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<<October 2016>>
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1. Guest Post: Traci Sorell on Signing with a Literary Agent

Kansas State U. Powwow with son Carlos & cousin Matthew Lester (senior)
By Traci Sorell
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

I had no idea how beneficial an agent could be when I attended my first SCBWI conference in October 2013.

I quickly realized how much about the industry I did not know.

I began to network with other children's writers, especially fellow Native Americans, and when it came time to look for an agent, I utilized that network extensively.

I questioned fellow writers with representation, especially those from Native/people of color backgrounds, about their experience. I asked how agents had presented themselves at conferences or other events. I read agent online interviews and social media posts.

I wanted my agent to be a steadfast partner with a strong work ethic. It is a long-term relationship, so both people have to be dedicated to maintaining it. I required someone who was excited about my work and associated with a well-respected agency.

Traci's Reading Chair
Ideally, I wanted someone who had editorial experience that reflects what I write—fiction, nonfiction, and Native/POC subjects. To be honest, this makes for a small submission list, so I did expand beyond that.

When I communicated with agents via email and telephone, I tracked whether what they shared reflected my list.

My gut got an extreme workout when I received two offers of representation on the same day. I cannot stress enough the importance of developing and checking in with trusted mentors.

Ultimately, I accepted Emily Mitchell's offer of representation with Wernick & Pratt Agency. She met every single item on my list. Her clients contacted me quickly and gave their honest feedback about her representation.

Emily had vetted me with my editor at Charlesbridge, her former employer. We had both done our homework.

To me, it is kismet that Emily presented at that first conference I attended—and in my home state of Oklahoma too! That day, she shared her desired client attributes—voice, authority, pragmatism and flexibility. I'd like to think I resemble her list, too.

Cynsational Notes

Follow @TraciSorell 
Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction for children featuring contemporary characters and compelling biographies. She has been an active member of SCBWI since August 2013.

In April 2016, Charlesbridge acquired her first nonfiction picture book, We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, from the slush pile.

The story features a panorama of modern-day Cherokee cultural practices and experiences, presented through the four seasons. It conveys a universal spirit of gratitude common in many cultures.

Traci is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She grew up in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.

She is a first-generation college graduate with a bachelor's degree in Native American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

She also has a Master's degree in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin. Previously, she taught at the University of North Dakota School of Law and the University of New Mexico.

She also worked as an attorney assisting tribal courts nationwide, advocated for national Native American health care, and directed a national nonprofit serving American Indian and Alaska Native elders. She now lives in the Kansas City area.

See also Story to Contract: Traci Sorell’s Incredible Journey by Suzanne Slade from Picture Book Builders. Peek: "Be grateful. Every day. If you approach your creativity and the process of writing from a place of gratitude, it opens you up. You will be more aware of story ideas, available to hear critiques that improve your craft, and connected to others around you in the kidlit world. Gratitude opens up receptivity."

Emily Mitchell began her career at Sheldon Fogelman Agency, handling submissions, subsidiary rights, and coffee. She spent eleven years at Charlesbridge Publishing as senior editor, contracts manager, and director of corporate strategy. After a brief post-MBA stint in the non-publishing world, Emily returned to children's books at Wernick & Pratt.

Her clients include Geisel Honor winner April Pulley Sayre, author/photographer of Best In Snow (Beach Lane, 2016); Caron Levis, author of Ida, Always (Atheneum, 2016); and Frank W. Dormer, author/illustrator of The Sword in the Stove (Atheneum, 2016) and Click! (Viking, 2016).

Emily holds a bachelor's degree in English from Harvard University, a master's in secondary English education from Syracuse University, and an MBA from Babson College. She lives outside Boston.

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2. Happy Hat Day! Free silly rhyming picture book for Kindle

Throw your hat into the air!

HAPPY HAT DAY, my rhyming kindle picture book for kids is now free for a few days, too!
(20th October - 22nd October)


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3. To Stay Alive

To Stay Alive. Skila Brown. 2016. Candlewick. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It is finished.

Premise/plot: I've got two sets of 'two words' that will either compel you to pick this one up or to avoid it. For better or worse. First: DONNER PARTY. Second: VERSE NOVEL.

Mary Ann Graves is the narrator of this historical verse novel. She was nineteen at the start of the journey in the spring of 1846. This one is divided into seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter. Almost all of the poems involve the traveling west and surviving aspect of the pioneer spirit. The landscape and environment do feature in quite a bit. Especially the SNOW.

