Interview with Bindi Irwin, International Tween Superstar and Co-creator of Bindi Wildlife Adventures

Joining us today is Bindi Irwin. Bindi is the daughter of Terri Irwin and the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. Bindi has just co-created a fictional tween adventure series based upon her life at the Australia Zoo. We’ll talk to Bindi about her books, her dedication to conservation, and her dreams for the future.

Welcome to The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection, Bindi. It’s an honor to have you with us. It’s inspiring to see all that you have accomplished.

Let’s talk for a moment about the Australia Zoo. You’ve grown up there. It’s an important part of your life. Could you share one of your favorite memories from the zoo?

The best thing about living at Australia Zoo is that I am surrounded by wildlife. After school every day I get to hang out with all the animals. I might feed the echidnas or hug the koalas at our wildlife hospital. One of my favourite memories would be when I was little, I’d sit in the enclosure with the newly hatched Burmese Pythons and play for ages. 

Your father had a dream. You spoke of his desire to change the world and how you wanted to continue his work. Why is this so important to you?

My dad always taught me that one man can make a difference, and I believe that one kid can make a difference too. 

My dad’s important work must continue and I’m inspired by all the support my family has received. I’m determined never to give up! 

I don’t want Dad’s passion to ever end; I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did. 

I was excited to receive a review request for the first two books in your new chapter book series: Trouble at the Zoo and Rescue. How did this series come about?

The idea behind the books was to write stories that were enjoyable to all kids and that were fictional, based on our family’s real life adventures. 

It was a lot of fun helping with the books because I was a co-creator. I got to proofread the final copy of all of the books to make sure that the facts were correct and that the story line was how I wanted it to be. I also got to pick the animals and the storylines that the books were based on. 

The first book, Trouble at the Zoo, is about my birthday at Australia Zoo and how it almost got ruined by a 10 year old boy trying to sneak one of our beautiful water dragons out of the zoo. It is fantastic! 

The second book, Rescue, is about a trip to South Africa. My friend Hannah and I discover a nature preserve for the giant stable antelope that is being used for illegal hunting at night.  It’s an exciting story! 

What do you hope children will learn from these adventures?

Children are the future and every kid can make a difference! I hope that these books get kids excited about protecting animals and the environment. I hope that kids will feel empowered to be the hero of their own story and want to make a difference in our world. 

I don’t want my dad’s passion to ever end. I’m excited to continue helping teach people all over the world about conservation. 

Where can readers buy these books?

My books are available wherever books are sold – in bookstores and online.

Do you have a website where they can learn more?

If you go to you can keep up to date with all our wonderful animals, learn about our amazing conservation projects and how you can help, see the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital’s patient of the week and you can even adopt one of our gorgeous animals. 

If you could tell kids one thing about conservation, what would it be?

Wildlife is an important part of our world. Every time we lose an animal species it’s like losing a brick from the house, pretty soon the house just falls down. 

The single biggest thing you can do is to not buy wildlife products. Wildlife is still dying to be in fashion. 

You’ve already accomplished so much in your young life. What are a few of the dreams you’re still working on?

The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve is a beautiful place in Cape York that was dedicated to my dad. We are trying to protect the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve from being strip mined. So if you go to you can sign the petition and help us with the fight. Even kids under 18 can sign it if they are in Australia.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Bindi. Good luck with your books!


Read our reviews of these books at

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One Pelican at a Time by Nancy Stewart

One Pelican at a Time by Nancy Stewart is a small book with a big message: everyone, even kids, can help make our world a greener place.

Bella and Britt are sad when blobs of smeary oil stain their beach. They want to help with clean up efforts, but the ranger explains it’s a big job that the adults have to handle. When their friend the old pelican becomes covered in oil, the girls’ quick thinking and action helps save his life. Maybe there are ways for kids to help.

In this beautifully told story of the 2010 Gulf oil spill, author Nancy Stewart brings young readers up close to the disaster and encourages them to make a difference. How often as a child were you told to let the adults handle it? I bet our kids are just as frustrated now when they hear it as we were back then; especially considering children nowadays are more socially conscious. There are ways that all of us can make a difference, and in One Pelican at a Time, we see that desire and compassion lead to quick thinking and action on the part of two young girls who wish to save their animal friend.

Artist Samantha Bell provided the stunning artwork for this one. I’ve seen Bell’s artwork on numerous occasions. I love her use of color and the emotions she manages to capture with her drawings.

Also included are are helpful links so kids can learn more and tips on how they can help by being a bit greener each day.

One Pelican at a Time by Nancy Stewart should be in classrooms and homes everywhere!

