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1. The Skye Saga

Byron and SkyeIf you have a kid between three and seven and don’t have an utterly screenless existence, you probably know that the current rage is Paw Patrol, a TV show/toy franchise about a team of rescue pups who… well… let’s just say that whenever there is trouble around Adventure Bay, Ryder and his team of pups are there to save the day.

Our boy’s favorite non-Lego toys over the past few months have been Paw Patrol pups that come with badges and backpacks that open up and do stuff. One is Skye, the only girl in the original pup line-up of six (they’ve since added another to the show). We found that while the other pups weren’t too hard to find, Skye was nearly impossible to find. And the reason was obvious: Girls love Paw Patrol as much as boys. Girls want Skye.

But Byron also loves Skye. And he wanted use to round out the set. So for months we were regularly and fruitlessly checking the ransacked shelves at Target and Toys R Us, where, for reasons that can only be explained by recent news and public opinion, we would find only piles of unpurchased Chase toys (Chase is the police dog).

Byron also noted that most of the merchandise featuring all the pups never had Skye. She wasn’t on the shirts, or the party plates. He was confused, and the message must have started sinking in: Skye isn’t on my shirts because as a boy I’m not supposed to want her on my shirt. Skye isn’t on the paper plates because she is less important than the boy pups. And that’s where we have to intervene, affirming for Byron that it’s OK to like Skye and the companies are dumb for leaving her off.

Byron also likes Lego Friends and Lego Elves. He likes the unicorn girl minifigure almost as much as the alien trooper. He likes Shannon Hale’s Princess in Black and Bratz and some show about a fairy tale high school with mostly girl characters. But he isn’t a feminist superkid just yet. I can see the culture taking his toll, his occasional grimness when offered a book about a girl, especially if she’s not an animal. He will opt for the space robot action figure over the big-eyed kitty every time at McDonald’s, and the fact that eyes are on him and one is described by the cashier as a ‘boy toy’ certainly influences him. And he’s not even in school yet, where other boys will surely coach him on despising girls and things for girls.

The gender splitting I’ve complained about in books is extreme in toys and television, so appalling I really can’t believe how passively parents accept it. Why must any mixed-gender franchise be 5/6 boys? Why did all the superheroes from my childhood go on steroids? Why do all of the Lego girls come in slimmed down from the classic, sturdy, Lego minifig body? For that matter, why do you have to paint a six pack on the male figures, on top of their uniforms? I don’t mind that the girls in that fairy tale show talk about dating and dresses, but why can’t boy characters ever show a little vulnerability, be a little smitten, be a little concerned about how others perceive them?

There’s lots more I want to say here, so I’ll have to come back to it. Suffice to say that kids are sufficiently assaulted with gender role expectations before they reach Kindergarten, and it’s maddening. Books are the least of the problem. The bigger part of the problem is everything else: clothes, toys, movies, TV, even breakfast cereal boxes.

Incidentally, Byron did not want to be photographed with Skye, and seen playing with a girl toy, but his mother told him that it’s important for the world to see that boys can play with girl toys. That’s what convinced him. Good work, B.

Filed under: Miscellaneous Tagged: boy toys, girl toys, lego, paw patrol, skye

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2. Walking the Game Beat: Lego Crisis, New Daredevil Duds in Heroes, and the Future of Injustice?

Happy Mortal Kombat Week everyone! No, it’s not 1993 but a brand new Mortal Kombat game is out this week and the early reviews are predominantly positive. We’ll have some totally irreverent impressions of the game this weekend. This week; Lego’s giving us their version of a crisis, Marvel’s updated several of their games, and last week’s Convergence #1 may have dropped some hints at the future of the Injustice universe.



Colorful toys used in video game platforms is a trend on the rise, what started with the success of Skylanders was quickly followed by both Disney and Nintendo. Now, Lego is set to jump into the fray. The company is partnering with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Traveller’s Tales, the publisher and studio responsible for most of the existing Lego games, to create a new series called Lego Dimensions.

A $99.99 “Starter Pack” will launch on September 27th in the US (September 29th in the UK) for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and Wii U. Much like Disney’s Infinity, Lego’s starter pack will include a copy of the game, a Lego “Toy Pad” and three special minifigures: Gandalf, Batman and Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie. So far the universes tapped for this game include Back to the Future, Lord of The Rings, Ninjago, and DC Comics. Future expansions are planned for this year and level expansions will come in 2016.

Because of its connection to so many loved franchises, Lego is a perfect company to jump into this latest gaming trend. Could this also be a place for DC and Marvel to crossover?



Last week’s Convergence #1 from DC Comics continued the momentum of its Battle Royal themed event where almost every part of the publisher’s multiverse is pitted against one another in a fight for their very survival. The issue  also had a few tidbits about the Injustice universe created by Netherrealm (Mortal Kombat).

Convergence (2015) 001-002

In the issue, dictator Superman’s powers were restored right before their Gotham is plucked into dome world as Batman and the rest of the remaining heroes from the battle fled right before destruction.  It’s obvious the Injustice universe is going to be a big part of this war, right? Would DC really just use it as canon fodder even though fans seem to really love it? It begs the question, where could future sequels of the game go? Could Batman and Superman ever reconcile to face a threat greater than themselves?


With the release of Daredevil on Netflix, Marvel’s game division didn’t waste time on adding to the wave of popularity surrounding ol horn head. The MMO Marvel Heroes 2015 released a classic costume based on Frank Miller and John Romita Jr’s classic The Man Without Fear. Fans of the Netflix show will also recognize his signature black mask covering the top of his head. All of the character’s regular skill trees and attributes remain. This new look is purely cosmetic, but definitely a cool throw back to Miller’s work.

Players can log in right now and pick up the new character skin.


