Posts Tagged With: kid lit

Reblog Thursday: Alice in Wonderland by Salvadore Dali

Enjoy, and let me know if you are as surprised as I was to see these illustrations!

Salvador Dalí Illustrates Alice in Wonderland, 1969

by 

What the Mad Hatter has to do with one of the most inspired collaborations in Western culture.

Last week, we marveled at Leonard Weisgard’s stunning illustrations for thefirst color edition of Alice in Wonderland, circa 1949. But it turns out they might not be the most culturally intriguing. As reader Varvn Aryacetas points out on Twitter, exactly two decades later a collaboration of epic proportion took place as the Lewis Carroll classic was illustrated by none other than Salvador Dalí. (And let’s not forget what a soft spot I have for obscure children’s illustration by famous artists.)

Published by New York’s Maecenas Press-Random House in 1969 and distributed as their book of the month, the volume went on to become one of the most sought-after Dalí suites of all time. It contains 12 heliogravures, one for each chapter of the book, and one original signed etching in 4 colors as the frontpiece, all of which the fine folks at the William Bennett Gallery have kindly digitized for your gasping pleasure:

Frontpiece

Down the Rabbit Hole

The Pool of Tears

A Caucus Race and a Long Tale

The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill

Advice From a Caterpillar

Pig and Pepper

Mad Tea Party

The Queen’s Croquet Ground

The Mock Turtle’s Story

The Lobster’s Quadrille

Who Stole the Tarts?

Alice’s Evidence

As you might expect, the book isn’t exactly easy to acquire — Amazon currently spots just a single copy, handsomely priced at $12,900, and there’s even a video tutorial on what to look for when you hunt for this treasure.

But the collaboration brought together two of the most exceptional creators of Western culture, both ticklers or curiosity and architects of the imagination, and who can really put a price tag on that? Besides, if this sucker can rein in $4.3 million, what’s $13K for a Dalí?

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Categories: BlogShare, Reblog Thursday | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Official release today!

My first book, an independent project that combines Japanese history and art, is available today!

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Title: Oboshi the Loyal Samurai: The 47 Ronin Story with Japanese Art

Author: me

Illustrators: more than a dozen 19th-century Japanese woodblock print artists and one 17th-century Japanese painter

Format: Paperback (30 pages) and Ebook

Ages: 6-10

Themes: justice and loyalty

I became interested in the history of the 47 ronin when I heard about the movie 47 Ronin coming out at the end of this month. It was back in July, and as I read about the historical events and people, I also discovered the incredible artwork produced by Japanese artists and wanted to share the art and the story with children in an appropriate way. The story of the 47 ronin is sometimes referred to as the National Legend of Japan, and it represents the finest, ideal example of the code of bushido. My version is based on the play that was written soon after the historical event and uses many of the woodblock prints that were portraits of the actors in costume and on stage. You can look inside the book on Amazon and see for yourself!

The wonderful cover design was created by Andrew Brown of DesignforWriters.com. Thank you Andrew!

Let me know what you think!

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Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

I just found out that my favorite childhood book was banned.

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I’ve posted recently about Harry the Dirty Dog and other books my family members and I loved, but Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig, has always been my personal winner as well as the Caldecott winner of 1970. When I bought a used copy from a library sale, my boys were very little. I got choked up reading it to them back then and again rereading it now. Sylvester’s parents represented my parents, and I imagined that I was as adored a child as Sylvester. (Mom?)

Sylvester-family-together

What I say is Phooey on you banned books people! Pigs can be anything they want to be!

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I am not the only person who loves Sylvester. The School Library Journal named it #55 on the Top 100 Picture Books list last year. It was also recognized as one of the top 100 books of the 20th century by the New York Public Library, the California Teachers’ Association, and the National Education Association. Other bloggers have posted about it more knowledgeably than I can. Anyone can find worksheets, activities, lesson plans, and videos. But I don’t believe we have to justify art with curriculum connections. I love Sylvester because it’s a beautiful story with great illustrations. It touched me personally. I don’t love it because it can teach children about philosophy, emotions, character, perspective, and improve their critical thinking. Those things are valuable, but don’t we degrade the art experience by stuffing it with learning objectives? When my son wants to go to a Bon Jovi concert, I don’t require him to write a one-page biography of John Bongiovi with endnotes and create a video exploring the roots of modern rock music from the Delta Blues through the Beatles, focusing on politics and racism. I just let him have fun.

