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I'm a freelance illustrator in New York. I post experimental and work pieces, thoughts and ideas, experiences and opinions on illustration.
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1. Tag! I'm In The Next Big Thing Tour

Happy Spring, everyone! I received an enthusiastic tag from Leeza Hernandezthe ever-so-talented and delightful writer and illustrator of one our household's night time reading faves, Dog Gone! 

Her new book, Cat Napped!, a follow up to her successful first title, is in the works now. The tag signifies The Next Big Thing Blog Tour, a blog campaign that started in Australia promoting the awareness of current children's book authors and illustrators around the world. I'm honored to take part in it, albeit, a little late in posting. Can I blame (US) tax season?

I was asked to answer ten questions. Here we go:

1) What is the title of your latest book? 

No Dogs Allowed! by Linda Ashman

2) Where did the idea come from for the book? 

I am the illustrator of the book, so it came from the writer, Linda Ashman, by way of our editor, as a wordless picture book.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Children's picture book

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

For the main players, Max Records for the part of the boy, Sasha Baron Cohen, as Alberto, and Ellen Page as the lemonade vendor. Total indie vibe. 

5) What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Alberto turns away many a potential clientele at his City Lights Restaurant, be it furry, winged, or scaly, only to find he would rather win them back to gain a friendlier, more festive, bustling bistro.  

6) Who published your book?

Sterling Children's Books

7) How long did it take you to illustrate the manuscript?

Nearly a year. The manuscript was originally conceived to be an entirely wordless series of spreads, with the exception of the chalkboard sign outside the restaurant. Through many thoughtful revisions, we devised a way to make the story flow better and reworked a panel to panel storytelling format, not unlike The Red Book and The Snowman. The complexity of the pages contributed to the lengthy timespan.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

The Red Book and The Snowman

9) Who or what inspired you when illustrating this book? 

I'm inspired by those who have influenced my work through the years, as well as current artists and story tellers whose inspired work helped to move me along whenever I got stuck with a composition, namely Lane Smith, Jon Klassen, Ezra Jack Keats, Barbara Lehman, Raymond Briggs, and Evaline Ness.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? 

All the activity that happens among the animals in the background are fun for children to discover. The best part about (nearly) wordless picture books like this one, is that you can come up with your own dialogue and characterization. Also, I'm happy to add that No Dogs Allowed! was selected to be a part of the prestigious Society of Illustrators' 2012 Original Art Show, which showcases a select group of stand out children's book illustration. Currently, the show is on a tour around the country! 

That's it! Thank you, Leeza, for the tag! The following talented author and illustrators are next up. Please click on their links to continue the tour and discover their awesome work! (more links to come...!)

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2. Groundhog Day at The Voracious Reader

Westchester New York's finest independent children's book store in Larchmont, The Voracious Reader, will be welcoming all Groundhog Day enthusiasts to a story time with me and my book Groundhog Weather School, this Saturday, February 2! Afterwards, children are invited to participate in making their very own groundhog sock puppet. Just bring your own sock in any color or pattern. In fact, the more interesting the pattern, the more fun the result. Stay for tea! Recommended for children 4-7 years of age.


Date  Saturday, Feb 2, 2013, Groundhog Day!

Time 3:00PM

Place The Voracious Reader
1997 Palmer Avenue
Larchmont, NY 10538 

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3. ABFFE Children's Art Auction

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) will be holding a Holiday Ebay auction of Children's Art by notable illustrators (click here for their press release). One of my signed giclée prints (shown below) from "Groundhog Weather School" will be among the works auctioned.

Update: The auction is on now and goes through December 3, 2012. Click here or on the logo above to bid on wonderful children's art, or for the direct link to my piece click on "Reasons for Seasons." Thank you for your support!

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4. Workbook's Creative Circus

Certainly a departure from the regular creative routine, I had the opportunity to participate in this year's drink & draw event, which was brought about to promote illustrators, watch illustrators work, drink, and witness a spectacle of the sideshow sort, all in the name of art education.  It was held at the Art Directors Club in NYC, a really lively venue on the ground floor, where people from the streets could witness the scantily clad models and sometimes live reptiles in action through the floor to ceiling windows. We sketched and sketched to our hearts' content and posted our creations on a wall to be sold to charity. It left me wanting more...drawing from life of course!