The Infinity series continues over in the Marvel Mighty Heroes mobile game. This week players will defend the planet in the new chapter titled “Target : Earth” during an interview with developer DeNA‘s Bert-Jan De Weerd talked to Marvel about what players can expect:

After the battle in space the heroes back on Earth have to face of the unleashed hordes of the Mad Titan, Thanos! Black Panther has to defend his city of Wakanda, while Starbrand joins the fight using the powers bestowed upon him by the Builders against them. After suffering defeat at the hands of the Avengers last week, Ex Nihilo realizes he was fighting them for the wrong reasons. He joins the Avengers and as a new Avenger, Ex Nihilo joins the fight against his kin and against Thanos.

Marvel Mighty Heroes is available now for iOS and Android, plus it’s free to download.


A new audio portion of Halo 5’s “Hunt The Truth” campaign recently dropped on its Tumblr page.

It’s titled “Critical Condition,” and centers around the mystery of John 117 (Master Chief) and his home planet. The log explores a different side of the character through the testimony of retired military veterans. There’s been no word on if we’ll see more of the live action Nightfall series, but Microsoft is firmly committed to Halo 5: Guardians, October 27th release date.


Gaming/Comics Releasing 4-15-15:

Mega Man #48 (Archie Comics) $3.99

The epic conclusion to this Mega Man 3 game adaptation storyline, featuring new cover art from fan-favorite Brent McCarthy and a special Capcom art variant!

Art of the Uncharted Trilogy HC (Dark Horse Comics) $39.99

A detailed look at the art of one of the most exciting game series of this generation, with insightful commentary from the games’ creators!

Halo: Escalation TP Vol 2 (Dark Horse Comics) $19.99

The fall of New Phoenix, Master Chief’s return to action, and a dark plot by the Office of Naval Intelligence-all in this volume collecting Halo: Escalation issues #7-#12

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Two TP Vol 1 (DC Comics) $14.99

As Superman’s iron grip on the world tightens, at the edge of the galaxy another grave threat approaches. Collects INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US YEAR TWO #1-6.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Two HC Vol 2 (DC Comics) $22.99

The Corps has a fight on their hands that will surely shake them to the core. Collects issues #7-12 and ANNUAL #1 of the hit series!



Do you think these Amibos and Infinity figures are this generation’s plastic guitars and drums? What do you think would make an awesome follow up to INJUSTICE? What are you going to do to avoid Age of Ultron spoilers?

1 Comments on Walking the Game Beat: Lego Crisis, New Daredevil Duds in Heroes, and the Future of Injustice?, last added: 4/14/2015
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3. Little, Brown to Publish Series of LEGO Books

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has teamed up with LEGO for a new series of graphic novels aimed at young readers and writers.

The two companies signed a multi-book, multi-year agreement to produce numerous LEGO-themed books aimed at readers ages 6 – 11. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will launch a LEGO line with graphic novels based on three different bestselling LEGO properties: LEGO Ninjago, LEGO Friends and LEGO BIONICLE. Rex Ogle, Senior Editor at Little, Brown, will edit the books.

The first titles will come out in time for the holidays this year and will cost $7.99.


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4. What?!? When!?!: Your Updated Comics Cinema Calendar, March 2015 Edition — Now With More Frozen!


This icy force both foul and fair has a frozen heart worth mining.

Well, I had hoped to wait until May before updating my movie calendar, but then Bob Iger had to go and hold an annual shareholder’s meeting for Disney.

…which means that all sorts of stuff got announced, so here’s the latest.

NOTE:  My colleagues have noted the confusion over Warner Brothers’ superhero schedule.

To be clear: past Suicide Squad, WB/DC Entertainment has not matched announced movies with opening dates.

So, you will see a listing like:

Unknown 2018 Flash


3/23/2018 Untitled DC 

That does not mean that there are two movies scheduled, only that DCE is planning movies, and has claimed dates.  Other news sites have linked titles to dates.  This has not been officially announced or confirmed by Warner Brothers, and until I see official confirmation, will continue to list the names and dates separately.  When do I expect to see that confirmation?  Either at a shareholder’s meeting, or sometime in July or August, just like last year.  Like last year, I expect Marvel, via D23, to make a bigger splash than DC, although DC could try to win Comic-Con this year, given Marvel Studio’s suspected absence.

Updates in BOLD.

