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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

Kellee and Jen, of Teach Mentor Texts, decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.

We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

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Tuesday: Blog Tour with Educators’ Guide: The Treacherous Sea by Christopher Healy
**Congratulations to John S. the winner of The Treacherous Sea giveaway!**

Sunday: Author Guest Post: “Making Crazy Contraptions” by Laura Perdew, Author of Crazy Contraptions: Build Rube Goldberg Machines that Swoop, Spin, Stack, and Swivel with Engineering Activities for Kids

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**

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Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!

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“Crazy Contraptions: Build Rube Goldberg Machines that Swoop, Spin, Stack, and Swivel

Collect your catapults, toy cars, pulleys, ramps, marbles, balls, and dominoes. You’ll probably also want string, tape, hot glue, cardboard, TP rolls, and miscellaneous recycling. Now, what should you do with this odd assortment of materials? Build Rube Goldberg machines, of course!

Rube Goldberg machines are crazy contraptions that perform very simple tasks through an exceedingly complicated and usually humorous chain reaction. The man behind the machines was Rube Goldberg. He was an engineer turned cartoonist in the mid-1900s. He is famous for his cartoons that featured the crazy contraptions he invented (check out the image gallery at https://www.rubegoldberg.com/image-gallery-licensing/). His “inventions” include a self-operating napkin, a painless tooth extractor, and even an elaborate method to keep the baby covered at night. People loved Goldberg’s cartoons and couldn’t wait to see what he would come up with next. Yet even though people loved his inventions and Goldberg was an engineer, he never built a single one of his contraptions.

Instead, the idea to build crazy contraptions was initiated by college students in 1949. Since that time, building contraptions has become wildly popular. Rube Goldberg, Inc. even holds an annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest which challenges students to create their own crazy contraptions that perform a designated task (https://www.rubegoldberg.com/learn-about-the-contests/). Creating contraptions is also a great hands-on project in the classroom to teach basic physics concepts (energy, force, motion, and work) and to introduce the six simple machines to kids. And it’s FUN!

CRAZY CONTRAPTIONS: Build Rube Goldberg Machines that Swoop, Spin, Stack, and Swivel teaches all of these concepts. It also encourages contraption makers to use the engineering design process – brainstorming, planning, building, testing, evaluating, and redesigning (if necessary). The book starts out with easy challenges using one simple machine. As the book progresses, though, readers are challenged to build increasingly complex contraptions using more and more simple machines. Warning! This book does not include step-by-step instructions to build each contraption. Instead, it presents these challenges in a way that allows readers to use their own creativity and materials they may have on hand. So, go collect that odd assortment of material and start building!

Activity

Introduce students to Rube Goldberg contraptions by watching this music video by OK Go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w or visiting the Rube Goldberg image gallery.

The challenge here is to have students create a crazy contraption that uses all six simple machines to bang on a drum using engineering design process:

Identify: The challenge, as stated above, is to build a crazy contraption that uses all six simple machines to bang on a drum.

Brainstorm: What materials will students use for each of the six simple machines in the contraption? Here are a few ideas…

Inclined plane – books, toy car tracks, piece of cardboard, piece of paper

Levers – dominoes, catapults, rulers, popsicle sticks, pencils

Wheels and axles – toy cars or trains, a homemade car, screwdriver

Pulleys – a pulley, empty thread or wire spools, pushpins

Wedges – make your own, popsicle sticks, string

Screws – jars and lids, marble runs, funnels, tubing

Don’t forget the drum and whatever will bang on it to make the noise!

Consider how all those parts might work together to create the contraption.

Draw a plan: Break out the graph paper, pencils, and rulers. When I wrote the book, this is what my design looked like:

Build: Put it all together! Hint – do the dominoes last!

Test: After building, adding, tweaking, taping, and creating, start the chain reaction.

Evaluate: More often than not, the first few tests of crazy contraptions fail. But that’s okay! The question to ask is, “Why?” This question and its answer help young engineers create contraptions that DO work.

Redesign: Using what your students know about why the contraption did or did not work, they may want to redesign it. Or, they may want to make it louder. Or add other noisemakers.

