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1. What I'm Doing Besides Reading for Cybils, Catching Up on Reviewing and Stuff...

I'm told the candy does NOT, in fact, taste like peas or carrots. Bummer. People expecting copies of PEAS AND CARROTS, those are going out this week. People who want a chance to win a copy, along with a lunch bag and a little magnet -- please stay... Read the rest of this post

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2. Books to Read in 2016

My-Name-Lucy-Barton-Elizabeth-Strout-Out-Jan-5

A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all—the one between mother and daughter. {Release Date: January 5, 2016}

 

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A “brilliantly done” (Sunday Times, London) comedy of manners that explores the unease behind the manicured lawns of suburban America from the Orange Prize–winning author of A Crime in the Neighborhood. Littlefield, Massachusetts, named one of the Ten Best Places to Live in America, full of psychologists and college professors, is proud of its fine schools, its girls’ soccer teams, its leafy streets, and charming village center. Yet no sooner has sociologist Dr. Clarice Watkins arrived to study the elements of “good quality of life” than someone begins poisoning the town’s dogs. Filled wtih suspense and social commentary, readers will love Suzanne Berne’s The Dogs of Littlefield. {Release Date: January 12, 2016}

 

Frank-Me-Julia-Claiborne-Johnson-Out-Feb-2

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff–style Ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. Julia Claiborne Johnson. {Release Date: February 2, 2016}

 

Ramblers-Aidan-Donnelley-Rowley-Out-Feb-9

 

Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s second novel, The Ramblers, will take your breath away. It focuses on three very different people who are struggling to find themselves in New York City in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. They must face their pasts in order to understand where they are going. Fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Claire Messud, and Emma Straub, will devour this gorgeous and absorbing novel. Rowley writes regularly on her blog, Ivy League Insecurities, and is the founder of the Happier Hours Literary Salon. {Release Date: February 9, 2016}

 

9780062105684_8c8af

A fiercely independent divorce lawyer learns the power of family and connection when she receives a cryptic message from her estranged mother in this bittersweet, witty novel from Joshilyn Jackson, the nationally bestselling author of Someone Else’s Love Story and gods in Alabama. The Opposite of Everyone is an emotionally resonant tale about the endurance of love and the power of stories to shape and transform our lives. {Release Date: February 16, 2016}

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3. Dive Into Reading!

We’re so excited to introduce readers to our new early chapter books! Two new chapter book series in our DIVE INTO READING line will help you find the perfect book to support children in each stage of their reading development. These books will be available February 2016.

Dive Into Reading!

Confetti Kids Series

Follow a diverse cast of characters living in a friendly city neighborhood! Approachable, realistic stories are at the right level for children to star reading independently.

Lily’s New Home

Lily moves from a quiet suburb to an apartment on a busy street in the city. Lily worries that she’ll never fit in. As she and her parents explore their new, multicultural neighborhood, Lily discovers that sometimes change can be a good thing!

Want to Play?

It’s a warm, sunny day, and the gang heads to the neighborhood playground to play. What should they play? Pablo comes up with a great idea: to play pretend. It’s a game that everyone can do easily. They can pretend to be archaeologists, astronauts, and explorers. There’s no limit to what they imagine they can be!

Rafi and Rosi Series

Now back in print, this beloved chapter book series follows two Puerto Rican tree frog siblings as they explore their surroundings and learn about the traditions, animals, and environment of Puerto Rico. The series is available in both English and Spanish.

Rafi and Rosi

Rafi amazes Rosi with the magic he finds everywhere. He can move sand with his magic fingers and shoot stars from the sky. After  Rafi’s pet hermit crab runs away, it’s now Rosi’s turn to show that she knows where to look for magic too. Can she find the crab in time for them to watch it shed its shell?

Rafi and Rosi, Carnival!

It’s time for Carnival! Puerto Rico’s joyous holiday is full of sights and sounds to explore. Rosi is determined to show Rafi the best way to enjoy the parade, while Rafi has a plan to make his sister queen for a day.But when Rafi scares Rosi with his terrible vejigante mask, Rosi decides it’s time to teach her brother a lesson. This little sister has a few tricks up her sleeve too!

