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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Daniel Pinkwater

Laughing Matters

This month, Jacque­line Brig­gs Mar­tin and Phyl­lis Root, the usu­al hosts of this col­umn, have invit­ed Kari Pear­son to share her rec­om­men­da­tions for fun­ny pic­ture books.

Kari Pearson

Kari Pear­son

Let’s play a game! It’s called Funny/Not Fun­ny. It goes like this:

Fun­ny: Eat­ing greasy bloaters with cab­bage-and-pota­to sog (see: How Tom Beat Cap­tain Najork and His Hired Sports­men)

Not Fun­ny: Shov­el­ing gigan­tic snow­drifts out of my dri­ve­way into piles almost as tall as myself.

Laugh­ing mat­ters, as any­one who has sur­vived a Min­neso­ta win­ter will tell you.

Whether you’re snow­bound or not, I hope you will enjoy the warmth and wit this quirky col­lec­tion of pic­ture books has to offer. Some of them are old (look for them at your library or online through Alib­ris), oth­ers are new­er. Most impor­tant­ly, all are guar­an­teed to be more hilar­i­ous than dis­cov­er­ing you have to kick your own front door open from the inside because it has frozen shut overnight in a bliz­zard (file under: not fun­ny). Not that that hap­pened, because that would be ridicu­lous.

The Big Orange SplotThe Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwa­ter (Scholas­tic, 1977)

It all starts with The Big Orange Splot. More specif­i­cal­ly, with a seag­ull who is car­ry­ing a buck­et of orange paint (no one knows why), which he drops onto Mr. Plumbean’s house (no one knows why). Unfazed, Mr. Plumbean allows the splot to remain and goes about his busi­ness, much to the neigh­bors’ cha­grin. On this neat street such things sim­ply aren’t done. Even­tu­al­ly, Plumbean agrees that this has gone far enough. He buys some paint and gets to work cor­rect­ing the prob­lem.

Overnight, the big orange splot is joined by small­er orange splots, stripes, pic­tures of ele­phants and lions, steamshov­els, and oth­er images befit­ting a rain­bow jun­gle explo­sion. “My house is me and I am it,” Plumbean tells his flab­ber­gast­ed neigh­bors. “My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.” But Plumbean doesn’t stop there. Palm trees, frangi­pani, alligators…nothing is too out­landish for his new dream house. “Plumbean has popped his cork, flipped his wig, blown his stack, and dropped his stop­per” the neigh­bors exclaim in dis­may. They go about hatch­ing a plan to get things back to nor­mal on their neat street. But as they soon dis­cov­er, once a Big Orange Splot appears, there’s no going back. Plumbean’s unbri­dled imag­i­na­tion far out­strips even their most ardent­ly held pedes­tri­an sen­si­bil­i­ties. Wigs have only begun to flip.

Nino Wrestles the WorldNiño Wres­tles the World by Yuyi Morales (Roar­ing Brook, 2013)

Seño­ras y Señores, put your hands togeth­er for the fan­tas­tic, spec­tac­u­lar, one of a kind…Niño!” So begins the most improb­a­ble lucha libre wrestling com­pe­ti­tion of all time. Our hero is Niño, a diminu­tive boy in a red mask with more than a few tricks up his (non-exis­tent) sleeves. Armed with lit­tle more than a pop­si­cle, a decoy doll, and assort­ed puz­zle pieces, Niño pre­vails against a col­or­ful array of foes. La Llorona (the weep­ing woman), Cabeza Olme­ca (a sculpt­ed basalt head from the Olmec civ­i­liza­tion), and the ter­ri­fy­ing Gua­na­ju­a­to Mum­my are just a few of the char­ac­ters in this win­ning trib­ute to the the­atri­cal world of lucha libre. Cer­tain illus­tra­tions might be a bit scary for the youngest read­ers, but they are pre­sent­ed in a sil­ly way that make them less fright­en­ing and more fun. And lest you think that Niño has no seri­ous com­pe­ti­tion, rest assured that all bets are off once his lit­tle sis­ters, las her­man­i­tas, wake up from their nap…

Slow LorisSlow Loris by Alex­is Dea­con (Kane/Miller, 2002)

