September Kid Lit Blog Hop!

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We want to welcome you to the September 2016 Kid Lit Blog Hop. Fall is finally here…YAY! There are some really great Autumn books out there for children. We have seen some list already. How about you share some of those on our monthly hop or for that matter, any great kid’s literature.

 

This exciting, monthly hop, is where we develop an engaged group of people who love everything that has to do with children’s literature. Everyone is welcome to join us: bloggers, authors, publicist, and publishers!

 

Have you seen the new Kid Lit Blog Hopper Facebook fan page? This page has all the news and information related to the hop plus ongoing posts, giveaways, news articles, etc. related to Kid’s Lit. Check it out and of course, please like the page.

 

So for our hop, please make sure that your posts are related to Children’s literature only and add it to the linky. (Please make sure to add your direct post only) If you are an author, feel free just to link to your blog.

 

Once you are done, then hop around to visit others. Please follow the co-host and visit at least the one or two people above your link. Please leave a comment when you do visit, we all like those.

Also, it would be appreciated if you grab the Kid Lit Blog Hop Badge and display it on your blog and/or your post. Note: Make sure you have the newest badge as the old one goes to the wrong page.

We would also be grateful if you tweet and/or posted on Facebook about the blog hop. Let’s grow this wonderful community.

 

Our next hop will be October 19, 2016.  Thanks for sharing your great children’s books with all of us! The hostess will be around to see you.

Happy Hopping!

Reading Authors, Host

Julie Grasso

BeachBoundBooks

Cheryl Carpinello

Pragmatic Mom

The Logonauts

Spark and Pook

Hits and Misses

The Bookshelf Gargoyle

Click Below for the Hop Link:

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An Indie, MG Maniacal Book Club Review: Chewy Noh and the Fall of the Mu-Dang…

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Today’s pick from the Maniacal Book Club features a Korean main character, some American bullying and some all-out, strange, generational magic. We received a copy of Chewy Noh and the Fall of the Mu-Dang, the first in an indie series for middle grade readers, from the author, Tim Learn, for review.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Chewy Noh has problems. He was born with them. Two weeks after his birth, the family fortune-teller saw bad things in his future…and she was right. The school bully hates him and will stop at nothing to get rid of him. His mother suddenly can’t get out of bed, complaining of horrible headaches. And worst of all, the secret his grandmother is hiding may be at the root of it all. But why should he worry? He’s a superhero with a power no one’s ever seen before!

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Let’s hear what the Book Club have to say, shall we?

Guru Davemaniacal book club guru dave

While many have sought my wise counsel over my many years of existence, I have never been fortunate enough to wield powers like those of the Mu-dang. In this tale, Chewy takes on the power of an ancient spirit and finds the power within himself to change the course of his existence. But is a young boy worthy of such knowledge, such advantage? I would urge caution and prudence should you ever come into a magically-rendered gift of your own, thoughtful reader.

maniacal book club toothlessToothless

No dragons in this book. There’s some pretty cool witchy stuff though and a whole bunch of people who aren’t really what they seem. I didn’t like the bullies – I wouldn’t mind if they got eaten by a dragon. And the girls were a bit weird too. But Chewy and Clint were pretty cool. Ordinary, but cool. It would have been better if there were dragons. To eat the bullies.

 

Mad Marthamaniacal book club martha

When selecting a secret new power

Be prepared for your gift to turn sour

For with greatest intentions

Magic interventions,

Your best laid of plans, can devour

maniacal book club bruce Bruce

Chewy Noh and the Fall of the Mu-Dang is going to greatly appeal to those young readers looking for something a little different. For a start, Chewy himself is Korean, an ethnicity we don’t often see in middle-grade books and the author has included a host of interesting mythology and magic narrative from that part of the world. Secondly, this isn’t the expected sort of superhero book, where the main character suddenly sprouts an obvious and visible power and has to decide how to wield it.

Chewy is a laid-back every-man sort of a kid and his power is just as understated as he is. Because of this, the story follows the common, new-kid-being-picked-on plot line, with some superpowered antics thrown in. Having said that, the book does have a few features that make it stand out from the norm. There are the references to the Mu-Dang and the storyline related to Chewy’s family and secrets that have been kept that could change who Chewy is and how he thinks about his family. There’s also the fact that Chewy and Clint, although experiencing bullying, are more curious than vengeful toward their bullies’ behaviour.

I did have a few problems with the story. While I enjoyed the supernatural bits, the other parts – in which Chewy and Clint form a friendship and deal with the bullies – was pretty run-of-the-mill. I would have loved to have seen more focus on the magical side of the story. A plotline involving two girls in Chewy’s class also muddied the waters as it just seemed to range all over the place. I couldn’t follow why the girls were behaving as they were or what their motivations might have been and the whole plot line seemed tacked on and superfluous.

Also interrupting my enjoyment of the story was the bugbear of many an indie publication – a lack of hard-core editing. I found that the overall narration lacked a clear voice and that there was far too much unnecessary dialogue and description of mundane things as a result. I had that uncanny feeling that I’ve had before while reading indie works, that I was actually reading a translation, because the words don’t flow as well as one would expect.

Overall, this would be a good pick for middle-graders looking for some diversity in the characters that they are reading about and for those who want an unexpected twist on the superhero genre.

The Maniacal Book Club gives this book:

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Three Thumbs Up!