5/1/2015 The Avengers: Age of Ultron Marvel
6/19/2015 Inside Out Pixar
7/10/2015 Mininons Universal
7/17/2015 Ant-Man Marvel
7/24/2015 Pixels Sony/Columbia
8/7/2015 The Fantastic Four Fox
8/14/2015 Underdogs (Metegol) Weinstein
10/23/2015 Jem and the Holograms Universal
11/6/2015 The Peanuts Movie Fox
11/25/2015 The Good Dinosaur Pixar
12/18/2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Disney
Unknown 2015 Popeye Sony
Unknown 2016 Untitled Lego Movie Warners
2/12/2016 Deadpool Fox
3/4/2016 Zootopia Disney
3/25/2016 Batman v Superman DCE
5/6/2016 Captain America: Civil War Marvel
5/27/2016 X-Men: Apocalypse Fox
6/3/2016 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 Paramount
6/17/2016 Finding Dory Pixar
7/8/2016 ??? (Was Doctor Strange) Marvel
7/8/2016 Star Trek 3 Paramount
7/22/2016 Power Rangers Lionsgate
8/5/2016 Suicide Squad DCE
8/5/2016 Untitled Smurfs Movie Sony
8/19/2016 Kubo and the Two Strings Focus/Laika
9/23/2016 Ninjago Warners
10/7/2016 Gambit Fox
10/7/2016 Monster High Universal
11/4/2016 Doctor Strange Marvel
11/18/2016 HP: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Warners
11/23/2016 Moana Disney
12/16/2016 Star Wars: Rogue One Disney
Unknown 2017 Wonder Woman DCE
Unknown 2017 Justice League, Part One DCE
Unknown 2017 Lego Batman Warners
2/10/2017 Untitled Warner Animation Group Project Warners
3/3/2017 Untitled Wolverine Fox
3/10/2017 Captain Underpants Dreamworks
4/14/2017 Ghost in the Shell Disney
5/5/2017 Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Marvel
5/26/2017 Untitled LEGO Movie Warners
5/26/2017 Star Wars: Episode VIII Disney
6/2/2017 The Fantastic Four 2 Fox
6/16/2017 Toy Story 4 Pixar
6/23/2017 Untitled DC DCE
7/7/2017 Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Disney
7/28/2017 Unititled Spider-Man Sony/Marvel
11/3/2017 Thor: Ragnarok Marvel
11/17/2017 Untitled DC DCE
11/22/2017 Untitled Pixar Animation Pixar
Unknown 2018 Flash DCE
Unknown 2018 Aquaman DCE
Unknown 2018 Lego Movie 2 Warners
Unknown 2018 HP: Fantastic Beasts Warners
2/9/2018 Untitled Warner Animation Group Project Warners
3/9/2018 Untitled Disney Animation Disney
3/23/2018 Untitled DC DCE
5/4/2018 Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 Marvel
5/25/2018 Untitled Warner Animated Film Warners
6/15/2018 Untitled Pixar Animation Pixar
7/6/2018 Black Panther Marvel
7/13/2018 Untitled Fox / Marvel Fox / Marvel
7/27/2018 Untitled DC DCE
11/2/2018 Captain Marvel Marvel
11/16/2018 Untitled WB Event Film Warners
11/21/2018 Untitled Disney Animation Disney
Unknown 2019 Shazam DCE
Unknown 2019 Justice League Part Two DCE
4/5/2019 Untitled DC DCE
5/3/2019 Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2 Marvel
5/24/2019 Untitled Warner Animated Film Warners
6/14/2019 Untitled DC DCE
7/12/2019 Inhumans Marvel
Unknown 2020 Cyborg DCE
Unknown 2020 Green Lantern DCE
Unknown 2020 HP: Fantastic Beasts Warners
4/3/2020 Untitled DC DCE
6/19/2020 Untitled DC DCE
11/20/2020 Untitled WB Event Film Warners
UNKNOWN Untitled Frozen sequel Disney
UNKNOWN Sinister Six Sony


2 Comments on What?!? When!?!: Your Updated Comics Cinema Calendar, March 2015 Edition — Now With More Frozen!, last added: 3/13/2015
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5. Community director Rob Schrab to helm The Lego Movie Sequel

batman lego

Announced today via press release, Rob Schrab will be making his feature film directorial debut on the much-anticipated sequel to last year’s smash hit The Lego Movie.

The new film will be written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who are stepping out of their directing duties for The Lego Movie Sequel, but they will be staying on as producers along with Roy Lee and Dan Lin.

Lord and Miller released a joint-statement on Schrab signing aboard:

We are so excited to collaborate with Rob. He is a comedy genius, a visual savant, and we have been stalking him for years. No one works harder than Rob, and his aesthetic, combined with his sense of humor, bring a strong, unique, thoughtful, and passionately nerdy voice to this project. People who know him are slapping their foreheads today and saying, ‘Of course!’

The sequel is one of three feature films that will be spinning out of The Lego Movie along with Ninjago, which hits September 23, 2016 and and an untitled Lego Batman film due out in May 2017. Animation Supervisor for The Lego Movie, Chris McKay, was originally supposed to helm The Lego Movie Sequel, but he instead will be directing the Lego Batman feature.

No date for The Lego Movie Sequel has been announced.

1 Comments on Community director Rob Schrab to helm The Lego Movie Sequel, last added: 2/24/2015
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6. In case you’re wondering where to shelve Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!…

…I think this Barnes & Noble has the right idea:

ABC on shelves at BN 2

Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! + LEGO + Minecraft? Sure — I’m OK with that.

Oh, and + Frozen? That looks pretty good, too.

ABC on shelves at BN 1

0 Comments on In case you’re wondering where to shelve Attack! Boss! Cheat Code!… as of 1/1/1900
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7. DesignerCon Tells a Toy Story All Its Own

By David Nieves

Even though Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, ten years ago, you’d be remiss to find comic conventions, toy shows, or most other forms of pop culture gatherings. The monthly mini show at the Shrine Expo was at times more a flea market than a convention and Frank and Son’s collectibles is always basically a swap meet. Today, there’s an overabundance of conventions and expos in L.A. for every facet of fandom. Seems like very weekend, fans of the popular arts have a place to gather somewhere in Southern California and that’s far from a bad thing.

This weekend in Pasadena CA; artists, toy makers, and vinyl sculptors of all kinds gathered at the convention center for DesignerCon or Dcon as it’s commonly known. If you’re an art connoisseur or a collector of unique toys this show is for you. Dcon smashes together collectible toys and designer goods with urban, underground and pop art. The show is over 70,000 square feet and features over 300 vendors, art & custom live demonstrations, and much more. Attendees can get prints by quirky artist Michelliezoid, the barbwire covered bat from Skybound Ent, or something from Prints On Wood by Tara McPherson and Greg “Craola” Simkins.

Dcon also host a limited number of informative and fan panels covering topics such as crowdfunding, character design, and building a style all your own.

However the real star of the show is the floor. Traversing the straightforward rows of aisles is simplicity. A person could walk the entire floor to get the lay of the land and easily find the booths they want to get back to. One of the most interesting parts of Dcon is that no two booths are even remotely alike. First you see the adorable art of Unicorn Crafts and then turn around to look at the zealously detailed horror dioramas of Jackorama. One of our favorite exhibits was the Lego recreations of some iconic comic book covers by ComicBricks. The Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle cover was exquisite right down to its tiny bottle of hooch.

The show has a very niche appeal. If you’re looking for comics, or figures from Mattel you won’t find them here. But if you enjoy innovatively designed toys like Giant Robot or gallery quality art by masters like Jeff Soto then this show is well worth the low low price of $7 for entrance.