If you’ve ever been to the zoo, you prob­a­bly noticed that some ani­mals are just not that excit­ing. Or are they? This sto­ry delves into the dai­ly life of Slow Loris, an impos­si­bly bor­ing ani­mal who earns his name by spend­ing ten min­utes eat­ing a sat­suma, twen­ty min­utes going from one end of his branch to the oth­er, and a whole hour scratch­ing his bot­tom. But Slow Loris has a secret. At night, he gets up and does every­thing fast! When the oth­er zoo ani­mals get over their sur­prise at how wild Slow Loris real­ly is, they don’t hes­i­tate to join his all-night par­ty, which includes (among oth­er things) a mul­ti­tude of hats, col­or­ful ties, danc­ing, and an epic drum solo (by Slow Loris, of course). As you would imag­ine, it’s a slow day at the zoo after that as the par­ty ani­mals sleep off the pre­vi­ous night’s shenani­gans. Bor­ing!

Stop That Pickle!Stop That Pick­le! by Peter Armour, illus­trat­ed by Andrew Shachat (Houghton Mif­flin, 1993)

As fast as Slow Loris may be by night, I’m guess­ing he still couldn’t catch the run­away pick­le from Mr. Adolph’s deli. Rather than be eat­en by one Ms. Elmi­ra Deeds, this plucky pick­le leaps out of the jar and makes a break for it. Stop That Pick­le! is a delight­ful­ly wacky sto­ry of one pickle’s dar­ing escape and ulti­mate tri­umph over a host of oth­er foods try­ing to catch it. (And if you were won­der­ing if there is any sol­i­dar­i­ty in the food world, this book answers that ques­tion with a resound­ing NO.) 

When Mr. Adolph is imme­di­ate­ly over­whelmed by the pickle’s speed, a dis­grun­tled peanut but­ter and jel­ly sand­wich joins the chase. “Every­one knows that a peanut but­ter and jel­ly sand­wich is not the fastest sand­wich in the world, but it does have great endurance.” Page by page ten­sion builds as more foods join the pack, all shout­ing: Stop That Pick­le!. By the end of the book the pick­le is being pur­sued by not only the sand­wich (hel­lo, endurance!), but also a braid­ed pret­zel, green pip­pin apple, sev­en­teen toast­ed almonds, a crowd of raisins, a cake dough­nut, a cool grape soda, and an ele­gant vanil­la ice cream cone. How will our pick­le pre­vail??? The sto­ry cul­mi­nates in a back alley moment of truth which I won’t spoil for you, but rest assured that this pick­le lives to run anoth­er day. With its sat­is­fy­ing (yet total­ly inef­fec­tu­al) refrain, Stop That Pick­le! is a great read aloud book and will def­i­nite­ly make you think twice about the moral advis­abil­i­ty of skew­er­ing the last pick­le in the jar.

Sophie's SquashSophie’s Squash by Pat Ziet­low Miller, illus­trat­ed by Anne Wils­dorf (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013)

When Sophie spots a but­ter­nut squash at the farm­ers’ mar­ket, it is love at first sight. Her squash is “just the right size to hold in her arms. Just the right size to bounce on her knee. Just the right size to love.” Final­ly, Sophie has found the per­fect friend! Except…her par­ents seem to want to eat her friend. “Don’t lis­ten, Ber­nice!” Sophie cries at the sug­ges­tion of cook­ing Ber­nice with marsh­mal­lows. And so Ber­nice becomes part of the fam­i­ly. She goes to sto­ry time at the library, rolls down hills, vis­its oth­er squash. Every­thing is fine until one day Ber­nice is not quite her­self. She starts look­ing spot­ty and her som­er­saults don’t have “their usu­al style.” What to do? This heart­warm­ing sto­ry is has a sim­ple, fun­ny sweet­ness to it as Sophie learns about being a loy­al friend and what it means to let go. Don’t miss the illus­trat­ed end­pa­pers which fea­ture Sophie in her unpar­al­leled squashy exu­ber­ance! This book also offers a sea­son­al­ly appro­pri­ate les­son: win­ter might seem like the end, but some­times it is only the begin­ning.  