What this book is not is Little House On the Prairie. This isn't even THE LONG WINTER. People do have tendencies to group books together. That is why I think it is important that DONNER PARTY leap out at you first before you hear of wagon trains, prairies, pioneers, homesteaders, or going west.

My thoughts: There is a bareness to the poems that oddly enough works for me. The narrator does not wear her heart on her sleeve. She's not overly dramatic and sensitive. She doesn't speak of her dreams and feelings and there is absolutely no gushing. (She's no Ann-with-an-e Shirley.)

When I say the poems avoid gushing, I don't mean they are void of description and detail.
The men think they're/ following a trail, a road/ well marked by wheels/ and feet, like a street,/ pointing you/ in the direction you need/ to go. But I know./ We follow a trail of broken things/ tossed from wagons--family heirlooms/ so heavy with memories/ the oxen couldn't pull--/ quilts, spinning wheels, dishes (too much/ dust to see the pattern), wooden bits,/ once part of something rich,/ portraits of great-grandmothers/ who'll spend eternity in the desert,/ watching beasts pull treasures/ while dirty people trail behind.
Some poems are long, descriptive. Others are very short and bare.
this land/ has eaten/ my feet/ chewed them/ ripped them/ cut them/ they bleed/ into land/ that drinks/ them up/ but it is never full
I am so glad I did not read anything about the Donner party as a child when I was obsessed with Laura Ingalls!!!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. दलबदलू नेता – नेता कैसा होना चाहिए

दलबदलू नेता – चुनाव आते नही की नेताओ के दलबदल शुरु हो जाते हैंं वैसे भी इतिहास साक्षी है चाहे पैराशूट उम्मीदवार हो या दूसरी पार्टी को छोड नई पार्टी ज्वाईन करना हर पार्टी में दलबदलू नेताओ की कमी नही दलबदलू नेता कितने पसंद आते हैं जनता को रीटा बहुगुणा जोशी  पार्टी की कद्दावर महिला नेता […]

The post दलबदलू नेता – नेता कैसा होना चाहिए appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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5. Inktober Day 20: Round the Neighbourhood

Round the Neighbourhood. Day 20 of #Inktober2016.

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6. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 264 - 10.18.16

#inktober2016 "Escape" A supply barge in the Beaufort Sea... an apt beginning for a little bear's wandering of the world #saveourseaice #climateaction #wearethearctic

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7. Some #LifeDrawing #sketch are more successful than others. I...

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8. KIDS DESIGN - aden + anais

I came across these lovely contemporary baby products by Aden + Anais when I saw that they were being used to swaddle Stenton David Jones - David Bowie's grandson. A little bit of research later and I was able to enjoy all their other fab designs on muslin baby blankets, swaddles, bibs, onesies etc. Luckily for a Bowie baby prints include lightning bolts and black stars, as well as new arrivals

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9. The final 20 minute #Sketch from last nights...

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10. Box by Min Flyte, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Box by Min Flyte with illustrations by Rosalind Beardshaw is about one of my favorite things - boxes. Building cardboard box forts as a kid and for my kids, as well as smaller cardboard box houses for dolls and toys, is  and long has been one of my favorite things to do. With Box, Flyte and Beardshaw have created a marvelous story and exploration that little listeners will love. Best of all, and crucial for a book in which boxes are the star, there are TONS of flaps to lift and boxes to peek inside!

Unfortunately, I could not find any illustrations to show you just how fantastically the flaps compliment the illustrations and story so I'll just have to describe them. Thomas, Alice, Sam and Nancy each have a box. What is inside each box? A drum, a blanket, a tricycle and more boxes! Five flaps lift to reveal a toy mouse sleeping in a cozy little box. After the boxes are emptied, of course they need to be played with every bit as much as the things that were inside! Imaginations take off and castles, pirate ships and puppet theaters are created - all with flaps to lift. But wait, there's more! If you put all the boxes together you get a special flap that unfolds, like an accordion, to reveal a rocket ship! But wait - there's even more! A four page gatefold reveals one more creation, followed by tired out inventors and creators asleep - in a box, of course!

