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1. DreamWorks Producer Kristine Belson Named President of Sony Animation

Sony Pictures Animation has named Kristine Belson as the new president of its Sony Pictures Animation division.

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2. this week I be mostly using

 A little while back, probably through one of my poorer periods (one of my even more poorer periods), I decided that I would not buy any more pens until I'd used some of the many thousands that I already have. Well, okay, so yes, I have bought more - but just the black, brown and blue fine liners I use a lot of - but for the most part I have kept to that self imposed challenge.
The best thing about it is that it's making me use things I wouldn't normally choose to use. You know, the stuff that isn't the black, brown and blue fine liners. I've used lots more colour felt pens, markers and other stuff I can't think of right now. Things, when  bought, I thought I'd use all the time. They'd push me in new directions, etc. Then they sat in pencil cases and pots and on shelves and I never touched again.
Many moons ago, way before I'd taken up drawing, I got these fountain pens. I went to the Artist & Illustrators fair in London and was talked into spending a huge amount of money on these Pilot Parallel pens and a load of coloured inks. I thought I'd use them for calligraphy. Then I put them in a pencil case and didn't even look at them for a decade.
Now, I've always been a big fountain pen fan. Somewhere in this house I have a box full of old-school fountain pens, inks and nibs. I have always loved playing around with my handwriting and there's nothing better than a fountain pen for that. So rediscovering these modern fountain pens and the variety of lines they make has been a joy.
 And, what's more, it has pushed me. Next time you have a craving for a new pen why not have a dig around in your drawers (!!!) and see what you can find. I really love the results and the marks I've been making with these. Next stop is those scratchy old fountain pens that are lurking around just waiting for me to dig them out.
 So, hands up, who's gone and ordered the Pilot Parallel pen now? That wasn't the point of this post, remember?!
And, by the way, these little Toulouse Lautrec inspired drawings are up for sale dirt cheap. Yes, I'm going through one of my even more poorer periods again. get them HERE.

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3. Books I Won’t Read

Back in the distant past, about two or three months ago, someone commented on a book review about not reading books on certain topics and perhaps that might be something I could write about sometime. This being in the murky past, I have no recollection of who made the comment nor on what book review post it was made. I thought it was a great idea at the time but had so many other fascinating things to write about I never got around to it and soon forgot about it. Until this morning when I was dredging my brain for something to post about besides links to interesting articles. So tonight’s the night! Avoiding books because of subject matter.

I’m not talking about book genres here so there’s no, “I never read romance novels” or some kind of blanket thing like that. It’s more like, “I can’t read books with child murders in them.” There’s a difference, yes? My first thoughts were that there is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t read about. But of course, that’s not true. Nonetheless, I had a hard time with it because it is such an automatic response I am not even aware of it most of the time. And sometimes I might make exceptions for one reason or another.

This list then, I’m not sure how accurate it is. I might have left something off. But I can say that this is a list of topics/plots/things I tend avoid when reading:

  • Books about women whose main goal in life is to shop their way to happiness or find the perfect husband. I never read The Devil Wears Prada because I thought it was this sort of book. I never saw the movie either until this last fall after a coworker told me it was totally not what I thought. And she was right. I liked the movie quite a lot. I have no plans to read the book because it seems the movie covered it all and I didn’t like it that much.
  • Books that will give me nightmares. This is one of those “I know it when I see it” sorts of things. It’s usually a horror-type novel. I will never, for instance, read The Shining. But it’s not a blanket horror ban because I really liked Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. I can do psychological horror such as Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House. Loved that book. I guess it’s more of the graphic supernatural violence/horror that gives me problems. But not only that. It’s also the idea of a threat without having any kind of predictability. If there are rules like “don’t blink” I can handle it. But if it is random or unexplainable, no way will I go there. You are all welcome to psychoanalyze me now.
  • Books that are overtly misogynist and deliberately degrading and cruel to anyone, especially to women.
  • Books with dogs. These tend to fall into two categories. The worst are the emotionally manipulative smarmy ones. If it’s not one of those I still won’t read it because I will at some point during the book break down into a sobbing mess usually in the last chapter when the dog inevitably dies. My trauma around this began when I was in third grade and read Where the Red Fern Grows. Twice. And then the second time having my mom walk into my room when I was in the midst of a glorious sobfest and she was, briefly, very concerned and a bit scared about why I was crying. So perhaps it’s not about the dogs at all but a personal concern about scaring people who might find me sobbing. Because I do sometimes make an exception. However, while reading those exceptions when I come to the crying part I try really hard to make sure I’m alone.

There you have it, the books I will pass by if they are any of these things. I think I got them all but as soon as I push the “publish” button I will probably remember one I forgot. Or Bookman will read this and say, “and what about …?” That’s what updates and comments are for, right?

What about you? Are there topics or plots or other things you will not read?

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4. The Infinite Sea (2014)

The Infinite Sea (Fifth Wave #2) Rick Yancey. 2014. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

I'm so glad I took the time to reread Rick Yancey's The Fifth Wave! I felt ready for the sequel. Of course, I felt ready for the sequel the moment I first finished The Fifth Wave! But I felt prepared to fully appreciate the sequel.

First, you shouldn't read The Infinite Sea until you've read the first book in this alien-invasion series. It does NOT stand alone.