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
ISBN-10: 1616331399
ISBN-13: 978-1616331399
SRP: $11.95

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The author paid me a fee to promote her book through a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book! This fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I received no monetary compensation of any kind. 

The Mirror of Yu-Huang by Christine Norris Interview and Giveaway!

Confucius never said anything about this.

Megan Montgomery, spending her second Christmas in England, was expecting peace and quiet over the holidays. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

First, the headmistress of St. Agatha’s College for Girls, Megan’s school, her school has strong-armed her father into hosting a huge New Year’s ball at their home. Next, she winds up playing hostess to a Chinese ambassador, his family, and his staff.  While the guests seem very pleasant, Megan is still uncomfortable. She’s been unlucky with houseguests in the past—like one of the guests died kind of unlucky. Of course, he also tried to steal one of the precious magical artifacts that are hidden in the Library of Athena, a cavernous room hidden beneath her home, so it wasn’t totally her fault.  Now hundreds of people will be crawling all over the manor.

Megan tries to relax and enjoy the holidays despite her home being turned into Grand Central, but her worst fears are realized when Megan receives a mysterious Christmas gift, one that links her to the Library of Athena. Now she’s on her guard, hoping to identify the culprit and learn just how much he or she knows about the Library, before someone gets hurt, or worse, she winds up inside another enchanted book.

Thank you for joining us today, Christine. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

Thanks for having me! I was born on a cold winter’s night…wait, no, that’s not right. Actually I was born in the middle of summer, but that’s not what you mean, is it? I just started a career as a School Media Specialist in a Pre-K and Kindergarten school, and I’m a mom to pretty terrific 8 year old boy. I’m still in Graduate School too, finishing that Master’s degree. All of which has come about during the almost ten years that I’ve been writing.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I had a few false starts over the years, wrote some real rubbish that I never finished, got easily distracted by shiny things…oh, look at that! But I started really writing on a continuous basis about 10 years ago. That’s when I started my first book, Talisman of Zandria, and I was really motivated to finish it, which was a first too. I think it was just the right time.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

I am asked this question a lot, and I always have the same answer…I did it on a dare. No, kidding! It wasn’t a conscious decision, only that I loved those stories best. I have never been a big reader of books for grownups, I always say; I sort of just naturally gravitated toward YA.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

I love that I can just let loose and be funny, or sarcastic, or silly. I don’t have to worry about being serious all the time. I can release my inner teenager. The challenge is to not let my adult self get too much control and spoil it, and to remember that things are different than when I WAS a teenager; no one remembers cassette tapes or rotary phones anymore! LOL!

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

THE MIRROR OF YU-HUANG is the third book in the LIBRARY OF ATHENA series, and another adventure about Megan Montgomery and her friends. The headmistress of her school has wheedled her father into hosting a huge formal ball at their big English manor on New Year’s Eve. Which Megan is not happy about, because there’s a big secret at the Parthenon, (which is the name of the manor)—The Library of Athena. That’s a huge secret chamber under the house that holds some really rare and important books, including a collection of enchanted books that protect magical artifacts. The books will suck you inside and make you fight your way out once you find the artifact, of course using every possible opportunity to kill you along the way. So you can see why doesn’t really want a bunch of people traipsing all over. Then she has to play hostess to a Chinese ambassador and his family, and it seems that one of them knows about her secret. She suspects everyone, and eventually she winds up inside one of the enchanted books, chasing someone who wants to steal the Mirrror of Yu-Huang. It’s all very exciting and edge-of-your seat and twisty-turny.

What inspired you to write it?

As I said, this is the third book in the series, but I knew I wanted to do something different. So many books use Greek and Egyptian mythology, which were included in the first two books and I think a good introduction to the series. There aren’t a ton of books that include Chinese mythology, and there’s probably a good reason. It wasn’t the easiest to work with, making Mirror probably the most difficult book I’ve written so far. But I think the end result was worth the work—I am really happy with how it came out.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

All over the place! From the publisher, Zumaya Thresholds ( ), and from Amazon in paperback and Kindle format, and from B& in Nook format, and from Fictionwise. Any bookstore should also be able to get you a paperback copy.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

I’m all over the internet! My website is , my blog is , I’m on Twitter @cnorrisauthor, and I have a Facebook “Fan” page at

What is up next for you?

I have several projects going right now. I just finished a Historical Fantasy/Fairy-Tale retelling story that I am shopping around, and I’m working on getting the next Library of Athena book finished, hopefully this summer. And I’ve got at least another two books in my head, waiting to be written.

Do you have anything else to add?

I just want to say that I appreciate you taking the time to interview me! I hope all your reader enjoyed it, because I sure did. And I hope I can inspire other people who are writers to just keep working at it, and readers to check out my books.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Christine. We wish you much success.