Dcon continues Sunday from 10am-5pm at the Pasadena Convention Center. Find out more info at DesignerCon.com. Check out a few pics from the show below.

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0 Comments on DesignerCon Tells a Toy Story All Its Own as of 11/9/2014 3:16:00 AM
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8. From the Toy Box, Ltd Gallery  I’m so excited to announce...

From the Toy Box, Ltd Gallery 

I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be participating in Ltd Art Gallery Seattle’s show “From the Toy Box”. It’s my first piece in a gallery and I was lucky enough for Ltd to choose my illustration for the poster representing some really, really, REALLY awesome talent! I’m so honoured to be in this show amongst these fantastic artists. You can see the event here:http://www.facebook.com/events/769836919741028 and if you’re in Seattle and happen to go, I’d love to hear about it!

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9. Block Party

I first learned about Block Parties at ALA Annual 2013. The idea was to have kids come the library for a block building party. I knew I had to try this at my library, so I started our Block Parties during this year’s Summer Reading Program. They have become a huge hit and I am continuing the program after we had such a great success.

The Block Parties are easy to set up and run. The library has a large set of Legos already, but to add to the block collection, we purchased a set of wooden blocks and several sets of Duplos. I also have a large collection of styrofoam packing blocks from our computer packing (make friends with your IT staff!) that I use for block building. I also included other wooden blocks we had in our storyhour collection, shape sorters, foam blocks and any other block toys I had in our toy collection.

I put out all the blocks around the room and opened the doors for the kids to come build. Before we started, I read a book about building and talked about the types of things the kids could make with blocks. And then they were set free to build and use their imaginations to create whatever their hearts desired. I also put out a display of books on building and construction to give them ideas and hopefully keep the conversation about building and creating continuing at home.

The block parties run for an hour, but the kids would stay and build all afternoon if I let them! I’ve had success hosting them on Saturday mornings at 11am as well as Friday afternoons at 2pm. I roam the room talking to the kids about what they are creating and they are excited to show off their creations.

Our block parties are a fun, simple program that encourages creativity, imagination, and are a great way to get started in STEM programming. And with the partnership with LEGO DUPLO and ALSC with Read! Play! Build! this is the perfect time to start a block party of your own!

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10. For My Future Granddaughter

I bought one of these on eBay a few weeks ago:

LEGO 21110 Research Institute

I paid a premium, quite a bit higher than retail. The set, rather small and originally retailing for just $19.95, has made quite a few Lego resellers fat stacks of profit as they scooped them by the cart load and flipped on eBay, Amazon, and other you-sell-it sites. I'll admit I do a little Lego "investing," too, but not on the scale as major resellers. I've held onto a few Star Wars sets and made a few bucks. Kim can tell you about the Monster Fighters Haunted House on a shelf out in the garage. (Or maybe she can't... it's packed neatly in an inconspicuous brown box.)

One of the big rules of Lego investing is one should enter at a low price. It's frighteningly like the stock market, at at web sites like Brickpicker.com, it's treated as such. Buy low and sell high. Hold for the long term or occasionally find one of those glorious penny stocks which appreciates rapidly and can be sold short term for huge profits. The cheapest Research Institute available on eBay US as of this writing will cost you $70.04 including shipping. Yes, more than triple the MSRP.

So why break such a cardinal rule to get my hands on this set? Do I see the price rising even higher?

Sure, maybe. But this one isn't for sale. I wanted to grab a RI for my granddaughter. (This is where the audience gasps, thinking something like, "Isn't your oldest kid like a freshmen in high school?")

Look, this isn't a family blog, per se, but no one here is pregnant.

I'm looking down the road here. Waaaaay down the road.  Lego's Research Institute made a huge splash largely because... look closely at the box... it features three female scientists. It garnered a lot of media attention last month, including this article from the New York Times, this op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, and an online petition to resurrect the set after its too-short life.

So I mentioned I'm looking down the road. Waaaaay down the road, but the RI isn't about "investing" in the traditional sense. I want to gift this to my future granddaughter because her world (hopefully) will be different than the one in which we live. I want to give it to her and let her know how happy I am she is able to do whatever she wants. I want her to know how happy I am she lives in a world in which a toy set featuring female scientists is no longer a big deal because everyone knows women can kick ass at anything they do.

That's the best investment I can imagine and a world in which I want everyone to live.

0 Comments on For My Future Granddaughter as of 9/15/2014 8:48:00 AM
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11. SDCC12: Watchtower Wednesday


jolly chimp 200x149 SDCC12: Watchtower WednesdayWell, the capuchin monkeys at Stately Beat Manor remembered who I was, so I didn’t have to run that gauntlet again.  (Stately Beat Manor is situated on an island in the Hudson, near Croton.  Back in the 1940s, when organ grinders were eradicated from the streets of New York, Gerhard von Fulano Zutano Mengano y Perengano, the inventor of the mechanical clapping monkey, offered his island estate as a nature preserve for the numerous orphaned capuchin monkeys.  Since then, they have become quite protective of the grounds, discouraging any boater foolish enough to get in range of their catapults.)

The tree octopi enjoyed the fresh crabs I brought them from Hunts Point.  I’ll play with them during the weekend, in the garden fountain pool designed by Tiffany and Bartholdi.  Since I have seniority over the other Beat Elite reporters, I’ll be sleeping in the Kirby Room in the north wing.  It has a private balcony, and the ceiling is painted in fluorescent paint, so that it glows like a trippy black light poster!  (Yeah, the women love it… it’s better than a mirror!)  The Beat’s working library is just a few doors down the hall.  (The archives in the sub-basement hold most of her collection, and she likes visitors to peruse specific shelves, so nothing gets too musty or dusty.  Last summer it was Soviet Russia and the Warsaw Pact comics.  This year, it’s sub-Saharan Africa.  Can’t wait to read me some Powerman!)