Second, if you've read the first book, and at the very least enjoyed-it-in-the-moment, you should pick up this next book.

Third, if you're looking for a quick, compelling read--perhaps for a read-a-thon--then consider this one. What makes it quick is the fact that, like the first book, it is hard to put this one down!!!

Some time has passed--perhaps a few days, perhaps a week or two--since the ending of The Fifth Wave.

The prologue, "The Wheat," is something. I think it does a great job as prologue--reminding readers of the intensity of the series, of the world as they know it.

Book one, The Problem of Rats, "The world is a clock winding down." This first section is narrated by Ringer. I believe this was the first chance for readers to get her perspective. I was expecting the book to begin with Cassie, I almost saw The Fifth Wave, as being Cassie's book predominantly, and opening with Ringer's thoughts, well, it was a good reminder that the book, the series, is so much more than that.

Book one, The Ripping, "From the time I could barely walk, my father would ask me, Cassie, do you want to fly?" This second section is narrated by Cassie. You'll probably notice--beginning with this section--that the chronology of the narrators is interesting and overlaps and goes back and forth a bit. I didn't mind this actually.

Book one, The Last Star, "As a child, he dreamed of owls." Evan Walker gets his chance to narrate. Readers learn much in this section!!!

Book one, Millions, "The boy stopped talking the summer of the plague." I found this section--short as it was--to be so emotional. I loved gaining more insight on Poundcake.

Book one, The Price. This fifth section is narrated by Cassie. I wouldn't say it's the most action-packed section, but that's because it would be too tough to choose. Has there really been a slow section?! But much does happen, and we see it through her point of view.

Book one, The Trigger. Again. So very short. But oh-so-intense. Another Poundcake section. And I thought "Millions" was emotional!

Book two, The Sum of All Things. Ringer's section. Plenty of this novel is told through her perspective, and, I came to appreciate that in a way. Much is learned in this section certainly, or, perhaps I should say much is explained through dialogue?

Book two, Dubuque. Essentially the conclusion of the book. Cassie's perspective, I believe.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews

HEADER 669x1028 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews

Valiant has done an incredible job looping endless previews and press information to the various news outlets. While last week’s batch of previews was filled with ongoing titles from Valiant Entertainment like X-O Manowar, Unity, and the upcoming Quantum and Woody mini-series. This new batch features some of the upcoming Valiant next launches leading with the much anticipated Ninjak #1.

Then: Meet inexperienced MI-6 recruit Colin King on his first mission in the field as he learns the basics of spycraft and counterintelligence, and develops a volatile relationship with his first handler.

Now: Colin King is Ninjak, the world’s foremost intelligence operative, weapons expert, and master assassin. And he’s hunting the Shadow Seven – a secret cabal of shinobi masters with mysterious ties to his training and tragic past.

$3.99 US | T+| 40 pgs. | ON SALE 3/11/15 (FOC – 2/16/15)

42 201x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews 51 195x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews 6 195x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant PreviewsThe character of Ninjak has been building in the Valiant Universe naturally since the first year of the publisher. It’s going to be interesting to see how the comics market reacts to one of the most highly sought after Valiant ongoing series since The Valiant. Unfortunately, Marvel and DC are also moving pieces of their line around in some pretty major ways at the moment, but that certainly won’t discount the strong upcoming creative team for the title with Matt Kindt, Butch Guice, and Clay Mann. Who doesn’t love the idea of a ninja working for MI-6. The idea is enough to drive not 20, but 40 pages of story content at a cool $3.99 price point. Possibly the most intriguing part of the series is how the comic is flashing forward between the early exploits of Colin King, all the way to the Batman-esque excellence of the current Valiant Universe Ninjak.

Take a look at the full preview here.

 I 1 195x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews I 2 197x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews I 3 212x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews I 4 210x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews I 5 212x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews I 6 205x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews I 7 208x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant PreviewsValiant’s most heinous supervillain team is also returning for a follow-up issue with Imperium #2, featuring none-other-than Joshua Dysart manning the helm of the comic alongside artist Doug Braithwaite on art. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but evil Professor Xavier, a robot, scientist, alien-assassin, and terrorist walk into a bar.

 A psychic dictator, an inhuman robot, a mad scientist, a murderous alien and a super-powered terrorist are about to try and take over the world…and you’re going to be rooting for them every step of the way. THIS IS IMPERIUM.

$3.99 US | T+| 32 pgs. | ON SALE 3/4/15 (FOC – 2/9/15)

One of Valiant’s most ambitious series yet, Divinity is also shifting towards a second issue. This is another title with Matt Kindt at the helm, featuring a character of color with the power of a god. The lead in Divinity is also soviet cosmonaut, believe me, we couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried. This comic ships in a larger format also sporting the relaxed $3.99 price tag with a 32 page second issue.


DIV 2 195x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews DIV 3 198x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews DIV 4 198x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews DIV 5 198x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews DIV 6 198x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews DIV 7 198x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant PreviewsX-O Manowar kicks off Dead Hand in a few months. The story features Aric killing some robots, that’s all you need to know. We covered the current arc of Armorines in the pages of X-O Manowar that is set to directly lead-in to the upcoming storylines.