How Tom Beat Captain NajorkHow Tom Beat Cap­tain Najork and His Hired Sports­men by Rus­sell Hoban, illus­trat­ed by Quentin Blake (Atheneum, 1974)

No self-respect­ing list of fun­ny pic­ture books would be com­plete with­out How Tom Beat Cap­tain Najork and his Hired Sports­men. This gem is from an era where pic­ture books were a bit longer, but that just means there is more hilar­i­ty here to enjoy. Tom is a boy who knows fool­ing around. He fools around “with sticks and stones and crum­pled paper, with mews­es and pas­sages and dust­bins, with bent nails and bro­ken glass and holes in fences.” You get the idea. He’s an expert.

This deeply trou­bles Aunt Fid­get Wonkham-Strong, a for­mi­da­ble woman in an iron hat who believes boys should spend their time mem­o­riz­ing pages from the Nau­ti­cal Almanac instead of doing things that sus­pi­cious­ly resem­ble play­ing. So she calls in Cap­tain Najork and his hired sports­men to teach Tom a les­son in fool­ing around. As you might imag­ine, Cap­tain Najork has wild­ly under­es­ti­mat­ed Tom’s exper­tise in these mat­ters and gets his come­up­pance accord­ing­ly. Quentin Blake’s won­der­ful­ly zany line draw­ings are the per­fect accom­pa­ni­ment to the hijinks of this weird and total­ly sat­is­fy­ing sto­ry. Greasy bloaters, any­one? There’s also some cab­bage-and-pota­to sog left. Some­how.

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Books about Chickens

Whether a chick­en makes you cluck, BAWK! or cheep-cheep-cheep, books about chick­ens make us laugh. We may not have been intro­duced to a chick­en in real life but, trust me, some peo­ple keep them as egg-lay­ing won­ders and oth­er peo­ple keep them as pets. These fowl have been around in many col­ors, types, and breeds in most coun­tries in the world … and quite recent­ly they have become the sub­ject of many books. Go, chick­ens! We’ve sug­gest­ed 19 books. What would you add as the 20th book on this list?

The Perfect Nest  

The Per­fect Nest
writ­ten by Cather­ine Friend
illus­trat­ed by John Man­ders
Hen­ry Holt, 2011

Farmer Jack, the cat, is build­ing a nest to attract a chick­en who will lay eggs for his mouth-water­ing omelet. Things don’t go quite as planned. Oth­er birds find the nest to be per­fect, too. The eggs hatch and Jack is sud­den­ly tend­ing to lit­tle chicks who think he’s their father. The book is laugh-out-loud fun­ny and makes a great read-aloud. Each of the per­fect nest’s occu­pants speaks with a dif­fer­ent accent.

Hoboken Chicken Emergency

 

The Hobo­ken Chick­en Emer­gency
Daniel Pinkwa­ter
illus by Jill Pinkwa­ter
Simon & Schus­ter, 1977

A clas­sic book that will keep your kids laugh­ing with every page turn. Arthur Bobow­icz is sent to get the Thanks­giv­ing turkey but there are none to be had. On the way home, he sees a sign in Pro­fes­sor Mazzocchi’s win­dow (you know him, the inven­tor of the Chick­en Sys­tem). Arthur ends up tak­ing a chick­en home but it’s a 266-pound live chick­en named Hen­ri­et­ta. She gets loose … and caus­es dis­as­ter all over Hobo­ken, New Jer­sey. A good read-aloud but also the per­fect book for 9- and 10-year-olds to read.

Beautiful Yetta  

Beau­ti­ful Yet­ta: the Yid­dish Chick­en
Daniel Pinkwa­ter
illus by Jill Pinkwa­ter
Fei­wel & Friends, 2010

Yet­ta, the chick­en, escapes from a poul­try truck in Brook­lyn and is soon lost, lone­ly, and hun­gry, shunned by the rats and pigeons she encoun­ters. Hero­ical­ly, she saves a lit­tle green bird, Eduar­do, from a cat, win­ning the grat­i­tude of his friends, the par­rots. They teach Yet­ta how to find food and how to get along in an unfa­mil­iar place. The book is filled with Yid­dish, Span­ish, and Eng­lish phras­es and Yetta’s speech appears in both Hebrew and Eng­lish alpha­bets. Your kids will soon be exclaim­ing about the “farsh­tunken katz”!

