cold shoulder, the pair must figure out a way to work together for uplifting results.”

Opening

As Flora ties her right skate, she notices something poke out of a hole in the ice. What could it be?

Review

Flora is back at the ice rink, getting ready to glide and twirl when she sees something odd in the hole across from where she sits lacing her skate. Flora extends her hand, offering it to Penguin. He accepts (I am assuming Penguin is a he, I really do not know). Flipper in hand, the pair glide in perfect harmony. Left foot glide to the right; turn and right foot glide to the left. In absolute harmony, Flora and Penguin take off and then LEAP into a perfect twirl.

sp1

Oh, NO! Penguin misses his landing, falling onto his rotund rear. Flora glides away . . . laughing. Penguin belly slides to her with a twinkle in his eye. This is not Flora and the Flamingo. The grace and style are present. The harmonious duet is there. The serious business of skating is not. Penguin brings the smiles and laughs out of Flora. He also spoils his partner, or, rather, he tries. Flora rejects Penguin’s gift. Sure, it is a small fish he has brought her; a snack Penguin chased below the ice—in synchronicity with Flora’s skating. Flora flips the fish over her head. Penguin looks mortified as his gift somehow lands into the hole in the ice and swims away.

The beautiful illustrations once again capture the elegant characters gliding, twirling, and leaping. At quick glance, one might believe this is the Caldecott Honor Book Flora and the Flamingo, only with a penguin. That person would be wrong, terribly wrong. In Flora and the Flamingo, Flora is the student learning from Flamingo, the teacher. In Flora and the Penguin, Flora is no longer the student, nor is she the teacher. She and Penguin are friends skating together and having fun. When Penguin misses his landing, no one turns away in admonition. No, Flora happily laughs and Penguin giggles as they join back together. These two are playmates.

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Playmates have fights, as you are sure to remember. Flora turns away in a pout, checking on Penguin when he looks away. Penguin is also pouting in anger and keeping an eye on Flora. These two friends need to find their way back and Ms. Idle does this in grand style. A four-page grand spread. Flora and the Penguin is a gorgeous, wordless picture book that will wow anyone lucky enough to turn the pages. Some pages contain flip-up, -down, or –sideways, always changing the scene and promoting a smile.

Flora and the Penguin is an easy choice for anyone who loves ballet. Yet this gorgeous, should-win-lots-of-awards picture book will attract a wider audience. Like her throngs of admirers, I cannot wait for her next release, though I am secretly hoping for new characters in a new story. Whatever direction she takes, parents and young children will love the finished product. Ms. Idle has perfected the art of wordless storytelling.

FLORA AND THE PENGUIN. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Molly Idle. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

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Buy Flora and the Penguin at AmazoniTunesB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Booksyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Flora and the Penguin HERE

Meet the author/illustrator, Molly Idle, at her website:  http://idleillustration.com/

Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books’ website:   http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

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Also by Molly Idle

Camp Rex

Camp Rex

Tea Rex

Tea Rex

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x

x

x

x

x

flora and the penguin

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: ballet, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, Flora and the Penguin, gorgeous illustrations, ice skating, Molly Idle, penguins, picture books, wordless stories

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13. New Illustration - Stealing Ideas

I've been experimenting with a new style that incorporates my pencil sketches into the final illustration, instead of creating it all digitally. This is a new piece done in that style, based on this quote from Mo Willems: 

"A lot of people think of ideas as objects or animals that you hunt. You go into the woods, you find an idea, you capture it, and you bring it home. And ideas really are more like gardens. And every day, you're planting lots and lots of ideas. Some of them get eaten by birds, and never go anywhere. Some of them grow up to be really horrible things. Some wither and die. Every now and then, over time, some idea grows up to be big and beautiful and filled with fruit."

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14. Meet Julia!

I've been away for a while, and for good reason.  It's been a bit busy around here:

Meet the recent addition to the family, Julia!  She's almost two months old and keeping us very busy.  I'm sure she'll provide great artistic inspiration for years to come!

