1001 stories 1-929132-92-1 Publisher's Weekly

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Publisher's Weekly (January 23, 2006):

Prap ("Why?") starts with familiar characters and premises from fairy tales, then asks her audience to decide the outcome through a series of prompts along the bottom of each spread. A youngster following the Goldilocks story, for instance, is asked, "Would you like it better if the little girl was woken up by someone other than the bears?" If so, readers are instructed to turn to page 20, where the heroine is awakened by seven dwarves. Narratives can also be abandoned: a question on page two asks, "Would you be more interested in a different story? Would you like one about three little pigs?" The suggestions don't often result in sequential page-flipping -on page 19, those who wish to read "about a witch who lived in the forest," must turn back two pages. Prap's boldly graphic, thickly outlined illustrations often play with the idea of narratives converging -one spread shows the three pigs' Big Bad Wolf and the witch from Hansel and Gretel meeting the same end in the same fireplace. But despite some lively pictures and the potential for creating some truly fractured fairy tales, the results never quite feel as compelling as the linear originals. Some of this is due to the breathless, humorless storytelling, but much of the problem lies in the book's mechanics -which, of course, are its "raison d'etre". The spreads feel cramped and confusing, and non-readers will find little to hold their interest.

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2006):

This ingenious amalgamation of fairy tales will have readers opening it over and over, never reading the same tale twice. As with Choose Your Own Adventure, each page offers a short snippet of story, then two choices in the form of questions. These allow youngsters to shape the plot and turn the fairy-tale world upside down. What if the Big Bad Wolf got sick on the way to Grandma’s? Or mixing things up: What if beautiful Little Red ran from the wolf and got trapped in a castle by a beast? Children will quickly memorize the page numbers of story beginnings so they can skip straight to a new tale. Those familiar with the older series may be disappointed to find that some of the choices offered will undo the fate that has just befallen the character. Prap’s illustrations bring to mind scratchboard art, with black outlines and bold, textured colors. The characters are easily recognizable, and the back endpaper features a map. A great addition to any fairy-tale collection, teacher’s bookshelf to teach parts of a story or carry-on tote.

YA Book Central.com (May 2006):

Do you love Hansel and Gretel, The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood and the Seven Dwarves? Have you ever wondered what the story would sound like if you combined them? Readers of Once Upon 1001 Stories can mix and match their favorite fairy tales to come up with...well...1001 possibilities! At the bottom of each spread, the reader is asked to make a decision--which directs the reader to a new page. With each turn of the page, a new story unfolds, resulting in a unique reading experience each time.

When I read this book most recently, Little Red Riding Hood met up with the Three Bears, met an ugly frog and then the Big Bad Wolf. This time, the Big Bad Wolf didn’t eat her—-he ran off to huff and puff and blow a house down!


Are you ready for an amazing reading adventure? In the pages of this book you'll find all your favorite fairy tales like "The Three Pigs," "Goldilocks," "Rapunzel," "Red Riding Hood," and "Hansel and Gretel." But what if you could choose your own ending to the story? You could have Red Riding Hood run away from the wolf instead of talking to him. How would that change the ending? What if you got to choose what your favorite characters did or didn't do? It's all up to you! A great way to get kids involved with the stories.

CNN.com (September 27, 2006):

The silly thing about this book is that each story goes around and around in circles. I just read the story about that frog and princess thing and then it just went right back to the story I read before that about Sleeping Beauty and the creature sleeping in the flowers. That's a kind of an in-the-middle thing, half good and half bad. Sometimes people like moving onto different stories, and sometimes they like being in the same place. Too many of the stories go back to the same page. You don't really get to pick how you want it to end like it promised.

The book does have some funny stuff like when the frog says, "I want a kiss, not a broken promise!"
This book is half good and half bad. I think the author was trying to make it more interesting, but it didn't make that much sense.

- Andrew Oglesby, Age 7



Rainbo Electronic Reviews (August 1995):

…a nice tour of an outdoor market place and the animals who shop there.



School Library Journal (Monday, February 1, 1999):

Most children are curious about scabs, for many of them have a scab somewhere on their bodies for most of their childhood. This Japanese import explores that fascination and explains how and why scabs form. Children with orange skin discuss picking them, eating them ("YUCK!"), and wonder what they are made of. "Is it hardened blood?" Could it be the "poop of a sore?" There is no indication which words are spoken by what character. The crudely drawn art and the words are helter-skelter on the pages, giving a messy appearance. However, even though the pictures are unattractive, the diagrams are well labeled and easy to understand and the clear, conversational text explains the process very well.

Booklist (January 1, 1999):

The gang that produced Everyone Poops (1993) turns its attention to scabs. As usual, rather horrific pictures (scribbled cartoons featuring orange faces) and an often inane text ("Maybe a scab is made of something like poop that comes out of a sore") is combined with decent information about what a scab is, what causes it to form, and the function it serves for the body. As with other books in this series of Japanese imports, the topic has plenty of kid appeal, and the very grossness of the presentation just adds to the allure. Buy where previous books are popular, if you can stand hearing the giggles coming from the stacks.

The Tampa Tribune-Times (May 1999):

Some suggest that the perfect gift for 5-year-olds is a box of bandages because they are preoccupied with bodies and their protection. This, then, is the best book to accompany that gift.

Hornbook Guide to Children (Friday, January 1, 1999):

An import in the same spirit as "Everyone Poops" and "The Gas We Pass", "All about Scabs" is just that. Simple, childlike drawings and a brief text give a clear explanation of the science of scabs. Text alternates between facts and the believable dialogue of different children wondering and talking about scabs.

Curled Up Kids (September 2006):

If your inquisitive child questions just about everything, you will be pleased to learn that the topic of “scabs” is well-covered in Genichiro Yagyu’s All About Scabs. In it, he presents a lively, entertaining and child-centric discussion about scabs that provides a great deal of information about the formation of and reason for their existence.

Yagyu’s book is enjoyable on many levels, and it educates as it entertains. The loose story explores the medical importance of scabs as our wounds heals, and it infuses the information with significant entertainment value by presenting it from the perspective of the inquiring children who probably really do care about the answers to their questions.

The book starts with a child’s natural inclination to pick at a scab and an older person’s instructions not to do so. Children engage in a conversation relating to the look and feel of scabs, and they share a common difficulty in controlling their curiosity about them. The children recall their personal experiences with scabs, putting forth their own interpretation of their makeup. One child even suggests eating her scab but is discouraged from doing so by another child who had first-hand experience of the unpleasantness of this behavior.