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4. Boomerang Book Bites: My Top 5 Reads of 2015

What another great year of reading! The great books didn’t seem to stop this year. My favourite read of the year was nearly tipped out by a trilogy and my big discovery of the year was Ben Aaronovitch and the Peter Grant series. So here it is my top 5 reads of 2015 (plus 5 […]

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5. Christmas shopping list

  Queues, dodgy carols, aching legs, confusion over what size feet my nephew has. Not for me, this Christmas. This year I’m avoiding the festive-season shopping chaos and buying everyone a book and a pig (or maybe an orangutan). Here’s what my Christmas list looks like. For my Teen Son: Legacy by Tim Cahill Blurb: The […]

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6. Player Profile: Louisa Bennet, author of Monty and Me

  Louisa Bennet, author of Monty and Me Tell us about your latest creation: Quirky, charming and whimsical, a laugh-out-loud mystery with four legs and a tail, Monty & Me is a ‘must have’ for all animal and humorous fiction lovers. You might think that dogs can’t understand us… but you’d be wrong. Apart from an obsession with […]

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7. Who Is Ira Aldridge?

Our new children’s book, Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, tells the incredible story of Ira Aldridge. When we’ve shown this book to readers, we get one of two responses:
1) “I’ve never heard of Ira Aldridge.”
2) “You have a book about Ira Aldridge??! That’s so wonderful!”

The truth is, bringing Ira’s story to new readers is one of our great joys as a publisher. His is a story of phenomenal talent and determination, of someone who was truly born to do what he did. Too often, history has let the achievements of black people fall through the cracks–especially when they take place outside the narrative of slavery and civil rights. If you look at the African American biographies that appear most often, so many of them are focused on names we already know: Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass. While it is important to remember these people and their achievements, acknowledging the contributions of black people in other arenas–art, music, science, and in this case, Shakespearean acting–is equally important. 

So: who was Ira Aldridge?

Ira Aldridge was born July 27, 1807, in New York City. As a child, he attended the African Free School, a school established for the children of free African Americans and slaves. During that time, Aldrige would observe plays from high up in the balcony of the Park Theatre.

ira spread
Young Ira at the Park Theatre (image from Ira’s Shakespeare Dream)

Ira always loved Shakespeare. His acting career began in his teens, where he acted at the African Grove Theatre, the first resident African American theatre in the United States. Ira dreamed of performing Shakespeare one day on the stage of the Park Theatre. But black actors were not welcome there.

from Ira's Shakespeare Dream
from Ira’s Shakespeare Dream

Ira’s father, a church minister, tried to dissuade his son from pursuing acting. He encouraged him to become a minister or teacher, but Ira was determined to pursue his dream. At the age of 17, Ira headed to England as a valet for another actor to try his hand at acting. There, he found work running errands for small theaters and became an understudy for other actors.

When Ira finally got his chance to debut, his performance was met with mixed reviews. While some praised his acting, others did not like seeing a black actor onstage playing “white roles.” But Ira was not discouraged. He worked hard, studied acting, and gradually became known for his talented performances in a variety of roles. Later on, he toured United Kingdom, spending many years performing the lead roles in Othello, Macbeth and Richard III. Ira was most famous for his role as the titular Othello, which he first played at the age of 26. He was the first black actor to play Othello on the English stage.

Image of Ira Aldridge in a production of “Titus Andronicus”

Despite the fame he gained, Ira never forgot the plight of the enslaved African Americans in the United States. He would sometimes come out at the close of his performances to sit on the edge of the stage, preaching to the audience about the injustice of slavery. He used his performances to raise money to send to abolitionists fighting to end slavery in the United States.

Ira Aldridge toured around Europe and earned great acclaim for his performances. In 1858, the duke of Saxe-Meiningen granted him knighthood. He is the only African American actor listed among the 33 actors honored with plaques at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon. The theater at Howard University in Washington, DC is named after him.

Ira's Shakespeare Dream

Learn more about Ira Aldridge in Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Additional resources:

Read an interview with author Glenda Armand
View and download the free Teacher’s Guide

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8. Freya Blackwood’s Books Make the Perfect Gift

It’s true. You can’t deny it. Freya Blackwood‘s art is so exquisite that whether it’s for a Christmas or birthday gift, or a ‘just because I want it’ gift, every household should own a piece of her talent. And of course, coupling with superb artists of writing makes purchasing decisions all that much easier. Two […]

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9. 6 Young Adult Books That Use Illustrations

Is it possible to grow out of picture books? Because I HAVEN’T YET. The highlight of my week is taking my pre-schooling niece and nephew to the library and getting to reread all my favourite childhood picture books. Young Adult books are totally missing out. Seriously. But there are some YA books that make use of art and […]

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10. Would You Like To Win A $2000+ Book Pack This Christmas?