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15. Blogging Mistakes

Don't make these mistakes on your author blog. 

http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2012/09/top-10-self-sabotaging-mistakes-of.html

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16. Indiana’s Autumn Leaves

IMG_5079.JPG


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17. Marvel to reprint Dark Horse Star Wars comics as STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION

Huh, well blow me down with a womp rat. Over the 20 years of Dark Horse’s Star Wars license they built up a healthy business in selling collected editions of their “expanded universe” stories. However that ended when Disney purchased Lucesfilm and reassigned the Star Wars license to their “in house ” publisher Marvel.

Although the entire “expanded universe” is expected to be rewritten in the wake of Episode VII coming next year, many thought the comics would go to the big remaindered table in the sky, especially since Marvel’s graphic novel backlist is, ahem, a work in progress.

Well, it’s turns out Marvel couldn’t resist the low hanging fruit of keeping the Dark Horse Star Wars comic in print — at least in a $34.99 collectors edition in the “Epic Collection” format. The first collection will be out in April, 2015, leading the way to the new film.

ANd perhaps, the content of these reprints would even give a clue to wheat might still be canon in the new Star Wars timeline?

Marvel is excited to announce the release of an oversized dose of a galaxy far, far, away – Star Wars comics are coming to Marvel’s prestigious Epic Collection format – STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
 
Let the dark times begin! Marvel welcomes Star Wars to the Epic Collection program, with this first volume of a series focusing on the years that follow Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith! After the end of the Clone Wars, the Republic has fallen and Palpatine exerts his ruthless grip on his new Galactic Empire. Now, the few Jedi that remain must decide whether to hold true to their faith, or abandon it completely in the face of a brutal purge — one carried out by the new Dark Lord of the Sith. Rise, Darth Vader!
 
“We’re thrilled to be bringing our innovative Epic Collections to a galaxy far, far away,” says Marvel SVP Sales & Marketing David Gabriel. “We’ll be bouncing around to different periods of Star Wars history with each Epic Collection, constructing one huge tapestry, collecting full unbroken runs of all the greatest Star Wars comics from the past 35 years.”
 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB. will offer a new way for fans to collect and read iconic Star Wars stories across the past 35 years of published titles. These oversized, self-contained color collections will bring the adventures of the Rebellion, the Galactic Empire and more to the masses with exciting new Epic Collections.
 
COLLECTING: STAR WARS: REPUBLIC 78-80, STAR WARS: PURGE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — SECONDS TO DIE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE HIDDEN BLADE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE TYRANT’S FIST 1-2, STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE LOST COMMAND 1-5, STAR WARS: DARK TIMES 1-5
AUTHOR: JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN, ALEXANDER FREED
ARTIST: LUKE ROSS , DOUGLAS WHEATLEY, JIM HALL, CHRIS SCALF, MARCO CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA, RICK LEONARDI

 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
WRITTEN BY JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN & ALEXANDER FREED
ART BY LUKE ROSS, DOUGLAS CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA & RICK LEONARDI
440 PGS./Rated T …$34.99
On-Sale April 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7851-9398-2
© 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. Used under authorization. All rights reserved.
 

 

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18. First Soviet Writers' Congress anniversary

       At Russia Beyond the Headlines (which continues to offer a variety of fun literary coverage -- you do have it bookmarked, don't you ?) Anastasia Gorbatova reminds of When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers.
       As she notes:

Attendees at the congress included Boris Pasternak, the foremost Soviet poet of the time, the "Red Count" Alexei Tolstoy, a nobleman who adjusted to the demands of Soviet power, future Nobel laureate Mikhail Sholokhov, and leading children's author Korney Chukovsky.