Yagyu presents the scientific explanation for the formation of a scab, and the author masterfully presents enough information to satisfy a child’s natural curiosity but not too much to compel a child classify this book as an “educational” one they no longer wish to read. The information strikes a perfect balance between education and entertainment, leaving readers with a sufficient dose of each.

There is certainly something to be said for finding a niche when attempting to write a children’s book, and All About Scabs is a certainly an example of the value of this process. The topic is a unique and important one, and it’s reassuring to know that the appropriate (and scientifically accurate) answers are available in such a wonderful format.



Publishers Weekly (Monday, April 22, 2002):

Several new titles focus on comforting youngsters in a variety of situations. And After That... by Jeanne Ashbé uses a simple lift-the-flap format and predictable text to ease toddlers into the idea of having a new baby in the house. The words "after socks," for instance, appear on an illustrated square flap; underneath lies a pair of lace-up shoes. A later section shows before-and-after scenes with baby and sibling.

School Library Journal (Monday, July 22, 2002):

Through a simple, lift-the-flap format, this book strives to reassure new siblings that things are OK even with a new baby in the house. The first chapter looks at three events for which youngsters know, "what comes next," as in after daytime, it's nighttime; "After socks, you put on your shoes!" The second chapter has some surprises, as in "After building a tower, it falls down." Finally the author explains that after an infant is born, some things change and others won't-the baby will have a snack and after that the sibling will have one, too. While all three parts are connected by how they present the passage of time-now versus later-there's no real buildup into a cohesive experience. The predictable outcomes or inevitable progressions of the first two-thirds of the book don't carry the same emotional weight of having to wait one's turn as seen in the final chapter. The illustrations actually highlight this discrepancy. Blunt outlines softened by the use of sepia ink create simplistic, representative drawings for the first two sections: a pair of blue striped socks, a single mug of spilled liquid. But when Mom, Dad, infant, and sibling appear together, the scenes expand and become more detailed. They are endearing and satisfying but not in line with the rest of the art. Lifting the flap on each page does provide some interest, but not enough to pull this book together as a whole.

Parenting (May 2002):

In this nifty book, everyday situations present themselves as intriguing two-step sequences, with what happens next just a flap away…The last chapter, aimed at toddlers with an infant sibling, offers assurance that while a baby’s needs often must come first, an older child will also have special times with Mom or Dad that are well worth the wait.



Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2007):

When her elderly friend dies, a little girl struggles to understand. Otto may use a cane, but he’s Lisa’s special friend who knows everything about gardens and always has emergency cookies in his pocket. He teaches Lisa to count and tells her “numbers never end.” Together they count stars, spit out cherry pits and dance in celebration when Lisa hits her first bull’s eye with the slingshot Otto made for her. But one day Otto becomes ill and gradually weakens. Lisa stays with him until he dies. At Otto’s funeral a grieving Lisa feels angry, sad and confused as she tries to understand why Otto has left her. After the funeral, Lisa realizes that just because she can’t see Otto any more, he remains in her memories, which, like numbers, never end. The heartfelt pastel illustrations that brim with joy and life when Otto is alive turn somber and subdued as he weakens and dies. This touching story celebrates intergenerational bonds and offers a comforting lesson in loss.

Publishers Weekly (February 12, 2007):

Young Lisa and elderly Otto spend their days rambling around his farm. Otto always seem to have an “emergency” cookie in his pocket, knows how to make a slingshot and loves to count the stars (hence the title). Most important, he never dismisses anything the towheaded girl says; when Lisa wonders where numbers come from, Otto muses a bit and replies, “I think they’re just inside of us.” After Otto falls ill and dies, Lisa is angry and bereft. But with the help of Olga, who took care of Otto, Lisa comes to understand that “Otto is like numbers. He’s inside of us, and that will never end.” German author-artist Bley’s velvety, emotionally acute pictures exude a visual poetry. She conjures a world where minds can meet across the generations without impediments. The scenes of Otto’s swift decline are unsparing, but also intensely human, softened by images of poppies and the things Lisa brings to Otto (leaves, cocoons); every detail seems authentic and heartfelt. Bley plunges readers into the story without explaining whether Otto, Lisa and Olga are related, offering few details about Lisa beyond the experiences she shares with Otto. Instead, the essentials come through in landscapes of the farm and close-ups of Otto and Lisa swapping stories while gazing at the sky. Children will find much to savor in the book’s radiant pictures and lyrical elusiveness.

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (February 17, 2007):

More beauty and loveliness from the fabulous folks at Kane/Miller who bring international authors and illustrators to our attention. This stirring story, another affecting tale about a grandparent and grandchild (although it’s altogether arguable they could not be related), was originally published in 2005 in Germany and now is being published here in the States as the first American edition. Otto and Lisa are extremely close. They sit and tell stories together outside, play with the slingshot Otto made for Lisa, share “emergency cookies,” rake freshly mown grass together, and — in one beautifully-rendered spread — watch the first stars appear, one by one, “until the whole sky glitters and gleams.”

How many stars do you think there are?” Lisa asks.

A thousand,” Otto answers, “or maybe even more.”

And what comes after a thousand?” Lisa wants to know.

One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand . . .”

But don’t the numbers ever stop?”

No, numbers never end.”

Bley expertly uses the first half of the book to establish the loving connection between Otto and Lisa. Suddenly, though, Otto is too tired to get out of bed. With refreshing directness, Bley’s curious, young protagonist asks him, “{w}ill you die soon?” . . . “Mhmmm,” Otto nods, “I think so.” This is followed by two exquisite spreads that you just need to see for yourself in which we’re told and shown that sometimes Lisa just holds Otto’s hand and then the heart-rending spread in which Otto dies, both beautifully illustrated and written. Bley’s illustrations are a wonder. At Otto’s funeral, Lisa is one of the only spots of color in her bright, crimson dress, surrounded by mourners in grey (”lots of people . . . Lisa has never seen . . . before . . . and they all look terribly serious. ‘Don’t whisper like that!’ Lisa shouts at them. ‘Otto doesn’t like whispering!’”). But how Lisa and her mom quietly come to terms with Otto’s death in their own way is a lovely experience I won’t spoil for you. Publishers Weekly puts it well: “German author-artist Bley’s velvety, emotionally acute pictures exude a visual poetry. She conjures a world where minds can meet across the generations without impediments. The scenes of Otto’s swift decline are unsparing, but also intensely human, softened by images of poppies and the things Lisa brings to Otto (leaves, cocoons); every detail seems authentic and heartfelt.” Word. Another beautiful book from Kane/Miller. Don’t miss it.


