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1. Laura Ljungkvist's SEARCH AND SPOT ANIMALS - Guest Post

Search and Spot, Animals!
by Laura Ljungkvist

      I can’t believe that search Search and Spot, Animals! Is my tenth book. It takes such a long time between completion and publication of a book, that getting the box with your 20 copies is a moment full of excitement and a little angst. What if I don’t like it?
      Going back to my editorial illustrating days, I always had a hard time looking at my things after they are just published in a publication or wherever it was. I am so hard on myself. So, after a quick glance, I put it away in a drawer in my flat files and when some time had passed and I look at it again, I can be more neutral and less emotional.
      So it was with sweaty palms that I opened the box Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt. What if the colors were off. What if the bugs were impossible to find, what if….?
      Of my ten published children’s books, 9 are written by me. I was asked to illustrate Mem Fox's book, Yoo-Hoo, Lady Bug! a couple of years ago. It writing, it was a “search and find book but with Mem’s beautiful” writing. I enjoyed doing that so much that I got the idea to do my own “search and find book”.
      One of my teachers in art school once said to me that I have a fear of white space. He was right. If you look at my body of work, the art tends to fill up the space. As a child I was drawing patterns and obsessively filling page after page.
      I also drew lots of animals, especially horses. I have many, many animal drawings, in my drawers going back to my childhood. So, my “search and find” book was going to be a work of love – patterns and animals! Voila – Search and Spot, Animals!
           When everything has been approved and agreed on with my publishers team on a book project, it usually takes me about 3 months to do all the final artwork for a children’s book.
      However, my first 2 children’s books are painted in gouache, and it took me a whole day just to paint half a background or the pattern on a dress. When I got a MAC computer and started working in Photoshop things went much faster. Unless I scan in a drawing made on paper, I have a drawing tablet with a special pen that acts just like a mouse, so I am still drawing, I’m just using a different pen - “Digitally drawn”!
      Very often I find that things “come to me”, and I get ideas and inspiration as I am working and going to final on a book. That’s why I try keep sketches quite general, so I am not too “locked in” but can allow those ideas to flourish.
      One of my favorite spreads in the book are the horses. That spread is a perfect example of doing something that I think is beautiful, and getting that extra idea for the text, concept and questions as I am working.
     I like the challenge on this spread. Readers are asked to find different colored horses. Some horses have a solid color and some are drawn in just a line. Could lead to some interesting questions for children? I a horse really pink if it’s drawn with a just a pink line?
      And then there are the dogs! Try and find the photographed French Bulldog!

     My goal was to make different kinds of challenges for the reader. In some searches you have to turn the page and find what you are asked to look for on the next spread. In some cases there are some animals shown and you have to find them on the same spread. Then there are searches were you are told in the text what to look for.
      And then, there is my favorite thing that I try to do in all my books. One final search that makes the reader go back and search through the whole book again! So much fun!
      The follow up to “Animals!” is just completed, Search and Spot, Go! It’s full of boats, helicopters, busses, bikes and tractors. So now I’m waiting to open open another package with sweaty palms - test prints (or f&g’s as we say).
     Oh, BTW, I loved “Animals!” when I opened the box! It accomplished just what I set out to do and I had so much fun doing it!
Check out Laura's groovy studio space with her dog Lola:

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2. Prize: Prix Ivoire

       The Prix Ivoire pour la Littérature Africaine d'Expression Francophone has announced its 2015 winner -- and it's Je suis vivant, by Haitian author Kettly Mars; see, for example, the Haiti Libre report, as well as the Mercure de France publicity page for the book.

       Mars' Savage Seasons recently came out in English, but has attracted disappointingly little review (or other) attention.

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3. Prizes: Irish Book Awards

       They've announced (albeit not very conveniently at the official site) the winners of this year's Irish Book Awards, with The Green Road, by Anne Enright, taking book of the year honors.

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4. Prize: Jan Michalski

       The Jan Michalski Prize for Literature is an impressive (if shockingly poorly publicized) prize, without language or genre restrictions, and they've announced the winner of this year's prize -- Birth Certificate, Mark Thompson's Danilo Kiš biography. (My preference is, of course, always for fiction, but they do always select interesting titles, regardless.)
       See also the Cornell University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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5. Happy Thanksgiving 2015

Wishing you all a Blessed Thanksgiving. 

During this time (and every day) it is important
to reflect and appreciate our blessings...
Small and large.