Source: Review Copy

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11. बधाई हो आपको – फेसबुक पर कमेंट आया है

बधाई हो आपको- बधाई हो बधाई … शादी की सालगिरह की बधाई हो या पढाई में अव्वल आने की बधाई … बधाई बहुत तरह की होती है पर ये किस तरह की बधाई होती है बधाई हो आपको – फेसबुक पर कमेंट आया है बधाई हो आपको – देर पहले एक जानकार का फोन आया. उसकी आवाज में […]

The post बधाई हो आपको – फेसबुक पर कमेंट आया है appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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12. Another Day As Emily

Another Day as Emily. Eileen Spinelli. 2014. Random House. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mrs. Harden nearly died today.

Premise/plot: Suzy, the heroine, becomes jealous of her younger brother, Parker, when he saves Mrs. Harden's life by calling 911 and becoming the town's "little hero." The situation continues perhaps because Suzy's mom can't resist supporting, encouraging, enabling the hero-complex--cape and all. Suzy's friend, Alison, is good for her, for the most part. But Alison doesn't love to read, and, doesn't really enjoy going to the library for tween-time. Suzy, likewise, doesn't really want to be an actor and audition for a play--but she does anyway. So--perhaps unrealistically--the library's tween program meets weekly (or even several times a week?) and has a theme of the 1800s. This library program has homework too. And not even reading club type homework--reading and discussing the same book. Suzy's project is Emily Dickinson. And in light of failure--as she sees it, she did not get a part in the play--she decides to become a recluse for the summer. She only wants to be called Emily; she only wants to dress in white; she will no longer do technology. This phase is worrying to her parents and friends. Will Suzy ever want to be Suzy again?

My thoughts: Out of all the elements in this one, I think I like her friendship with Gilbert best. Though that isn't quite fair. I also like Mrs. Harden very much. This verse novel is a quick read. Suzy's emotions are up, down, and all over the place. She just doesn't feel comfortable in her own skin most of the time. That part is certainly easy to relate to, I think, for readers of the right age. I don't necessarily "like" verse novels. But at least verse novels are quick reads.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. This Is Sadie Shortlisted

A photo posted by Sara O'Leary (@123olearyo) on

This Is Sadie is shortlisted for the Quebec Writers Federation Prize for Children’s/YA Literature.

Here's the complete list:
  • Bonnie Farmer; Marie Lafrance, ill.‚ Oscar Lives Next Door(Owlkids Books)
  • Sara O’Leary; Julie Morstad, ill.‚ This Is Sadie (Tundra Books)
  • Mélanie Watt‚ Bug in a Vacuum (Tundra)

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14. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 265 - 10.19.16

"Flight" #inktober2016 The Tundra Swan sets off on its annual journey east to Atlantic states. The #ArcticRefuge is a summer home to many MANY birds and is the autumn origin of four North American Flyways #werarethearctic #inktober

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15. 10 myths about the vikings

The viking image has changed dramatically over the centuries, romanticized in the 18th and 19 century, they are now alternatively portrayed as savage and violent heathens or adventurous explorers. Stereotypes and clichés are rampant in popular culture and vikings and their influence appear to various extents, from Wagner's Ring Cycle to the comic Hägar the Horrible, and J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings to Marvel's Thor. But what is actually true? Eleanor Barraclough lifts the lid on ten common viking myths.

The post 10 myths about the vikings appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. अच्छी सेहत के लिए क्या करें – उपवास का महत्व

अच्छी सेहत के लिए क्या करें-  मन में बहुत बार प्रश्न उठता है तो इसका सीधा सा जवाब है कि उपवास करें . उपवास हौव्वा नही  उपवास का महत्व बहुत है. उपवास करने से शरीर में पैदा हुई  टॉक्सिन, पसीने आदि  के रूप में बाहर निकल जाती हैंं और भीतर की सफई हो जाती है. अच्छी […]

The post अच्छी सेहत के लिए क्या करें – उपवास का महत्व appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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17. In conversation with cellist Evangeline Benedetti

What was it like as one of the few female performers in the New York Philharmonic in the 1960s? We sat down with cellist and author Evangeline Benedetti to hear the answer to this and other questions about performance and teaching careers, favorite composers, and life behind the doors of Lincoln Center.

The post In conversation with cellist Evangeline Benedetti appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. More fun with #FigureDrawing. 10 minute #sketch.

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19. Press Release Fun: Institute of Children’s Literature Quarterly Contest

Generally speaking, I tend to go whole weeks without a press release to my name.  Then I get a whole slew of them submitted in a single week.  So far I’ve one on Tuesday, one today, and probably one tomorrow or Saturday.  It’s a full life.  If the one on Tuesday was for librarians, the one today is for the up-and-coming children’s authors out there.  A little contest that’s part writing challenge, part money in your pocket.


