The Forever Kid, a book review

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Title: The Forever Kid
by: Elizabeth Mary Cummings
illustrated by: Cheri Hughes
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

It’s Johnny’s birthday but he is no longer here. His family still gathers and lovingly celebrate. By continuing Johnny’s favourite party traditions and sharing special memories, the family feel a sense of closeness and comfort on this day of remembrance; Johnny, their Forever-Kid’s birthday.

Sometimes stories stop you in their tracks as we journey our busy, fast lifestyles, noticing nothing but the work tasks and activities in front of us. Some stories bring you back to reality, grounding you to cherish every moment with your grandparents, your parents, your siblings, your relatives, your partner, your friends, and your children. Some stories remind us that this life that has been gifted to us is finite. The Forever Kid, written by Elizabeth Mary Cummings, is that story.

Elizabeth gently welcomes us into Johnny’s family, and we meet his three siblings, Mother, Father, and Barker, the dog. The story is told from the point of view of Johnny’s brother, and the pages are filled with memories of Johnny, both happy and sad, carefree, and with some brotherly guilt at times. But most of all, the story is filled with love.

Illustrator, Cherie Hughes, has depicted the story of loss with tenderness, capturing the grief of Johnny’s family, and their memories of treasured moments.

The Forever Kid is a beautifully illustrated story that celebrates life, while sensitively dealing with loss, with a gentle weaving of memories by enacting Johnny’s favourite things on his birthday, filling the pages with his presence. Although confronting a terribly difficult topic of the loss of a child and sibling, The Forever Kid leaves the reader with an overwhelming feeling of love and hope, and the celebrated family traditions ensure Johnny will never be forgotten.

Purchase a copy: The Forever Kid

Title: The Forever Kid
by: Elizabeth Mary Cummings
illustrated by: Cheri Hughes
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925675382
Category: children’s
Pages: 32

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
https://www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
https://www.julieannwallaceauthor.com/

Julieann is a published author and illustrator who is continually inspired by the gift of imagination and the power of words. When she is not disappearing into her imaginary worlds as Julieann Wallace – children’s author, or as Amelia Grace – YA and fiction novelist, she is working as an editor, book designer, and book magician for other authors. Julieann is a self-confessed tea ninja and Cadbury Chocoholic, has a passion for music and art, and tries not to scare off her cat, Claude Monet, with her terrible cello playing.

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Max Booth Future Sleuth: Stamp Safari, a book review

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Title: Max Booth Future Sleuth: Stamp Safari (book 3)
by: Cameron Macintosh
illustrated by: Dave Atze
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

A tiny piece of paper from the year 2019 might not sound very interesting to most people. But Max and Oscar – Bluggsville’s sharpest sleuths – aren’t most people! Max has a hunch that this ancient patch of paper might be valuable, and extremely rare.
Max is right – this isn’t just any old piece of paper. It’s a strange, sticky thing called a postage stamp, and it’s more than 400 years old! It’s an exciting discovery, but before long, it leads Max and Oscar into some very sticky situations…

Max Booth Future Sleuth: Stamp Safari, is a thoroughly enjoyable chapter book. This story, and indeed the series, is set in the future, 2424, but looks back to the past.

The main character, Max Booth, has an adorable robo dog (a beagle-bot) named Oscar. He is loyal, but also creates some hilarious misadventures. When Oscar, the robodog, wiggles his nose into a pile of gadgets, something sticks to the side of his snout. It happens to be a picture of Neptune Williams, and their curiosity about the sticky square sets them on a quest to find out exactly what it is: why it is sticky, and from what age is comes from?

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Artist, Dave Atze, has added a fun flavour to the chapter book with his expressive character illustrations, creating an extra layer to the book. Readers will appreciate the humour and the feel-good style to his artwork.

Another bonus of this chapter book, written by talented author, Cameron Macintosh, is the clever addition of factual information about the origins of the stamp, where you, the reader, will be surprised about its beginnings.

