CCBC December 2014 Newsletter: Wintertime


News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre
December Book List: Wintertime
TD Book Week 2015 & Writing Contest
Author’s Corner: Jean E. Pendziwol
Classroom Activity
Amy’s Marathon of Books: December Update
Illustrator’s Studio: Patricia Storms
Out: Fall 2014 issues of Book News and Best Books

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre

Our 2014 holiday book list is up on our website! Whether you’re doing your Christmas shopping or simply looking for a book to take out from the library, we have a great list of books for you to choose from for kids and teens of all ages.

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is now accepting submissions for its seven children’s book awards. The submission deadline for all awards is December 17, 2014. Works by Canadian authors and illustrators, published between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014, are eligible for submission. Click here for more information.

The TD Book Week 2015 application deadline has been extended to January 23, 2015. Schools, libraries and community centres can send in their applications to host an author, illustrator or storyteller. Visit for information on who is touring and how to apply.

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December Book List: Wintertime

by Emma Sakamoto

Wintertime in Canada is a great time to get out and play in the snow, but the cold weather also means that it’s the perfect time to curl up inside with a book. Here is our list of books about winter stories, adventures and trivia.

Picture Books

Kitten’s Winter
(Kitten, Book 4)
Written and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Kids Can Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55453-343-5
IL: Ages 1-4  RL: Grade 1
Join Kitten as she explores the lively winter wonderland just outside her front door. As she struggles to make her way home, she encounters some animals that are braving the blustery winter day while others are hidden nearby sleeping soundly. A beautifully illustrated book with simple rhyming text that makes it the perfect read-aloud. Book Four in the series.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Once Upon a Northern Night
Written by Jean E. Pendziwol
Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Groundwood Books, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-55498-138-0
IL: Ages 4-7  RL: Grades 2-3
In this exquisite lullaby, as a child sleeps, the beauty and wonder of a northern winter night unfold. With images of a soft snowfall, the wild animals that appear in the garden, the twinkling stars, the gentle rhythm of the northern lights and the etchings of the frost on the window pane, the world outside continues its own natural rhythms. This title is also available in French as Par une belle nuit d’hiver.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Perfect Snow
Written and illustrated by Barbara Reid
North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-545-98577-2
IL: Ages 3-9  RL: Grades 1-2
At recess, the schoolyard is full of kids who are happy because it snowed the previous night. Scott is building snowmen. Jim is constructing the world’s largest snow fort. At lunchtime, they join forces to craft a perfect snow surprise. Reid’s watercolour-and-ink panels and famous Plasticine art round out this tale celebrating winter fun.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Singing Away the Dark
Written by Caroline Woodward
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
Simply Read Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-897476-41-3
IL: Ages 4-8  RL: Grades 1-2
Written in rhyming verse, this whimsically illustrated story tells the tale of a little girl who has to trudge a mile through the snow to catch the school bus. Will she be able to sing her way through the shadows on this dark winter morning? A finalist for the 2011 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Ice Dogs
Written by Terry Lynn Johnson
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-547-89926-8
IL: Ages 9-13  RL: Grades 5-6
Victoria Secord, a 14-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, is determined to qualify for the famed White Wolf Classic. On an outing with her dogs, she finds an injured “city boy” in the woods and the two teens are caught in a freak snowstorm. With food gone and temperatures dropping, their survival and that of her dogs is entirely up to her. A high-stakes, high-adventure novel of endurance finding the way home.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Ice Storm
(Disaster Strikes, Book 6)
Written by Penny Draper
Coteau Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55050-451-4
IL: Ages 9-12  RL: Grades 4-6
Alice and Sophie are cousins and best friends but couldn’t be more different. On January 5, 1998, freezing rain begins to fall in the province of Quebec, taking down power lines and trees and leaving homes without heat or electricity. While Alice faces the storm alone, Sophie must help her family keep their dairy herd alive and the girls must think and act as they never have before.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
The Best Worst Christmas Present Ever
Written by Budge Wilson
Scholastic Canada, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4431-2825-5
IL: Ages 8-11  RL: Grades 3-4
Lorinda and her brother James want to buy their mother the best Christmas present ever. Lorinda has her eye on one special item, but they’ll need to come up with some brilliant money-making ideas to get it in time for Christmas! Of course, nothing goes according to plan… but the siblings are determined to make this a holiday their mother will never forget.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Under the Ice
Retold by Rachel A. Qitsualik
Illustrated by Jae Korim
Inhabit Media, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-927095-01-0
IL: Ages 10-14  RL: Grades 5-7
Winter can be cruel in the Arctic, and food quickly grows scarce during the long winter months for those who cannot hunt. In these difficult times, the grandmother of an orphaned boy wishes aloud for the qallupiluit — strange, monstrous creatures that live under the sea ice — to take her grandson away forever. This adventurous tale is illustrated in a comic book style.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Young Adult Fiction