Institute of Children’s Literature Announces Quarterly Contest

Awarding $1,300 in cash prizes and accepting entries through October 31, 2016.

This could be one way of finding a little extra cash for gifts come holiday time. All you have to do is pull out your shamrocks, jack-o-lanterns, or maybe a couple of heart shaped candies, and start writing. Then enter the Institute of Children’s Literature holiday-themed writing contest!

“For me, the most fun is announcing the winners of the $1,300 in cash prizes,” says ICL Director Katie Davis. “And I get to have that fun every quarter, since we have these contests four times a year.” The Institute awards five cash prizes divided into varying levels including $650 for the first place winner, $350 for second place, and $100 for third, fourth and fifth place.

The holiday-themed contest is for any holiday, so we’ve gotten some really fun submissions, says judge Nancy Coffelt, an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. “Every submission is judged on clarity, liveliness, potential in the market, since one of the things we do to help writers is get their work sold.” Nancy is the award-winning author of numerous picture books, including Big, Bigger Biggest, and Dogs in Space.

As part of the $19 reading fee, contestants are invited to join a free online lesson taught by the judge, and hosted by Katie Davis. (Non-entrants may join for a small fee of $7.) This contest’s lesson will be held on December 1, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.ET. That’s when the five winning entrants will be announced and then critiqued, so attendees can see how even a winning submission can be improved upon. Invaluable writing tips and tricks are shared. One attendee, Cynthia, said, “It was exciting to enter my first contest and to learn what is gleaned from the winner’s techniques. Great tips and suggestions!” The webinars also offer participants a sneak peak at the next contest and have a random drawing of a free critique, worth $99.

For more information or to sign up please visit:



About the Institute



Since 1969 the Institute has taught over 470,000 students with a one-on-one customized method of instruction. Our faculty is made up of published authors and committed educators. Our school offers college level courses (and college credits) where students can learn to write. Our graduates include a poet laureate and a Newbery medalists and often our students get published before they even finish their course. And all of this is attainable right from the comfort of your home.



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20. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 266 - 10.20.16

#inktober2016 "Squeeze" OK, so I'm thinking polar bear hug here :) By this posting, and through the magic of #inktober inspirations, I'm actually getting ahead of my mailings to the President for the first time all year -- a fine place to be in celebrating over a year of sending polar bear art to the White House! I'll keep creating images for the rest of the month and will post them daily, but I'll stick with mailing five per week to President Obama. I'll have a requisite lag in posting for November... but the commitment remains through the first week of January. I will celebrate our first female President's official transition by NOT cluttering her mail box!

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21. Learning about lexicography: A Q&A with Peter Gilliver part 1

Peter Gilliver has been an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary since 1987, and is now one of the Dictionary's most experienced lexicographers; he has also contributed to several other dictionaries published by OUP. In addition to his lexicographical work, he has been writing and speaking about the history of the OED for over fifteen years. In this two part Q&A, we learn more about how his passion for lexicography inspired him.

The post Learning about lexicography: A Q&A with Peter Gilliver part 1 appeared first on OUPblog.

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22. Country Roads

Country Detour
© Mary Nida Smith

The poor sap wasn’t mature
for being a chauffeur.
He was a city guy.
Country roads were a bore.

This wasn’t a tour.
He didn’t expect a detour
 in a roundabout way
up and down country roads.

He and his passenger were unsure
they would get beyond the detour
Zigzagging over county roads

that never appeared to end.  

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23. Thinking About My Writer’s Notebook in a Digital Age

Without a notebook, my great ideas are going unrecorded and, ultimately, forgotten.

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24. ‘Crin-Crin’ by Iris Alexandre

When Rabbit and Badger work together, Horse and Donkey must be wary of flattery in this music video for Zakouska's "Crin-crin."