The Little Red Hen  

The Lit­tle Red Hen
Paul Gal­done
Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2011 (reis­sued)

When the Hen asks for help plant­i­ng wheat, the cat, the dog, and the mouse all say “No!” They won’t help her water it, or har­vest it, or grind it. They are quite lazy. When the Lit­tle Red Hen bakes a deli­cious cake, who will be invit­ed to eat it? Ages 4 to 11.

Chicken Man  

Chick­en Man
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Michelle Edwards
1991, repub­lished in 2009 by North­South Books

Rody lives on a kib­butz in Israel, where he is assigned to tend to the chick­ens. He comes to love them and they him. He sings loud­ly with joy. And thus oth­er kib­butz work­ers think the chick­en house must be the best place to work and Rody is re-assigned to anoth­er job.  The chick­ens stop lay­ing eggs. And Rody miss­es his chick­ens.  How will Rody find his way back to his favorite job? A good look at life on a kib­butz.

Chickens to the Rescue  

Chick­ens to the Res­cue
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by John Him­mel­man
Hen­ry Holt, 2006

On the Green­stalk farm, things are con­tin­u­al­ly going wrong. Mon­day through Sat­ur­day, when things need to be done, it’s the chick­ens to the res­cue! In hilar­i­ous attire, with laugh-out-loud results, the good-inten­tioned chick­ens help ani­mals and humans alike. Except on Sun­day. Then they rest. The illus­tra­tions in this book are delight­ful.

Interrupting Chickens  

Inter­rupt­ing Chick­en
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by David Ezra Stein
Can­dlewick Press, 2010

Papa is good about read­ing bed­time sto­ries to Lit­tle Red Chick­en, but she can’t help but inter­rupt his read­ing to warn the char­ac­ters in the books about what’s to come. Which, of course, brings an abrupt end to the sto­ries. Papa asks Lit­tle Red to write her own sto­ry but Papa inter­rupts … by snor­ing. It’s a charm­ing book, sure to cause gig­gles … and it brings some clas­sic tales to life. Calde­cott Hon­or book.

First the Egg  

First the Egg
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Lau­ra Vac­caro Seeger
Roar­ing Brook Press, 2007

It’s a book of trans­for­ma­tions, from cater­pil­lar to but­ter­fly, from tad­pole to frog, from egg to chick­en, and more. Illus­trat­ed with lus­cious col­or and sim­ple die-cuts, this is an engag­ing con­cept book for the preschool crowd. Calde­cott Hon­or book.

Chicken Cheeks  

Chick­en Cheeks
Michael Ian Black
illus­trat­ed by Kevin Hawkes
Simon & Schus­ter, 2009

Bear enlists all the oth­er ani­mals to make a tow­er so he can get at some elu­sive hon­ey. The hilar­i­ty comes from the view of many ani­mal bot­toms, 16 ways to refer to those bot­toms, and the unsta­ble, improb­a­ble, tee­ter­ing tow­er of gig­gle-wor­thy ani­mals.

Chicks and Salsa  

Chicks and Sal­sa
Aaron Reynolds
illus­trat­ed by Paulette Bogan
Blooms­bury, 2007

The ani­mals on Nuthatch­er Farm are bored with their food. The roost­er looks around and hatch­es a plan. They will eat chips and sal­sa made from the ingre­di­ents on the farm! The sal­sa recipe changes to accom­mo­date each animal’s pref­er­ences. It’s so excit­ing they decide to have a fies­ta! But when the day comes, the humans have abscond­ed with their ingre­di­ents to enter into the state fair. What will the ani­mals do? Thanks to the quick-think­ing roost­er and a resource­ful rat, the par­ty goes on!