I highly recommend Max Booth Future Sleuth: Stamp Safari, as a high interest chapter book for the reluctant and independent reader. The futuristic lingo is both quirky and fun, and the story is packed with action that will have readers zooming through history and the 130 pages in record time.

Purchase a copy: max-booth-future-sleuth-book-3/

Title: Max Booth Future Sleuth Stamp Safari (book 3)
by: Cameron Macintosh
illustrated by: Dave Atze

Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925520606
Category: childrens, sci-fi, adventure
Pages: 130

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
https://www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
https://www.julieannwallaceauthor.com/

Julieann is a member of:

Cat Spies Mouse, a book review

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Title: Cat Spies Mouse
by: Rina A Foti
illustrated by: Dave Atze
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

What happens when an impatient and arrogant cat spies a humble and patient mouse?
An exciting read-aloud story about how a small mouse who asks BIG questions changes the world.

Author, Rina A Foti has written a story that has a theme that young children are familiar with in the animal world – mouse vs cat and cat vs dog. Kids will totally get it. They will also understand the repeated words, “That’s not fair!”

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Illustrator, Dave Atze has created colourful, likeable characters that leap off the page,  showing their personality through facial expressions, poses and humour that will attract children’s interest and make them giggle, but also help to develop empathy for the under-dog character in each situation.

There is no doubt that this story will open up discussion on the topic of fairness – at school, as well as at home, and question the notion about doing things without thinking, just because “that is what is expected”, or “that is the way it has always been done”. But why? And is it reasonable, or fair?

There are two outstanding take-aways from this tale: one is the courage and bravery of the mouse to question what cat is doing, and the other is that the cat can absolutely not understand how mouse feels, until what he is doing to mouse, happens to him. It’s kind of satisfying to see him get a taste of his own medicine, plus being covered in dog-stomach-goop at the end.

Purchase a copy: Cat Spies Mouse picture book

Title: Cat Spies Mouse
by: Rina A Foti
illustrated by: Dave Atze
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925675344
Category: Children, Fiction, Humour, Inspiration, Social Issues
Pages: 32

This book was given to Julieann by Big Sky Publishing for review.

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
https://www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
https://www.julieannwallaceauthor.com/

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Averil – The Master of Callus, a book review

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Title: Averil – The Master of Callus
by: John Barwick
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Fourteen-year-old Averil has never been far from the small desert town of Aum. But all that is about to change. Chosen as a novice Trader-Diplomat on her first expedition, she finds a world full of surprises. But Evil is stirring, and Averil is drawn into a battle between malevolent powers that threatens to change the world forever. In a world of war and sorcery, Averil finds strengths and qualities she didn’t know she possessed.

Averil, Book 1 – The Master of Callus is a fantasy middle-school chapter book that takes the reader away from today’s fast-paced life of technology. The main character, a 14-year-old girl named Averil, has been chosen as a Trader-Diplomat, and must accompany warriors, a Wise One and a trading party to distant lands. During the journey, they encounter a number of challenges.

The story, written by retired Primary School Principal, John Barwick, has all the elements of a fantasy book with magic, world building, conflict and a power structure. It will appeal to readers who like to escape into novels with ships, castles and a sorcerer.

Purchase a copy: Averil – The Master of Callus – purchase

Title: Averil – The Master of Callus
by: John Barwick
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925675177
Category: children’s
Subject: Fantasy , Adventure, Children
Pages: 300

This book was given to Julieann by Big Sky Publishing for review

Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
https://www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
https://www.julieannwallaceauthor.com/

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Rudi Hooper’s Super Pooper-Scooper, a book review

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Title: Rudi Hooper’s Super Pooper-Scooper
by: Alan Horsfield
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Despite their best attempts to be noticed, Morris and Rudi Hooper have never received much acclaim. But this is all about to change when big brother Rudi grabs the spotlight for his rather dubious involvement in the local “Tidy Towns” scheme. Much to little brother Morris’s embarrassment, Rudi is now Sandbar’s official doggie droppings ranger! As the Hooper parents’ pride grows, so does Morris’s trepidation. Will Rudi’s gross new pursuit end in disaster as Morris suspects just when fame is finally within reach? Or can Morris get to the bottom of the rather messy problem before everything hits the fan?