Read an essay about Steig’s art from Roz Chast at the Paris Review. You can also check out the New Yorker’s lovely article about William Steig shortly after his death. The Jewish Museum in New York held a retrospective of Steig’s art in 2007-08.

If you haven’t had the joy of reading Sylvester, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Suffice it to say there is a reason to discover why it is one of the most beloved children’s books ever written.

Do you love Sylvester or another book? I’d love to hear about it!

Categories: Books we love, Oldie but Goodie | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Cinco the Clinic Cat

Perfect Picture Book Friday is here with Cinco the Clinic Cat/Cinco, el gato de la clínica by Carol Brickell and illustrated by Jim Hastings. Cinco is a bilingual book in English and Spanish, and all the proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to charities that support medical clinics and provide medical supplies to those in need in Latin America. Cinco has received the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and the Mom’s Choice Award.

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list of recommended picture books with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: Cinco the Clinic Cat/Cinco, el gato de la clínica

Author/Illustrator: Carol Brickell and Jim Hastings

Publisher: Brown Books, 2010

Fiction

Ages:  4 and up

Themes: friendship, helping others

Opening: “I wonder if my wish will come trueAlisa lives in a country called Honduras. When there is no school, Alisa goes with her sister Karen to a clinic in their neighborhood. I’d like to help Karen, but I only get in the way. I wish I had a friend.

Synopsis:  When school is out, Alisa spends each day with her sister, who works in a medical clinic. But Alisa feels alone and out of place. One day, she sees a new face — a stray cat. After five days, they become friends and she names him Cinco. Together, they get involved in the activities at the medical clinic — and make more friends along the way. (from Amazon)

Resources and ideas: video of the author presenting the book to a group of children at the mall; can be used in discussions about geography, culture, Latin America, bilingualism, poverty, friendship, anti-bullying, therapy animals, medical clinics.

What I thought: Cinco is a lovely book that provides a window into the friendships and lives of people around a medical clinic in Honduras. The watercolor illustrations are airy and bright and portray the clinic as a welcoming, open place to visit. The text is spare enough for a small child, and I laughed when the boy who needed glasses said he thought the cat was a dog. Check out my favorite illustration, which shows so well a little kid’s perspective on the world (I remember what that feels like, does anyone else?).

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Check out a video featuring the author talking about the clinic and the book and working with kids (The Advocate magazine page with the video is here).

And here is the story behind the story:

Enjoy, and let me know what you and your kids think!

Categories: Perfect Picture Book Friday, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Reblog Thursday: The Man with the Violin from Shelf-employed

I hope everyone had as fantastic a Thanksgiving as I did! I finished my first book, which will be available shortly (self-published, announcement coming soon!), and then I went to Texas for a week to visit my wonderful family.
I hope you enjoy this lovely review of the wonderful book The Man with the Violin. It was inspired by Joshua Bell, who went busking one day in the Washington, DC metro during morning rush hour. I was in DC when this experiment took place and was sad that very few people paid attention to this gorgeous man singing his heart out through one of the finest violins in the world. Only one person … one person … recognized him. It was suggested that if the experiment had been done during evening rush hour, people would have had time to notice and listen for a few minutes. *sigh*
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The illustrations in this lovely book are truly amazing. How can you paint music? How can you show how a child feels about it? Yet Dušan Petričić gracefully shows a child being pulled by the music he hears. The sounds flow all around. I’ve never seen illustrations so descriptive of what goes on in the mind of a character. I hope you take a minute and watch the inspiring book trailer.
Enjoy!
Shelf-employed

The Man with the Violin – a review

Stinson, Kathy. 2013. The Man with the Violin. Toronto: Annick Press.  Ill. by Dušan Petričić.
Kathy Stinson’s story of a boy who is interested in his surroundings and captivated by the music of a performing violinist is perfectly complemented by the illustrations of Dušan Petričić. Targeted use of watercolors highlight the flow of music and joy emanating from the violinist and the spirited observations of the child. Wanting to linger, the boy is instead pulled along, forced to adhere to the busy schedule of his mother who hurries obliviously through the crowd.  In a satisfying conclusion, the mother later finds the time to appreciate and savor the music that so captivated her young son in the transit station.

Sure to be counted among one of 2013’s best picture books, The Man with the Violin is a reminder that the world is often seen and heard best through the eyes and ears of a child.