For living your life with gratitude,
 blessings will be plentiful!

God Bless!


Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters ~ December 2015 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Historical Fiction 1st Place, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Honorable Mention Picture Books 6+, New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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6. Place of the Year 2015 nominee spotlight: Greece

Earlier in the year, Greece faced some unsettling economic troubles. The country voted on a referendum that would decide whether they would pull their membership from the European Union (and thus, the union's currency and economic system). It's a wonder to think that this country, less than a decade ago, was among one of the richer nations.

The post Place of the Year 2015 nominee spotlight: Greece appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Scholastic Kids Council: Kayla

Hi!Welcome Kayla to the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council!

kaylaI’d like to introduce you to Kayla who will be one of the special contributors to the STACKS this year.

Look for more to come from Kayla this year!

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8. Social opulence: re-branding Labour

Corbynomics has yet to be unpacked. And when it is, there's danger it will be branded as a return to the bad old days of tax and spend, when the 1983 Labour manifesto was dismissed by pundits as the longest suicide note in history. To avoid this, what Labour needs are some big and positive ideas; ideas that that resonate with the public and which capture that popular mood of radicalism that has put Jeremy Corbyn where he is.

The post Social opulence: re-branding Labour appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. विविधता मे एकता

विविधता मे एकता विविधता मे एकता ये हैं मेरी सहेलियां मारिया , जाहिदा और प्रीत कौर … और हम बहुत मिल जुल कर रहती है. वो मुस्लमान हो या ईसाई या फिर पंजाबन … मुझे मजहब नही पता बस इतना पता है कि वो बहुत अच्छी हैं  और एक दूसरे के दुख दर्द  मे काम […]

The post विविधता मे एकता appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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10. Signing

Signing and shipping “All in line“ there is still time to get a signed copy:http://mattiasadolfsson.tictail.com/

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11. Live, Love and Sketch


The post Live, Love and Sketch appeared first on Make Awesome Art.

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12. My tweets

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13. XMAS 2015 - emily emerson

Today's Christmas designs are brand new portfolio pieces from aspiring illustrator and surface pattern designer Emily Emerson. Emily works in illustration for children's publishing and also creates designs for greetings cards, etc. and would love to see these designs used on products, fabrics, gift wrap etc.

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14. Policing concert hall patriotism: consequences

If American orchestras want to be more patriotic, they should program more music by American composers. In context, however, the sentiment is deeply ironic. American composers are absent from today’s concert programs precisely because anti-nationalists consistently shackled them.

The post Policing concert hall patriotism: consequences appeared first on OUPblog.

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We Izzy Elves are not QUITE sure why, but starting today, Deedy (that's Dorothea Jensen to you) is giving away Kindle e-books of our Tizzy's story FOR FREE!

Here's the magic link:


Tizzy has mixed feelings about this, to say the least.  He wonders why the other three stories, Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf; Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf; and Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf, are not free, too.

He worries that Somebody thinks his story isn't worth anything. We explained that whenever Somebody gives a book away as a gift, that means Somebody thinks it is EXTRA valuable.

We also told him that his story will only be given away as a gift until Monday. After that people will have to pay to buy it again. That made him feel better.  We think.

Of course, his story is also on Kindle Select for awhile, so some people will be able to read it for free, but the rest of us Izzies decided not to tell Tizzy that until we know how to explain it better.

Anyway, here is the magic link again.  Just in case.



Blizzy, Dizzy, Frizzy, Quizzy, Whizzy, Fizzy, and Bizzy

(Yes, we know that we didn't include Tizzy in our sign-off. That's because he doesn't know about this post. Shhh!)

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16. Scholastic Kids Council: Alex

Hi!Welcome Alex!

Hi! My name is Alex, and I was one of the lucky ones chosen for the 2015-16 Scholastic Kids Council! I made a display about things that represent me and here is why I chose some of those items.Alex

I made everything around the boogie board because every summer, my family rents a beach house. I spend a lot of time in the ocean boogie boarding and surfing. I get to spend a lot of time with my family and I really enjoy it. I am a big baseball player and fan, so I put my baseball glove, bat, and trophy in the display. I also enjoy skateboarding, and I do that a lot in my free time with my friends and my older brother.