School Library Journal (Friday, November 1, 1996):

Few people stop to notice how creatures differ from others within their species. Animal Faces is about observing these differences, about being aware that things that may at first appear exactly alike are very different upon closer examination. The concept is so simple that one wonders why no one came up with it earlier. Each double-page spread features a grid of high-quality, full-color photos (21 head shots each of gorillas, camels, seals, etc.). Each of the two dozen featured animals is introduced with a few sentences of text, followed by a question, such as: "Can you find the happy, sad or angry elephants?" "What do you think these seals would be saying if they could talk to you?" This marvelously entertaining and thought-provoking book will fuel a lot of interesting discussions as children and adults alike learn to increase their observational skills.

Parenting (Dec/Jan, 1997):

A rare chance to observe individual differences between members of the same species as well as the subtleties of animal expression.

Notes from the Windowsill (September 2005):

Extremely entertaining as well as educational, this charming book from Japan shows that all animals are unique individuals. Each two-page spread is devoted to a particular type of animal represented by 21 different photographs. A brief description of the animal is followed by a question for readers to ponder as they look at the photos: "What helps you tell one giraffe face from another?" "Can you spot the orangutans who look ready for mischief?" (All of them, I thought.) The astonishing variety of expressions the different animals display is quite fascinating and makes the touch of anthropomorphism in the text easy to forgive.

An underlying theme of the book is the threat of extinction many animals face. The page about wolves is particularly effective: after noting that wolves have been killed off in Japan because they were thought to be dangerous, the book asks "Do these wolves look especially dangerous to you?" while showing utterly beguiling photos of dog-life, sad-eyed creatures. (A few scary ones do help explain how they got that reputation.)

Unusually long for a picture book, Animal Faces covers 24 different animals, showing 504 different faces--each more intriguing than the last. Not only does it provide hours of visual fun, it leaves readers more interested in the world around them.



School Library Journal (Monday, October 1, 2001):

Antonella, an Italian child, is teased by her classmates because she still believes in Santa Claus. She is sure he is real, however, and sends him a letter via balloon when she is turned away at the post office (they can't deliver without an address). The balloon touches down in a Hungarian schoolyard, the letter is translated by a teacher, and the children who found it decide to play Santa and send Antonella the roller skates she so desperately wants. There is no explanation of how the generous youngsters know how to find her-or what size she wears. Illustrated in a colorful, somewhat expressionist style, this book has an old-fashioned European look as well as setting. Too long for most story hour settings, it will be best shared one-on-one or as an independent read.-V. W.

Publishers Weekly (September 24, 2001):

Mocked by her schoolmates for believing in Santa Claus, an Italian girl sends off a Christmas letter anyway via balloon. It ends up in a schoolyard in Hungary, where the students pool their pocket money to fulfill Antonella's wish for roller-skates; their package arrives just in time for Christmas Eve, to the delight of Antonella (and her former disparagers). This uplifting volume from a German team is nimbly told, and the sprightly illustrations, with their smudges of color accented with black detail, possess a European flair.

Booklist (Monday, October 15, 2001):

The author and illustrator are German, the little girl who is getting ready for Christmas lives in Italy, and those who make her dream come true are in Hungary. But there's still plenty here for American children to identify with. Antonella lives by the sea, and all she wants for Christmas is roller skates. The kids tease her for still believing in Santa Claus. Her friend Gino helps her write a letter to Santa, but the post office won't take it without an address. Then Gino has an idea--the balloon man will send it. And so it floats into Hungary, where a classroom of children decide to make Antonella's Christmas wish come true. The artwork has a definite European sensibility--chalky, impressionistic drawings full of bustle. Yet when the red balloon floats overhead in the later spreads, the feeling is one of sweetness and calm. Larger libraries will find this a worthy addition.

Hornbook Guide to Children (Tuesday, January 1, 2002):

First published in Germany in 1969, this is the story of an Italian girl named Antonella who sends Santa a letter by balloon. The balloon floats to Hungary, where a classroom of children discovers it, take up a collection, and send Antonella the roller skates she wants. A few plot elements are left unexplained, but the story retains its appeal. Bright touches of red spice up the old-fashioned art.

Planet Esme (December 19, 2006):

Expressive and wet-washed watercolor/mixed media illustration helps tell the story of Antonella in her little Italian village by the sea, who is teased for believing in Santa Claus. She writes him a letter wishing for the red roller skates, but when nobody knows where to send it until the clever balloon man suggests they try to deliver the letter via balloon. "The balloon floated through rain and snow, clouds and fog. Up and up and up it went, sailing over mountains and rivers, cities and farms." What happens when the letter lands on a playground in Hungary? This colorful, original book shows that you can still communicate long distance without roaming charges, and is a tribute to the true spirit of generosity and faith. This one is as much of an annual favorite in my home and library as Van Allsburg's POLAR EXPRESS.



Suite 101 (September 8, 2006):

Apolo, a long brown daschund, is bound to tickle the funny bone of any child or adult. Grégoire must write with a twinkle in her eye, and her illustrations are as perky as can be. Her goal here is to sell the reader on what an adorable and lovable hound Apolo is – and how different from other dogs. She makes effective use of his wiener dog characteristics and personality. I’d place the text at skilled-beginner or intermediate Spanish. The color scheme components are nicely saturated red, green, brown and yellow. There’s a wonderful graphic feel to the drawings. As far as structure, the binding is average, the page size is elongated to enhance Apolo’s shape, and the paper quality is appropriate. Not a keep-it-forever-book, Apolo is a terrific excuse for a few quiet moments of cuddling with your pre-schoolers.
Jelly Mom (February 5, 2007):

Cute! Apolo is VERY adorable, silly and fun. A short little story about a little Daschund. The author points out Apolo's cuteness while illustrating directions like left, right, up, down and fractions like 1/2 and whole.



The Boston Herald (Jan. 2002):

Shown in parts, his comical appearance adds up to some amusing and memorable lessons in math concepts for preschoolers.