While this is not actually a nonfiction book, it is based on a true story, an experiment done by the Washington Post.  Read the Washington Post article by Gene Weingarten and watch the actual footage of violin virtuoso Joshua Bell playing in the L’Enfant Metro Station in Washington, DC.  For almost 45 minutes, harried commuters passed by, barely noticing the music of Joshua Bell. There was indeed, a young boy who wanted so badly to watch the performance, but his mother was too pressed for time.  It’s a lesson for us all.

For today’s roundup of children’s nonfiction book reviews, visit Booktalking, where author Anastasia Suen is hosting today’s Nonfiction Monday.
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Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Day the Crayons Quit

Perfect Picture Book Friday is here with The Day the Crayons Quitthe delightful, laugh-out-loud creation of Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers (it took me an extra few seconds to figure out who the illustrator was because his name is upside-down on the cover). The book is so funny that when I was reading it aloud to my 11-year-old (yes, he is very patient with me … he sat with his new James Dashner book in his lap and listened to me read), my 14-year-old walked into the room and asked why we were laughing about a beige crayon. Then he sat next to me for the rest of the book!

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list of recommended picture books with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: The Day the Crayons Quit

Author/Illustrator: Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin), 2013

Fiction

Ages:  3-7 years

Theme: colors, jobs, drawing, creativity, labor relations

Opening: “One day in class, Duncan went to take out his crayons and found a stack of letters with his name on them.

Synopsis: Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun. What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best? (from Amazon)

Resources and ideas: Literature response; writing; classroom use ideas; discussions could be generated about science (ROY G BIV, visible and invisible parts of sunlight), animals, seasons (colors change, snow happens, etc.), labor law and fairness, compromise, friendship, self-esteem or self-acceptance

What I thought: We loved this clever book. All the colors have different personalities and different problems being the color they are. I tried to choose a favorite spread to share with you, but I couldn’t do it. I just ended up reading the book again, and then again. Just for fun, here is the gray spread.

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Check out an informative interview with Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers at the blog Omnivoracious!

Enjoy, and let me know what you and your kids think!

Categories: Books we love, Perfect Picture Book Friday | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

Oldie but Goodie: Al Perkins’s The Digging-est Dog

Today I’ve chosen one of my husband Phil’s childhood favorites, a beginning reader called The Digging-est Dog by Al Perkins and illustrated by Eric Gurney. Phil remembers reading this book over and over when he was little. Then as a parent, he read it several hundred times to his own kids. When I proudly showed him my new copy, he grinned and grabbed it from me. “See?” he said, pointing to the dog on the cover. “Look at that face!” Then he did his best imitation of the dog’s happy, panting expression.

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Title: The Digging-est Dog

Author/Illustrator: Al Perkins/Eric Gurney

Publisher: Random House, 1967

Genre: Fiction, Easy Reader

Ages: 3-7 years, preschool-grade 2

Themes: animal rescue, persistence, fitting in, fixing mistakes, forgiveness

Opening: “I was the saddest dog you could ever see, Sad because no one wanted me. The pet shop window was my jail. The sign behind me said, ‘For Sale.'”

Phil’s favorite part: “I fell on my ear. I fell on my face. I fell on myself all over the place.”

Synopsis: A rescued dog who has to learn how to dig doesn’t stop until he has dug up the whole town. When he realizes what he’s done, he has to own up to his over-enthusiasm and put things right.

What I thought: I liked the sad dog on the first page who instantly turns into the happy, energetic Duke after his new owner Sammy buys him at the pet store. From a glass cage to a forever home on a farm… lucky dog! The rhyming text is cute and has a good rhythm, and with my kooky sense of humor, I laughed a lot at some of the rhymes, like “gates” with “Thwaites” and “Thayer” with “chair.” REALLY?! A star-nosed mole, of all things, makes a guest appearance as Duke is learning to dig, unusual in a book without too many extras in the illustrations. Al Perkins and Eric Gurney are the same duo who produced Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumbanother long-lived and much-loved rhythmic beginning reader from 1969. 

The Digging-est Dog appears to have been in print since it was first published 46 years ago, a testament to its enduring popularity and appeal to kids as well as the grown-ups who remember it fondly. Thanks Phil!

Enjoy and let me know what books you remember best!

Categories: Books we love, Oldie but Goodie, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Ruth Brown’s A Dark, Dark Tale

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and Halloween is coming! I’ve chosen one of my son’s favorite books, which he remembers as being “really, really scary.” We read it over and over and always had a good laugh at the end. He is 14 now and still remembers how he felt reading it… I think that’s a pretty strong recommendation!