Maxim Gorky gave a keynote lecture to close the event on September 1.
       But, of course, the defining figure was Andrei Zhdanov -- Mr. Socialist Realism himself, the man who latched onto Stalin's 'writers-are-engineers-of-human-souls' idea and ran with it, ushering in the lowliest times of socialist realism (pre-1934 Soviet literature, like pre-code Hollywood cinema, was actually pretty happening).
       Yes, this was the guy who said:
I think that every one of our Soviet writers can say to any dull-witted bourgeois, to any philistine, to any bourgeois writer who may talk about our literature being tendencious: "Yes, our Soviet literature is tendencious, and we are proud of this fact, because the aim of our tendency is to liberate the toilers, to free all mankind from the yoke of capitalist slavery."
       'Noble' sentiments -- but, hey, 1934, under Stalin, you know the deal ..... (The marxists.org page suggests: "Zhdanov died on 31st August 1934"; yeah, not quite/no such luck .....)
       Marxists.org has good documentation (other than hopefully killing off Zhdanov way prematurely ...) on that first congress -- worth being reminded of.
       Meanwhile, as Anastasia Gorbatova notes:
There were only eight congresses between 1934 and 1986, and they increasingly became formal events with almost no influence on Soviet culture. The First Congress was unique in its own way -- it was the first and last successful attempt to unite all the writers of one country
       Whereby 'successful' is a matter of ... opinion.

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19. Skyler

This is Skyler the giraffe. The girls and I got bored today and gave her a makeover. I think she likes it, because she is all smiles. It reminds me of the cartoon band GEM when I was growing up. I heard Her Majesty say something about the two of them forming a rock band together. Who knows? The possibilities are limitless.

PS- there is a double moon tonight. Around midnight, I think the news said. Don't forget. It's supposed to be spectacular. Have a good one and God bless dear Princesses.

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20. COVER STORIES: "Amity!"


Hi readergirlz!

I'm super thrilled to be celebrating the release of my 12th (!) original novel, Amity, a haunted house story told in two separate perspectives, ten years apart. Diva Melissa was gracious enough to offer up a Cover Story slot to me, so here we go! 


1.              Did you have an idea in mind for your cover as you were proposing/writing the book? If so, what did it look like?

I think we all always knew Amity was going to have an image of a haunted house on the cover. It’s iconic and classic for a reason, right? We may have tossed around the idea of focusing in on one aspect of a house – a window, a door – or even doing something more modern and all type, but I don’t think any of those concepts were seriously on the table.

2.              Did your publisher ask for your input on the cover design before the art dept started working? If so, what input did you give?

My editor at the time showed me an early mock-up with the image they were planning to use. But at the time, she did make it clear that everyone in-house was very enthusiastic about the image, which, as I know from my own days on the editorial side of the desk, is pretty crucial and not to be ignored.



3.              What did you think the first time you saw the original version of your cover?

I liked the general idea and I really liked that Egmont was truly capturing that straightforward, “HORROR novel,” genre vibe. My main concern was only that the house itself looked nothing like the building that’s described in the book, or the original “Amityville” house. Specifically the half-moon windows are mentioned a whole bunch in the book, and are familiar to anyone who knows anything about the original Amityville crime. But I can appreciate that a strong cover can often outweigh the value of a literal cover. We talked a bit about how the house in the mock-up looked small and not quite menacing enough, and my editor assured me it would be tweaked.

And it was! And it’s amazing and perfect!



As you can see, the final cover is the same original image. But with the color adjusted, a new font, and lots of creepy blood dripped, the terror factor is amped way, way up. I could seriously marry this new final cover, and I’ve been thrilled with readers’ reactions to it! The general consensus seems to be that it’s insanely scary. Which to me translates to: mission accomplished!


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21. Marvel to reprint Dark Horse Star Wars comics as STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION

Huh, well blow me down with a womp rat. Over the 20 years of Dark Horse’s Star Wars license they built up a healthy business in selling collected editions of their “expanded universe” stories. However that ended when Disney purchased Lucesfilm and reassigned the Star Wars license to their “in house ” publisher Marvel.

Although the entire “expanded universe” is expected to be rewritten in the wake of Episode VII coming next year, many thought the comics would go to the big remaindered table in the sky, especially since Marvel’s graphic novel backlist is, ahem, a work in progress.

Well, it’s turns out Marvel couldn’t resist the low hanging fruit of keeping the Dark Horse Star Wars comic in print — at least in a $34.99 collectors edition in the “Epic Collection” format. The first collection will be out in April, 2015, leading the way to the new film.

ANd perhaps, the content of these reprints would even give a clue to wheat might still be canon in the new Star Wars timeline?