Hornbook Guide to Children (Wednesday, January 1, 2003):

This short, plotless, chatty paean to a fictional dog is full of amusing, simple images of the dachshund Apollo from various angles ("This is his cute little bottom") and in various proportions (."..ta-da! Apollo is in half!"). This book may not teach fractions (or much of anything), but the right reader will find it diverting.

Curled Up Kids.com (March 2006):

Apollo, the lovable dachshund with the very long nose, is back. Not only is he back, he is horizontal, vertical, and even diagonal. When Caroline Grégoire first introduced us to Apollo, the dachshund taught young readers how to count to ten. In her newest book, Apollo shows us his magical abilities as he teaches preschoolers positional math concepts, using his body as the model. We see Apollo from his front, his side and his back, above and below, facing right, then left, all using his body, tail and adorable nose to point the way. He even magically cuts himself in half, several different ways! But when Apollo shows himself in pieces, something goes hysterically wrong. When the pieces reassemble themselves, his feet are on his head, his eyes on his bottom! Ta da...Apollo becomes Super Dog, flying around with his ears on his back. Not to worry, he does reassemble himself, just in time to take his nap. What a wonderfully entertaining way for preschoolers to be introduced to positional math concepts. They won't even know they're learning as they enjoy the delightful pictures of Apollo, with his long pointy nose and winning personality. It is one of those books children will ask for again and again.



*Kirkus Reviews (Saturday, January 15, 2005)

A three-month odyssey around Australia forms this infectiously enthusiastic love letter to the author's homeland. Grace is excited and sad as she sets out with her family, but she adapts to life on the road, illustrating her journeys with cheery watercolor vignettes that are glossed with just the right amount of childlike detail: "The quokkas came so close to me, I could see their tiny whiskers." Seating arrangements in the car are given equal weight with the fabulous sights, and their travels are punctuated by Billy's question: "Are we there yet?" A map showing the family's path along the coastline - with several detours - introduces the journey; periodically, details of that map appear to describe their progress. Restrained design gives the sense of a scrapbook without trying to mimic one - a happy decision, given the delicacy of both illustrations and text. The eventual homecoming is as sweetly perfect as the journey that precedes it. North American kids will be left with both a far greater understanding of the varied wonders of Australia and a sense that their own homeland may offer similarly gorgeous possibilities.

School Library Journal (April 2005):

Eight-year-old Grace describes a three-month trip around Australia with her Mum; Dad; older brother, Luke; and younger brother, Billy (he's the one who keeps up the refrain of the title). Hitching up Poppa's old camper trailer behind their car, this amiable family takes a winter term off from school to experience the remarkable diversity of their country. The varied layout, with text judiciously interspersed among the appealing illustrations, gives readers the experience of browsing through a family album. This is more than just a sightseeing tour as the family members react and interact, often humorously, on their journey. (Mother is afraid of heights-until that scary bungee ride at Surfers Paradise, which she loves). The text assumes local knowledge, (e.g., the Nullarbor Plain, Quokkas, or the Bungle Bungles) without benefit of a glossary, though a detailed map on the front endpapers clearly labels locations and sights. Young armchair travelers interested in Australia may be limited in number, but those who embark will find this an enjoyable trip.

Booklist (April 1, 2005):

Eight-year-old Grace, her parents, and her two brothers embark on a six-month-long journey to tour their country, Australia. Driving around the perimeter of the continent (except when they plunge into the Outback to visit places such as Alice Springs and Uluru) they drive, swim, hike, enjoy zoos, museums, and tourist sites; observe the changing landscape; play Monopoly on rainy days; and visit relatives. Written in Grace’s voice, the text has a colloquial lilt and a consistently childlike point of view, giving the book an appealing informality lacking in more conventional treatments. Readers can refer to small maps throughout the book as they chart the family’s progress. Lively and detailed, the colorful ink-and-watercolor artwork creates visual impressions through dozens of individual pictures. Evidently based on Lester’s own travels, this brightly illustrated book makes a most attractive and effective introduction to Australia.

Publishers Weekly (April 11, 2005):

Lester takes readers on a sprightly tour of her native Australia, placing them in the pleasant company of narrator Grace, her parents and two brothers. The bustling artwork is as key to this engaging travelogue as is the chirpy narration. Eight-year-old Grace balances anecdotes about family interaction with descriptions of landmarks they visit and activities they enjoy. Pulling an old camper behind their car, the clan sets off on a three-month trip, heading in a clockwise direction from their home on Australia’s southern coast and around the perimeter of the continent, with several forays inland. Framed full-page illustrations depict the family listening to singing whales from the cliffs at Head of Bight and hiking around the giant red rock Uluru (“a huge red heart, right in the middle of the country”). Spot illustrations show the siblings hiding behind the Pinnacles that poke up through the sand “like giant limestone fingers,” and a view of the Bungle Bungles from inside a helicopter. Other highlights include snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef (“a swirling underwater carnival of fish and coral”), sheep-shearing at some friends’ farm and a picnic as fireworks explode over Sydney harbor. Lester’s brisk visual and verbal pace gives readers an appreciation for the variegated topography and diverse animal population of her homeland and may well prompt future visits. And kids will surely nod in recognition at Grace’s younger brother’s familiar refrain which gives the book its title.

Home News Tribune (July 6, 2005):

Grace is an 8-year-old who lives with her Mum, Dad, two brothers, dog, cat and horse in a small town called Binnum, not far from Melbourne, Australia. Her family embarks on a trip around the country in a camper-trailer, but not before they practice sleeping in it in the backyard. Grace discovers rock art in Kakadu, she snorkels at Turquoise Bay and she sticks her head in the mouth of a great white shark in a museum at Streaky Bay. It's all very exciting and great fun, too. But, as with many travelers, she's just as happy when she gets home.

KidsLitInformation.com (August 24, 2005):

What a beautiful, entertaining, and informative book.

Eight-year-old Grace is our guide on a six-month trip around (literally) Australia. Traveling with her in an old camper trailer is her mom, dad, and brothers, Luke and Billy. Grace's curiosity is infectious and we see Australia through her open eyes.