Thanks again!

Christine Norris is the author of several works for children and adults, including the Library of Athena series and the Zandria duology. When she’s not out saving the world one story at a time, she is disguised as a mild mannered substitute teacher, mother, and wife. She cares for her family of one husband-creature, a son-animal, and two felines who function as Guardian of the Bathtub and Official Lap Warmer, respectively. She has also done several English adaptations of novels translated from other languages. She reached a new level of insanity by attending Southen Connecticut State University Graduate School’s Information and Library Science program, so that someday she, too, can be a real Librarian. She currently resides somewhere in southern New Jersey.

Her current book is a YA/Fantasy titled The Mirror of Yu-Huang.

Visit Christine on the web at Connect with her at Twitter at cnorrisauthor and Facebook at

Win a Copy of The Mirror of Yu-Huang!

The author and Pump Up Your Book are offering a FREE copy to one of our readers. Follow the guidelines below for your chance to enter and win.

1) Leave a comment that includes your email address. You can’t win unless we have your email address to contact you.

2) BONUS ENTRY ONE: Subscribe to The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection. Leave a comment to let us know you’re a subscriber. +1

3) BONUS ENTRY TWO: Follow me on Facebook at Leave a comment to let us know you’re a follower. +1

4) BONUS ENTRY THREE:  Follow me on Twitter at!/ccmalandrinos. Leave a comment to let us know you’re a follower. +1

5) BONUS ENTRY FOUR: Like Christine Norris at Facebook on Facebook at Leave a comment to let us know you’re a follower. +1

6) You must be at least 18 years old and reside in the United States or Canada.

Deadline to enter is 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, May 29, 2011. Winner will be selected from entrants who followed the guidelines of this contest. The book will be shipped directly to the winner by the author or her representative. The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection is not responsible for lost or damaged goods.

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Interview with Jim Maher, Author of Hemingway Man

Jim Maher is the proud father of two (nearly three!) boys, and lives in Nanaimo, BC as a stay-at-home dad.  He started writing stories for his brother and sisters when he was five, and decided to try his hand at the rest of the world with Hemingway Man, his first novel.  Among his other pursuits are acting, hiking, attempting to become the greatest dad in the universe, and the occasional date night with his beloved wife.



Mahervolous Books


Our special guest today is Jim Maher, author of young adult novel, Hemingway Man.

Thank you for joining us today, Jim. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I’m a stay-at-home dad in Nanaimo, BC. I trained as an actor, and then started having babies with my lovely wife, Sophia. Not exactly the ‘tortured artist’ story, but I think I’m living a pretty good life.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I wrote my first book, Professor Jim, when I was five years old. Since then I’ve tried to find other things and pursuits interesting, but it always comes back to writing. Hemingway Man is my first novel.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

Young adults are the readers that will either really love your book or really hate it, and won’t be afraid to tell you either way. They’re also still able to go along on whatever ride you’re taking them on.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

My favorite part is putting myself back in that mindframe. The greatest challenge is putting myself back in that mindframe.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Hemingway Man is a coming-of-age tale about Will Charles, a sixteen-year-old who’s just lost his father. Will feels the intense pressure to become the man of the house, but having just lost the person who was supposed to guide him, he has nowhere to turn. Ernest Hemingway wrote a list of four tasks a boy must complete before he becomes a man.
1. Plant a tree.
2. Write a book.
3. Fight a bull.
4. Have a son.
Will finds the list, and takes it on himself to become the Hemingway Man.

What inspired you to write it?

‘Manhood’ and being a grown-up are such relative, gray terms that I wanted to explore what someone would do if they were handed step-by-step instructions. The Hemingway list is real, and I discovered it in much the same way as Will does in the book. I have only accomplished two out of the four, and I’ll let readers decide which two.

Where can readers purchase a copy? and on

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes, I have a blog at, and a Facebook page called Mahervolous Books.

What is up next for you?

I’m having my third son very soon, and I’m editing my next novel, Mike Logan vs. The Crosstown Horde. Busy, busy times!

Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you for the interview, and I hope everyone out there enjoys my book!

Thank you for spending time with us today, Jim. We wish you much success.

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Bindi Wildlife Adventures Series: Trouble at the Zoo and Rescue

Young readers can jump into the shoes of Bindi Irwin in this fictional adventure series based upon her life. Trouble at the Zoo is the first book in a planned six-book series titled, Bindi Wildlife Adventures. In this installment, it is Bindi’s birthday, and she is celebrating at the Australia Zoo. With the Irwin family and visitors dressed as sea creatures, Bindi is excited to tell everyone that the proceeds from the day’s event will be used to help prevent whaling in Antarctica. Things soon turn tense when Bindi’s younger brother, Robert, spies a visitor stealing an eastern water dragon. With the help of a green-winged macaw and some quick thinking, Bindi saves the day.