Written by Graham McNamee
Random House Children’s Books, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-385-90895-5
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grade 7
Danny is convinced he is hallucinating when a strange and terrifying creature attacks him. He then hears of Native American legends of a monster that has haunted the lake for 1000 years and that every generation, in the coldest winters, kids have disappeared into the night. People think they ran away, but Danny knows better.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
On Thin Ice
Written by Jamie Bastedo
Red Deer Press, 2006
ISBN: 978-0-8899-5337-6
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 6-8
A mysterious giant bear is haunting Ashley’s dreams. She struggles to find her true home in a fast-changing Arctic, where culture, climate and landscape seem to be crumbling around her.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
SAR: Powderhounds
Written by Heather Kellerhals-Stewart
James Lorimer, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4584-0518-9
IL: Ages 13-15  RL: Grades 3-5
Luc isn’t afraid to take his chances while downhill skiing. His girlfriend is more cautious on the slopes, but the two become lost anyway. When the search-and-rescue team learns that the skiers are missing, rookie team member Chic decides to head out and find them on his own.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Written by Kate Boorman
Amulet Books, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4197-1235-7
IL: Ages 12 and up  RL: Grades 6-8
In an alternate history, harsh winter and a fearsome, mysterious enemy isolate a frontier settlement, and one ostracized girl must keep them from being lost forever.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers


Polar Bear Alert!
(DK Readers, Level 3)
Written by Debora Pearson
DK Publishing, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7566-3140-6
IL: Ages 5-8  RL: Grades 1-2
Danger ahead! Hungry polar bears are gathering nearby in search of food! Learn about Churchill, Manitoba — the Polar Bear Capital of the World — and discover how climate change is a threat to these animals.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Sizing Up Winter
(Math in Nature, Book 3)
Written by Lizann Flatt
Illustrated by Ashley Barron
Owlkids Books, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-926973-82-1
IL: Ages 5-7  RL: Grades 1-3
In this title, poetic prose and eye-catching collages combine to introduce children to the concept of measurement. By observing the northern lights, ice floes and the habits of creatures in winter, kids learn math concepts like reading a calendar, identifying the passage of time and measuring length, distance and mass. Factual information about the animals in the book is also included.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Snow and Ice: Canadian Winter Weather
(Canada Close Up)
Written by Nicole Mortillaro
Scholastic Canada, 2005
ISBN: 978-0-439-95746-5
IL: Ages 7-10  RL: Grades 3-4
Blizzard, ice storms, chinooks… With easy-to-understand language, true stories, photos and diagrams, Snow and Ice provides an informative introduction to Canadian winter weather.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers
Snowy Science: 25 Cool Experiments
Written by Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone
Illustrated by Patricia Storms
Scholastic Canada, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4431-0708-2
IL: Ages 7-12  RL: Grade 3
Try these simple experiments to brighten up a cold winter day! Learn how to make ice cream, create an indoor avalanche and more! Plus, find out all kinds of cool facts about wintery stuff, like icebergs, frost, windchill, glaciers and orange snow! Gain more knowledge about the weather, climate change and the environment. A glossary of terms is included.
Amazon | Indigo | Canadian Bookstores | Wholesalers

Emma Sakamoto works in Canadian publishing and has a particular love for children’s books.

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TD Canadian Children’s Book Week 2015

Apply today!

We are currently accepting applications for TD Book Week 2015! The next TD Canadian Children’s Book Week touring program will run from Saturday, May 2 to Saturday, May 9, 2015. Schools, libraries, bookstores and community centres can apply to host an author, illustrator or storyteller. The deadline for applications has been extended to January 23, 2015. Visit for more information.

Do you love to write? Are you in Grade 4 to 12? If so, enter the Book Week 2015 Writing Contest!

Young writers from across Canada, in grades 4 to 12, are invited to submit their stories and/or poems (fiction or non-fiction) to the Book Week 2015 Writing Contest for Kids & Teens. Judging is done by noted writers from across Canada and one winner from each grade will receive a $250 gift certificate for the bookstore of his or her choice. Two honourable mentions from each grade category will also receive $50 gift certificates. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2015. Click here for contest details!