This is it…X-O Manowar…face-to-face with a ROBOT ARMY HELLBENT ON THE DESTRUCTION OF EVERYTHING! Blast off with New York Times best-selling creator Robert Venditti (ARMOR HUNTERS,Green Lantern) as he begins the most shocking arc yet of his seminal run on Valiant’s flagship series!

$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale MARCH 4 (FOC – 2/9/15)

 DH 1 195x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews DH 2 300x228 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews
DH 4 202x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews
DH 5 198x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews DH 6 210x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews DH 7 206x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews
There’s STILL MORE, Ivar Timewalker #1 was the latest issue of Valiant Next that came to store shelves. The comic is still revealing the full scope of it’s premise thus far, but Ivar does indeed walk through time. In the first issue of the story, he prevents a scientist from inventing time travel. The series looks to continue to pick up steam from here.

Can a man resigned to forever walk through time truly make up for the mistakes of his past? And just who is the mysterious sociopathic leader of Oblivi-1, and why does she have such an interest in Ivar and Neela’s time traveling team-up?

Find out here as Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry – the team that brought you ARCHER & ARMSTRONG – continue their clock-stopping race to the end of time and back!

$3.99 US | T+| 32 pages, full color | ON SALE 3/18/15 (FOC – 2/23/15)

IT 1 195x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews IT 2 198x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews IT 3 200x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews IT 4 200x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews IT 5 200x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews IT 6 200x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant PreviewsIssue #2 of The Valiant stepped on the gas, and illustrated the full potential of the writing present from Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt fusing the story with the wonderful art of painter Paolo Rivera. The Immortal Enemy’s appearance last issue was the stuff of nightmare fuel. The vision that Rivera brought to the comic propelled the series to one that demands reader attention.

The Immortal Enemy has all but won and only Bloodshot and The Geomancer are left to stand against his darkness. Are they willing to save humanity if it means losing their own – and each other?

$3.99 US | T+| 32 pages, full color | ON SALE 3/25/15 (FOC – 3/2/15)

TV 1 195x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews TV 2 204x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews TV 3 195x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews TV 4 198x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews TV 5 198x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews TV 6 198x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant Previews TV 7 198x300 Nice Art: Rivera, Braithwaite, Mann, and more Shine in Valiant PreviewsWill Ninjak’s ongoing make a splash in the direct market? Keep your eyes peeled to the sales charts during February and March, and pick up these comics on store shelves.

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6. Whitbread Costa Book of the Year

       They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) this year's Whitbread Costa Book of the Year, selected from the five category winners -- and it is the Biography-winner, H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald.
       It's not even out in the US yet -- coming in March; pre-order your copy at Amazon.com -- but has already enjoyed considerable success in the UK; get your copy at Amazon.co.uk.

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7. The GIVING CALENDAR - Give a BOOK each Month!

Make 2015 the year of 

Let this 2015  -  12 month
Remind you to give

A BOOK a month for 12 months

( An 8 page PDF you can print )

REMIND yourself  to GIFT a child with a
they will love and re-read.


Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques 
Skype Author Visits


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8. Nerdtopia

The TV reality show King of the Nerds asked permission to include a print of Dinotopia's Waterfall City in the set, called "Nerdvana." This is the third season of the program, which premiered last Friday night on TBS.

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Happy 2015 to you! To start the year off right, we’d like to introduce our New Voices picks for Winter 2015. These debut novels entertained us, enriched us, intrigued us, and made us so excited to witness the beginnings of these authors’ sure-to-be-stellar writing careers.

Click on the links below to read the first chapter of each title, and make sure to keep an eye on these fantastic authors. We can’t wait to see what they do next!

Blackbird Fly

BLACKBIRD FLY, by Erin Entrada Kelly, follows twelve-year-old Apple Yengko as she grapples with being different, with friends and backstabbers, and with following her dreams. Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to America from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods, makes mistakes with her English, and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” But it becomes unbearable in eighth grade, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple’s class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is. Read the first chapter here!

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly

THE KEEPERS: THE BOX AND THE DRAGONFLY, by Ted Sanders, is the first in a four-book middle-grade fantasy series about Horace F. Andrews, a quiet boy who discovers he possesses a power that can change worlds. When a sign leads Horace underground to the House of Answers, a hidden warehouse full of mysterious objects, he unfortunately finds only questions. What is this curious place? Who are the strange, secretive people who entrust him with a rare and immensely powerful gift? And what is he to do with it? From the enormous, sinister man shadowing him to the gradual mastery of his new-found abilities to his encounters with Chloe—a girl who has an astonishing talent of her own—Horace follows a path that puts the pair in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between two warring factions in which every decision they make could have disastrous consequences. Read the first chapter here!

No Parking at the End Times

NO PARKING AT THE END TIMES, by Bryan Bliss, is a thoughtful and moving story about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love. Abigail’s parents never should have made that first donation to that end-of-times preacher. Or the next, or the next. They shouldn’t have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there for the “end of the world.” Because now they’re living in their van. And Aaron is full of anger, disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right. But is that too big a task for one teenage girl? Read the first chapter here!