Crazy Contraptions: Build Rube Goldberg Machines That Swoop, Spin, Spack, and Swivel with Engineering Activities for Kids
Author: Laura Perdew
Illustrator: Micah Rauch
Published October 8th, 2019 by Nomad Press

About the Book:An exciting book about the chain reaction world of Rube Goldberg for middle schoolers, including 25 engineering design projects that get middle schoolers applying the laws of physics to their own inventions as they learn the scientific principles behind the actions and reactions they create.

Why use a simple hand motion to wipe your mouth when you can build a machine to do it for you? Toppling dominoes, rolling marbles, racing balloon cars, springing catapults, and whizzing zip-lines are all elements used to build Rube Goldberg machines in Crazy Contraptions: Build Machines that Swoop, Spin, Stack, and Swivel with Engineering Activities for Kids. The book introduces kids ages 9-12 (and beyond!) to the wacky machines designed by Goldberg, which were based on complicated chain reactions used to accomplish very simple, sometimes ridiculous, tasks.

-Through contraptions, the book discusses the basics of physics, including force, motion, and work. Each chapter introduces one of the six simple machines and how they can be used in Rube Goldberg contraptions–inclined planes, levers, wheels and axles, wedges, screws, and pulleys.

– Kids are challenged to design, build, and evaluate dozens of increasingly complex contraptions that do things like unscrew a lid, turn the page of a book, and pop a balloon.

– Projects use materials already in most homes–reimagining and repurposing everyday items, as well as mining the recycling!

– Contraption hints, essential questions, short sidebars, and links to online primary resources help readers learn the basics of force, work, motion, and simple machines, while exploring their creativity as they design and build their own crazy contraptions.

About the Build It Engineering set and Nomad Press

Crazy Contraptionsis part of a set of two Build It Engineering books that explore the engineering technology behind our daily lives. The other titles in this series isBots! Robotic Engineering with Makerspace Activities for Kids.

Nomad Press books in the Build It series integrate content with participation. Combining content with inquiry-based projects stimulates learning and makes it active and alive. Nomad’s unique approach simultaneously grounds kids in factual knowledge while allowing them the space to be curious, creative, and critical thinkers.

About the Author:Laura Perdew is an author, writing consultant, and former middle school teacher. She has written more than 15 books for the education market on a wide range of subjects, including the animal rights movement, the history of the toilet, eating local, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. She is a long-time member of the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators. Laura lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Thank you so much for this guest post–love the STREAM focus!

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The Treacherous Seas
Author: Christopher Healy
Published November 5th, 2019 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: After saving New York by thwarting Ambrose Rector’s dastardly plot to control the minds of everyone at the 1883 World’s Fair, Molly Pepper and Emmett Lee thought they’d have it made. They were heroes, after all. But if someone saves the world and there’s no one around who remembers it, did it really happen?

Now Molly, Emmett, and Molly’s mother, Cassandra, are left to prove themselves once again. And they aim to do it with an achievement that no one could ignore or forget: winning the race that has captured the attention of the world, to be the first people to find the South Pole. But despite their one-of-a-kind ship, their can-do attitude, and the help of a determined young journalist named Nellie Bly, the path to the Pole is not without its challenges—or its terrors. It is the path Emmett’s father took when he led an expedition to Antarctica on behalf of Mr. Alexander Graham Bell—the expedition in which Mr. Lee and his entire crew were killed. Does death await our heroes on these treacherous seas?

About the Author: Christopher Healy is the author of the novels A Perilous Journey of Danger and Mayhem #1: A Dastardly Plot, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, its two sequels, The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle and The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw and the picture book This Is Not That Kind Of Book. Before becoming a writer, he worked as an actor, an ad copywriter, a toy store display designer, a fact-checker, a dishwasher, a journalist, a costume shop clothing stitcher, a children’s entertainment reviewer, and a haunted house zombie. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and a dog named Duncan. You can visit him online at www.christopherhealy.com

Check out my review of Book #1 here!

Christopher Healy’s Nerdy Book Club post was hilarious and also focused on research–don’t miss out on it!

Educators’ Guide:

Giveaway!:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t Miss out on the Other Blog Tour Stops: 

November 6    Nerdy Book Club

December 2    Bluestocking Thinking

December 3     Novel Novice

December 4    Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

December 5     The Book Monsters

December 6    Maria’s Melange

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**Thank you to Walden Pond Press for providing a copy for giveaway and for hosting the blog tour**

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IMWAYR 2015 logo

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

Kellee and Jen, of Teach Mentor Texts, decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.