We’ve got a MASSIVE sack full of books worth over $2000 to give away to one lucky customer! And we’re not talking about a pile of slow-moving titles; we’re talking 40+ new release, best-selling titles, including books by Ian Rankin, Geraldine Brooks, Donna Hay, Jo Nesbo, Tom Keneally, Shaun Tan, Bill Bryson, Peter FitzSimons, Adam Spencer, […]

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11. Christmas is Coming – Picture Books this Season

What does Christmas mean to you? Is it the sound of excited squeals on Christmas morning? Is it the smell of freshly baked cookies? Is it the sight of twinkling fairy lights around your Christmas tree? Or perhaps that satifying feel of a bloated belly after you’ve tasted every gourmet delight! Here are a few […]

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12. Celebrating National Adoption Month With a New Picture Book

In The Story I’ll Tell a young child asks where he came from. His mother tells him fantastical tales with a kernel of truth that piece together his journey across a wide ocean to his new family. The Story I’ll Tell was released this month and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly which called it “an unabashed love letter. . . [that] many families will treasure.” In this guest post, author Nancy Tupper Ling discusses where the idea for The Story I’ll Tell came from.

the story i'll tell cover

I have binders that are two or three inches thick for many of my stories. They are picture book manuscripts, under 1000 words, and yet the binders are full of revision after revision of those few words. And then there are those rare stories that come to me like a gift. My poem, White Birch, was like that, and it became the winner of the Writer’s Digest Grand Prize out of 18,000 entries. Published this month by Lee & Low, The Story I’ll Tell had a similar beginning. It was a gift.

The story idea came to me in the form of a question as I was driving down the highway one day. If a baby landed on someone’s doorstep in the hills of Appalachia, what kind of story would the parents tell their child about how he/she came into their lives? The story sounded like a poem to me, as I wrote a number of far-fetched scenarios in my head. Still, there was one line that pivoted the story, and that’s my favorite line in the book today: “. . .there are times when I think I will tell you the truth, for the truth is a beautiful story too.”

With that line I came to a realization. There would be a nugget of truth in each of the fantastical stories that the parent would tell her child, and this patchwork of truths would be stitched together to reveal the most beautiful story in the end.

Somewhere along the way I began to think of The Story I’ll Tell as an adoption story. I am not an adoptive parent, but I am a parent who waited years for her first child. I know the ache and the longing that many parents experience while waiting for a child to enter their lives. My husband and I had filled out all the paperwork in order to adopt a child from Korea when we learned that I was pregnant with our first daughter, and this experience certainly influenced my story.

a spread from The Story I'll Tell, illustrated by Jessica Lanan
a spread from The Story I’ll Tell, illustrated by Jessica Lanan

That said, I have several friends who had a tremendous influence on my story as well. One couple has ten children who came into their lives through domestic and international adoption. Another friend adopted her daughter through the foster care system. As The Story I’ll Tell was coming together I thought of their stories, all of which were unique, and how the parents would reveal them to their children in due time.

Certainly adoption stories include heartache as well. It was important for me to touch upon this sentiment, without making it overwhelming. One of the last lines in the story is “When we brought you home in dawn’s early light, you cried for things lost and new.” One mother’s loss is another mother’s gain. The child feels this, too. An adoption story has both longing and love. Hopefully this leads to a forever home where the child is treasured beyond compare.

In the end, it was Lee & Low who asked me to focus on a certain country of origin for the character, and since my husband is Chinese-American, I gravitated toward that heritage. As Eurasians, my own children know the push and pull of looking like one culture, and blending in as Americans. Jessica Lanan brought all these threads together with her gorgeous illustrations, so that the reader, like the child, feels the warmth of a new home and the reminder that she, too, has a story to tell.

 Nancy Tupper Ling  is the winner of the Writer’s Digest Grand Prize and the Pat Parnell Poetry Award, and is the founder of Fine Line Poets, a website for poets who live in New England. She was inspired to write The Story I’ll Tell by the multicultural background of her own family and the experiences of friends who have adopted children from all over the world. Ling resides in Walpole, Massachusetts, with her husband and their two young daughters.