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5. An Original Art Kind of Night

I had a wonderful time at the very crowded and very inspired Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators. My piece hung just above the drink station. I thought it wonderfully appropriate. Tomie dePaola was the guest of honor, receiving a lifetime achievement award for his work. The granddaughter of the late Richard Scarry also accepted a posthumous award for his body of work.

The events, the names read, the honors brought to light all the esteemed illustrators whose works have graced the Society's walls and inspired generations of children and artists alike. I had to pinch myself, as my work was now recognized to be among them. What an honor indeed.

The show will be up until December 22. Too many wonderful pieces to mention. Go see it!

 The esteemed placement

The crowd

 The Tomie

 The piece

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6. Original Art Show Official Mailer

I just received the general announcement for the opening of The Original Art Show for the Society of Illustrators in New York later this month. Did you? Here's a shot of it so maybe you might like to attend. Look for me and my piece from No Dogs Allowed! Hope to see you there!

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7. 2012 Highlights Illustrators' Party

After all the prep work of designing and making our Superhero costumes, updating my book, and illustrating the superhero page, I was ready to go to the Annual Highlights Illustrators' Party. Sort of. On the day of departure, my daughter was getting over a nasty bug, my sister was suffering from a nasty bug, and I was turning into a nasty bug after a good, long, 3.5 hour night sleep, and I saw that my lovely weekend was quickly fading into a lovely dream. My Plan B for help in the child-care department, my illustrator friend, and her husband, who was also to attend, was sick. 

So Plan C was in motion. Now post lunchtime, daughter was doing well, no symptoms, energized and playful. There was still hope. I called Highlights to find out what other options there might be for an attendee with a little one. "Why not bring her to the conference?" The idea was ludicrous to me, but it was like an official stamp of approval, and I thought, "what's the worse that could happen? If she decides to have a meltdown, I could just leave." I had nothing to lose. So I geared up.

Simultaneously, I put a call in to my friend via voicemail, at the off-chance I might still get some help. I offered the opportunity for a getaway, but with a childcare clause in the deal. By some miracle, my friend called back just in time with an "OK!" That's when everything fell right into place. 

When I and the little one arrived in Honesdale, we headed straight to our assigned quarters: the cabins at Beach Lake. It was perfect—two bedrooms and a living room—home away from home. We had the trademark, homegrown, gourmet dinner at The Barn that evening, on the Boyds Mills farm. I caught up with an old friend and wonderful illustrator Laura Jacques, and headed back to the cabin to await my friend's arrival. Thanks to the separate rooms, the little one got to sleep while I waited to greet my friend. 

At the conference in The Barn on Saturday, we were presented with the company's rich history as a family company, philosophy, and plans for growth by Editor-in-Chief, Chris Cully, and a few of Highlights' Editors and Art Directors. They proposed numerous opportunities for work and made us Illustrators feel pretty special. We did a bit of sketching for auction, portfolio sharing, greeted more familiar faces, all of us gushing over each others' work. The food was stellar as usual (truly one of the biggest selling points of the weekend, not that they really have to sell us on an all expenses weekend). 

The little one and my friend were off at a local farm enjoying chickens and songs and painting pumpkins. She was so exhausted by nap time, she didn't nap. So she burned that overtired energy as a superhero, having a blast kicking around in her boots, flapping her cape, and running every which way. The day was concluded by dinner and the traditional square dance. And dance we did.

Sunday brought a horse-drawn carriage ride, another glorious meal, and more delightful conversations.  By the end of the weekend, the nasty bugs were history and I was motivated to work. We came away receiving a refreshing, optimistic message, from a company worth cheering for in a downturn economy. After years of enthusiastically cheering us on, we thank you, Superhero of Illustrators and children everywhere! 

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8. Superhero Prep Work: Highlights 2012

It is always a big treat to be a part of the Annual Highlights Illustrators' Party. Going requires a bit of prep work, like making costumes for the selected theme, and updating portfolios. This year the theme was Superheroes, and this time, Highlights decided to compile a sketchbook based on our chosen characters.

It meant a bit of drawing and conceptualizing our ideas on paper using a template they provided for us. I called my superhero Queen of Diamonds (impossible strength), my daughter was Queen of Hearts (power to melt hearts), and my sister, who was to attend with us, was Queen of Clubs (luck was her power). Together we made "Three of a Kind!" Dum dum dah!

On paper, it was a challenge to do, especially because time was short and I happened to be swamped with regular deadlines, but the project was fun.  The compilation was an amusing look into the creative minds of other fellow Highlights Illustrators.