So, Wednesday marks the beginning of Comic-Con International: San Diego, with Preview Night.  There’s not much news streaming on Google, aside from the Twilight tragedy from Tuesday (which hit #1 on Yahoo! News earlier today).  There will be some excitement tomorrow, when the paparazzi and bloggers invade.  So today is kinda laid back, going with the flow, remembering where Heidi hides her secret stash of chocolate.  Here’s some interesting links I’ve discovered, and hope you enjoy!   Not much in the way of pictures, but I’ll try to find some to keep things interesting.

Putting the “international” in CCI is this early report from a Russian reporter, filed yesterday.  You’ll need a browser to translate it, or you can just look at the pictures.

For those of you stuck on the outside, looking in, here’s a handy interactive map of various events happening in the trolley circle north of the convention center.  If you look on the right, there’s a menu, which includes listings of food trucks!

atwood SF 195x300 SDCC12: Watchtower WednesdayHow inclusive has Comic-Con become?  Well, venerable Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group will be at Booth #1515.  In addition to science fiction and fantasy authors, there will be two notable authors: E.L. James (she of Shades of Grey fame)

1 Comments on SDCC12: Watchtower Wednesday, last added: 7/13/2012
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12. SDCC12: Watchtower Thursday: The Rest of the Story


Food!  Parties!  Fun!  The North County Times (North San Diego County) lists possibilities.

Meanwhile, U-T San Diego (hook ‘em horns!) showcases their coverage here.

They also tell the story of “Atomicman” and how he helped the San Diego Comic-Con move and adapt to the convention center!

The Mayor officially opens  Comic-Con International!

ThinkGeek announces a Doctor Who sonic screwdriver remote control.  You can order it here.

romney the robot 199x300 SDCC12: Watchtower Thursday: The Rest of the StoryHeroes in Action announces their satirical Mitt “Romney the Robot” figure.  Yes, other politicians have also been depicted…

Heroes In Action also produces toys modeled after other presidents, including Barack Obama (“Baracula”), Bill Clinton (“Wolf Bill”), George W. Bush (“Zom-Bush”), as well as other political figures such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (“Hilluria, the Secretary of Stake”) and Al Gore (“Algor, An Inconvenient Assistant”).

Four people spend Comic-Con living in a car.  (Big deal, I’ve seen hotel rooms sleep ten.)

Today is Super Hero Day at the LEGO booth!  Here are the exclusives!  Not to be offered in sets!  Shazam! and Venom (or Spidey, since there’s no tongue or muscles).  Bizarro and Phoenix!  There are two sweepstakes URLs on the Bizarro and Phoenix pictures, but they aren’t working right now!  How soon before someone constructs Bizarroworld?  And then has Phoenix eat it?

Publishers Weekly announces that Abrams ComicsArts will be offering digital e-books in partnership with Comixology!  The first five titles:

  • My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
  • Empire State: A Love Story (or Not) by Jason Shiga
  • Mom’s Cancer by Brian Fies
  • Fairy Tales for Angry Little Girls by Lela Lee
  • Cats, Dogs, Men, Women, Ninnies & Clowns: The Lost Art of William Steig by Jeanne Steig with Illustrations by William Steig

And here’s a cool discovery… just up the road in Riverside!  The University of California at Riverside has the Eaton Collection

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13. KWBT


Kid's Book Website Tuesday, everyone!!  Remember those posts?  Well, I am trying very hard to return to a regular posting schedule.  Today is Tuesday so....

Thanks to BookAunt, I discovered another blogger who is besotted by books written for children.  Great Kid Books!   
Written by Mary Ann Scheuer, an awesome school librarian, Great Kid Books reviews, discusses and opines about books written for non-adults.
Great Kid Books

The site is designed for grown-up people but having another blog to guide me through the labyrinth of children's books is always useful.  Check it out.

Somewhere during the past three days I visited a site with book related games and quizzes and graphics and animations on it and I said to myself, "Self,  THAT's a good site for KWBT."  Lucky for me, I bookmarked it.  Here it is!!

LEGO Books Fun Stuff from DK Books!  What's not to like?  It's LEGO; it's books!  Create your own LEGO character mash-ups.  Download coloring sheets and games.  Watch videos.  Buy books. 
If you stroll around the DK site, you'll find other fun stuff to do.  DK offers all kinds of awesome, visually appealing, accessible and informational books for children and adults.  Enjoy.

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14. Resurgent TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES among Toy of the Year winners

While we sort through our 600+ photos from Toy Fair, here's the Toy of the Year winners, which includes both Lego's girl-centric Friends line and Playmates' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line, which we saw previewed yesterday. It's huge and no doubt the Turtles are back— although now owned by Nickelodeon and not creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Still, it's a property that has stood the test of time to become a true perennial for kids — if Michael Bay's live-action version doesn't somehow kill it again, that is.

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15. Read! Build! Play! With Lego and Doors in the Air

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 11.41.27 AMThe Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has teamed up with LEGO® DUPLO® to expand the Read! Build! Play initiative by creating the LEGO® DUPLO® Read! Build! Play! 2013 Summer Reading List.  This reading list features recommended titles that inspire play for children age 5 and under and is free to download.

To accompany the Read! Build! Play! 2013 Summer Reading List, LEGO® DUPLO® has created a free downloadable parent activity guide.  This guide includes inspirational building instructions matched with each book for children and their caregivers. Doors in the Air (Orca Book Publishers, 2012) by David Weale and illustrated by Pierre Pratt is one of five titles featured in the Summer Activity Guide for children ages 3-5.

Visit www.readbuildplay.com to download free Summer Activity Guides today. Or click here to direct download the Activity Guide featuring Doors in the Air.

More About Doors in the Air

Doors in the Air is the story of a boy who is fascinated by doors. He marvels at how stepping through a doorway can take him from one world to another. He is especially enthralled by the doors of his imagination, which he refers to as “doors in the air.” He delights in discovering that when he passes through these doors, he leaves behind all feelings of boredom, fear and unpleasantness. Doors in the Air is a lilting journey through house doors, dream doors and, best of all, doors in the air.