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: A Dark, Dark Tale

Author/Illustrator: Ruth Brown

First published by Anderson Press Ltd, 1981

Fiction

Ages: 3-5 years

Theme: Halloween, bravery

Opening: “Once upon a time there was a dark, dark moor.”

Synopsis: Children will delight in following the black cat’s progress through the dark wood, into the dark house, and eventually to the surprise discovery at the back of the toy cupboard, in this mysterious, beautifully illustrated picture book.(from Goodreads)

Resources and ideas: Lesson plans at MyBookez. Game of I Spy, looking for all the animals, especially the cat; cutouts and collages of cats, owls, trees, spooky houses, bats, moon, etc.; layered collage with doors opening to reveal something beneath; create a new story following the pattern of repetition and rhythm in the text.

What I thought: I loved the atmosphere created by the illustrations and the repetition in the text and in the imagery. Even though a different spooky place is featured on each spread, the words “dark, dark” and the black cat lead the way through each page turn. The tension builds as the cat leads us to smaller and smaller places. What are we going to find? The anticipation reaches a climax and is delightfully resolved on the final page.

Enjoy!

Categories: Books we love, Reviews | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

Kids Lit Discussion: Paperboy, by Vince Vawter

Welcome to the first blogged-about meeting of the Kids Lit group of Mt Lebanon Library! We are grown-ups who meet every other month, when our schedules allow, to discuss children’s literature. The group is moderated by Holly Visnesky, Senior Children’s Librarian. Yesterday we talked about Vince Vawter’s Paperboy

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From the Random House website: 

For fans of To Kill a MockingbirdThe King’s Speech, and The Help. A boy who stutters comes-of-age in the segregated South, during the summer that changes his life. An 11-year-old boy living in Memphis in 1959 throws the meanest fastball in town, but talking is a whole different ball game. He can barely say a word without stuttering, not even his own name. So when he takes over his best friend’s paper route for the month of July, he knows he’ll be forced to communicate with the different customers, including a housewife who drinks too much and a retired merchant marine who seems to know just about everything. The paper route poses challenges, but it’s a run-in with the neighborhood junkman, a bully and thief, that stirs up real trouble–and puts the boy’s life, as well as that of his family’s devoted housekeeper, in danger.

The group take: The majority of our group really enjoyed the book overall, although we disagreed with the comparison to Harper Lee. We also didn’t think it fit into the “kids with disabilities” category, as some other commenters have said, because based on personal experience, one person didn’t think stuttering was a disability. The book has extra space between paragraphs, which apparently symbolizes stuttering. The protagonist Victor is an 11-year-old boy, a loyal friend, and an amazing pitcher for his baseball team. When he asks why he has to be set apart by his stuttering, his newfound friend and mentor Spiro answers with a question by asking, why are you such a great pitcher? Everyone is different. One astute member of our group pointed out that all of us consider our disadvantages but never our advantages. It’s like being reminded to count your blessings. In Victor’s case, his skill eventually saves someone’s life.

I thought Victor was a lovable and adventurous character, but I didn’t understand why he was so distant from his parents. When I asked if that kind of distance was created by the stuttering, the natural difficulty Victor had in expressing his ideas, the other members said that was a normal relationship for 1959. And that certainly rang true in the great descriptions of the “grown-up code,” in which parents say “We’ll talk about it later” when they really mean “We’ll never discuss it again.” Victor is instead close to his Mam, the African-American woman who takes care of him most of the time.

Members of the group suggested that fewer subplots would have improved the book and allowed the space to develop another very interesting character who is only mentioned a couple of times before the end. And yes, we also suggested a character to leave out, based on personal preference. I argued that this book shouldn’t be described as a coming-of-age, but as some other kind of transformative experience. Victor is only 11, he’s not of age at the end of the book. He has many more significant times ahead. But he is profoundly changed by the people he meets, the things that happen to him, and the way that he stands up for himself.

Has anyone else read Paperboy? What did you think?

Categories: Kids Lit Discussion Group, Reviews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Reblog Friday!

Welcome to the first Reblog Friday!

Today I am reposting a review of Mitchell Goes Bowling from KID LIT REVIEWS. This great review is highly descriptive, the book is hysterical, and the illustrations are charming. Mitchell is a member of a mixed-race family, and you can read more about that through the article linked at the very bottom of the post. Does anyone remember the first Mitchell book?