I must admit, with the title of Alan Horsfield’s chapter book, ‘Rudi Hooper’s Super Pooper-Scooper’, I was expecting a book full of corny toilet humour story-lines. However, as I settled into the book, I discovered it was a well-written story about family, siblings and town pride, plus dog poop, and I became a fan of Rudi Hooper, who cleaned up the mess that nobody else would.

Rudi Hooper’s Super Pooper-Scooper is a book full of everything—problems, conflict, cheating, inventions, sibling rivalry then support, all tied in very nicely with a large dose of humour. Every child, person and dog will relate to this story. Everyone has seen that person walking a dog, who, as the dog goes down into the poop squat, looks away, then charges off immediately afterward, not caring to scoop up the offending deposit left by the dog. Thankfully, Rudi has a solution for the problem, and gains fans and fame—almost in a good way, and totally in a dramatic way that will have kids in fits of giggles.

Rudi Hooper’s Super Pooper-Scooper is guaranteed to capture the attention of children. They’ll be struggling to hold in bellies full of laughter from the opening pages of this action-packed book. Their curiosity as to finding out what happens next will become like an unquenchable thirst. There is no doubt this book will be a go to for a second read.

Purchase a copy: buy Rudi Hooper’s Super Pooper-Scooper

Title: Rudi Hooper’s Super Pooper-Scooper
By: Alan Horsfield
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925675160
Category: Children
Pages: 62

This book was given to Julieann by Big Sky Publishing for review

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
https://www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
https://www.julieannwallaceauthor.com/

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Little Witch Book 3, Plots and Potions, a book review

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Title: Plots & Potions (Little Witch book 3)
by: Aleesah Darlison
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Drama, magic – and a miniature cat – abound in the latest Little Witch.

Plots & Potions is the 3rd book in the Little Witch book series by author, Aleesah Darlison. The main character, Courtney, is off to Bromlow Forest Adventure Camp with school, on her mother’s insistence, to work on fledging relationships, being new to the school.

School camp is everything Courtney dislikes – hikes, abseiling, bungee jumping and white-water rafting, but it’s made more bearable when she uses a shrinking spell on her cat, Inky, and takes him along to camp with her, safely nestled away in her pocket.

However, the mean and nasty Camp Director, Miss Maude Mouseheart, starts sneezing when she is close to Courtney. She suffers from a cat allergy and is highly suspicious of Courtney, who does well at hiding Inky, until disaster strikes.

As the story continues, Courtney discovers bits and pieces of information, that all point to something unsavoury going on at the camp grounds. As Courtney investigates, she uncovers a secret plot, and must take action, or forever be left with regret and grief.

Plots & Potions will have the reader turning the pages as fast as they can digest them, needing to know what will happen next. There’s good balance of friendship niggles and resolutions, camp fun, and added magical spells that will be thoroughly enjoyed by fans of the Little Witch Series.

Purchase a copy: Little Witch Book 3 – Plots & Potions

Title: Plots & Potions (Little Witch book 3)
by: Aleesah Darlison
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925675252
Category: children’s
Subject: Magic, Spells
Pages: 176

This book was given to Julieann by Big Sky Publishing for review.

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
https://www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
https://www.julieannwallaceauthor.com/

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Little Witch Book 2 – Hauntings & Hexes, a book review

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Title: Hauntings & Hexes (Little Witch Book 2)
by: Aleesah Darlison
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

New home. New school. New friends. And new enemies… The summer holidays are over. It’s time for Courtney to start at her new school and settle into life in Mixton Bay. No problem. Right? Except for the fact that Courtney is a witch-in-training so `fitting in’ isn’t the easiest thing to do. When a malevolent spirit bent on revenge is released into the world, things get dangerous for Courtney and those closest to her. Will she be able to save the day and keep her growing powers a secret?