Over the course of her journey Grace is lucky enough to see whales, quokkas, a dolphin, a Thorny Devil, penguins, sheep, and an elephant that eats her hat. Young animal lovers will be thrilled. The family also experiences amazing natural wonders, like the Twelve Apostles, a rainforest, Uluru, the red domes of Kata Tjuta, and astounding rock art in Kakadu. They visit Sydney, Alice Springs, and Melbourne. They hike, swim, climb, drive, and even bungee jump.

Alison Lester's drawings are colorful, cheerful, and, most importantly, plentiful. Every detail is illustrated, bringing the journey and Australia alive. Lester personalizes Grace's experiences and Australia by interspersing description with the reality of traveling with a family. Mom's a bit afraid of heights and slightly overprotective and Billy, the youngest, is responsible for the title, "Are we there yet?"

Pack my bags. I'm going too! Oh. It's bedtime? I guess I'll just have to kid test "Are we there yet?" instead.



Publishers Weekly (Monday, January 27, 2003):

A case of the sniffles flummoxes a happy-go-lucky pooch when he wants to retrieve a buried bone in this caper from a Dutch author/artist. Benny soon discovers he can't smell much of anything, not "the leathery old boots, the musty box... the wonderful, filthy dog poop, or the fresh, tart apples." A double spread of vignettes shows the baffled Benny as he sniffs each of the items, displaying a histrionic range worthy of Susan Meddaugh's Martha. Despite Benny's clear sense of woe, Posthuma's bright watercolors offer continuous cheer, as in a painting of a brilliant red flower patch that creates a sunny tone even while Benny's doleful face stares out from the field he can't smell. A trip to the bespectacled hound doctor (who has the comical upright gait given all adult dogs in the story) yields a scene of Benny hooked up to the Sniff Machine-an almost Seussian contraption. Yards of gray piping twist and coil across the book's gutter, with one end over a prone Benny's snout and the other hovering above a large bone. After two days in bed, a recovered Benny reveals his most treasured smell in a cozy ending. A heartwarming comedy for the cold season.

School Library Journal (Friday, August 1, 2003):

Benny has lost his favorite bone. Normally, he'd find it with the help of his trusty nose, but his snout is out of commission. He can't smell Mrs. Dash's fragrant flowers, the delicious bakery goods, the leathery boots, or "the wonderful, filthy dog poop." When he turns down a piece of pie, his mother realizes something is very wrong. A quick examination on the doctor's elaborate "Sniff Machine" uncovers the cause of the pup's malaise. Uncluttered, pastel watercolors set against a white background, with from one to four scenes per page, are simple and appealing as they depict Benny's many moods. Sharp-eyed children will notice that he has a runny nose and will sympathize with the pooch with the common cold.

Booklist (Saturday, February 15, 2003):

In this import from the Netherlands, Benny the dog can't find his bone because his sniffer is on the blink. This is proven over and over as Benny tries to sniff everything from a leathery old boot and fresh, tart apples to "wonderfully smelly poop." When nothing penetrates, Benny's mother takes him to the doctor, where he gets put into a "sniff machine" that diagnoses a cold. Rest and hot liquids fix Benny up in a couple of days, and soon his bad nose is old news. The story is slight, but the pictures are quite delightful. Drawn in a cartoon style that evokes the work of Susan Meddaugh, Benny and the other characters are a peppy mix of pure canine and human characteristics. The humor comes from small details (Benny sniffing at soap bubbles) and broad jokes (Benny hooked up to the sniff machine). There's enough fun here to make this a good choice for larger libraries.

Hornbook Guide to Children (Tuesday, July 1, 2003):

Losing his sense of smell, Benny the dog discovers, is the reason why he couldn't find his buried bone. With playful ink and watercolor illustrations, Posthuma tracks the dejected Benny as he tries and fails to get whiffs of such fragrant delights as flowers and "wonderful, filthy dog poop." Benny recovers his sense of smell and his bone, but snuggling on Mom's lap and breathing in her scent is "better than anything else in the whole world."


Benny has lost his bone, and he's sniffed everywhere but just cannot find it. Benny is very sad because that bone was his favorite, and life is just no fun without it. Then Benny realizes that he can't smell anything at all, so his mother takes him to the doctor. After the doctor tests him with the sniffing machine he tells Benny that he's got a cold. Benny stays snuggled warm in bed for two days and two nights. But then something wonderful happens, Benny wakes up to the yummy smell of bacon. But will he be able to sniff out his favorite bone? A delightful story that any one who has ever been under the weather will appreciate!



Suite 101 (September 8, 2006):

“Benny no puede encontrar su hueso,” the story opens. Benny can't find his bone. Terrible predicament for a little white dog, or for any dog, come to think of it. But Benny's problem gets worse. Posthuma’s plot is a mystery appropriate and appealing to preschoolers and their grandparents. Believe it or not, it's a page turner. I found myself chuckling as I read it aloud, eager to find out why the bone disappeared. Benny sniffs everywhere, but can't find it. Soon, you and your alert grandchild will figure out what happened. The language is advanced-beginner Spanish with a nice amount of vocabulary to learn. A good book for experienced early readers in Spanish. The drawings reminded me of Mr. Peabody and Sherman from Rocky and Bullwinkle. I felt compelled to look for amusing details like a portrait of the daddy dog on a living room wall. Structurally, it’s an average book – nothing unusual or remarkable here. But the story and the overall experience was my favorite of the group.



School Library Journal (October 1, 1991):

An amusing book, originally published in Venezuela. Senora Amelia lives with her beloved animals, all appealingly portrayed: a dog, a tortoise, a cat, a talking parrot, twin canaries, and a beautiful hen named Rosaura. When Amelia asks Rosaura what she wants for her birthday, the hen asks for a bicycle. Amelia obligingly begins to shop, and nearly gives up on the hunt--until a strange-looking man comes to her village, singing a song in which he claims to make roller skates for dogs and eyeglasses for cats. He delivers the bicycle on time for the birthday, and from then on, Rosaura rides to the grocery store for Senora Amelia. Full-page, pastel colored-pencil drawings are in delicate hues that suit the gentle story. The double-page spread of the party is tenderly depicted, and the bicycle is wonderful. Amelia's village is a sunny place near the sea, with small, colorful shops and houses. Children love birthdays, presents, bicycles, and animals, and all combine to make this an engaging story that will be fun to share in picture-book programs.