We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

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Tuesday: Review and Giveaway!: Snail & Worm All Day by Tina Kügler
Congratulations Danielle H. for winning the giveaway!

Thursday: Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist: Bad Hair Day by Jim Benton

Sunday: Q&A with Author Ginny Rorby

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**

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Kellee

  • Novels I read this week:
    • Impossible Music by Sean Williams: “Music is Simon’s life—which is why he is devastated when a stroke destroys his hearing. He resists attempts to help him adjust to his new state, refusing to be counselled, refusing to learn sign-language, refusing to have anything to do with Deaf culture. Refusing, that is, until he meets G, a tough-as-nails girl dealing with her own newly-experienced deafness.”
    • Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz: “Isabel has one rule: no dating.
      It’s easier–
      It’s safer–
      It’s better–
      –for the other person.
      She’s got issues. She’s got secrets. She’s got rheumatoid arthritis.
      But then she meets another sick kid.”
  • I was so lucky to be able to take a morning off to go into Trent’s classroom to be a holiday reader, and Trent chose for me to read Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares, and it was perfect timing because his class was learning about O Tannenbaum that day in class.
  • Another Mo Willems book along with three books that Trent chose to read as a Read Along in Hoopla.
  • We also finished an SSYRA Jr. Book, Mia Mayhem is a Superhero, which is a fun story about Mia finding out about her powers. There are more in the series, so we may get to them eventually.

To learn more about any of these books, check out my 2019 Challenge page  or my read bookshelf on Goodreads.

Ricki

It’s finals week! I am very glad to have the light at the end of the tunnel. I have been reading the illustrated Harry Potter with my boys, and we are loving it!

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Kellee

  • Reading: The Spinner of Dreams by K.A. Reynolds, Wrecking Ball by Jeff Kinney
  • Listening: The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey
  • Reading with Trent: Dog Man Fetch-22 by Dav Pilkey, The Alien Next Door: The New Kid by A.I. Newton
  • Reading next: Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

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Tuesday: Blog Tour with Educators’ Guide and Giveaway!: The Treacherous Sea by Christopher Healy

Sunday: Author Guest Post: “Making Crazy Contraptions” by Laura Perdew, Author of Crazy Contraptions: Build Rube Goldberg Machines that Swoop, Spin, Stack, and Swivel with Engineering Activities for Kids

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Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!

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Ginny Rorby is the author 6 MG/YA novels: How to Speak Dolphin, Lost in the River of Grass, 2013 winner of the Sunshine State Young Readers Award, Hurt Go Happy, 2008 winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, The Outside of a Horse, Dolphin Sky, and Freeing Finch (2019). Ginny is a past director of the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference and its current president. She can be reached at Ginnyrorby@mcn.org and at www.ginnyrorby.org.

Today we are lucky to have her on Unleashing Readers to answer some questions.

All of your books combine human and animals into stories that build empathy for both. Why do you combine both instead of focusing on just one or the other? 

To me, our treatment of each other extends to our treatment of animals. I think we are losing our appreciation of the natural world and its systems. We only care about what we learn to care about. If I can help young readers connect with even a fictional animal of another species, they will be richer for it, a better person and, hopefully, grow up tuned into the needs of all beings.

When planning a book, what do you usually have first: a topic, a character, a story, or something else? How do you get from that to a final book? 

Almost without exception, the animal character comes first. Dolphin Sky came from the tragic conditions of three captive dolphins at roadside “attraction” in Florida. Hurt Go Happy was based on the equally tragic story of Lucy, a sign language using chimpanzee. The Outside of a Horse was the result of two newscasts, one on the slaughter of horses (100,000 annually) and a second about the horses used to pull the caissons at Arlington National Cemetery helping Iraq war veterans deal with PTSD. Lost in the River of Grass is an exception: it is based on the true story of my husband sinking his airboat and having to walk out of the Everglades, but it also shows the main character’s initial fear of the wildlife she and Andy encounter and her growing appreciation of the beauty of a natural place. How to Speak Dolphin was purposed to me by Scholastic. Even though it was about a sister with an autistic little brother, the fate of the dolphin became my first consideration. Once I’ve been driven to distraction by the plight of an animal, I try to create a character with issues compatible the story, which is always about how healing a relationship with an animal can be.