My daughters have been Bindi fans since they saw her in The Wiggles: Wiggly Safari, when she was about 4; so, they were thrilled to have a chance to read Trouble at the Zoo together. The book opens with a page that is one of Bindi’s diary entries, which is written after the events in the book took place. I noticed that books one and two are written by different authors. This kind of surprised me. The reason I picked it up is because the second book flowed a bit better than the first.  My daughters (ages 7 and 9) did not feel any different about the books. They loved both of them.

What I feel Trouble at the Zoo did well is portray the exuberance and excitement of Bindi Irwin. Like her late father, Steve, she captivates her audience, which allows her to share her conservation message. Her personality is so well captured in this book that you would swear Bindi was in the room relaying the story to you.

In the second book of Bindi Wildlife Adventures, Rescue, Bindi and her friend Hannah are on a guided horse-riding trek in South Africa. Bindi is thrilled that she is going to get a chance to see many kinds of African creatures. Their adventure is quickly sidetracked when the girls discover the supposed breeding sanctuary for the endangered giant sable antelope is actually a game reserve where rich men hunt the game for sport. When the girls are caught spying, they find themselves in grave danger.

Rescue follows the same format as Trouble at the Zoo, with the first page an entry from Bindi’s diary that talks about her adventure in South Africa as a teaser, and the full story following. Overall, I enjoyed this story a bit more than the first. The writing style is similar, capturing the essence of Bindi within its pages, but this one is more polished. Bindi’s mom, Terri, and brother Robert, play roles in this book, just as they did in the first one, which gives fans a feeling of being in familiar territory. Though Bindi is the focus of the books, readers witness the interaction between Bindi, her mom and her brother, in addition to the relationships they have with friends. It’s definitely a nice touch. It also allows the conservation message to be relayed in a way that it doesn’t come across like a hammer hitting you over the head. The reader watches the family’s dedication to wildlife and wants to be a part of that mission. I feel this is very important because the books aim to discuss serious topics, but because of how they are written, they are able to deliver that message and still be light.

Both Trouble at the Zoo and Rescue have colorful, fun covers that young readers will find attractive.  Each book includes Animal Fact Files containing information about the animals mentioned in the book. There is also a page with a link to a website where readers can sign up to be a Wildlife Warrior. Both books are available now at a variety of online retailers. Book 3, Bushfire, and Book 4, Camouflage, will be released in June.

I’m excited about the Bindi Wildlife Adventures series. It’s a great way to honor the legacy of Steve (The Crocodile Hunter) Irwin, and teach kids the importance of protecting the creatures that share our planet.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Trouble at the Zoo

  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
  • ISBN-10:1402255144
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402255144
  • SRP: $4.99


  • Publisher:Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
  • ISBN-10:1402255179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402255175
  • SRP:  $4.99

I received copies of these books from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for sharing my views.

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Commotion in the Ocean and Rumble in the Jungle by Giles Andreae

Commotion in the Ocean and Rumble in the Jungle are two rhyming books by Giles Andreae. We reviewed Andreae’s ABC Animal Jamboree last fall. In some ways these books are similar. Again we are about animals and again the rhymes and zany and fun. Combine that with the vibrant and silly artwork provided by David Wojtowycz, and you’re sure to have a winner.

Not only do I love the bold use of color on the front covers, these board books are a great size (7 3/4″ x 9 7/8″). They are fun to sit or lay down on the floor with and share the rhymes with your loved ones. I also like the consistency between these two books. They both open in a similar fashion:

“There’s a curious commotion

At the bottom of the ocean.

I think we ought to take a look.”

“There’s a rumble in the jungle,

There’s a whisper in the trees,

The animals are waking up

And rustling the leaves.”

I look forward to more collaborations from Andreae and Wojtowcyz.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Commotion in the Ocean

  • Publisher:Tiger Tales
  • ISBN-10:1589253663
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589253667
  • SRP: $7.95

Rumble in the Jungle

  • Publisher:Tiger Tales
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1589253671
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589253674
  • SRP: $7.95

I received copies of these books from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for sharing my views

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Interview with Kai Strand, Author of the MG Fantasy Novel, The Weaver

Joining us today is Kai Strand, author of The Weaver. This is a children’s book geared toward ages 9 – 12 years old.