We all know that people of color are not well represented in the picture-book world. The only mixed-race character we ever saw in a picture book was Sam, the boy in A Balloon for Grandad by Nigel Gray and illustrated by the magnificent Jane Ray (this book is unfortunately out-of-print). I was so captivated by her illustrations that I hunted down copies of her books of Bible stories, cut out some of the pages, framed them, and hung them on my walls and in the boys’ rooms. I hope this destruction of a book is taken as the huge compliment it is!

And now, from KID LIT REVIEWS, Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand! Enjoy!

KID LIT REVIEWS

BOOKS FOR KIDS – YOUNG AND OLD

review#411 – Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand

Mitchell Goes Bowling.

Mitchell Goes Bowling

by Hallie Durand

Tony Fucile, illustrator

Candlewick Press

*Top 10 of 2013*

Inside Jacket: Mitchell loves to knock things down. . . . So one Saturday, his dad takes him bowling. Mitchell likes the special shoes and the loud crashing noises, but getting a strike isn’t as easy as his dad makes it look. There’s there’s the gutter, for starters, and the lanes are slippery, too. . . . Will Mitchell ever find a way to get an X on the scoreboard?

Opening:  Mitchell always knocked things down. That’s just how he rolled. He even tried to knock down his dad. . . . But one Saturday, when Mitchell was doing his thing, his dad caught him and put him in the car.

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About the Story:  Looking a bit worried and definitely unsure, as he sat in the backseat all buckled up, Mitchell remained quiet. His face lit up when he saw the BOWL sign. The place was loud, smelled like pizza and had many differently colored balls lined up against the wall. Mitchell put on his cool rental shoes, picked out a bowling ball, and got to put his own name into the electronic scoreboard. Picking up the ball—the biggest one he could find—Mitchell threw it as hard as he could down the lane . . . gutterball. Taking his second turn, Mitchell rolled the ball and knocked down TWO pins. Battle on! Mitchell yelled to his dad. Dad got up and rolled a strike. Mitchell tried to imitate his dad. Didn’t help. Dad got another strike! Mitchell decided to use the air blower, just like his dad. Mitchell used it on his hands, his face, and his hair. Mitchell really wanted to win.

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What I Thought:  Confession time. I love to bowl. I bowled more times than I could count on Saturdays. Mitchell Goes Bowling is right up my alley. I loved the illustrations. The motions and the atmosphere of the game are spot-on. The lanes had the correct dots in the correct spots, and even the boards were visible. The oil made Mitchell’s reflection visible. The motions Mitchell makes are easy to visualize thanks to swooshes, circles, and action words used.

I love the illustration of Mitchell slamming into his father’s legs, going nowhere. His aim was to knock his dad down. I also like Mitchell’s exuberance as he runs around the house knocking things down or through the air. The only one pleased is Mitchell. I hate to use this word but I am going to anyway: the illustrations are Adorable, with a capital A.

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The story does not give Mitchell an age; it could be about any kid who loves to knock things down. His smart dad gets Mitchell out of the house before trouble begins and takes his son to a logical place for someone who loves to knock things down. Mitchell loves the bowling alley, and who can blame him. The place is bright, happy, and full of glory-yet-to-win. Dad is an obvious bowler, even wearing his bowling shirt on a nonleague night. So his strikes should come as no surprise, not even to Mitchell. What surprises Mitchell is his inability to cause a strike himself.

Mitchell Goes Bowling is hilarious and original, and has boyish charm. Anyone who bowls will love this book, especially if a young child went along. When Mitchell gets frustrated and announces he wants to leave, Dad knows exactly what to do. Mitchell gets his strike and can finally do the triple steamin’-hot-potato dance with salsa. Young children, who love sports and games, will like this book.

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Young children, who enjoy funny picture books, will adore this picture book. Those who love endearing family moments will love Mitchell Goes Bowling. Reviewers who are entertained by wonderfully, hilarious picture books that make them constantly smile and giggle, will give Mitchell Goes Bowling twelve strikes!

This reviewer scores Mitchell Goes Bowling a perfect 300!

JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION

TRAILER

MITCHELL GOES BOWLING

by Hallie Durand   website

Tony Fucile, illustrator    bio

Candlewick Press  website

Released 2013

ISBN:  978-0-7636-6049-9

32 Pages

Ages 3 to 7

© 2013 by Candlewick Press, used with permission

Text copyright © 2013 by Hallie Durand

Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Tony Fucile

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mitchell bowling

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