Hauntings and Hexes is the 2nd book in the Little Witch book series by author, Aleesah Darlison. The main character, Courtney, starts at a new school, and has all the usual social uncomfortableness with trying to make new friends. She also creates some accidental, and not so accidental disasters with her new found white witch powers.

In one such incident in science class, Courtney is asked to hold a bald rat. Filled with fear, she unleashes a spell that calls every cat in the town of Mixton Bay to rescue her. Hence, the typical boring science lesson becomes phenomenal in the eyes of the students. However, Mr Zenebar, the science teacher recognises Courtney’s magic and tells her to visit the cemetery, where she meets a ghost, who requests her to find a grey book.

As the story continues, we meet Eleanor, a flying tricycle which is at Courtney’s beck and call, and the evil grimoire—a talking and flying black magic book that belongs to the ghost in the crypt at the cemetery. However, the reunion of the ghost and the grimoire unleashes black magic in the town, and it’s up to Courtney to banish the evil ghost by returning it to the Soul Tree forever, or until she can mend her ways.

Hauntings and Hexes is a fast-paced chapter book packed with action, humour and a few surprises. It is well-written and will have Little Witch fans turning the pages as they absorb the magical story.

Purchase a copy: Little Witch Book 2 – Hauntings & Hexes

Title: Little Witch Book 2  – Hauntings & Hexes
Author: Aleesah Darlison
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-925520-57-6
Category: Children’s/Children’s Fiction 8+
Subject: Children, Magic, Witches, Humour
Pages: 176

This book was given to Julieann by Big Sky Publishing for review.

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords
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Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy – Gang of Thieves, a book review

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Title: Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy – Gang of Thieves
by: Jane Smith
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

School camp can be fun, but not when it’s run by a nasty bully who picks on Tommy Bell and his friends. But when Tommy’s magic cabbage-tree hat takes him back in time to meet up with Ben Hall and his gang, Tommy discovers that even in the gold rush days there were bullies … and they were on both sides of the law!

They also really knew how to make trouble …

Multi-published author, Jane Smith, has captured the life of bushranger, Ben Hall, with accurate observation through the eyes of a fictional young character, Tommy Bell.

Tommy is on school camp at the town of Young, an old goldmining town. He lists the good and bad things about going on a school camp, but the worst thing about this camp is one of the leaders, Mr Porter. He is just outright mean and nasty. In fact, he is a bully. A grown-up bully! It’s during one of Mr Porter’s bullying rants that he shoves Tommy’s woven ‘straw-like’ hat made from the leaves of a cabbage-tree onto Tommy’s head, and in an instant, he finds himself back in time. He notices that the air is fresher and the birdsong louder, before a man enters Tommy’s time-travel adventure – Ben Hall (9 May 1837 – 5 May 1865) – an Australian bushranger.

Tommy joins Ben Hall and his accomplices—Johnny Gilbert, John O’Meally and Patrick Daley. They ride on horseback to a placed named Little Wombat, a goldfield near Young. When they enter Mr Soloman’s store, a gun battle breaks out: Tommy has just witnessed a robbery. Tommy hangs around with the bushrangers for a little longer before he removes his time-travel hat and returns to his school camp where his friend finds gold. However, the callous Mr Porter claims the gold as his, gets angry and shoves Tommy’s hat back onto his head. Tommy travels back in time again to Ben Hall, and the scene of another hold-up: a failed bank robbery.

Tommy also witnesses other incidents with Ben Hall in this action-packed chapter book that will have readers turning the pages. Another bonus to this Bushranger Boy series can be found the final pages of the book—a chapter called ‘Historical Note’, which contains a photograph of Ben Hall and interesting information about his life.

Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy – Gang of Thieves, is the fifth book in the Tommy Bell, Bushranger Boy collection. It’s a remarkable Australian series where fictional characters watch Australian history unfold before their eyes. I highly recommend it for schools, independent readers, and for kids who love Australian history.

I’m looking forward to Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy Book 6 due for release in 2019, titled Mrs Thunderbolt.