Kirkus Reviews (1991):

An attractive Venezuelan import: Señora Amelia would like to grant her handsome pet's birthday wish to be the very first bicycle-riding hen. It seems impossible: bikes for hens aren't available. Fortunately, an itinerant inventor happens by in time to design and make one, just in time for Rosaura's birthday. The mellow, affectionate illustrations here nicely convey the humor- -and also provide a believable bike, of wood. A pleasantly offbeat story of cheerful persistence solving an apparently unsolvable problem.

Booklinks (March 1993):

Lively pastel illustrations make this original story set in a small town in Venezuela, a joy to read and listen to.



Booklist (March 2001):

This book’s setting may be unusual, but its story is quiet, reassuring, and universal in appeal.

Hornbook Guide to Children (Sunday, July 1, 2001):

Attractive artwork illustrates this story about Little Bilby, who encounters other Australian desert animals on her quest to find missing pieces of the moon. Boobook Owl explains that the moon always disappears but then comes back. Unfortunately, the conclusion is a letdown, with the creatures describing the moon to Mole, who is sad because he's never seen it.

Curled Up Kids.com (August 17, 2006):

I never knew what a bilby was until I read this delightful and beautifully illustrated book to my son. Bilby Moon tells the story of a cute Australian critter that looks like a small anteater (it’s a real animal found in the Australian central desert region) who wonders why the moon is disappearing. So he sets out to ask all his fellow desert-dwellers if they know the secret to the moon mystery.

Along the way, Bilby meets a Hopping Mouse, Sand-Dragon, Mole and Echidna, as well as little Froglet, all again real critters found in the Australian desert. As Bilby journeys across the land to find his answer, he learns all about his surroundings and who he shares the desert with, finally meeting up with a wise Boobook owl that tells him all about the natural cycles of the moon.

This charming book celebrates the wonders of nature. The story is sweet and the gorgeous illustrations are bold, yet soft like the night, thanks to Danny Snell’s grasp of the Australian desert at night. Bilby Moon is a treat that teaches even as it entertains, and does so in a gentle and smooth style that will have your child yawning even as the moon outside your own house rises to greet you.



School Library Journal (Tuesday, June 1, 1999):

This book, aside from being visually unappealing, full of orange, white, and black sketches of wide-eyed and open-mouthed kids is a puzzlement. The rambling text explains that women have breasts so they can make milk and feed it to their babies, but that men, even Sumo wrestlers who have big breasts don’t make milk. That’s it. Its an incredibly unattractive book and the amateurish illustrations do nothing to explain the process. The milk ducts look like cauliflower florets in a strainer and the drawings of a baby and its mother’s breast look more like the child is playing with Snoopy’s nose or two Junior Mints.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 1999):

Following the success of Taro Gomi's Everyone Poops (1993, not reviewed), this is a similarly direct picture book from Japan, and more crudely done. Laughing at two children who think he's wearing a bra, a hefty man explains that it's only a belt over a tank top, then launches into a brief, patchy question-and-answer that covers the physical development of breasts (in women), nursing “When a baby grabs hold of the breast and sucks on the nipple (glug glug glug), milk flows from it” and why most people don't remember much of their babyhood. The two-color illustrations depict a series of mostly bare-chested men, women, and children, drawn with thick black lines and filled with a garish orange. Enlighten curious children by sharing relevant passages from such guides as Robie Harris's, It's Perfectly Normal (1994) instead.

Journal of Human Lactation (September 1999):

With its relaxed, humorous approach it would appeal to parents who want to introduce their children to normal human anatomy and physiology. It is brief, funny, warm, and loving.

Hornbook Guide to Children (Thursday, July 1, 1999):

The emphasis in this picture book is that the essential purpose of breasts is to provide nutrients through milk to babies. The step-by-step, often choppy narrative details the process, then looks at the experience from a baby's point of view. The sometimes oddly humorous text and exaggerated illustrations may serve to offset the usually hushed nature of the subject and provide a welcome relief to curious youngsters interested in taking a closer look.



Publishers Weekly (Friday, July 29, 1988):

A scrub brush comes alive and replaces a boy's puppy in this lively Spanish import. A Reading Rainbow selection.

School Library Journal (November 1, 1986):

We all know the story of the misbehaving pet who is destined to be given away until a timely heroic act guarantees an indefinite reprieve. Here it is again but, since the real pet has actually been disposed of, it's a fantasy dog in fact, an animated scrub-brush that bites the burglar and wins familial acceptance. It's quite a let-down. Despite the child's vivifying act of imagination, he is still rewarded with nothing more than an old brush; it's just not the equivalent of a lively puppy. The wide-eyed characters and mauve-blue-green interiors are pleasant, detailed, and quite forgettable.

The Horn Book (Jul/Aug 1986):

The childlike quality of the story is universal…(and) the beginning line sets the frolicsome tone.



School Library Journal (Friday, December 1, 1995):

This book is crude and unsettling. While its main focus is on the origin of the bellybutton, it also includes such heavy-handed tips as, “You shouldn't play with your bellybutton.” The narrator speaks to a boy named Tettchan, who is teased about and ashamed of the fact that his bellybutton sticks out. The tone of the story vacillates between didactic statements and inane asides, such as, “the cord healed and dropped off--plop.” The cartoon illustrations move from showing an umbilical cord attaching a fully clothed mother and child to a floating baby in utero. While the book's subject is of interest to many children, the treatment is uneven and uninspired. Originally published in Japan in 1985, this book has definitely lost something in translation.

Booklist (January 1, 1996):

The same publisher that brought readers Everyone Poops (1993) now sets its sights a little higher, literally, if not figuratively. A boy named Tettchan wonders why he needs a belly button (especially one that sticks out). An unseen narrator goes on to explain how as a baby Tettchan was attached to his mother by a cord that fed him until he was born and the cord was snipped. The doctor medicated and taped what was left of the cord; several days later the tip healed and dropped off. A few details about keeping the belly button clean follow. The text is tame, but the artwork may raise a few eyebrows, especially the overhead view of Tettchan's mother giving birth. There are also pictures of breasts, breast-feeding, and babies' genitals. The latter are rather ambiguously drawn, but what they lack in precision, they make up for in number. If you need a book for belly button questions, this one has the answers.

The Los Angeles Times Book Review (March 17, 1996):

Whimsical yet informative, this is a meditation on something that – admit it- has puzzled and absorbed all of us at one time or another.