I absolutely LOVE Star Wars and LEGOs. I think Star Wars LEGOs are amazing! This is one of my favorite ships I have built so far. I included my saxophone and my headphones because I love music. I love to play saxophone, especially jazz and pop music. I also like listening to dubstep with my headphones while I play video games. I got the red bear for being on my school’s student council as Activity Director.  I named it Juan Pablo. I love to read and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is one of my favorite books! I am looking forward to writing for the 2015-16 Scholastic Kid Council. Thanks for reading this!

Alex, Scholastic Kids Council

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17. Review: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Razorbill. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.

An Ember in the Ashes
The Plot: It's been 500 years since the Martials defeated the Scholars. At various times Rebellion has been threatened, but the Martials always destroy it.

Laia, 17, is a Scholar. The once studious and education people are now banned from anything hinting at learning. Laia lives with her older brother, Darin, and her grandparents, until the night their home is raided by the Martials and their terrible agents, the silver-faced Masks. Her grandparents are killed, Darin is arrested, and Laia flees into the night.

She stumbles upon rebels who agree to help her free her brother, for a price. Go into the heart of the Martial training ground and spy on their Commandment. To do so, she'll have to pretend to be a slave. But for Darin, she'll do it.

Elias, twenty, is a Martial who has been trained to be a Mask since the age of six. Except he has a secret, kept hidden and deep. He hates the death and torture and violence of what he his, of what he is trained to do. He doesn't want his face to be forever silver. He dreams of escape, even though it will dishonor his Grandfather, but anyone caught running away is brutally executed. As each day goes by, he finds himself increasingly bound to the Martials and to his friends and wondering if the only escape is death.

The Good: Read this book. Now. The only down side of reading this book ASAP is that the sequel is out next summer, and you're going to have to wait that long to find out what happens next.

Read this book. It is a wonderfully complex setting, influenced by the Roman Empire and other ancient cultures. Sometimes a cultural setting such as the one in An Ember in the Ashes either downplays or ignores the consequences and reality of its setting. This book does not do that; it is a brutal, violent world and both Laia and Elias have been shaped and formed by that brutality. (For those who wonder about the violence on the page, I'll put it this way. A book can describe a death in a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter -- this book goes for the sentence or two. Does it lessen the horror of that death? No, it doesn't drag it on for pages and pages.)

Laia masquerades as a slave, but, no, that's wrong. While Laia is spying, she is actually a slave and all that implies. She is owned by the Commandment, who can do anything she wants to the slaves she owns. Laia is beaten and whipped; her name is taken from her. Other slaves have been scarred, branded, mutilated. The possibility of sexual assault and rape is real. So she has to survive both the change in status from free to slave but also figuring out how to be a spy for the rebellion.

Elias has been trained since the age of six to become a Mask, like his mother and grandfather before him. (His mother is the Commandment.) He has seen children whipped to death; he has been beaten; he has killed. He has followed orders. He has become one of the top soldiers. And he hates it. One of the things I love about An Ember in the Ashes is that while it's easy to hate the Martial class and all that Elias is and represents, the reader can't help but like Elias and root for him. To like his friends and understand his loyalties.

If you're wondering, because there is a girl and a boy and it's a young adult book, whether there is a romance -- well, yes and no. Again, complexity! While Elias may look at Laia and see a pretty girl, Laia looks at Elias and sees a dangerous soldier. Elias also is the type who sees Laia as a pretty girl who is a slave so is someone who for that reason shouldn't be touched (not a sentiment towards slaves shared by others.) There's a young man who is a rebel who Laia begins to have feelings for, and Elias has feelings towards another soldier, a young woman, and he's trying to deny them. So this is more a rectangle than anything else, and very realistically done given the different positions of power people have.

The Martial Empire is HORRIBLE. I wouldn't want to live there. But, again with reasons I like this -- when Laia learns more about the history of the Scholars, she realizes that her history and society is more complex than good/bad, vanquished/conquered. Elias looks around him and doesn't like how the Empire treats people, and he may be alone in this. It's hard to tell, because to confess such things would to betrayal, punishment, torture, death. His friends, though, are also likable, though part of this may be that we only see them in a context where they aren't arresting and killing and torturing, though we know that is what they have been trained to do. And truth be told while the ways of his training are harsh and I'm running out of words that mean "brutal," it's also realistic in terms of what is needed to create the perfect killing machine -- and that appears to be the sole aim of Elias's training and schooling.