Red Queen

RED QUEEN, by Victoria Aveyard, is a sweeping fantasy about seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose latent magical powers draw her into the dangerous world of the elite ruling class. Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with Red blood serve the Silver elite, whose silver blood gifts them with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the King, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the King forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything to use her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal. Read the first chapter here!

Little Peach

LITTLE PEACH, by Peggy Kern, is the gritty and riveting story of a runaway who comes to New York City and is lured into prostitution by a manipulative pimp. When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: She is alone and out of options. Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels. But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution. It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition. This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive. Read the first chapter here.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, by Becky Albertalli, is an incredibly funny and poignant twenty-first-century coming-of-age, coming-out story—wrapped in a geek romance. Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: If he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing with, will be jeopardized. With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. Read the first chapter here!

Check back here for “Opening the Book” Q&A’s with the authors and insightful words from the editors of these fantastic New Voices!

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10. FERAL PRIDE by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Feral Pride is the third book in Cynthia Leitich Smith's Feral series. She is Muscogee Creek. Books in the series consists of a series of chapters, each one told from the point of view of one of the characters.

Prior to this and her Tantalize series, Leitich Smith wrote three books I highly recommend: her picture book Jingle Dancer, the early reader chapter book Indian Shoes, and her young adult novel Rain is Not My Indian Name. Each one is a terrific story featuring Native kids and their families. All three are set in the present day.

Feral Curse, the second book in the Feral series, introduces a Native character. Her name is Jess. She is Osage. Kayla, one of the main characters in Feral Curse, is a shapeshifter. Kayla and Jess grew up together and are good friends. In her early teens when Kayla realized she is a shapeshifter, she started to keep to herself, afraid of what people and friends will think about her, and afraid that she might inadvertently hurt or frighten them.

Some people in the world Leitich Smith creates are fine with shapeshifters; others aren't. It is that facet of the story that stands out to me as a Native women. The world Leitich Smith creates--and the attitudes of people in it--reflect the real world. Here on AICL, I've written about U.S. assimilation policies. Some of those laws and policies took land from Native peoples as a means to destroy our nationhood, and others sought to "kill the Indian and save the man." Those laws and policies were driven by attitudes held by people who did not want 'other' in the U.S.

That history is in my head as I read Feral Pride, or any book. It doesn't matter what I read. I see gaps. And misrepresentations. But as I read Feral Pride, I see Leitich Smith filling those gaps, meeting them head on.

Here's an example from early in Feral Pride. It picks up where Feral Curse left off. Feral Pride opens with Clyde. Like Kayla, he is a shapeshifter. Clyde, Yoshi, and Kayla are on the run. Both Clyde and Yoshi have more experience with being hunted than Kayla does. Jess is driving them in her dad's squad car. He's a sheriff in the small town in Texas where Kayla and Jess are from. They're headed to the Osage reservation. Here's their conversation (p. 3):*
"None of this makes sense," Kayla says from the backseat of the squad car. "It's not illegal to be what we are. Why would federal agents be gunning for us?"
"Why wouldn't they?" answers Yoshi, who's beside her.

Clyde thinks:
They're both right. It's not illegal to be what we are. But whenever anything goes wrong, anything bloody and brutal, shape-shifters are presumed guilty.
As I read "It's not illegal to be what we are" I thought about all the young people in the US today who some segments of society think of as "illegal." I thought about them being hunted, living in fear of being deported. I thought about how they are unfairly blamed for one social ill after another. Those who aren't branded "illegal" may not notice the work this particular part of Feral Pride is doing, but you can be sure that those who are considered "illegal" will note that passage. It speaks to them, as does Jess, on page 9, when she says:
"Shifters are people. There are terrific people. There are terrible people. Most fall in between."
I keep reading Jess's words. The list of peoples in the world that have been dehumanized and demonized by terrible people is astounding. Feral Pride pushes us--if we're willing--to think about that and why it happens.

Weighty topic, I know, but Leitich Smith lightens that weight with the banter the teens engage in as they drive. They're into superheroes and science fiction characters.

And! The parts of the story where characters shift or are talking about clothes? Well, I find those parts exquisite and they make me wish I could see all of this on a movie screen. And the parts where characters from the Tantalize series join the characters in the Pride series? Well done!

There are other tensions throughout the novel that provide opportunities to think about, for example, relationships across race. Characters who experience these tensions reflect on the ways that their own flaws and experiences shape what they say, do, and think. Their reflections and conversations give them space to revisit what they think, say, and do--and of course, provide those opportunities to us, too.

Elsewhere, reviewers note some of what I did above, and they call Feral Pride compelling, action-packed, sexy, campy, and wickedly funny. I agree with all that, and am happy to recommend it.

Feral Pride is due out this year (2015) from Candlewick.

*I read an advanced reader copy of Feral Pride. Page numbers I noted above may not correspond to the book when it is published.

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11. Malice review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Higashino Keigo's Malice.
       Higashino is phenomenally successful in eastern Asia -- his native Japan as well as China and South Korea, where he is among the most successful authors. Two of his 'Detective Galileo'-mysteries have been published in English (The Devotion of Suspect X and Salvation of a Saint), with a third to follow this year; Malice is from his 'Detective Kaga'-series (a 1996 novel that has only now been translated -- but apparently the fourth in the series); there's also the stand-alone Naoko. This haphazard and very limited presentation of his work -- he's written dozens of novels, and these 'Detective Galileo' volumes are also random ones in the larger series, not the first two ... -- can't be helping his success in the US/UK, which falls well, well short of his Asian success -- but he's gotten pretty good US/UK-press reviews, including for this book -- much better, in fact, than the book deserves, in my opinion.