Chicken in the Kitchen  

Chick­en in the Kitchen
Nne­di Oko­rafor
illus­trat­ed by Mehrdokht Ami­ni
Lan­tana Pub­lish­ing, 2015

Set in Nige­ria, a young girl awakes to a noise in the mid­dle of the night. When she inves­ti­gates, she dis­cov­ers a giant chick­en in the kitchen. Hilar­i­ty ensues. Noth­ing is quite what it seems. Will Anyau­go be able to pro­tect the tra­di­tion­al foods her aun­ties have pre­pared for the New Yam Fes­ti­val? Gor­geous illus­tra­tions and a good look at the mas­quer­ade cul­ture of West Africa. 

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?  

Why Did the Chick­en Cross the Road?
illus­trat­ed by Jon Agee, Tedd Arnold, Har­ry Bliss, David Catrow, Mar­la Frazee, Mary Grand­Pre, Lynn Mun­singer, Jer­ry Pinkney, Vladimir Kan­dun­sky, Chris Rasch­ka, Judy Schachn­er, David Shan­non, Gus She­ban, and Mo Willems
Dial Books, 2006

When 14 illus­tra­tors are asked “why did the chick­en cross the road?” their answers are fresh and fun and var­ied. They’ll delight you with their orig­i­nal takes on this old chest­nut.

Hattie and the Fox  

Hat­tie and the Fox
Mem Fox
illus­trat­ed by Patri­cia Mullins
Simon & Schus­ter, 1987

In a cumu­la­tive tale with plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ty for dif­fer­ent voic­es and great ener­gy while read­ing out loud, we learn that Hat­tie, the black hen, spies a fox in the bush­es. She tries to warn the oth­er ani­mals but they don’t believe her. A won­der­ful pas­tiche of antic­i­pa­tion, rep­e­ti­tion, and the illustrator’s vivid use of tis­sue paper col­lage and con­te cray­on make this an excel­lent choice for sto­ry­time and any­time.

Hen Hears Gossip  

Hen Hears Gos­sip
Megan McDon­ald
illus­trat­ed by Joung Un Kim
Green­wil­low, 2008

Psst. Psst. Psst.” Hen is addict­ed to gos­sip, espe­cial­ly about her­self. When she over­hears Pig whis­per­ing a secret to Cow, Hen spreads it around until it returns to her with a not-so-nice ren­di­tion. Read­ing this book pro­vides a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk about the ways gos­sip hurts. 

Big Chickens  

Big Chick­ens
Leslie Helakos­ki
illus­trat­ed by Hen­ry Cole
Dut­ton, 2006

When a wolf threat­ens the chick­en coop, the chick­ens RUN! They’re ter­ri­fied and they want to get away. The fun ensues as they get into one hilar­i­ous predica­ment after anoth­er. It’s the exact kind of sil­ly kids love and Hen­ry Cole’s illus­tra­tions rein­force the goofy chick­ens’ reac­tions to the chaos they cre­ate.

Chicken Followed Me Home!  

A Chick­en Fol­lowed Me Home:
Ques­tions and Answers about a Famil­iar Fowl
Robin Page
Beach Lane Books, 2015

What would you do if a chick­en fol­lowed you home? You’d learn to tell what kind of chick­en it is, what it would like to eat, and how to keep it safe and healthy. You’d observe how many eggs a chick­en lays in a year and how a chick­en is dif­fer­ent than a roost­er. With bold illus­tra­tions, this book will appeal to both younger and old­er chil­dren.

Kids Guide to Keeping Chickens  

A Kid’s Guide to Keep­ing Chick­ens:
Best Breeds, Cre­at­ing a Home,
Care and Han­dling, Out­door Fun, Crafts and Treats
Melis­sa Caugh­ey
Storey Pub­lish­ing, 2015

Filled with won­der­ful pho­tos and prac­ti­cal advice for kids who would like to raise chick­ens … whether in the city or out in the coun­try.  The book sug­gests ways to con­sid­er chick­ens as pets, offer­ing crafts to con­nect with your barn­yard beau­ties: build them a fort, learn to speak chick­en, and cre­ate a veg­gie piña­ta for them. Egg-celent egg ecipes are avail­able, too.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer  

Unusu­al Chick­ens for the Excep­tion­al Poul­try Farmer
Kel­ly Jones
illus by Katie Kath
Knopf Books for Young Read­ers, 2015