Purchase a copy: Tommy Bell-Bushranger Boy-Gang of Thieves

Title: Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy – Gang of Thieves
by: Jane Smith
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925675238
Category: children
Pages: 100
Subject: Bushranger, Adventure series

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords
www.julieannwallaceauthor.com

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Little Witch Book 1 – Secrets & Spells, a book review

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Title: Little Witch – Secrets & Spells
by: Aleesah Darlison
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Black cats, a strange presence in the house, and family secrets …

Secrets & Spells (Little Witch Book 1), by author Aleesah Darlison, is a fun, yet daring chapter book, with an intriguing storyline in a fast-paced tale. From the onset, young independent readers will become invested in the story, as the main character, Courtney, discovers secrets in the attic of the house of her late grandmother, at a sleepy coastal town.

When Courtney finally sneaks some hidden time in the attic, she discovers a spell book left to her by her late grandmother, whom she has never met. And this is where the story becomes interesting.

Adding to the mix of intrigue is a black cat named Inky, and a surf boy, Justice, who seems to know more about her grandmother than she does, and lets slip that her grandmother was a white witch. As the story progresses, Courtney decides to try out one of her grandmother’s spells: How To Make Your Cat Talk, with disastrous results.

Aleesah Darlison has penned a well-written, fast-paced chapter book with likeable characters, including an adorable cat that knows more about everything than anyone else.

Purchase a copy: Little Witch – Secrets & Spells

Title: Little Witch – Secrets & Spells
by: Aleesah Darlison
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925520101
Subject: Magic, Spells, witchcraft
Category: 8+
Pages: 176

This book was given to Julieann by Big Sky Publishing for review

Reviewed by Julieann Wallace 
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords
www.julieannwallaceauthor.com

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The Duke of Hinklewinkle, a book review

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Title: The Duke of Hinklewinkle
Written and illustrated by: John Phillips
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing

Bridget lives in the sleepy, seaside town of Hinklewinkle. She spends a lot of time with her Grandpa. Her mother often has to work late and her father lives in another town. Luckily, her caring Grandpa is always close at hand to help out. Grandpa breeds show chickens and Bridget loves to help out. One day when Bridget is feeling a little lonely, Grandpa decides to let Bridget pick a chicken of her own. Far from picking the most beautiful chicken, she picks a strange looking rooster she names the “Duke of Hinklewinkle”. The two become inseparable. When Grandpa’s cranky old neighbour, Mr Borewater’s chickens are under threat, The Duke of Hinklewinkle surprises everyone.

If you like chickens, then The Duke of Hinklewinkle is for you. It’s a picture book narrative for primary aged children, written in third person, by author and illustrator, John Phillips.

In the story we meet Bridget, who lives in a sleepy, seaside town. Her grandpa breeds show chickens and lets her choose her very own chicken. After carefully considering the Long Beaked Australorp, the Stilt Legged Sussex, the Giant Combed Old English Bantam and the Headless Brahma, Bridget chooses a very unusual and slightly odd-looking rooster—a Big Beaked Pencilled Hortner—and names him, “The Duke of Hinklewinkle”. They become best friends in no time. But trouble is looming in the form of the next-door neighbour, Mr Borewater, who tells Bridget that Big Beaked Pencilled Hortners are silly birds. Little does he know that something is about to happen in the dark night to prove him wrong.

As an artist, John Phillips has created colourful and quirky illustrations to accompany his story. The illustrated chickens are guaranteed to keep the reader entertained.

The Duke of Hinklewinkle is a story with a diverse family – Bridget’s grandfather helps with her upbringing as well as her mother, while her father works in a different town. The big theme of the book is friendships, not only Bridget and her chicken, but neighbourly friendship as well.

Purchase a copy: The Duke of Hinklewinkle

Title: The Duke of Hinklewinkle
Written and illustrated by: John Phillips
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925675191
Category: primary
Pages: 32

Julieann received this book from Big Sky Publishing for review.

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Published Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords
www.julieannwallaceauthor.com

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