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12. Ruff Life is now on the road

Ruff Life has taken a new direction since December 2014. We are now attending fairs, shows and exhibits around England, Scotland & Wales throughout 2015.

Here we are in January at Tweksbury.

Our next event is the 1st February at East Midlands Designer Retail Outlet, so come and see us.

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13. A bit of watercolour noodling

scanned them before I do a bit more- they were on sort of scraps of paper.
They need to be darker/more colour- they dried way paler and chalkier than I'd imagined as I did them.  Still- I was sort of mucking around.

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14. YALSA Board @ Midwinter: Advocates Advisory Panel Update

During the Annual 2014 Conference, the YALSA Board approved an agenda item that proposed a new framework to formally include the voices of professionals in related fields with similar goals and objectives. The Advocates Advisory Panel will be charged with tackling a specific area of focus related to the Strategic Plan, the Future of Library Services for and with Teens report, or other topics as identified by the Board each year. The hope is that through this process, YALSA will gain valuable outside perspective on topics that are important for teens, expand its reach through new and/or strengthened relationships, and model the kind of collaborative, collective work that is called out in the Future report.

Because the Board approved the proposal in concept, as the author, I’ve been tasked with working with the Board Standing Committee on Capacity Building to create an inaugural focus and to hammer out some of the logistics. Although there’s obviously any number of topics that might be interesting to pursue with this, we decided that one viable option would be for the panel to consider strategies that YALSA might pursue in order to connect key principles and guidelines (such as the those presented in the Future report) to LIS education. We determined that this might be a sensible place to start because:

  •  A deeper dive into the state of and needs of LIS educators in light of the report may help inform the work of the Board as well as priority content areas for subsequent Panels
  • Without connecting directly with the ways in which students in LIS programs are recruited and educated, YALSA can’t guarantee that the work recommended in the Futures report can move forward
  • An academic perspective is lacking in YALSA’s current leadership. By actively recruiting experienced LIS educators to serve on the panel, YALSA may build capacity in this area
  • Engaging the perspective of educators in other fields on this issue has the potential to create the opportunity for increased cross-pollination or future collective impact efforts

You can view the full proposal and other Board docs here. If you have questions or ideas related to this proposal, I’d love to hear them! Please feel free to connect with me at shannon.peterson@gmail.com

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15. Publishing in ... Africa

       In The Herald Beaven Tapureta offers A tale of two book industries, comparing the situations in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
       High book prices, lack of media coverage, and the failure of schools to develop a reading culture are among the problems identified.

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16. Jason Momoa discusses Aquaman at Sundance

jason momoa Jason Momoa discusses Aquaman at Sundance

Upcoming Aquaman star Jason Momoa, who will be making his debut as the character in next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, fielded a few related questions during a panel at the Sundance Film Festival.

While you can listen to the full audio of the panel, here are the relevant bits pertaining to his role as Orin:

On the subject of meeting Zack Snyder regarding the role and having to lie about his involvement:

Well, things are going to be a little different. When I first went in I met with Zack (Snyder). His idea is pretty amazing. When I went in, he told me – my jaw kind of dropped. My jaw doesn’t normally drop. What he has planned for the DC world and definitely for Aquaman is something that, you know – I think I was brought on for a certain reason and they got some really cool plans for him. I’m really excited for everyone to see it.

Last year, when I was on this panel I was like eating chicken breasts and in training when I wasn’t supposed to talk about anything. I wasn’t supposed to say anything until 2016. So I told a bunch of people that they could punch me in the face if I was on it, so I’m going to get hit a couple times. But they finally released it. I was supposed to keep it a secret for 3 years.

When a 78 year old, long-time Aquaman fan asks him about Aquaman’s appearance in the new films:

Well, just going off what you’ve seen so far ma’am, I don’t think he is going to be blonde or white. I can’t really tell you because I haven’t shot it yet. I hate to disappoint. But um, you know, I’m a little different than what those others… I hope you watch it with an open heart.


At one point in the panel, the moderator points out that Michael Shannon was seen at Sundance wearing an Aquaman shirt, and directly asks Momoa regarding the rumored involvement of the actor in Batman v Superman. Momoa responded with silence and a dodge, pointing out how important the Aquaman role was to him and his Polynesian roots.

Regardless of rumors, it looks like we’ll have a dark haired/Conan-esque Aquaman, likely in the Peter David mold. I’m into it, but your mileage may vary.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016. Aquaman is scheduled to release on July 27, 2018.

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17. Preview: Kiani Stars in Aspen Comics Sister Act

By Davey Nieves

As Aspen Comics announced towards the end of last year the Fathom universe’s anti-hero Kiani would get a new volume in her saga. Written by Vince Hernandez, with Giuseppe Cafaro on art, this February will see Fathom: Kiani Vol.4 #1 hit stores.