Mov­ing from Los Ange­les to a farm her fam­i­ly inher­it­ed, Sophie Brown and her moth­er and father are reluc­tant farm­ers. Sophie feels iso­lat­ed, which she tack­les by writ­ing let­ters to her abuela and to Agnes of Red­wood Farm Sup­ply. You see, Sophie’s great-uncle kept chick­ens. One-by-one they come home to roost and Sophie dis­cov­ers they are not ordi­nary chick­ens … they have pow­ers. Are they mag­i­cal? Super­nat­ur­al? They’re cer­tain­ly unusu­al and neigh­bors will do just about any­thing to claim them. A fun­ny, mid­dle-grade nov­el, Unusu­al Chick­ens will have read­er want­i­ng to become Excep­tion­al Poul­try Farm­ers.

Prairie Evers  

Prairie Evers
Ellen Air­good
Nan­cy Paulsen Books, 2012

Prairie Evers moves from North Car­oli­na to upstate New York, where her fam­i­ly claims an inher­it­ed farm. She’s going to attend a pub­lic school for the first time. Up until now, Prairie has been home­schooled and hav­ing class­mates is a new expe­ri­ence. When Ivy Blake becomes her first-ever friend, Prairie real­izes Ivy’s home life is not a hap­py one. The Evers invite Ivy to spend time with them … and Prairie finds that a new expe­ri­ence, too. This mid­dle-grade nov­el  has great infor­ma­tion about the chick­ens Prairie is rais­ing … and a lot about friend­ship, opti­mism, and loy­al­ty.

Cheater for the Chicken Man  

Cheat­ing for the Chick­en Man
Priscil­la Cum­mings
Dut­ton, 2015

A seri­ous YA nov­el set on a chick­en farm, this is a com­pan­ion to two ear­li­er books in the Red Kayak series. Now Kate is deal­ing with her father’s death, her mother’s grief, and her broth­er J.T.’s return home from a juve­nile deten­tion camp where he served a sen­tence for sec­ond-degree mur­der. She wants to give her broth­er a chance at a fresh start but it’s a daunt­ing task.

My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me  

My Paint­ed House, My Friend­ly Chick­en, and Me
Maya Angelou
pho­tographs by Mar­garet Court­ney Clarke
Crown, 2003

Hel­lo, Stranger-Friend” begins Maya Angelou’s sto­ry about Than­di, a South African Nde­bele girl, her mis­chie­vous broth­er, her beloved chick­en, and the aston­ish­ing mur­al art pro­duced by the women of her tribe.  With nev­er-before-seen pho­tographs of the very pri­vate Nde­bele women and their paint­ings, this unique book shows the pass­ing of tra­di­tions from par­ent to child and intro­duces young read­ers to a new cul­ture through a new friend. Thanks to Nan­cy Bo Flood for sug­gest­ing this title.

 

Our com­menters have added:

  • The Plot Chick­ens by Mary Jane and Herb Auch
  • Wings: a Tale of Two Chick­ens by James Mar­shall
  • Chick­en Squad: the First Mis­ad­ven­ture by Doreen Cronin, illus by Kevin Cor­nell
  • Hen­ny by Eliz­a­beth Rose Stan­ton

chicken books

How about you? What’s your favorite chick­en book?

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The Magic Valentine's Potato

Big Bob and The Magic Valentine’s Day Potato

Sev­er­al years ago, a mys­te­ri­ous pack­age arrived at our house on Valentine’s Day: a plain brown box addressed to our entire fam­i­ly with a return address “TMVDP.” The pack­age weighed almost noth­ing. It weighed almost noth­ing because the box con­tained four lunch­box serv­ing-size bags of pota­to chips. Noth­ing else. Or at least I thought there […]

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Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice

Mrs. Noodlekugel and Four Blind Mice

The woman who cuts my hair, Amy, had a par­tic­u­lar­ly hard sum­mer the year her boys had just learned to read. Their school asked that she keep them read­ing over the sum­mer, but there were only so many Mag­ic Tree­house books she want­ed them to read. What oth­er books would be suit­able? The min­utes flew […]

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