The post ‘Crin-Crin’ by Iris Alexandre appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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25. Bomi Park's FIRST SNOW

We're getting a bit frosty before it's time, but I have to share this fabulous debut picture book by Bomi Park. All the way from Seoul, South Korea, she stopped by to discuss it with us...

e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it?
Bomi: Out of the many possible subject matters, I’m always observing and keenly thinking about certain images, topics, or short words that might become seeds for my stories. If a seed has the potential to sprout, I save them up no matter what it is. Out of those seeds, I draw a thumbnail sketch which gives me a general idea of the story’s plot or allows me to examine whether the seed provides the framework to become a long story or not. Then I flesh it out.
      However, one slight difference I had from other authors was that I went from drawing a thumbnail to the original picture directly without sketching for three of my picture books (including books not yet published). You could say that it is like a composer who directly recorded a song through improvisation without making sheet music.
      The fact that this process was possible with three of my picture books was in a way really fortunate for me. It was because I was able to complete the books without much trouble or difficulty. However, I decided to change my method after experiencing a great slump from relying on intuition. After much trial and error, currently I’m sketching out all of the pictures and coloring them after some corrections. I don’t think that my first method of relying on intuition is wrong. This is because each author has his or her own way.
      I’m not sure how my process will change in the future. The biggest charm and appeal of drawing a picture book is changing my methods every time I run into difficulty and uncertainty.
e: What is your medium?
Bomi: It is hard to choose just one material among those that I’m familiar with.
      If it’s a material that best corresponds to the feeling of the subject, I don’t limit myself to one material or several materials. Instead I try to use everything that is on hand.
      I don’t really differentiate the process of sketching and coloring. I also don’t prefer planning out the process either.
      The main materials for “First Snow” were pencils, acrylic paint, oil pastel, ink sticks, digital work and others. However, the most important material was “paper” that had a rich texture. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to express white snow on white paper.
      The solution to that was using a paper with grain thick enough to hold slightly heavier paint and crayon. I wanted to express the warm and tender feeling of snow.

e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story?
Bomi: “First Snow” was a picture that I painted to complete my course at an illustration school.
      While taking courses for several months, I put a lot of effort into making a three dimensional miniature house for an exhibition with the topic of “season” and “house.” However, less than one month before the exhibition I realized that my plan and image concept was wrong. I was devastated.
      However, I didn’t want to give up on the exhibition and after a lot of thinking I came up with a new plan called “First Snow.”
      I didn’t have much time, so I thought of the clearest image inside me and that image was of “A child rolling a snowball on a snowy day.”
      This was because I had worked for 6 years as a Christmas card designer before I became a picture book author. So it wasn’t difficult for me to think of winter and in a way it was the most natural thought I could come up with.
      It was only during the publish process that text was added. In other words, until the exhibition the book had been a picture book without text. Since the picture book didn’t have any text, each reading of the book had its own interpretation. This was amazing and very interesting. There were those who interpreted the book as a fantasy of a boy who couldn’t walk. Even now, after the picture book was published with the text, I think how it would have been like if it didn’t have the text.
      Although at the time I was bewildered from having illustrated the book in such a short amount of time, now I realize that it was the picture book that most reflected compared to other books I spent more time on. It is said that each author has his or her own breathing rate. I think my breathing rate must be very short.
      (I’m currently working on a nonfiction picture book with 100 pages and it’s just exhausting.)
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?Bomi: When I was little, I was the only child in a large extended family made up of adults. Although I received a lot of love and attention as the only child in the house, I was always lonely. Living under a quiet and serious atmosphere and being unable to play carefree as a child should, I spent most of time alone imagining trivial things and thinking of fantasies. Rather, I grew up as a mature child who hid her feelings to understand the adults.
      That may have been the reason, that even though I grew up to become an adult, I still developed a mentality of wanting to receive compensation for my childhood. This might have provided me with the motivation to become a picture book author.
      I want to live in an exciting story whenever possible and I also want to create “a world where children create for themselves” in which children can live without interference or attention of adults.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I’m currently working on a story about Korea’s lunar calendar seasons (subdivisions of the seasons) which are very distinct. The content is also very wide in scope and the book is quite long as well.
      Although it includes the fictional story of one child who lives in different animal’s houses every two months for one year and has various adventures and experiences of the past, it is true that the book is overall nonfiction, so it has many points to study, and requires a lot of energy and patience to create.
      If I complete the book, it will become a very rewarding journey for me. The book is very natural, and I’m continually surprised of my ancestors’ wisdom of dealing with 24 distinct seasons that only occur in the East. Therefore, I hope to introduce the book all over the world.
      Other than that, I always dream of freely imagining myself flying around in my stories.
Check out Bomi's work space...
e: Thank you Bomi! Learn more at the Chronicle Books website.

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