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Author Corner: Jean E. Pendziwol

by Kate Abrams

Jean E. Pendziwol is a children’s author with a great fondness for the beauty and ruggedness of Northwestern Ontario. Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Jean wrote a series of books on safety for children, entitled Dragon Safety. She has since written a number of popular picture books set in Northern Canada. Her latest book, Once Upon a Northern Night, was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started as a writer?

I grew up in Thunder Bay; a beautiful city perched on the shore of Lake Superior and framed by the Nor’Wester range of the Canadian Shield. As a child, my summer weekends and holidays were spent aboard my family’s sailboat exploring Superior’s north shore. This great inland sea is cold, even in the summer, temperamental and relatively unpopulated. But we loved it. With few companions, no television and playgrounds limited to boreal forest, I spent many, many hours reading. I fell in love with stories and enjoyed playing with words. As I grew and worked my way through school, I never dreamed of becoming an author, but I always knew I wanted to write. Words were fun. They created things – images, sounds, feelings – and if I picked the right ones, and strung them together, they told stories where I could make people and places came alive, and touch the reader’s heart. So, I found work that allowed me to write. After I married and had children, I rediscovered picture books and became enchanted by the format. Now this, I thought, this I want to do. And the journey began.

Your latest book, Once Upon a Northern Night, is a beautiful lyrical poem. What inspired you to write it?

The first snowfall of the season is always magical. I woke one morning to find the world transformed. Fresh snow blanketed my yard, and across that canvas of white, I could see where deer had walked through my garden, a fox had skirted along the bushes, and snowshoe hares had been hopping beneath the shrubs leaving imprints in the snow to match their large furry paws. It made me realize that, while I was sleeping, life was happening all around me, and I knew this because I could see traces of those midnight adventures in the tracks in the snow. I wanted to capture those images, to put them down on paper, to paint them with my words. I wanted to capture hope and the knowledge that even in the darkest times, even when we are not aware, life continues on; we are perfect and beautiful and special, like each miraculous snowflake, and we are loved.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?

For most of my writing career, my stories have had to take a back seat to other demands in my life. One of the attractions of writing picture books has been that I can hold an entire story or concept in my head all at once. Much of my initial “writing” can be done when I’m hiking or kayaking or skiing, when I’ve put aside the busy demands of my day and allowed myself an opportunity to be open to thoughts and ideas and images and feelings. Stories often percolate for months before I give them a voice. When they become so overwhelming that I can’t ignore them anymore, then I sit down and put them on paper. And that’s when the real work begins. Even though my stories are relatively short, and can often be drafted in an afternoon, the entire process can take many, many months. Sometimes, I can spend hours finding just the right word – one word. Each one has to be perfect and beautiful and special. Like a snowflake.

How do you imagine that your books might be used in the classroom? Do you have any suggestions for teachers or parents?

Oooooh! My favourite question! Picture books lend themselves so well to learning, and not just for younger readers that typically fall into the “picture book” age group. In a broad sense, well-crafted picture books contain unsurpassed literary value and some of the best art being created in the world. At the same time, they are wonderfully accessible and provide incredible opportunities for all kinds of learning.

Here are some ideas for Once Upon a Northern Night:

Language: This book is meant to be read aloud and shared; the words roll off the tongue and are lovely to say. The use of repetition is perfect for involving young readers in reciting parts of the text, perhaps in a reader’s theatre format. You can also introduce the concept of literary tools — personification, metaphor, simile, alliteration, onomatopoeia — they are all in there. Budding writers can learn at a very young age how they are used to make stories that are rich and textured and begin applying them to their own writing. Do northern lights really dance? Hmmm. What else can dance?

Art: Isabelle Arsenault’s illustrations are stunning. As with all picture books, there is information about the media she used to create these images on the credits page. Look at the impact her limited use of colour has on an otherwise monochromatic palette. Why do you think she did that? One of my favourite images is the great grey owl. How does this image make you feel? How do the illustrations move the story forward? Make your own illustrations/paintings that capture winter using only black charcoal on white paper (and maybe just one other colour) or white chalk on black paper. Cut out paper snowflakes and hang “sparkling specks of white” all over your classroom or home. Each one is perfect and beautiful and special.

Science: Learn about the animals of the boreal forest, especially those that roam about at night in the winter. Explore what different animal tracks look like, or if you can, make casts of ones that you’ve found. Did you know that owls really fly silently? You can hear a raven’s wings and a seagull’s. Why not an owl’s? What is the difference between a rabbit and a hare? How do northern lights form?