The ending -- the ending!!! Don't worry, it's a great ending for a first book in the series in that it both works well as an ending for this book but there is also a great lead in to what will happen in the next book. I don't feel cheated or frustrated; I just feel MORE MORE MORE.

And the plot is so great that I don't want to say a word about it.

One more thing. The women in this story! Of course, there is Laia, who will do anything to save her brother but has been fairly sheltered up to this point. Poor, sometimes hungry, but always loved and protected by her family. Her strength is in her ability to survive, to love, to do what it takes.

Then there is Helene. Female soldiers are only accepted once in a generation, and so she is not just the sole female in her class, she's the sole female in her school. She has to be twice as good, ignore twice as much, as those around her. The friendship between Elias and Hel is one of equality and respect.

And Elias's mother, the Commandant. She was the female soldier of her generation. And as the head of the school that trains and forms soldiers, she is the one that every student fears. She is the one every slave fears. And with good reason: punishments, torture, and death all take place at her whim.

There is the Lioness, a legendary head of the Rebellion, brilliant but ruthless and willing to sacrifice anything for her cause.

And there are Laia's fellow slaves, Kitchen Girl and Cook, who have survived years in the Commandant's house, watching other slaves come and go. (And by "go" I mean die, whether at their own hand or the result of the Commandant's brutality.) There is more to each of them . . . .

One more thing. With this book there is always one more thing. I recognized the ancient Rome references in names and family structure; Tahir's guest post at the Perpetual Page-Turner goes into that research, as well as the research needed for everything from weaponry to the names of the other nations and groups in the book.

ARGH. I want to revisit this world, even though I was so worried about Laia that at times I could read no more than a few chapters at a time. My heart just couldn't take it.

OF COURSE this is a Favorite Book of 2015.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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18. PubCrawl Podcast: NaNoWriMo 2015 The Finish Line

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This is apparently the Korean drama recommendation episode! This week JJ and Kelly tackle the end of NaNoWriMo. Sort of. We hope. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving! We will be on hiatus next week, but will pick up again in December! Gobble, gobble.

Subscribe to us on iTunes, or use this feed to subscribe through your podcast service of choice! If you like us, please leave a rating or review, as it helps other listeners find the podcast. Thanks in advance!

Show Notes

Have some tropes!

Remember, whether or not you “win” NaNoWriMo this year, be proud of everything you have accomplished! Success isn’t defined solely by word count, and hopefully you’ve taken away some tools and lessons from the experience.

What We’re Reading/Books Discussed

Off Menu Recommendations

It’s the holidays! Movies! Time! Netflix and chill!

That’s all for this week! We are returning to our old format, wherein we discuss a publishing topic in depth. Leave your suggestions in the comments or email us or ask us on Tumblr! The next episode will be a year end round-up, but 2016 (Already????) is a blank slate, y’all!

  1. This drama is directed by Yoon Sok Ho, who is my mother’s favorite director because he doesn’t resort to Kong-ji, Pat-ji storylines.

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19. Beyond the Chrysalis, by Naya H. Jones

In this new world, Ravin follows the ancient paths unfolding before her; battling a two-headed dragon; flying with the fairies of Will-o-Myst, befriending a crystal unicorn and her mate, a pegasus with a gold horn.

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20. The life and work of Émile Zola

To celebrate the new BBC Radio Four adaptation of the French writer Émile Zola's, 'Rougon-Macquart' cycle, we have looked at the extraordinary life and work of one of the great nineteenth century novelists.

The post The life and work of Émile Zola appeared first on OUPblog.

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21. DESIGNER - malu lenzi

Today's featured designer is Malu Lenzi who has just joined the P&P Directory. Malu (short from Maria Luiza) is an illustrator, designer and 'cute maker' - originally from Brazil but currently based in Berlin. Malu used to work as marketing/planner in Ad agencies in São Paulo but since moving to Europe three years ago, she has been following her passion of being an illustrator with love and

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22. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Axel Howerton, Author of Hot Sinatra

Coffee is God. Coffee is the Life-bringer.

Coffee is the be-all-goddamn-end-all.

The Alpha and the Omega. That’s what Cole calls it.

At least, that’s how I feel. Me and ol’ Mossimo Cole. We love our beans, man.

Do you know Moss? Tall, good looking dude, lots of tattoos, lots of scars, usually wearing this beat-up old fedora he got off of his grandfather. Lives next door to me. Right down the street there. Chicks dig Moss Cole. He’s one of those tall, dark, and soulful types. What Cole loves? Jazz and a fine ristretto pull.