“Surreal in its effect, this celebration of the creative mind encourages young readers and listeners to open doors of their own.” —Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2012

“Written in Seussian rhyming couplets…[and] employing alliteration that makes reading it aloud a pleasure…Doors in the Air is a fantastical triumph, celebrating the spaces in which the ordinary and the extraordinary intersect.” —Quill & Quire, May 1, 2012

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16. The Gallery Project


I've posted about the Gallery Project before--this was the brainchild of Art Director Kirk Benshoff, and he brought it to Hachette Brook Group three years ago. Two weeks ago, the third annual Gallery Project in the NY office was held. Publishers Weekly reported on the event here:

Editors, designers, and publicists spend their days refining and supporting a writer’s art—his or her book. But, in an effort to once again put its employees’ own talents on display, the third annual Hachette Book Group Gallery Project was held by the publisher last week in HBG’s New York office.
The art on display ranged from photography, to painting, to book sculptures, and more. I didn't take a lot of pictures, but a few of the creations were children's book related, like this felt recreation of Ethan Long's Chamelia (posing with the book's editor, Connie Hsu).
Artist: Glen Davis
Of course, I was obsessed with this Lego sculpture of Mr. Tiger, from Peter Brown's Mr. Tiger Goes  Wild. Jonathan Lopes is a true Lego artist. Check out his Facebook page for BKNY Bricks here!

Jonathan Lopes, Mr. Tiger, and me

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17. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | March 2014

Our latest list of current popular middle grade books features Lego books and multiple Newbery award-winning titles. The hand selected titles from the nationwide best selling middle grade books, as listed by The New York Times, feature titles by super-talents Kate DiCamillo, Kevin Henkes, Katherine Applegate and R.J. Palacio.

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18. LEGO Building: 5 Kid-Approved LEGO Books

All the excitement surrounding The LEGO Movie sparked a renewed interest in the venerable building toys at my house. The following books that include all kinds of tips, ideas and techniques to re-purpose existing LEGO pieces for all sorts of fantastic creations.

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19. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | April 2014

It's just so great when The Children's Book Review's best selling middle grade book turns out to be a great classic. Such is the case with this months title, The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy, by Padraic Colum—what a great introduction to the always intriguing Greek mythology. The hand selected titles from the nationwide best selling middle grade books, as listed by The New York Times, feature books by super-talents Kate DiCamillo, Katherine Applegate and R.J. Palacio.

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20. DUPLO Storytime at the Library

I was very excited by the partnership between the Association for Library Service for Children (ALSC) and LEGO/DUPLO. My library purchased classroom sets of three of the Read, Build, Play book and block sets for use in storytimes and other programs. I planned a special storytime series to debut the new sets. The three sets we used were Grow, Caterpillar, Grow, Let’s Go Vroom, and Busy Farm. The librarian toolkit (available here: http://www.readbuildplay.com/Read-Build-Play_Librarian-Toolkit.pdf) was a great resource for storytime ideas for each book, and it also provided good information to share with parents/caregivers. Here is an outline of how we ended up using the Grow, Caterpillar, Grow book and block set in our special storytime offerings for two and three year olds.

duplo3 duplo2 duplo1 Courtesy photos taken by blogger

Butterflies and Caterpillars


  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Butterfly, Butterfly by Petr Horacek
  • Grow, Caterpillar, Grow by LEGO/DUPLO


  • Five Little Caterpillars (from Storytime Magic)

We opened with the same intro each week of Roll, roll, roll your hands (adding verses as appropriate). The first book we used with the Caterpillars and Butterflies theme was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I used a caterpillar made from green DUPLOs as a prop for this story. As the caterpillar ate through each item of food, I placed it around my DUPLO caterpillar.

Next we did a flannel board rhyme of Five Little Caterpillars. After that we passed out paper butterflies (made from stapling a paper butterfly cut from a piece of construction paper to a straw). We did the rhyme Color Butterflies and children raised their butterfly and made it fly when their color was read.

Next we read the book Butterfly, Butterfly by Petr Horacek. When we finished reading we turned on some music (Grow Caterpillar from the DUPLO Jams set available at www.readbuildplay.com). While the music was playing in the background the children helped me build a DUPLO caterpillar. We used a colored die and had a basket of the square DUPLO pieces. Each color on the die had a number on it. The children would add that number of colored blocks to our caterpillar on their turn.

After we built our caterpillar, I passed out copies of Grow, Caterpillar, Grow and together we read the story. After we read it as a group, I passed out the DUPLOS for each book and together the parent and child read the story again and built each bug as they read. This was a great place to insert the literacy tip included in the Librarian Toolkit about why it’s important to read a story twice.


Kara Fennell Walker works as the Head of Youth Services at the Geauga County Public Library in Middlefield, Ohio. She is writing for the Early Childhood Programs and Services committee. If you would like to learn more about her LEGO/DUPLO programs, you can email her at kara.walker <at> geaugalibrary.info.


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21. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | June 2014

Star Wars books were a hot commodity this month on The Children’s Book Review—even more than usual. LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary was our best selling middle grade book this month. Returning to our hand selected titles from the nationwide best selling middle grade books, as listed by The New York Times, is Sharon M. Draper's Out of My Mind.

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22. Ninja! and an interview with Arree Chung

Ninja! by Arree Chungby Arree Chung

published June 2014 by Henry Holt and Company, an imprint of Macmillan.

Friends, I’m so excited to have Arree Chung in this corner of the internet today. I met Arree last summer at SCBWI in Los Angeles, and am humbled every time I think about how we share an agent and a friendship. He’s an expert storyteller with a bright, animated style and a fresh perspective. Ninja! is his debut picture book, and it will be far from his last.