Geography: This story was inspired by a snowfall in northwestern Ontario. Isabelle was inspired by the Laurentians in Quebec. Where are these regions and what makes them unique?

Music: Play a piece of winter-themed music (George Winston – Night Part One: Snow is perfect) and allow creativity to flow from that, through art or words or movement.

And there’s so much more…!

When presenting or reading to children, what do you find is the best way of keeping them engaged?

Every group is different and it is important to stay tuned to the dynamics as they evolve. Enlisting involvement, incorporating movement, seeking feedback and making sure that the information being presented is relevant to those who are listening are all helpful. It’s important for children to be able to connect with what is being presented, and I try to be aware of this and build those connections.

What projects are you working on now?

My children are mostly grown now, which means I am able to consider giving voice to stories that are longer and more complex and take more of my time (and room in my head!). I am still inspired by the geography and culture of northwestern Ontario, and find there are more images to capture, more word paintings to create. Perhaps a summer morning by the lake… when pine trees shake off the shadows of night and the sun reaches gentle fingers to brush against water lilies, telling them to open sleepy eyes.

Kate Abrams is a freelance dramaturge and editor based in Toronto.

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Classroom Activity

by Sandra O’Brien

With this month’s newsletter being all about winter, here are some classroom activities to help you celebrate this season when you return in the New Year.

Collect as many books about winter to have on display in your classroom and read a different story or chapter each day. Start with the list in this month’s newsletter and build from there. Have students make snowflakes (Click here to find a host of snowflake activities from simple to complex) and icicles from tinfoil to hang from the ceiling, paint pictures or a winter mural to display on bulletin boards, create winter scenes with Plasticine (read Barbara Reid’s Perfect Snow to students before doing this activity) and take the students outside to go skating, snow shoeing or some other fun winter activity.

Finally, have students write Haiku poems about winter. Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry which consists of three lines. The first and last lines have five syllables and the middle line has seven syllables. The lines rarely rhyme and are written about things that kids recognize. Animals and seasons are examples of recognizable topics that children might enjoy. For an introduction to Haiku and printable worksheets, click here. Be sure to check out the Winter themed Haiku at the bottom of the page entitled Snowflakes to use as an example for your students.

Sandra O’Brien, a former teacher, is the Interim Program Coordinator at the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

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Amy’s Marathon of Books: December Update

by Amy Mathers

Hello Canadian Teen Book Lovers!

Happy Holidays!

It is December at last which means I have just one month left in my Marathon of Books. We are nearing $17,000 in donations and I am hoping you will remember the Marathon of Books in your year-end giving so we can increase the amount and give the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award a solid financial start! (Click here for ways to donate.)

This past week the Canadian Children’s Book Centre sent out their first call for submissions for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award! I was so excited, I posted the link on all of my social media accounts so everyone will know and those who are eligible will send in their books to be considered. The submission deadline is December 17th, and I wonder just how many submissions there will be.

At the moment I’m working on reading my way through Vancouver, British Columbia and it is a hefty list. I will be ending my Marathon of Books on Vancouver Island on December 31st, but you’ll have to wait and see who the last author on my list is going to be. I started the province with two free spaces on my list, but they are now filled and I am set till the end of the year.

This month’s book recommendations are all from British Columbia, and though they aren’t specifically for the holiday season, they all have something special about them. Feel free to read my review of each book before you pick them up.

Half World
by Hiromi Goto
(Amy’s review)
Swim the Fly
by Don Calame
(Amy’s review)
Me, Myself and Ike
by K.L. Denman
(Amy’s review)

Amy Mathers is reading and reviewing one Canadian YA book a day for a year to raise money for a new teen book award. Visit her website at

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Illustrator’s Studio: Patricia Storms

by Stephanie Dror

At 12 years old Patricia Storms was paid five dollars for a cartoon which was published in the Toronto Star. Since then Patricia has become an an award-winning cartoonist, and a children’s book illustrator—her picturebook The Pirate and the Penguin was named one of the top 10 Great Books for Children for 2011 by the Canadian Toy Testing Council. Patricia has worked on various projects but you might recognize her art in Chirp. Most recently Patricia was the IBBY Canada Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence, which meant working directly with kids who love art. Here is our interview with her.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you developed your style and became a children’s book illustrator.