Marvel is excited to announce the release of an oversized dose of a galaxy far, far, away – Star Wars comics are coming to Marvel’s prestigious Epic Collection format – STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
 
Let the dark times begin! Marvel welcomes Star Wars to the Epic Collection program, with this first volume of a series focusing on the years that follow Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith! After the end of the Clone Wars, the Republic has fallen and Palpatine exerts his ruthless grip on his new Galactic Empire. Now, the few Jedi that remain must decide whether to hold true to their faith, or abandon it completely in the face of a brutal purge — one carried out by the new Dark Lord of the Sith. Rise, Darth Vader!
 
“We’re thrilled to be bringing our innovative Epic Collections to a galaxy far, far away,” says Marvel SVP Sales & Marketing David Gabriel. “We’ll be bouncing around to different periods of Star Wars history with each Epic Collection, constructing one huge tapestry, collecting full unbroken runs of all the greatest Star Wars comics from the past 35 years.”
 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB. will offer a new way for fans to collect and read iconic Star Wars stories across the past 35 years of published titles. These oversized, self-contained color collections will bring the adventures of the Rebellion, the Galactic Empire and more to the masses with exciting new Epic Collections.
 
COLLECTING: STAR WARS: REPUBLIC 78-80, STAR WARS: PURGE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — SECONDS TO DIE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE HIDDEN BLADE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE TYRANT’S FIST 1-2, STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE LOST COMMAND 1-5, STAR WARS: DARK TIMES 1-5
AUTHOR: JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN, ALEXANDER FREED
ARTIST: LUKE ROSS , DOUGLAS WHEATLEY, JIM HALL, CHRIS SCALF, MARCO CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA, RICK LEONARDI

 
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION: THE EMPIRE VOL. 1 TPB.
WRITTEN BY JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN & ALEXANDER FREED
ART BY LUKE ROSS, DOUGLAS CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA & RICK LEONARDI
440 PGS./Rated T …$34.99
On-Sale April 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7851-9398-2
© 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. Used under authorization. All rights reserved.
 

 

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22. The Little Princess

Not the best picture in the world, but she decided to wear a big girl dress today. Almost two and just as much fun as the day she was born. I love this little girl with all my heart.

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23. Sheridan Le Fanu at 200

       It's the bicentenary of Sheridan Le Fanu's birth, and it's nice to see some coverage -- though one wonders how much is occasioned by the (validation ?) that, as for example The Guardian reports, comes with: Google Doodle to celebrate author Sheridan Le Fanu's 200th birthday (sigh).
       But there is some decent coverage, notably: Sheridan Le Fanu: 200 years of literary blood and terrorism by Bill McCormack at Times Higher Education; see also Sheridan Le Fanu's haunting legacy by Brian Maye in the Irish Times.
       I've enjoyed his work over the years -- I have fond memories of some of those Dover editions -- and since you can find pretty much everything online, sample away. In A Glass Darkly, Uncle Silas, and Carmilla are all good places to jump in.

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24. ***SUMMER SALE***

get 25% off EVERYTHING over at nuvango by entering the code SUMMER25 at checkout! there are some fantastic artists showcasing their work on cool products such as iPhone cases and even laptop skins. 

head on over and treat yourself to something awesome! :)

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25. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the KING


Jack Kirby – My yearly celebration of the man and his art

Hi Folks, 

Well it’s that time of year once again and time for me to remember the man whose artwork, writing and storytelling were responsible for my career decision to become a comic book creator when I was still an eight-year old boy.

As they say, a picture paints a thousand words, so I will simply say – if you can get hold of a copy of the magnificent tome – The Artist’s Edition of Jack Kirby’s New Gods do yourselves a massive favour and do so. The artwork is as close as you can get to the original artwork with all the paste-ups and white outs, notes and some production wear and tear. A truly beautiful book produced by IDW.

In the meantime, whilst you await its arrival, feast your eyes on some more Jack’s magic.

I hope you gaze at it with the same sense of wonder that I did as a young boy and do as a much older boy even today.

Click on each image to see a larger version, as always. 










  
Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
August 28th 2014

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