Following the catastrophic destruction of the Volna, the Russian Government’s secret Blue research facility, the United States has decided to take action against the rising threat of the Blue. However, in Africa, Kiani and Anika discover that their family bond is stronger than any one army—as their fight to survive above the surface will lead to a revolution amongst the people that will change the landscape of the human race forever!

Fathom: Kiani #1 will be out February 11th, 2015. Check out the preview below including a painfully cute cover by MLP artist Agnes Garabowska.

01 FAK4 01 CMYKcrop 98x150 Preview: Kiani Stars in Aspen Comics Sister Act 00 FAK4 01 CMYKcrop 98x150 Preview: Kiani Stars in Aspen Comics Sister Act 02 FAK4 01 CMYKcrop 98x150 Preview: Kiani Stars in Aspen Comics Sister Act 03 FAK4 01 CMYKcrop 98x150 Preview: Kiani Stars in Aspen Comics Sister Act FathomKiani v4 01d Valentine 99x150 Preview: Kiani Stars in Aspen Comics Sister Act FathomKiani v4 01c Agnes 99x150 Preview: Kiani Stars in Aspen Comics Sister Act FathomKiani v4 01b Konat 99x150 Preview: Kiani Stars in Aspen Comics Sister Act FathomKiani v4 01a Cafaro 99x150 Preview: Kiani Stars in Aspen Comics Sister Act

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18. Nick’s Upcoming ‘Bad Seeds’ Renamed ‘Harvey Beaks!’

"Bad Seeds," the upcoming series by "Chowder" creator C.H. Greenblatt, has been renamed "Harvey Beaks!"

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19. Book Review: And in the Morning: Fields of Conflict - The Somme, 1916 by John Wilson

Book received at no charge from publisher to facilitate my review.

A gift of a soldier's diary leads to the discovery of a family secret.

In the pages of the diary, fifteen year-old, Jim Hay pens his thought. With his country at war and his father leaving for battle, Jim desires to join the cause. Even after his father dies in battle, he imagines an adventurous and heroic life as a World War I soldier.

The fight to survive in the trenches in France has Jim longing for his true love at home while he lives through the horrors war with an outcome even he never anticipated.

While Wilson aptly describes the atrocities of World War I, it feels tedious in places. However, enough action is disbursed to keep the reader intrigued enough to find out what happens to the young soldier and the bride he left behind.
Publishing Information:

Publisher: Wandering Fox Books
ISBN: 978-1-772030-14-3
Ages: 12 & up

Rating:  Good to Recommended ★★★✬ ☆☆
Book can be purchased at the following retailer

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20. 2015 Mock Newbery discussions at Emerson, part 6: The Swap, The Witch's Boy + The Zoo at the Edge of the World

“Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?" Mo had said..."As if something were left between the pages every time you read it." -- Cornelia Funke, Inkspell
When our students look back on our Mock Newbery discussions from this year, they will see parts of themselves in the books they loved and championed. Each book appealed to different readers -- and that's something the Newbery committee wrestles with as well. How do you clearly evaluate the art while acknowledging the personal response? Our discussions just started to dig into this topic, but they helped students listen to each other and consider all that goes into selecting the ultimate award-winning books.
The Swap
by Megan Shull
Katherine Tegan / HarperCollins, 2014
Your local library
ages 9-13
Ellie and Jack might look like they each have everything going for them, but they're each struggling on the inside. When they bump into each other on the first day of school and magically switch bodies, they're forced to see life from a different perspective. While the premise might seem familiar to adults, my students found it compelling and well-written.
"Megan Shull described the setting really well because I felt like I was in the story. I could totally imagine where they would be. Once, when the two characters were switched and the boy was at soccer practice with the girls' team, I could imagine being on the field practicing."
"Oh, and I remember how they were at the swimming pool in the very beginning and Ellie's friend was so mean to her."
Shull creates characters and social situations that my students understood because they were so familiar. From sleepover party dramas to friendship issues, our readers saw elements from their own lives. Emily said,
"The Swap was awesome! The characters were super strong. I could feel that they were actually real people.... The girl was being bullied but when she switches bodies with a boy, he helps her with it."
It was interesting how none of the kids found it difficult to keep track of which character was talking -- they could really feel and understand the nuances in the characterization. I saw the ending as a bit too predictable, but my students focused on the emotional journey and resolution for the two main characters.
The Witch's Boy
by Kelly Barnhill
Algonquin, 2014
Your local library
ages 9-12
Students were drawn into Barnhill's the fantasy world in The Witch's Boy by Ned's journey to stop the coming war and make sure that magic is used wisely and justly. As Alessandra said, it has something for all types of readers. Those who want adventure will like the danger and obstacles Ned and Aine face. Readers who want fantasy will like the magic, the talking stones, the moving forest. But, as Alessandra notes,
"The author did a good job making sure there was friendship and some sadness, weaving in different kinds of stories so different kinds of readers would like it."
As I think back on The Witch's Boy, I think that this is certainly a book that would benefit from another rereading. I could tell that students responded to the themes of courage, justice and inner-strength, but we didn't have enough time to really talk fully about these.
The Zoo at the Edge of the World
by Eric Kahn Gale
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2014
Your local library
ages 8-12
Our 4th graders were especially excited to recommend The Zoo at the Edge of the World to one another. "If you like animals, you'll love this book," said Claire in her nomination. I was happy to include an action-packed adventure in our selection. However, students did not end up citing it during our final discussions.