*Publishers Weekly (August 8, 2005):

First published in France, this droll story about Madame Coco and her five bull terriers will appeal to anyone who has wondered what to do on a rainy day. The unadorned text contains plenty of repetition ("This is Madame Coco with her little family. Here is Nico. Here is Fanny. Here is Claude, and here are Daisy and Rose"), and the plot is uncomplicated (to keep her pets entertained during a spate of bad weather, Madame Coco helps them plan a costume party). But it's Chess's (Slugs) comical illustrations that lend the book its wit. Her understated humor rivals Jack Benny's: Rose comes to the party dressed as a daisy, while Daisy comes dressed as a rose. The terriers spend days planning games, decorations and snacks with the kind of fierce concentration, curiosity and exuberance of bright toddlers. Whether they are blowing up balloons or sniffing plump sausages, the dogs' bodies are animated by Chess's deft use of line. When the text says simply, "The milkman brought the beverages," the illustration portrays five tumbling terriers filled with barely contained energy. The sentence, "they were so excited that they could not sleep," is accompanied by the pooches with their eyes popped open and Madame Coco sound asleep with her false teeth resting in a jar on the bedside table. The eccentric Madame Coco and her amusing dog family are as irresistible as a litter of new puppies.

Washington Post (August 7, 2005):

…Victoria Chess's utterly delicious The Costume Party. This jeu d'esprit was originally published in French -- Chess lives part of each year in France -- and it has certainly retained a Gallic lightness. Pink-cheeked Madame Coco lives with "her little family" of five: Nico, Fanny, Claude, Daisy and Rose, who the pictures tell us are bull terriers. In a rainy-day, or perhaps late-August, moment, they are "very, very bored," prompting the patient Mme. Coco to propose a costume party. From planning to prizes, the most understated of texts ("The milkman brought the beverages"; "They were so excited that they could not sleep") is matched with comically busy paintings in which every detail repays study.

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2005):

After a long rainy spell sets her five bull terriers to tearing up the house, Madame Coco decides to divert them with a costume party. Naturally, being true dogs, they dive in enthusiastically, sewing their own outfits, putting up decorations and sleeplessly waiting for the fun to start. Come the day, it’s a terrific party, with exciting games, delicious doggie snacks—and a prize (which everyone wins, because Madame Coco can’t decide) that turns out to be Oscar, a chubby new feline friend. All decide to do it again next year. Chess sets this canine fete among Victorian furnishings, putting the dogs on their hind legs, mostly, and dressing them as flowers, butterflies, a shark, a pirate and like conceits. Not a bad way to while away some stuck-indoors time.

School Library Journal (September 1, 2005):

What does a family do when the rainy days go on and on? If your name is Madame Coco and your family consists of five chubby white dogs, the answer is to throw a costume party. Since the pups don't fit into any of the old costumes in the attic, they will make their own, and a prize will be awarded for the best one. The party is planned with food, decorations, games, and the contest. The contest results in a tie, and the prize is a kitty named Oscar who next year dresses up as (what else?) a white dog. The wonderfully detailed pictures are hilarious and expressive. This is a great activity-producing selection for a rainy day, or any day.

Chicago Tribune (October 16, 2005):

While adult readers will be lapping up the Gallic drollery in this story of how “Madame Coco with her little family” amuse themselves during the dreary rainy season, children will just be bonding with the doggies and their passion for dress-ups. Victoria Chess’ drawings give expressiveness to each dog, no matter what the occasion. (Note the realistic humor of the pictures when “they could only go outside for a tiny moment at a time.”) They even plan carefully the “snacks and beverages,” pouring over menus as only French dogs could do. There’s a lovely, quiet humor even in their costumes: “Rose was dressed as a daisy. And Daisy was dressed as a rose.” Get ready to plan your own costume party for resident two-and four-legged friends.

Booklist (October 15, 2005):

Chess often reminds readers of another writer and illustrator, Edward Gorey, in both her aloof tellings and her sly art. Those qualities work particularly well in this story of wide-eyed Madame Coco and her white pit bulls, Nico, Fanny, Claude, Daisy, and Rose. When we meet the dogs, they are bored. Rain has kept them inside, except for necessities (and there are some fine pictures of those, including one of a dog in mid-necessity), so Madame Coca suggests a costume party. Thus begins a series of clever pictures showing the dogs making their costumes, reading menus, and decorating (balloons!). The interesting thing about this book is its matter-of-fact recitation. There are no real surprises--except for the kitten that the dogs receive as a party favor. But the art is so funny (a pit bull with pointy teeth dressed as a Red Cross nurse) and the telling so deadpan that the book has enormous appeal. Very young children may not get the subtleties, but primary-age kids and even older ones will chortle.

ChildrensBooks.About.com (November 12, 2005):

It's fun to give children a chance to experience children's picture books from other countries. Kane/Miller is an independent American publishing company that specializes in publishing picture books in English that were originally published in other countries. Kane/Miller's delightful new picture book "The Costume Party" was originally published in France. It's the amusing and fanciful story of Madame Coco, a Frenchwoman, her little family of five bull terriers, and their amazing costume party. The book, which was written and illustrated by Victoria Chess, will delight three to six year olds and dog lovers of all ages.

AZ Central.com (October 18, 2005):

Madame Coco and her five precious pooches brighten up a rainy day with a bash in "The Costume Party" by Victoria Chess. They rummage through bags of rags and scour the house from top to bottom in search of outfits. One dog ends up a nurse, another a pirate and yet another as a rose. Madame Coco, meanwhile, has the butcher deliver some snacks. But when it comes time to judge the costume contest, Madame Coco can't decide whose is best, so she gives them all a prize to share - a new kitty. They all have such a good time at the party, they make it an annual tradition whether or not it's raining cats and dogs.


Madame Coco has an unusual little family. Nico, Fanny, Claude, Daisy and Rose are little white dogs who get very bored on rainy days when they cannot go outside. But Madame Coco has the perfect idea, a costume party! The little white dogs spent days making costumes, hanging decorations, making snacks and deciding on games. Madame Coco even had a special prize for the one with the best costume. The party was a big hit, and since Madame Coco could not decide the best costume she gave them something they could all share, a kitten named Oscar! And the next time they were stuck inside on a rainy day, can you guess what Oscar's costume was? A fun story about making the best of a boring situation.