First, you should watch this short film. And here’s my confession. Arree sent this to me a number of weeks ago with the caveat that it was unreleased and not to share. Except: it was too awesome not to. So I showed it to my students, because single-digit-aged kids are pretty good at secrets and don’t have Twitter accounts anyway.

They loved it. And I mean L O V E D  I T. Each class, without fail, asked to watch it many, many times in a row. So we did.

Meet Maxwell, and then meet Arree.

breakerWhat has been the most surprising thing about this whole debut picture book thing?

The most surprising thing about the publishing process is how long it takes to actually bring a book to market (1.5 – 2 years).  My background is in games, where companies can publish with the click of a button and make updates via the internet.  The process gives me appreciation for the care that goes into the publishing process.  It also helps to have a great team of people to work with.  Everyone from your agent, publisher, editor and art director in making the book and then there’s publicity, marketing and sales folks that help in getting the book out.1stCoverAn early cover design.Ninja_Revision_Notesrevision notes.

I’m fortunate to have a supportive publisher in Macmillan.  They have a great team of experts.  Each one helps you with a specific aspect of the publishing process.  I’ve learned so much.  I’m so grateful I’ve been in good hands.  I’ve worked hard to hold up my end of the deal and make something special.  With Ninja it was easy, because I loved it so much.

Who are your creative and/or literary heroes?

Oh, so many!

Roald Dahl
E.B. White
Jack Gantos
Judy Blume
Jeff Kinney

Russell Patterson
Chris Ware
Yuko Shimitzo

Shel Silverstien
Wolf Erlbruch
William Steig
Mo Willems
Peter Brown
Leo Lionni
Maurice Sendak
Ian Falconer
Jon Klassen
David Shannon
Bill Peet
Calef Brown

Jim Lee
Scott McFarlane
Jeffrey Brown
Bill Watterson
Jim Davis
Charles Schulz

Brad Bird
John Lassetter
Guillermo Del Toro
Chris Sanders
Danny Boyle
Tim Burton
Nick Park (Wallace & Gromit)
Steven Spielberg
Hayao Miyazaki

Can you talk about the similarities and differences in animation and the picture book form?

I love both mediums for different reasons.  Both mediums can transport the reader into new worlds.  I love it when a book or movie captures my imagination and I am completely immersed in a world that has been built.  The world is invented but it feels familiar and the story resonates with honesty.  I hate it when a story is force feeding me a message and it feels like an infomercial or when a story rambles without a focus.  Storytelling is magical when it has both the imagination and heart and speaks to you directly and honestly.  A great story is so exhilarating.  There’s nothing in the world that feels like it.  I love both animation and picture books because they have the ability to create magic.

How they are different?  Well, I think the main difference is that film tends to be a passive experience.  The viewer is in a dream like state that watches the story unfold.  It’s like being suspended in a time capsule and you watch everything that happens.  You take the story in a more subliminal kind of way.NinjaCreepAwaySpread14_15Books on the other hand I think are active experiences.  You as the reader actively interact with the words and pictures.  It’s like your brain is the film projector and is working to play the story.  Because of this, I think books are much more intimate experiences.  You go at your own pace.  You stop, question and wonder.  Sometimes you’re so engaged, you speed all the way through and sometimes you like to read slowly just because.  Readers engage books with their imaginations and a lot of the story is told in-between the words, the page turns and the illustrations whereas films are full experiences that use all the arts of composition, acting, music and visuals to put you in a state of suspension.

Both are magical and I love doing both so much.

Can you give us any behind-the-scenes information on how you created the short film? Did you get to know Maxwell differently in that format?

Yeah!  It was so thrilling to bring Maxwell to life.  I had a pretty good idea of who he is as a character after creating the book but actually seeing him move and casting Taylor Wong as Maxwell brought another whole dimension.

As for production, here’s a quick behind the scenes look of what it took to make the short film.  I plan on doing a much more in-depth look in a separate blog post.

We used 4 software tools: Photoshop, Flash, After Effects and Final Cut Pro.  The process was a highly collaborative effort between folks at MacMillan, myself and David Shovlin, the animator.  It was a ton of work to do but a ton of fun as well.ShortFilm_Process

In all, it took about 5 weeks of work.  David and I worked really hard on it and I’m really proud of what we created in a relatively short period of time.2013-09-09 23:23Where did Ninja! come from?

It’s been my dream to make my own picture books for a long time.  The first conception of Ninja came when I was in art school.  I jotted down “A boy goes creeping around the house dressed as a Ninja and causes trouble.”  That was probably in 2007 or so.

Maxwell_1st_CharacterSketchesNinja_Thumbnails        MaxwellScanNoPencilNinja_earlySketches-1Early Ninja! thumbnails and character sketches.

In 2012, I decided to do the Illustrator Intensive at the SCBWI Summer Conference.  We were given an assignment to submit a story along with a manuscript, thumbnails, character sketches, and a finished illustration.  Up to that point, I had been writing stories for years but was stuck on many of them.  For the workshop we had to write down answers to the following questions:

WHAT is the dilemma?
WHERE does it take place?
HOW is the problem solved?

This really helped me a lot.  Previous to this, many of my stories didn’t have focus and wandered a lot.  Ninja was a big break through for me as a storyteller and I had lots of people who helped guide me through it.   I’m so thankful for Rubin, my agent, and Kate, my editor.  The more I worked on it, the more the world and character took shape and gained depth.  It was so much fun to make.

Do you remember any art you made as a kid? What was it?!

Yeah, I made a lot of ninja stars and origami.  I was also obsessed with Legos.  I loved to build cruiser space ships and large fortresses armed to the teeth.  Whenever my uncle bought us Legos, we would make the thing we were supposed to make and then tear it apart and then make what we wanted to make.  Making your own thing was much more fun.

I was a huge comic book reader and collector as well.  I bought all of the X-men, Spiderman, Spider-ham, Batman and Spawn comics.  I still buy comics.