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9. New Spiffy Cards

It's been a while since I've carried a business card. Shows just how business savvy I am! So I thought it was time to update my card and start carrying again. In matte finish, double-sided, rounded corners, these babies are not your standard business card.

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10. Feeling the Butterflies A-fluttering

The Society of Illustrators posted the list of artists for the Original Art Show opening in October.  I discovered a bevy of respected artists I have admired from afar, and now I am in their company.  Before reading the list I felt confident, and now my heart's a-flutter and the nerves are going.  I hope many of them will be there so I can exchange words of gratitude and gush. I've posted the same list below.  The one's highlighted are medal winners. Go to the links above for images and more information.

My Dog Thinks I'm a Genius

The Brothers Hilts
The Insomniacs

Jim Arnosky
Creep and Flutter

Patrick Arrasmith
The Last Apprentice:
Grimalkin the Witch Assassin

Amy June Bates
Minette's Feast:
The Delicious Story of
Julia Child and Her Cat

Carin Berger
A Perfect Day

Holly Berry
Colorful Dreamer:
The Story of Artist Henri Matisse

Brian Biggs
The Boy Who Cried Alien!
Everything Goes, In the Air

Sophie Blackall
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny–
Detectives Extraordinaire!
Are You Awake?

Freya Blackwood
Maudie and Bear

Barry Blitt
George Washington's Birthday:
A Mostly True Tale

Serge Bloch
My Snake Blake
Snowed Under and Other Christmas Confusions

Calef Brown

Scott Campbell
East Dragon, West Dragon

Nancy Carpenter
Heroes of the Surf

Tad Carpenter
Sad Santa

Lauren Castillo
The Reader
Happy Like Soccer

Nicoletta Ceccoli

Joey Chou
It's a Small World

Bonnie Christensen
Fabulous! A Portrait of Andy Warhol

R. Gregory Christie
It Je's Happened:
When Bill Traylor Started to Draw

Bryan Collier
I, Too, Am America
Fifty Cents and a Dream:
Young Booker T. Washington

 Raúl Colón
Annie and Helen
and Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops

Matthew Cordell
If You Were a Chocolate Mustache

Laëtitia Devernay
The Conductor

Tony DiTerlizzi
A Hero for Wondla

Gérard DuBois
Monsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words

Olivier Dunrea
Little Cub

Chris Van Dusen
If I Built a House

John S. Dykes
F is for Fenway

Kirstie Edmunds
The Monster Who Lost His Mean
Lois Ehlert

Carson Ellis
Under Wildwood

Brian Floca
Marty McGuire Digs Worms!

Douglas Florian
Poem Runs

Edwin Fotheringham
Those Rebels, John & Tom

Marla Frazee
Boot & Shoe

Susan Gal
Day By Day

Michael Garland
Grandpa's Tractor

Arthur Geisert
The Giant Seed

Sara Gillingham
Now I am Big!

Andrew Glass
Moby Dick:
Chasing the Great White Whale

Domenica More Gordon

Keith Graves
The Orphan of Awkward Falls

Emily Gravett
Wolf Won't Bite!

Melissa Guion
Baby Penguins Everywhere!

Amanda Hall
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau

Jessie Hartland
Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child
and How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum

Julian Hector
C. R. Mudgeon

Edward Hemingway
Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship

John Hendrix
A Boy Called Dickens

Yumi Heo
Lady Hahn and Her Seven Friends

Will Hillenbrand
Bear in Love

Holly Hobbie

Hadley Hooper
Here Come the Girl Scouts!

Stacy Innerst
Levi Strauss Gets A Bright Idea:
A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants

Alison Jay
Song of the Stars

Oliver Jeffers
This Moose Belongs to Me

Steve Jenkins
The Beetle Book

D.B. Johnson
Magritte's Marvelous Hat

William Joyce and Joe Bluhm
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore              

William Joyce
The Sandman:
The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozy

Maira Kalman
Looking at Lincoln

G. Brian Karas
Lemonade in Winter:
A Book About Two Kids Counting Money

Jon Klassen
This is Not My Hat
House Held Up By Trees

Jim LaMarche
The Carpenter's Gift

Giles Laroche
If You Lived Here: Houses of the World

Huy Voun Lee
Red, White and Boom!