Students like the development of Marlin's character, as he discovered his ability to speak directly with the animals even though he stuttered so badly that he couldn't speak to other people. I was concerned by the characterizations of the zoo employees who were native to British Guiana. They were never fully developed, but rather used as a contrast to Marlin and his father. I think students really responded to Gale's exploration of treatment of animals in captivity.

The review copies came from our school library and my personal collection. Review copies were also kindly sent by HarperCollins. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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21. 50 States Against Bullying: NEW MEXICO

Another first-time state on the 50 States Against Bullying campaign brought me to New Mexico for stop number thirty-three. Upon entering La Cueva High School, I immediately took time to read some comments on their #ReasonsWhyYouMatter notecards.

As many of you know, my favorite part of being an author is speaking to readers. But many of you don't know, or don't believe me when I tell you, that I get major stagefright. I enjoy myself once I begin, but leading up to it is Anxiety City. Especially when I watch the students start piling in! Here's an unposed photo of that moment. And I do believe you can see the fear in my eyes.

But they were great! Nothing to fear here, dude. (There never is anything to fear, and knowing that is how I get myself to show up to each school rather than faking a flat tire.)

I love when members of the faculty, after the presentation, remark that they were a little surprised and impressed by how attentive the students were for so long. I take that as a compliment, and I think it's partly because the students can tell I really enjoy speaking with them (once I get over my fear of them, of course).

While I didn't make it into the women's restroom myself, I was told about a message scribbled on a tile in there and the responses written around it. While I don't condone writing on walls, I still had to send someone in there to take a pic.

Little comments of positivity make me so happy!

It also made me happy to see Jessie and Chris post themselves proudly wearing their #ReasonsWhyYouMatter wristbands.

Before I headed to the airport, librarian Gerri Barnhart took local YA author Shea Berkley and me out to lunch.

We ate delicious New Mexican cuisine at El Pinto.

Gotta love photobombers.

And here's what happens after I fill my belly with totally legit pinto beans.

So now I'm in the airport, waiting to head to my next state, and contemplating why two girls at La Cueva gave me this.

But still, I really do appreciate it!

It's creepy, but I appreciate it.

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22. Sapir Prize

       They've announced that הבית אשר נחרב ('The Ruined House') by Reuven "Ruby" Namdar has won this year's Sapir Prize (פרס ספי), one of the leading Israeli literary prizes.
       It's apparently noteworthy that longtime New York resident Namdar is an "expat" author -- the first to take the prize. See, for example, Beth Kissileff's Reuven Namdar Wins Israel's Sapir Prize at Tablet, or her Q & A with the author in the Forward.

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23. Prince Charming’s 5 Proven Techniques for Finding Love

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

In my recent story, Cinderella’s Prince, you can read about one Prince Charming’s method for finding love. After I published the story Alabaster mentioned to me Cinderella’s Prince Charming used one of 5 usual methods for finding his love.  I was unaware there were “usual” ways these things were done but was interested in what Alabaster had to say. I imagine you are as well, especially if you are a prince looking for love. Alabaster graciously agreed to write another guest post for us. If you are interested in Alabaster’s other posts they are  5 Tips for Finding True Love and Become a Wicked Stepmother in 4 Easy Steps.

Let me introduce you to our guest blogger Alabaster Daisy.

Alabaster Daisy

Alabaster Daisy

Mrs. Alabaster Daisy has been studying the residents of the enchanted forest for some years now. She has a FTB (Fairy Tale Bachelors) in the Habits of the Fairy Tale World, and has been featured in Forest Fairy Daily sharing her expert tips on life in a magical land. This is her first post at manelleoliphat.com especially for the genlemen among us. Lets here what she has to say.


Prince Charming's 5 proven techniques for finding love. #cinderella #fairytale


Hello, you wonderful readers!

I’m so excited to share some of my insights on helping all you young Prince Charmings out there find the love you are looking for. If you’re not a prince you can try the techniques but I can’t promise they will work for you. If you are a prince, however, I guarantee one of these methods will bring you the love you seek!

These techniques are listed in no particular order. Each one has been proven successful, so pick the method you think is best for you, and it won’t be long until your dreams come true. (That sentence rhymes like a beautiful poem.)

Alabaster Daisy’s 5 Ways for Prince Charming to Find his True Love

1. Try kissing dead girls

Ok, she’s not really dead just under a sleeping curse. ;) Sleeping curses are famous for being broken by true love’s kiss. This has been a popular technique in the past, however, it’s fallen out of favor in recent years. Probably because it’s sometimes hard to tell if the young women in question is under a curse or actually dead. For some reason the idea of kissing corpses doesn’t appeal to most men. If you’re not faint of heart, however, your chances of finding a girl under a curse are greatly increased these days!

2. Explore a Tower

Beautiful maiden’s in fairy tale lands are famous for hanging out in towers. This could be a castle tower, but if you find a tower in the middle of the woods or other secluded area your chances are very good there is a princess inside. Many times she will be awake and waiting for you, but it’s also possible she could be under a sleeping curse. If the lady is awake you can often find her tower by listening to her lovely singing voice. Tower Maiden’s are one of the most convenient of the five ways to find your lady, but be aware of witches and conniving lady’s maids who will try to keep you from your goal.