Many of your books focus on very tough topics such as abuse of children or animals. Why do you feel that this topic is so important to write about? 

I’ve always believed the abuse of animals and children is linked. A person capable of abusing a dog or cat, or any animal, is surely capable of abusing vulnerable humans. To write about it is to expose it. To expose it may empower a child to seek a safe adult, or to speak up if they know a friend who is being abused. Beyond that, my goal is to have young people look deeper into the plight of animals. When they go (heaven forbid) to SeaWorld, I want them to hate seeing a whale in captivity, or a dolphin forced to jump through a hoop for our amusement. When I was 6 or 7, my mother took me to a circus in Orlando. One of the elephants being herded past in a parade of animals, toppled over and died. To this day, I’ve never been to a circus. Thankfully, six decades later, the outcry over forcing elephants to perform, has finally resulted in change. And we seem to be slowly coming to our senses about whales and dolphins in captivity. There are still thousands of animals in confined situations compelled to perform for our amusement, or caged in labs being experimented on. The emails I get from young readers show me I’m getting my message across. I can’t ask for more than that.

Tell us about your newest book and how it came to be. 

Freeing Finch, my most recent, had two beginnings. I wrote the first iteration about an abandoned dog and an abandoned (at least in her own mind) child. It didn’t quite hit the mark. Two years ago, our local orthopedic surgeon and acquaintance with whom I’d aligned over attempts by our local hospital to close Labor and Delivery, came out as trans, had confirmation surgery at age 70, (Kate’s surgery ) and changed her name to Kathryn. I was stunned but supportive. I have many gay friends but had never met anyone transgender (that I knew of). I sent Kate a congratulatory email and received back a note of gratitude. I then mustered my courage and said I’d like to learn more. She recommended I read Becoming Nicole. By then, Katie Couric had visited Kate and Linda, her wife, of 47 years, to interview and include them in a special she was doing on transgenderism. A year later, Kate and Linda were featured in Katie Couric’s National Geographic special, the Gender Revolution.

Before I rewrote Freeing Finch, I had no dog in the fight. I’m straight, cisgender, widowed, childless, white, and a lapsed Episcopalian. I grew up in Central Florida during the civil rights era but was too young and self-centered to truly notice what was happening. We certainly weren’t in the thick of it. My saving grace has turned out to be that I detest injustice.

Since Kate’s focus has been to educate the uninformed, I continued to pepper her with questions, read many of the available books, interviewed transgender acquaintances, and watched Jazz Jennings grow up on YouTube.

I remembered the book I’d written years before about an abandoned dog and a young girl whose mother died, leaving her to be raised by her recently remarried step-father. The abandonment theme reminded me of the stories I was reading about families turning their backs on gender-questioning children.

It’s the 21st century. Gender is a rainbow spectrum. Let’s educate ourselves and move on.

Thank you so much, Ginny, for sharing your writing process and inspirations!

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Bad Hair Day
Author and Illustrator: Jim Benton
Published July 23rd, 2019 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Summary: Franny K. Stein isn’t a fan of glamour. She doesn’t style her hair, the thought of wearing makeup makes her want to gag, and she couldn’t care less about wearing dressy dresses when she’d much prefer her lab coat.

But sometimes Franny wonders if her mom wishes she were different. Which gives Franny an idea…for an experiment! What if she can turn the beauty products her mom loves into something more exciting?

Every experiment has its experimental error, and when Franny’s hair takes on a life of its own, Franny must save the day (and her hair).

About the Author: Jim Benton is the New York Times bestselling writer of the Dear Dumb Diary series and a cartoonist whose unique brand of humor has been seen on toys, television, T-shirts, greeting cards, and even underwear. Franny K. Stein is the first character he’s created especially for young children. A husband and father of two, he lives in Michigan, where he works in a studio that really and truly does have creepy stuff in it.