I know. What the hell is a ristretto? Basically, a ristretto is the first half of an espresso. When you squeeze that water through the tightly-packed grounds of coffee bean dust, forcing it at temperature and pressure to work it’s way down through the earthy mantle of a fine grind, and flood out in a big muddy, a veritable Mississippi of shape and colour. The darkest, smokiest, velvet-smooth, dark chocolate magnificence. Coffee contains over a thousand aromatic compounds, and the best and boldest of them are at their peak when you use that first pull.

You dump that into a demitasse and suck it back, brother that’s a straight ristretto. Drop some water in like an Americano, and we’re talking a Long Black. Moss likes those two ristretto shots split with a lovely cloud of foamed milk. Silk and satin, that’s what he calls it. Baby, that’s Flat White right there. 

You better believed you’ve never had a coffee so rich, so flavourful, so damned exquisite.
I used to be a three or four latte-a-day man, licking the caramel scorch-ring off the bottom of a truck-stop pot of joe, if I was having an especially bad morning. Moss showed me the light. He showed me the way. That lady friend of his, the redhead with the stems like polished marble? Rosie.  That was her name. Hot stuff, sweet fancy Moses. Cup of coffee like bountiful naked angels pouring pure sunshine and rainbows straight down your gullet. Haven’t seen her around lately though. Ol’ Moss has been a little down and out. Looks like he’s been run up one side and down the other with one of those riding mowers. Maybe I’d best check in on him.  Been hearing a lot of Chet Baker and not much Satchmo coming out of his place next door.

First things first, I’m feeling a mite slow ‘n’low myself, better shuffle on down to the corner, down to the hipster coffee bar. They got a new girl there, Australian. Mossy says they invented the flat white. She says that too. Says her name’s Pie-Pah, but the tag says Piper. Doesn’t matter what they call her when she can pull a cup of joe like that, I tell ya.

I’ve got a nice crisp ten-spot with her name on it. Pie-Pah.  Of course, ten bucks won’t buy me two large (one now and one for later) plus one for Moss, and leave her with a tip. So I guess Mossy’s on his own. Unless he wants to spot me a cup later. Yeah, he’ll be good for it. He usually is. Right?
Nah. Better not chance it. I’m gonna need that fix later. Alpha and Omega. One now, one for later.

I ain’t gonna argue with the Coffee Gods.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Axel!

Axel Howerton is the genre-hopping, punch-drunk author of the horror novella Living Dead at Zigfreidt & Roy, and the darkly funny detective novel Hot Sinatra, which was a finalist for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. His newest novel Furr,available now from Tyche Books is a "modern gothic werewolf story that's part crime novel and part urban fantasy". Axel is the editor of the anthologies Death by Drive-In, Tall Tales of the Weird West and AB Negative. His work has appeared in places like Big Pulp, Fires on the Plain, Steampunk Originals, Night Shade, Dark Eclipse, Sleuth Magazine, and "The Big Lebowski" compendium Lebowski 101, as well as the anthologies A Career Guide to Your Job in Hell and Let It Snow.

When he's not on-duty as a hometown anti-hero, Axel spends most of his time roaming the untamed prairies of Alberta with his two brilliant young sons and a wife that is way out of his league.

            Hot Sinatra is a darkly funny detective novel featuring more coffee, music, romance and action than you can shake a dark chocolate Pirouline at. Available now in paperback, audiobook and ebook. $0.99 ebook sale December 5 – 9! 

You can find Axel here:

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23. Fifteen Dogs review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of André Alexis' Fifteen Dogs.

       Yes, I was led to this by its recent Scotiabank Giller Prize-win -- that, and the promise/premise of talking dogs, Greek gods still doing their mischief, and the mention of some Oulipo poetry. Also: I seem to be sucker for titles that begin with numbers ..... Read the rest of this post

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24. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 28 - 11.25.15

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25. We must try harder to stop the drug cheats

Reports of a Russian state doping programme are jarring reminders of times when victorious athletes were offered as evidence for the superiority of political ideologies. The allegations have certainly complicated aspirations to keep drugs out of the Olympics. If your state colludes in your doping then you have only to arrange to be clean around the dates of competition.

The post We must try harder to stop the drug cheats appeared first on OUPblog.

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