Gwen Hendrickson
Under the Baobab Tree

E.B. Lewis
Each Kindness

Brian Lies

Renata Liwska
The Christmas Quiet Book

Beth Lo
Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

Ethan Long
Scribbles and Ink

William Low
Machines Go to Work in the City

Gianna Marino
Meet Me at the Moon

 Peter McCarty

Barbara McClintock
Twelve Kinds of Ice
and Leave Your Sleep

 Nikki McClure
Patrick McDonnell
The Monster's Monster

Jill McElmurry
Mario Makes a Move

Joe McKendry
One Time Square,
A Century of Change
at the Crossroads of the World
Holly Meade
In the Sea

Wendell Minor
Night Flight:
Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic
If You Spent A Day with
Thoreau at Walden Pond

Kelly Murphy
Secrets at Sea

Jon J. Muth
Blowin' in the Wind

Matthew Myers
Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind

Scott Nash
The High Skies Adventures
of Blue Jay the Pirate

Kadir Nelson
I Have a Dream

Tao Nyeu
Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always

Ryan O'Rourke
Eight Days Gone

John Obrien
Look...Look Again

 C.F. Payne
Based on a (Partially) True Story

LeUyen Pham
Vampirina Ballerina

Giselle Potter
Cecil the Pet Glacier

Majorie Priceman
Cold Snap

Chris Rashka
Otter and Odder: A Love Story

Adam Rex
Chloe and the Lion

Christian Robinson
Harlem's Little Blackbird

Eric Rohmann
Oh, No!

Marc Rosenthal
Making a Friend

Roger Roth
The Roller Coaster Kid

Steven Salerno
Brothers at Bat:
 The True Story of an
Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team

Dan Santat
Oh No! Not Again!
and Bawk & Roll

Brian Selznick

David Small
One Cool Friend

Betsy Snyder
Tons of Trucks

Meilo So
Alex the Parrot
Water Signs Blue

David Soman
Ladybug Girl and Bingo

Kristin Sorra
No Dogs Allowed!

Bob Staake
Don't Squish the Sasquatch!
Look! Another Book!

Naoko Stoop
Red Knit Cap Girl

Simms Taback
Simms Taback's Dinosaurs

Matt Tavares
There Goes Ted Williams
 the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived

 Chris Van Dusen
Randy Riley's Really Big Hit

 Mike Wimmer

Jeanette Winter
Kali's Song

Ashley Wolff
Baby Bear Sees Blue

Wong Herbert Yee
Summer Days and Nights

Eugene Yelchin
Breaking Stalin's Nose

Taeeun Yoo
You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses
Tua and the Elephant

Hyewon Yum
Mom, It's My First Day of Kindergarten!

Pamela Zagarenski
Sleep Like a Tiger

Paul O. Zelinsky
Earwig and the Witch

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11. The Show to See

After a summer slumber in blogland, I thought I'd wake things up a bit with a happy announcement. The Society of Illustrators in New York will be hosting their 32nd Annual Original Art Show this October. For those who do not know, here's a bit about the juried show from the SI website:
"Founded by Dilys Evans in 1980, the show celebrates the fine art of children’s book illustration. It has been sponsored by the Society of Illustrators for the past twenty-two years.  The selection process will be by a jury of outstanding illustrators, art directors, editors, and experts in the field of children’s publishing."
With that, I'm pleased to announce that my latest picture book, No Dogs Allowed, by Linda Ashman (2011, Sterling Children's Books), made the cut! After years of submissions, this has become the title that brings a whole other level of validation to my work.

...pat on the back to me...

I am so proud of it, and still I strive to want to do better. For now, I will bask in its success, show you a few pieces from its interior pages, and let you know that the Original Art Show opens Oct. 24 and runs through Dec. 22, 2012.  I'll post more news about it as the date approaches!   

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12. Just a Week Away

The NESCBWI (or the North Eastern Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators...phew!), a regional division of the SCBWI, is hosting the 2012 "Keeping It Real" Conference in Springfield, MA. The weekend-long series of workshops is for beginning to advanced writers and artists, striving to work in children's books. It starts next Friday, April 20, through Sunday, April 22.  So many talented guest lecturers will be there, as well as yours truly. I'll be teaching a workshop called "Creating Traditional Illustration Digitally." I hope attendees will come away from it with a renewed creative vigor, and at the very least, get their money's worth!

In addition, I was invited to also be a part of the Advanced Illustrator Academy faculty which includes two other notable guests I humbly call very distinguished colleagues—Martha Rago, Assoc. Creative Director for Harper Collins Children's Books, and internationally acclaimed writer/illustrator, Dan Yaccarino. How I deserved to be among them is beyond me, but I take my role seriously and hope to impart a lot of useful creative and practical knowledge. Thank you, Casey Girard.