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13. The Best YA First Lines

Deciding which book to read next can be a minor nightmare. (There are so many! They must all be read! How do we make the decision! Help!) But my mind can quickly be made up if the book has an epic first line. That first mouthful of words is so important. It sets the tone of the book […]

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14. Get Free Shipping on the Boomerang Books Christmas Catalogue

Looking for great Christmas gifts to buy for your loved ones? Books make fantastic gifts at Christmas time! And to make your job easier, we’ve released our annual Christmas Catalogue. If you order from our Christmas Catalogue before midnight on Sunday 15 November, you’ll get FREE shipping on your order when you use the promotional code […]

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15. The Children’s Book Review Book Trends | November 2015

This month, The Children's Book Review's book trends indicate that you're all still loving our giveaways—who wouldn't want to win a Kindleor an iPod nano! Plus, with Thanksgiving right on the horizon, readers have been digging into our list of books for Thanksgiving.

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16. Simmons College and LEE & LOW BOOKS Establish New Scholarship

Simmons College logoAs our readers know, LEE & LOW BOOKS focuses on publishing books that are about everyone, for everyone. Our books feature a diverse range of characters and cultures, and we strive to work with and publish authors of color with our New Voices Award and New Visions Award.

This is why we’re very excited to announce a new partnership with Simmons College. We have teamed up with The Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College and established a scholarship to increase diversity in the world of children’s literature. The new Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship will provide opportunities for students of color to enroll in the most prestigious children’s literature graduate program in the United States.

The scholarship initiative is a partnership between two organizations committed to diversity in children’s literature. LEE & LOW BOOKS is the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the country and a leader in the movement for more diversity in the publishing industry. The graduate programs in children’s literature at Simmons College are dedicated to bringing a wide range of voices into books for children and young adults, and to providing students access to careers that diversify the field of children’s literature.

“Lee & Low is excited to be partnering with Simmons College to provide a meaningful way to address one of the most challenging obstacles in bringing more equity to publishing: the pipeline problem,” says Jason Low, publisher of LEE & LOW BOOKS.

Unpaid internships and costly graduate programs, combined with low entry-level salaries, are significant barriers for many hoping to work in publishing. The Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship will support students for whom the traditional entrances to publishing remain closed, and thus create a pathway for diverse graduate students to positions in which they can influence what and how children’s literature is created.

The $100,000 scholarship fund was created through donations from LEE & LOW BOOKS and Simmons College alumni. The first recipients will be chosen for fall 2016. “Children’s Literature at Simmons welcomes this collaboration with Lee & Low as we team up to create venues of access that lead to lasting change,” says Cathryn M. Mercier, Director of the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons. For more information, contact childrensliterature@simmons.edu.

***

ABOUT THE CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE AT SIMMONS COLLEGE: Established in 1977, the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature supports the advancement of the study of children’s and young adult literature through nationally recognized partnerships and graduate programs, including the nation’s
first Master of Arts in Children’s Literature and Master of Fine Arts: Writing for Children, as well as several innovative dual degree options. To learn more, visit simmons.edu/academics/graduate-programs/childrens-literature-ma.

ABOUT LEE & LOW BOOKS: Established in 1991, LEE & LOW BOOKS is the largest children’s book publisher in the United States specializing in diversity. Under several imprints, the company provides a comprehensive range of notable diverse books for beginning readers through young adults. Visit leeandlow.com to learn more.

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17. It’s a Dog’s Life – Picture Book Reviews

If you’re anything like me you’ll love a good dog story, especially those feel-good ones of friendship, courage and love. Typically known as our best mates, the canine variety so often teach us about loyalty, responsibility and maintaining a zest for life, and these three picture books certainly contain these elements in their own gorgeous […]

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18. 2015 Kids’ Reading Guide Released – Great Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids

The annual Kids’ Reading Guide has been released! Handpicked and reviewed by Australia’s leading booksellers, the Kids’ Reading Guide showcases all the very best recent-release, in-stock books for kids. It’s a fantastic guide for Christmas Gifts! Follow the links below to order your books from Boomerang Books today: Use the promo code krg15 to receive FREE […]

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19. A Glorious List of YA Apocalypse Books

I have a deep love for all books about the end of the world and the apocalypse. It’s exciting! I love the speculation of what could happen. Because zombies could totally happen. Or angels. Or destruction by walking trees. WHO KNOWS. Today I have a list of Young Adult books about the apocalypse and the end of the world. […]