3. Be cursed (especially into some kind of animal)

This advice may not appeal to you but, rest assured, given a little time it is %100 effective. When looking to be cursed it is best to be mean to a witch or other magical lady who isn’t fond of men. The nice thing about this method is once you are cursed your work is pretty much done. Your true love will break your curse by falling for you even in your deformed, ugly or disgusting state. Popular animal curses are frogs and bears but I’m sure if were turned into a mongoose or kangaroo you would still be able to find success with this method.

4. Rely on objects to find her

Prince Charming’s the world over have been using this method for generations. There is a %52 chance your royal parents found each other this way.  The most popular objects for finding true love are shoes and rings, but you can use anything this as long as it fit your lady perfectly at some point. Some experts argue this method is unreliable since a shoe or a ring may or may not be enchanted, and could fit on any number of lady’s feet or fingers. Bah! I think the success of the technique speaks for itself.

5. listen to your cat

This method is less popular but like our third technique it has a %100 success rate. It’s also the only method that works if you are a peasant. I personally know of two princes who have not only found their true love by following advice from their cats, but also got their kingdoms this way. This method is different from the others in another way. There are no substitutions. It seems it only works with cats. Men have tried following the advice of pet dogs, birds, and even turtles but they haven’t had success. It’s actually rather dangerous to try with *animals other than our cunning feline friends.


Well you handsome princes you, I hope you find this advice useful! Don’t hesitate to contact me by mirror if you have any questions. I’d love to meet your lady loves and hear your success stories as well! Helping people is such a joy! Until next time.

Alabaster Daisy!


*Prince Ronaldst Rington Charming tried following the advice of his dog Wilbur and ended up playing fetch for 197 years. It’s a world fetch playing record that’s never been broken. Ronaldst did gain much fame and fortune from his exploits but his body, except for his throwing arm, was too weakened after it was over to be attractive to the ladies. He died a bachelor.

The post Prince Charming’s 5 Proven Techniques for Finding Love appeared first on Manelle Oliphant Illustration.

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24. Margaret Bloy Graham RIP

"Children’s book illustrator Margaret Bloy Graham, widely known for her depictions of Harry the Dirty Dog in a series of books by her former husband Harry Zion, died January 22 in Cambridge, Mass. She was 94." More at Publisher's Weekly

Also by: 


Read along on FacebooktumblrTwitterEtsy and Graphic Novels My Kid Loves.

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25. CAF update: APE and Short Run get dates; ELCAF gets a day and Lineworks NW gets guests

ape CAF update: APE and Short Run get dates; ELCAF gets a day and Lineworks NW gets guests

Whew the comics arts festival circuit news is flowing thick and fast; we’re in the middle of application season and hearts and minds are turning to tabling. And the CAFs are answering back with news.

§ First off, the revamped APE (Alternative Press Expo) has revealed its dates and location: October 3-4 2015 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose. This is by all accounts a fine spot for a show, and the new San Jose-based APE sounds like its off to a good start. There is a one day overlap with CXC in Columbus, but what are ya gonna do—even the CAF circuit is busting out these days.

SRlogoBig600 CAF update: APE and Short Run get dates; ELCAF gets a day and Lineworks NW gets guests

§ Short Run, the indie themed event held in Seattle, has announced its dates: Saturday, October 31st at the Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center.

2015 banner CAF update: APE and Short Run get dates; ELCAF gets a day and Lineworks NW gets guests

WHAT?! That’s right: get ready for a “scary” good time with Short Run as we take over Halloween afternoon with comix, zines, art books, mask-making, experimental animation, and much more. There will be both tricks and treats with 250 exhibitors under the Space Needle.

WHERE??!! Yes, it’s true: our beloved Washington Hall will be under construction this entire year as they make much needed renovations. In 2015, we’ll be returning to Seattle Center (site of the very first Short Run festival), and this time, we’ll be in the grand, expansive Fisher Pavilion. We are excited to offer both exhibitors and attendees wider aisle space in this new venue!
WHO?… Well, stay tuned! We’ll be announcing our 2015 special guests soon, as well as opening applications for this year’s exhibitors. We had such an incredible experience with our international guests last year, that we will continue to bring comix artists from around the world to Seattle.

Sounds like a good time.

§ ELCAF (The East London Comics Festival) has announced it’s expanding to two days this year, June 20-21, at a venue to be named later. This show has been getting a strong reputation for indies and it’s doubling in size. Applications are also open. (h/t Zainab)

tumblr static 16w0pjwdaocg4ccw4w80g0w88 CAF update: APE and Short Run get dates; ELCAF gets a day and Lineworks NW gets guests

§ Finally, April’s Lineworks NW, the Portland, OR based indie fest has announced its first four guests: Daniel Clowes, Lisa Hanawalt, Lisa Congdon and Jay Howell. Clowes and Hanawalt are best known for their comics; Congdon is afire artist and Howell does animation designs for such things as Bob’s Burgers. All four have heavy multi-media portfolio, and mixing up a CAF with guests from allied arts and animation is a very smart move and probably something we’ll see a lot more of.

More CAF news coming! If you have info on a show you would like to pass long, please email The Beat at comicsbeat at gmail dot com.

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