I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and lived briefly in Jamaica (my mother is from Jamaica). I spent my childhood in Burlington, Ontario. I was a very shy kid back then (none of my friends believe that now!). I spent a lot of my time drawing, writing, reading and listening to music. I loved school, and my favourite subjects were of course, Art and English! But I did not study art after high school, instead I went to college and studied Library Techniques. I loved libraries, and I thought that would be more practical than studying art. But I kept on drawing in my spare time, and I loved art so much that I went back to school and studied Graphic Design. I learned a lot about design at college, which really helped me in understanding the elements need to create a beautiful book. I can draw realistically, but I’ve always enjoyed drawing whimsical, humorous art. I know I was greatly influenced by a lot of the comics and cartoons I read when I was young. I started a blog in 2004, and posted a lot of my humorous art online, and I wrote blog posts about my passion for books, art and writing. I was lucky that at that time editors and art directors were beginning to look online for new talent. So that’s how I started illustrating children’s books, by being approached online.

Patricia, you have done cartoon work, illustrated longer works, written and/or illustrated picturebooks — would you share some insight on your illustration processes?

Most of the time I work in a combination of traditional illustration and digital illustration using Photoshop. I still love drawing with pencil, paper and inking with either a brush and India ink or a fine liner. I love the tactile feel of drawing and inking on paper. But I do know my limitations when it comes to colour, and I feel most comfortable colouring my art in Photoshop. I’m learning new ways of using colour and brushes in Photoshop, and am enjoying the process.

You were IBBY Canada’s Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence for the month of October! How was your experience? What was it like to be an illustrator, as opposed to an author, in residence? Can you tell us a couple of your favourite moments or stories?

I loved being the IBBY Canada Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence! It was a very busy, fulfilling month. I got to do portfolio reviews, drawing workshops for schools, individual workshops for adults at the Northern District Library, as well as at high schools and colleges. I really enjoy working with people interested in art, and doing my best to inspire and encourage creativity. One of my favourite moments was doing a picture book illustration workshops at the Lakeshore Humber College Campus. The campus is beautiful, and the room I was working in was also showcasing the CANSCAIP Packaging Your Imagination Art Show. It was very inspiring! And I found it quite amusing that one of my students was a former instructor at Sheridan College, back when I was studying Library Techniques. So I was teaching a former teacher! Another favourite moment was when an entire class of students gave be a big ‘thumbs up’ as a thank you before they left the library. It’s moments like that which fill my heart and keep me going.

What words of encouragement would you offer to young aspiring artists? How do you imagine that your illustrations, apart from or with their texts, might be used in the classroom? Do you have any fun suggestions for teachers or parents?

For aspiring artists, I would say, draw all the time, and read a lot of books – fiction and non-fiction. Educate your self in the world of art. How might my art be used in the classroom? Well, I’ve been told that my art is very expressive, full of lots of emotion. Perhaps my art could be used as a tool for understanding emotions within ourselves. I know I have the ability to draw everything from rage to jealousy to fear to sadness. Discussing my expressive art could be a stepping stone to helping children understand the feelings that they have, why they have them, and when and where it’s best to express those emotions.

What projects are you working on now? Anything you are particularly excited about?

I’m working on illustrating a new Halloween book and it’s just so much FUN!! But that is just one side of me, the fun cute silly side. There are other parts of my creative self that I hope to share in the near future. I have some book ideas that are a wee bit more serious and I hope that they will see the light of day in the future.

Images courtesy of Patricia Storms.

Stephanie Dror has a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature. She is the Membership Secretary for IBBY Canada, a founder and blogger at The Book Wars and a book reviewer for CM: Canadian Review of Materials and The Ottawa Review of Books.

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Out Now: Fall 2014 issues of Book News and Best Books

Dynamic writing duos, Black Canadian stories and more in the Fall 2014 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News:

  • How does a successful author partnership work? Four dynamic writing duos explain.
  • Teacher and writer Nadia L. Hohn looks at the Black Canadian experience and asks: “Who will write our stories?”
  • With 25 books in five years, artist Qin Leng is a very busy illustrator.
  • Plus Book Week updates, early chapter books for the classroom, reviews of the latest books and much more.

Fall 2014 issue of Best Books for Kids & Teens

The Fall 2014 edition of Best Books for Kids & Teens, the CCBC’s semi-annual selection guide, is out now. All of the titles in Best Books for Kids & Teens have been handpicked by expert committees of educators, booksellers and school and public librarians from across Canada. The reviewed materials include picture books, junior/intermediate fiction, graphic novels, and powerful teen fiction, in addition to a wide array of non-fiction, magazines and audio/video resources.

Book News and Best Books can be purchased at select bookstores or in our online shop.

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