Review: Franny K. Stein is not worried about all those other things other people worry about–she just wants to do experiments and other mad scientists things. And you know what, I love that!!! And I definitely saw what Benton was trying to do with this book when it comes to glamour and such, but I, as a parent, just didn’t like to see Franny’s mom put a bit of passive aggressive pressure on Franny to be anything other than her amazing self. I mean, she makes creatures and fights them–what does a little messy hair matter?! But in the end, Franny’s mom and the reader are reminded of this, so once again Franny can go on being herself.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Simon and Schuster have a wonderful curriculum guide to use with this series: CLICK HERE.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Franny’s mom is supportive of Franny, but she also questions her. How did you feel about how Franny’s mom in this book?
  • I like to describe Franny as awesome, as in I am awe-struck by her. What traits does Franny have that would lead me to describe her this way?
  • Why did Franny’s pig tails act differently than her ponytails?
  • How was Franny’s mom wrong about Igor?
  • Would Franny be successful in her monster fighting without Igor? Why or why not?

Flagged Passages: CHAPTER ONE: FRANNY’S HOUSE

The Stein family lived in the pretty pink house with the lovely purple shutters down at the end of Daffodil Street. Everything about the house was bright and cheery.

But, of course, the outside of a house is never as interesting as what’s going on inside it.

And inside this house, behind the little round upstairs window, something interesting was always going on, because this was the bedroom and laboratory of Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist.

Last week, for example, Franny developed a giant sea horse, and the day before that she worked on a way to fly based on how bats flap their wings.

Those projects became pretty expensive, so Franny needed to get a piggy bank to save her money in.

Of course, being a mad scientist, she created her piggy bank from a real live pig, which meant that she had to learn all she could about pigs.

This got pretty messy, but she didn’t mind getting messy, because that’s just what happens when you’re doing mad science.

Read This If You Love: Dear Dumb Diary series, Frank Einstein series, Zita the Spacegirl series

Recommended For: 

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Snail & Worm All Day
Author and Illustrator: Tina Kügler
Published September 24th, 2019 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Summary: Snail and Worm go on three silly adventures in this early reader chock full of heartfelt humor and irresistible illustrations. By Geisel Honor winner Tina Kügler.

Snail and Worm are back at it and sure to have readers giggling from dawn ’til dusk (wait—do snails and worms sleep?) in Snail and Worm All Day, complete with heartfelt humor and Tina Kügler’s irresistible illustrations.

Brimming with laugh-out-loud jokes, these three new stories are sweet celebrations of cooperation and discovery.

About the Author: Author-illustrator Tina Kügler lives in the Los Angeles area with her artist husband and three sons. When she is not making picture books, she can be found trying to befriend snails and worms in her backyard.www.tinakugler.squarespace.com Twitter: @tinatheatre Instagram: @kuglertina

Praise: ★ “All day, every day, is a good time for reading about Snail and Worm….Run (faster than Snail ever could) to get a copy of this winning early reader.”—Kirkus, STARRED review

“[N]ew readers should feel supported in their efforts while being continually entertained.”—The Horn Book

Kügler’s clever, off-kilter stories are enhanced by colorful, expressive cartoon illustrations that give strong textual support….This latest Snail and Worm book is a strong addition to all early reader collections and a surefire hit with children and their adults.”—Booklist

“The friendly and cheerful cartoon illustrations effectively enhance the story’s sweet humor.”—School Library Journal

Review: As Trent has entered this world of early chapter and transitional books, I have been so lucky to learn about some amazing books out there, and I was so happy to get introduced to Snail and Worm with this book, and we cannot wait to read the rest of the series.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Each of the three stories has a different chance to dig deep during a read aloud. The first story looks at how one bad thing doesn’t need to affect the entire day, the second story looks at habitats and contradictions, and the final story looks at creating a narrative.

Discussion Questions: 

  • When you are having a bad day, what can you think about to make you feel better?
  • What is a time that you thought something was different than what it was?
  • What are the similarities and differences between Snail and Worm? Why do you think they are friends?
  • How was snail a contradiction in the second story?
  • Who is your best friend?
  • Which of the three stories was your favorite? Why?
  • What is a lesson that you learned from the book?
  • How would the stories change if they were only from Snail’s point of view? Worm’s?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Elephant & Piggie, Frog & Toad, Fox & Chick, and other fun duos

Recommended For: 

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Giveaway: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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**Thank you to Jessica at HMH for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

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