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20. 2015 Qld Literary Awards Winner: Meg McKinlay

I am thrilled that the news has now been released that Meg McKinlay’s A Single Stone (Walker Books Australia) has won the Griffiths University Children’s Book Award in the 2015 Queensland Literary Awards. I hope it becomes a contemporary classic.  Thanks for speaking to Boomerang Books Blog, Meg.               […]

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21. Whodunnit?! A List of YA Murder Mysteries

There’s nothing like a good, solid murder mystery to curl up with in the evening. After — you know — you’ve double checked all your doors are locked and armed yourself with with a deathly looking lampshade and a fearsome whisk for protection. (Sometimes books feel real, okay?!) And if you like the Young Adult […]

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22. A Breath of Fresh Air – Katrina McKelvey on ‘Dandelions’

Katrina McKelvey started life in a little country town in New South Wales, where she was fortunate to be able to soak up the charming facets of nature. Nowadays, Katrina is soaking up the well-deserved praise for her gorgeous debut picture book, ‘Dandelions’. Having had embraced the pleasures and joys through her roles as mother, […]

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23. Digital Illustration Up Close: Behind the Art of Amazing Places

christy haleReleased this month, Amazing Places is a collection of original poems hand-picked by acclaimed anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins that celebrates some of the amazingly diverse places in our nation. It has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly, which calls it “a broadly appealing testament to the American landscape and people.”

The gorgeous illustrations in Amazing Places are a uniquecollaboration between artist Chris Soentpiet, who created the rough sketches, and Christy Hale, who brought those sketches to life by adding color and detail. We asked Christy to take us behind the scenes and show us her process for working with Chris Soentpiet’s illustrations to make Amazing Places come to life:Amazing Places

Christy: I have selected the longhouse piece to show the art process used for creating the art for Amazing Places:

1. Chris Soentpiet’s rough sketch
amazing places rough illustration

2. The editor and art director requested modifications. Below is Chris’s tight sketch reflecting those changes.

amazing places rough illustration 2

3. The printer scanned Chris’s sketches and then I received the digital files and my work on the art began. I made some additional changes to the original sketch based on editorial suggestions.

amazing places illustration rough

4. I changed the pencil line to sepia to give it some richness.
amazing places illustration sepia

5. To add color to the art I needed some reference for longhouses. I did some image research. Here are two of many pictures I found.

amazing places reference picture
ca. June 1997, Midland, Ontario, Canada — Animal furs and drying tobacco hang inside a building at the Huron Indian Village. — Image by © Robert Holmes/CORBIS

longhouse-reference2

6. I added colors in transparent layers in Photoshop. I wanted to simulate the beautiful watercolor effects Chris is known for. Each layer was a different color. Sometimes there were multiple layers of the same color in varying transparencies for more subtle effects.
Below you see the sepia line with one color added.
amazing places illustration sepia 2

7. Here is the sepia line with seven colors added.
amazing places illustration sepia 2

8. Here is a screen shot showing the many layers in the Photoshop file.

amazing places illustration photoshop

9. Here is the final image with all the colors. For each piece in the book I worked with a limited palette. In the long house piece there are many, many different neutral colors in varying values. I used color value, intensity, and hue to help direct the eye in each composition.

amazing places final

Christy Hale is the author and illustrator of The East-West House: Noguchi’s Childhood in Japan, a Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year selection, and Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building, winner of a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor. As an art educator, Hale has written about artists for Instructor magazine’s Masterpiece of the Month feature and workshops. Hale lives with her family in Palo Alto, California. Visit her online at christyhale.com.

Purchase a copy of Amazing Places here.

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24. Boomerang Book Bites: Slade House by David Mitchell

What a bonus it is to have a new David Mitchell book only a year after the incredible The Bone Clocks. David Mitchell started this story on twitter but became obsessed with the story he had started and needed to see it through. The result is a ghost story in the hands and imagination of […]

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25. The book or the movie? The Martian by Andy Weir or The Martian with Matt Damon?

The Martian by Andy Weir has a fabulous back story. Initially published chapter by chapter and made available for free on the author’s website, readers soon fell in love with the story. First, they asked him to make it available as an ebook, so they could enjoy it on their e-readers rather than having to read it […]

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