Curled Up Kids (June 2, 2006):

Okay, so COULD a Tyrannosaurus play table tennis? Well, the answer is not as important as the question in this big, colorful, splashy book that teaches kids basic spelling and sounds using dinosaurs in some pretty wacky situations. Author Andrew Plant is also a zoologist and dinosaur fanatic, and his wonderfully bold and bodacious illustrations of various dinosaur species are sure to send any prehistoric history buff over the moon.

Could a Tyrannosaurus Play Table Tennis? introduces youngsters to all kinds of dinos, with facts along the bottom of the page that tell when they lived, what they ate, and how big they could grow. Kids also get the phonetic spelling of the dino and the meaning of its name. But the most fun is seeing dinosaurs doing everything from playing cricket to dancing to doing the limbo, and kids won’t even realize they are learning to read and recognize sounds as they laugh over Kentrosauruses flying kites and Ouranosauruses singing opera. Or how about a volley-ball playing Velociraptor?

What more could you ask for when getting your child interested in reading and learning than a book that makes it so darned fun you forget about the educational value and focus instead on the sheer fun of watching Iguanodons ice skating?

School Library Journal (August 1, 2006):

Part alphabet book, part catalog of species, part treasury of facts, this book is sure to delight young dinosaur lovers. In fact, the hardest part for librarians is not deciding whether or not to purchase it, but where to catalog it. A time line on the inside front cover shows the eras of the Earth, and then readers are off on a silly slide through an alphabet of dinosaurs. (And yes, there is a dinosaur for every letter, right down to Xuanhanosaurus, Yangchuanosaurus, and Zizhongosaurus.) Each page features an alliterative question along the lines of the title, accompanied by an appropriately wacky illustration, a pronunciation guide, and information about the species' era, range, size, and diet. Plant packs in an astonishing array of dinosaurs, from old favorites like Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor to lesser-known varieties such as the spiky Kentrosaurus and the two-foot long Wannanosaurus. This title is ideal for young dinosaur aficionados who yearn for something new.


Dinosaurs lived many, many years ago, but have you ever thought about what they did long ago? This unique alphabet book will have you thinking very differently about dinosaurs and what they may have been like! "Could a Brachiosaurs play basketball?" Or "Could a Velociraptor play volleyball?" With a pronunciation key for all the difficult dinosaur names and a few basic facts for each dinosaur this ABC book will soon be a favorite with young readers.



Hornbook Guide to Children (Thursday, July 1, 2004):

In his second book, again narrated by his chatty, unseen owner, Apollo teaches readers to count to ten ("Apollo has one beautiful tail, which looks like a little sausage") and to identify numerals (thanks to a pointy, torso-length nose, he graciously assumes their shapes).




How would you like to design a car that could be anything you want it to be? With the Luxury Resorter you can go whitewater rafting without even leaving the road. Trying to find a shady parking spot for your car isn't easy, but with the Velocitree you will always have a shady tree with you. And who doesn't love roller coasters? With the Roller Roadster you can have a thrill even when you're stuck in traffic. "Crazy Cars" is loaded with fun, and crazy, ideas for all types of interesting vehicles. So let your imagination run wild and enjoy the ride!

Children’s Bookwatch (October 2006):

Written and illustrated by Mark David for the delight and entertainment of children ages 3 to 8, "Crazy Cars For Crazy Kids" offers a series of Rube Goldberg style conveyances ranging from vehicles that allow you to ride a rollercoaster while stuck in traffic, fish while you drive, fuel your car with cows milk, go whitewater rafting without leaving your car, and so much more wacky, weird, and wonderful things to do when driving the highways and byways of city and country roads. Original, clever, detailed, and thoroughly 'kid friendly', "Crazy Cars For Crazy Kids" is a wonderfully entertaining, cartoon-style picturebook.

Kids Literati (October 31, 2006):

Crazy Cars by Mark David has totally occupied my kid all weekend. This fun book has on each spread an elaborate illustration with commentary of the wackiest imagined mega-mobiles. My son says, "This book is so AWESOME! Every will want it because it has neat stuff to look at and it's full of CARS. Oh yeah, oh yeah." Word.

There is the crazy car with a roller coaster on it, one that looks like a millipede and is a mile long. There is the resort car with a golf course, pool, water slide, rafting river, skate park, and more on it. It comes with choice of decorative palm trees or redwoods. There is the car made of trees and the one that crushes all the other cars in its path. This book will entertain the adult who peruses it, as well as completely fascinate the younger reader.

I wonder if the author is also expressing a subtle commentary on the consumeristic and excessive car culture that permeates Western culture. Everyone always seems to want something bigger and flashier, especially newer, faster, and more expensive cars. Even with the delight of exploring the illustrative details on these fantasy cars and enjoying the idea of driving them, my son commented that these were "TOO MUCH"!  
Jen Robinson’s Book Page (November 11, 2006):

Crazy Cars by Mark David is just pure, unadulterated fun! It's a picture book, but with complex illustrations suited for older kids. Both Mheir and I noticed a strong resemblance to Dr. Seuss books (though Mheir also wondered if kids of this age are interested in cars, or if they only like trains and firetrucks). Each page features a ludicrous, over-the-top sort of car, with detailed illustrations that reward careful perusal. There are also witty little text asides that will entertain older kids or parents. Here are some examples:

  • The Windster is like a giant tricycle, with a series of sails and propellers to keep it moving in a breeze. It "comes with a handy spare set of maps."

  • The Luxury Resortster is a vacation destination on wheels, complete with white-water rafting, golf, and drink service. Readers will be glad to know that "Due to popular demand, the new deluxe model has all the features of the regular model but comes with brakes."

  • Also on the Luxury Roadster page is the note: "If you enjoy changing tires, you'll love the Luxury Roadster", accompanied by a tiny picture of a shell-shocked man surrounded by spare tires.

  • The Millispeed is a car that consists of many tiny segments connected together. "It will seem like you're getting places in no time. In fact, the front of the car will be at the shops before the back has even left the garage."

  • The Chefrolet cooks breakfast, and features both cow and chickens for providing raw materials. There is even entertainment for the cow, because "The best milk comes from contented cows, and nothing keeps your cow contented like round the clock Cow Channel."

You get the idea. I really loved this book. It brought me joy, looking at the exaggerated and complex illustrations, and reading the clever little asides in the text. I can see kids, especially boys, poring over this book, while their parents derive the occasional grin from the text.
A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy (January 31, 2007):

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