Thank you for being with us today, Kai. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me today, Cheryl. I am a wife and a mother of four. We live in Central Oregon where the snow capped Cascades are in stark relief against the bluest sky you’ll ever find. I write and read a lot, but I also love to sing and I’m obsessed with walking. As a family we love to geo-cache all around Central and Eastern Oregon.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I’d have to say the first event in my life that made me realize the value of words was in the fifth grade. My teacher had all the fifth graders write a fiction short titled “Blunder Day.” Mine was one of several to be chosen to hang in the hall. She even attached my school picture (shudder). But seeing it hang there during the open house and receiving compliments from people who’d read it (mostly adults) really resonated within me. “My words can make an impact!”

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

It’s funny because as a young adult, my best friend wanted to write for children and I rolled my eyes at the thought. Like children would even appreciate writing talent! But then I had children and that exposed me to children’s literature again. It was after my oldest daughter and I had gobbled up the first four books in the Harry Potter series that I realized how much more wonderful children’s fiction is than adult. That is when I started writing it.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

I do and I know that many authors who write for adults will do the eye roll I mentioned earlier. However, there is something so challenging to writing the most concise yet engaging story possible. The author must not use one single extra word in her text, but she must draw her reader – his interests, his suspicions, his imagination, all of him – into the setting, time, place, and emotion of the piece. If you get lazy and drop the ball for even one paragraph, your reader will close the book (or turn off their e-reader) and never come back.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

It’s a tie. I love when my work gets into their hands. I love to see their discovery, their joy, their wonder, whatever the story invokes in them, I love to hear about it. Classroom visits are like my candy shop.

But I’m equally moved by the opportunity to impact the growth and development of a child. Children are always absorbing what they see, hear and read and they pull it out of the recesses of their minds without even realizing it. If, for example, a child who has read The Weaver is later faced with dealing with a friend who is suddenly pushing them away, they have the example of loyal friends who don’t turn their back on Mary when she’s confused and angry. I was blessed to have a strong, solid upbringing, yet I learned so much from how characters in the books I read reacted to situations. As an author, I take that responsibility of setting an example of right and wrong and consequences seriously.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Mary lives in a village of storytellers, known as word weavers. Her mother is the most revered word weaver of them all, yet Mary suffers through her third year of Novice Word Weaving. Mary thinks her troubles are over when she meets a strange blue creature who grants her a wish. But instead of weaving a better story, Mary is weaving odd little yarn charms with each still pathetic story she tells.

The Weaver is about perseverance, determination and finding the strength of character to accept and embrace who you really are.

What inspired you to write it?

I like to find common themes and think of how I can twist them to make them seem fresh and give a new view. I was casting around (in the cobwebs in my head) for a story idea one day and I looked down at my computer screen and there in front of me was my online critique group, Silver Web. Hmmm, I thought. We weave stories like a spider weaves a web. Then my mind leaped immediately over to storytelling. I imagined a remote village where everyone told stories all the time. Well, since practice makes perfect, obviously everybody would be pretty darn good at storytelling. But what if one girl wasn’t so good at it no matter how hard she tried? And what if she were the daughter of the most revered word weaver in the village? How would she overcome her obstacles?

Where can readers purchase a copy?

All sorts of places:

Direct from Guardian Angel Publishing, where you can read an excerpt.
Amazon, where you can read some nice reviews.
Or if you’re a member, it’s available from Barnes & Noble, too.
The Weaver is also available for bookstores and libraries through the standard wholesale distributors, Ingram and Follet.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

I’d be honored if readers poked around on my website, They can find reviews and interviews and links to other short stories I’ve written.
I have a blog, Strands of Thought, (also posts on Livejournal), where I blog about the trials and tribulations of being a children’s writer. I interview other writers, illustrators, bloggers and talk about books I’ve read.

But to stay up-to-date on, The Weaver, my writing and upcoming events, my author page on Facebook is the best bet. That page is geared 100% toward readers. I love readers and love to engage with them.

What is up next for you?

The Weaver and I are involved in an exciting display with the cover artist K.C. Snider at the Redmond Library this summer. A reading/signing event and reception will take place on June 18th.

I’m also partnering with a local martial arts venue for an event in July that will be a fundraiser for First Book here in Deschutes County. I’m really excited about that. I’ll post information on my Facebook page as we firm it up.

Other than that, more writing!

Do you have anything else to add?

I’m excited to announce that The Weaver has been nominated for a Global eBook Award in the category of children’s literature. You can find more information about this on my website. Cross your fingers it goes all the way!

Cheryl, thank you, again, for hosting me today. It has been so much fun talking about why I do this. It’s easy to get caught up in the fury of the results, and lose touch with the original inspiration.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Kai. We wish you much success.

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