Click on any of the links above for more information. You can also click on the image for a jump to the conference site. Hope to see you all there!

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13. Highlighting an Honor

For the past couple days, I had been receiving delivery attempt notices from UPS, for a package from Highlights which required my signature.  I couldn't imagine what it could be since most packages from Highlights are delivered via regular snail mail. When I finally received it, it was clear that it wasn't tear sheets, nor was it my birthday. Much to my complete surprise and delight, it was a pewter plate inscribed with my name, and the words "Puzzle Poem of the Year." Of the year. That's pretty significant. In addition, there was a letter from the editor conveying her appreciation on behalf of Highlights High Five. I was so elated it took me a few minutes to figure out which piece deserved such an honor. Thank you, Highlights! It's truly an honor and a privilege.

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14. It's Groundhog Day...again!

Well of course it is.  February 2, 2012 marks another Groundhog Day.  Here's hoping spring will arrive early, though it seems the wish has come prematurely.  February 1, here in New York, was downright balmy.  Well enjoy it until spring is really here and don't forget to enjoy your copy of Groundhog Weather School, by Joan Holub, illustrated by moi!

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15. Picture Book 2012

In addition to my latest DI ad is my latest in Picture Book.  This year's directory reflects the downturn in children's book publishing. The book is about half the size it was last year.  Good news is, I'm happy with how the ad turned out.  Let's see if it bears any returns.

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16. Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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17. And the winner is...

Et Voila!  Thank you, Grace Bonney! Check out the other winners!

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18. Designy and Spongy

Design Sponge's Grace Bonney was hosting a book giveaway for a free personalized copy of "Design Sponge at Home," their summer newspaper and some of the ribbons flowers featured in the book. It's one of my favorite inspiration sites so I had to enter, even just for fun.  I simply had to take a photo of the spot where the book would be placed, or where I would read it.  This is my entry.

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19. At the Ballet with Mudpuppy

A ballet where the prima ballerina is a cat, the admiring audience a dog, an orchestra pit full of piggies, and you have my latest Color Me Puzzle from Mudpuppy!  This one's unique because it's double-sided.  On one side you get the full-color illustration, on the other, a black and white version of the same image, so that once you've assembled the piece you can color it.  You even get a nice set a of fat wipe-off crayons to boot!  How can you not be a fan of Mudpuppy? 

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20. With Pride

I had the honor of illustrating a poster for a fundraising event on Fire Island featuring Martha Wash, best known for singing "It's Raining Men" and the voice behind The Weather Girls. An icon for the gay community, the assignment serendipitously coincided with the legalizing of gay marriage here in New York.  I almost felt a part of history! The poster was art directed by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez of Somos Arte.  It was a departure from my usual projects and a welcome change.  I enjoyed doing work for the "adult" world and hope to do more in the future.

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21. Out and About: Anthropologie

I meant to post this months ago, but I figured better late than never.  I think it was their sense of humor combined with the execution, but I had to post a pic of what I found at a Westchester NY Anthrolpologie store display.  Anthrolopologie never seems to be short on ideas, but this one lends itself to our child-like sensibilities.  I think they're rather charming.

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22. Picture Book 2011

With this latest Picture Book ad, what this story might entail is up to the viewer.

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23. Hello August 2nd!

If you haven't been yet, go to your local B&N store and take a peek at the children's book wall.  I believe you will find my latest book, No Dogs Allowed, proudly displayed.  As for me, I'm bringing my camera, folding chair and giant foam #1 hand to watch it perform.  In the meantime, if you're stuck behind your computer, which you must be if you're reading this, check out Jenn Bertman's interview with me in my work lair on her blog: From the Mixed Up Files of Jennifer Bertman.   

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24. A Devilish Edge

It's always fun making a departure from my usual genre and into the world of comics—especially dark, devilish ones.  Todd Stashwick and Dennis Calero have created a weekly comic strip called Devil Inside, which just celebrated its year-long run at San Diego Comic Con.  I was asked to illustrate a dream sequence for one of the main characters, Sophie.  The result is a cool juxtaposition of styles.  Take a look and if you like what you see, click on the RSS feed.  You won't be disappointed!  

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25. August has come and gone...

...but my book hasn't!  Well, you can still find it online, and as of now, I'm not sure it's still on B&N shelves.  But in case you missed it, here's what it looked like.  

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