I also really love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I used to record all of the episodes.  In fact, I used to press pause on the VCR and trace drawings of the Ninja Turtles by overlaying paper onto the TV.  At school, everyone thought I was the best drawer, but I never told anyone my technique til now!  Eventually I copied so many drawings I could draw it out of memory.  I tried to do the same technique with Transformers but that wasn’t nearly as successful because I didn’t understand perspective as at 12 year old.

And now what’s next for you?Ninja_GhostStoryI’ve got a lot of things I’m working on.  I have lots of Ninja stories to tell with Maxwell. (I’m so excited about all of them!)  One of them involves an old Chinese folktale involving ghosts!

I’m also illustrating two Potty Training books for kids that are hilarious.HowToPeeillustrations from How to Pee

I have lots of picture book stories I’m developing and I’m also writing a middle grade novel titled Ming Lee, All American.  Ming Lee chronicles my experiences growing up as an ABC (American Born Chinese).  It’s deeply personal and is funny in that Louis CK, embarrassing but honest kind of way.  I would describe it as Judy Blume meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Of course, it is its own thing that I am figuring out.  I have a sense of what I want it to be but you never know what it will be until you get there.


breakerA huge thanks to Arree for this peek into the mind of a master craftsman. Be sure to get your hands on Ninja! this week!


Tagged: arree chung, character sketch, design, illustration, lego, ninja!, picture book, rubin pfeffer, scbwi, teenage mutant ninja turtles, thumbnails, typography

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23. Discovering digital libraries

By Ian Anstice

English public librarians don’t get out much. Sure, we’re often dealing with the public every open hour or talking with our teams but, well, we normally just don’t meet librarians from neighbouring authorities, let alone from around the country. Most branch staff stay in their own building and may never talk to anyone from another authority other than on the phone arranging for a book for a customer. So, it was a delight for me to be invited by Oxford University Press (OUP) to an afternoon to meet with nineteen other library professionals, ranging from part-time library staff to at least one head of service. It was also wonderful that the session was in the publishers’ beautiful headquarters in the famous historic town of Oxford, which has to be one of my favourite places in world and, not coincidentally, one of the most book-friendly too.

So why the nice day out? Well, the meeting was the first one for public librarians in the UK of the OUP Library Advisory Council. The clever purpose of this impressive sounding group is to get together library staff who use and promote online resources so that we can share ideas and learn more about how the publisher can help libraries and their users. I am delighted to say that from the start – and to the great credit of our hosts – it was clear that this was not just going to be a thinly veiled sales day but rather a real chance for us all to hear about what best practice was going on and how we could adapt it for our own purposes.

The importance of online services to public libraries was clear in every presentation and in every conversation. People are more and more using their computer as their source of knowledge for factual information and for what is going on locally and libraries, used for so long to fulfilling that function, need to get with the programme. Further to this, social media is being used by many as a primary way of getting answers. People get their news about what is going on from Facebook and Twitter and will often ask questions online that are then answered by their friends or followers. I recently came across an example of this myself when I tweeted asking for anyone’s experience of using lego in libraries: I got ten replies including from practitioners who have won awards for their work in the United States and Australia. The challenge for public librarians is therefore about how to meet this challenge and how best to serve the public in a world where answers are obtainable without even opening up a new window on the computer. It’s also important for us to provide a professionally-resourced, factually-based, and entirely neutral service to counteract what can often be the biased (and sometimes inaccurate) views expressed by others in social media.

Kids having fun at Cockburn Libraries during the school holidays. Photo by Cockburn Libraries. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via cockburnlibraries Flickr.

Kids having fun at Cockburn Libraries during the school holidays. Photo by Cockburn Libraries. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via cockburnlibraries Flickr.

How librarians are meeting this challenge is truly inspiring. One city mayor realised early on that libraries are instrumental in improving literacy and sense of community and invested in a special website where e-books, online services, reviews and events all came together. Another library service goes out to schools to let them know about how useful their website (including a fair number of OUP resources) can be for their students, with the visits being such a success that they’re being invited back to deliver classes. Yet another city’s library twitter account is now really embedded in the local community, sharing information on local events, linking to old photographs of the town and chatting to users who need never leave their mobile phone to access their library. It’s even be used as some sort of instant messaging service with the library being tweeted about the wifi having just stopped working elsewhere in the building.

Lots of great ideas then, which got me thinking (perhaps counterintuitively) during the day about how important surrounding and buildings still are in this digital age. The OUP offices in Great Clarendon Street are beautiful and spacious, mixing the old and the new with some skill. In this environment, all of us felt comfortable and happy to talk about our and each other’s experiences. The building had all of the facilities — space, light, refreshments, wifi — that we needed. The same can also of course be equally said of a good public library for our users. Such a library provides the space for people to meet, read, and study with no need to worry about anything else that is going on and with no need to pay. Even for the digital elite, such meeting spaces are not without importance and for those with no online presence, with little money, or even just for those who downright love the printed word the public library building can be absolutely essential. The online resources are an extension of this, promote it and enhance it, but do not totally replace it. This is why the OUP has a headquarters and why there will always be public library buildings.

My thanks therefore to OUP for putting on such a good day, and to all of my highly skilled and motivated colleagues who made the day so useful. I travelled back on the train thinking about how to share what I had learned with my colleagues and how to use the examples and resources to improve the service that I provided. In such ways, the library gets more value for the money it pays for online resources but also, more to the point, the public gets served better and the library continues to be so well-used by everyone, including by those who use Facebook and Twitter.

Ian Anstice is a full-time public librarian working in the North West of England. He also finds the time to run the Public Libraries News website which provides a free summary of international and national coverage of the sector.

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24. And the winner is...

Posted by Amy

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25. Lego Mecha Suit – Lego with Elijah

Whenever I play lego with Elijah, I sometimes feel that I have more fun than him, but that might be just my perception.  Mecha Suit built with lego.

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