Until next time,

Bruce (and the gang)

 

 

Surprised by Joy (and a feathered fowl): The Duck and The Darklings…

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Welcome literary wayfarers! I have something special for you today.  Once every so often, a picture book comes along that is as visually appealing as it is moving, as lyrical in prose as it is engaging in content.  The Duck and the Darklings is just such a book.  The book is the product of another successful and inspiring collaboration between Glenda Millard (who I have mentioned on the blog before, here) and Stephen Michael King, and as soon as I heard about it, I put it on my “must buy that soon” radar.  Thanks to the delightful cake-eating competition-purveyors at Allen & Unwin however, I was lucky enough to win a copy, sparking my admiration for the book and the post that you are now skimming reading with great care and attention.

the duck and the darklings

Peterboy and his grandfather live among the Darklings in a hole in the ground in the land of Dark, below the ruined world above.  Peterboy longs to bring some light to his grandfather’s life and in his search he finds Idaduck.  He brings the broken duck to his grandfather and together they set about healing the creature.  When Idaduck is ready to leave them, the Darklings shine the lights from their candle-hats to show her the way and in doing so, discover that Idaduck has brought them something they needed more than anything – hope in the power of healing.

The themes in this book are familiar to fans of Millard’s work – hope, caring for others and finding joy in tiny, ordinary moments – but she has certainly outdone herself this time in creating a story dependent on so much fantasy world-building in such a small package.  This book feels like an epic fantasy condensed onto a post-it note, with peaks and lulls, hope, sadness and inevitability perfectly paced across 32 pages.  The prose is exquisitely lyrical, with a natural rhythm that provides the dreamlike quality underpinning the story.  King’s illustrations provide the visual realisation of Millard’s words and his familiar style perfectly conveys the gloominess of the Darklings’ underground home and the curiousity and hopefulness of Peterboy.  Rather than saying too much more about it, I’ll give you some examples:

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He has also inspired Mad Martha to start crocheting a hat like Peterboy’s.  Maybe without the candle though, despite it’s undisputed usefulness.

If you can get your paws, claws or hands on a copy of this book, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.  For my money, I think it’s one of those rare treasures that will do more for the adults reading it than the mini-fleshlings – but I’m sure they’ll love it just as much.

Until next time,

Bruce

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Broken Branch Falls: A GSQ Review and Author Interview….

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Howdy pardners and welcome to another GSQ Review! Today’s book is also going to be my submission in category eight of the Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge – a book with wordplay in the title.  So I invite you to put your claw hand in mine as we take a stroll into the leafy suburban utopia that is…Broken Branch Falls by Tara Tyler.  Stay tuned after my review for an interview with Tara about the book and her other, equally intriguing, work.

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At Gingko High in Broken Branch Falls, every beast sticks to their stereotype – goblins are smart, ogres are sporty and stupid, and pixies play pranks.  Gabe Thorntry, is your average goblin boy (except for his ears – large, even for a goblin) and while he dreams of breaking out of his socially-approved role, he knows that this is unlikely ever to happen.  Until, that is, Gabe’s friends convince him to help pull a prank on an opposing football team.  When the prank goes slightly wrong, Gabe finds himself forced to PLAY on the Gingko High team and against all odds, he discovers that he quite enjoys taking on an ogrish activity for once.  But when it becomes obvious that Gabe’s punishment has backfired and interspecies mingling spreads like never before, the High Council make a decision that will ultimately ensure that no species strays outside its own kind – ever again.  Gabe and his friends now have to take on a seemingly insurmountable quest to retrieve the Book of Ages and prove once and for all that with a bit of cooperation, the Beasts will not fall prey to the wars that plagued humanity, and that a mixed society can be more than just a dream.
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Broken Branch Falls is a fun and original take on the dramas of fitting in and finding oneself in the social jungle of high school.  Likeable characters and plenty of incidental humour make the story very easy to fall into and a steady forward progression in the action encourages readers to keep turning the pages. The friendship story and quest saga also cleverly disguise a plot that raises plenty of questions about freedom, social responsibility, the right to choose and the origins of authority.  For a book pitched at middle graders, there’s a lot going on here, so I think Broken Branch Falls will best appeal to those who enjoy a read that balances the lighter moments with some real-life issues….even if the real-life issues are being dealt with by non-humans.
 
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Honestly, there isn’t much I could find to criticise about this book.  For a debut title in the middle grade age bracket, Tyler has got this mostly right.
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Tyler has done a great job of using familiar creatures and building an original world around them.  The alternate history in the plot, in which the humans have wiped themselves out, gives a fantastic depth to the predicament in which Gabe finds himself.  I LOVED the cheeky little touches that made the Beast World come alive, like the fun “goblin ears” hand sign – those are the touches that I feel really bring a book to life and give the characters and the world a genuine, authentic feel.  Just for interest’s sake, I am now in the process of developing a similar hand sign for gargoyles.  I’ll get back to you when it’s ready with details of the launch party.

My overall take on the book?

Broken Branch Falls is a strange mix of action, humour and brain-food, for the thinking lover of MG fantasy!

And now you can meet the brains behind the book!

Tara Tyler has had a hand at everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After living up and down the Eastern US, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently, she has two series, The Cooper Chronicles (techno-thriller detective capers) and Beast World (MG fantasy) She’s an adventure writer who believes every good story should have action, a moral, and a few laughs!

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Firstly, congratulations on a beast-packed romp! Did you ever consider including gargoyles in BBF?
THANK YOU!! No. There aren’t even any castles in this one, but there are in the third one – maybe a gargoyle can show up there! (my favorite gargoyles are from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame!)
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If you could have been a member of one of the beast species in BBF, which would you choose?
My first choice would be a dragon, then I could fly! I had an awesome dragon collection growing up.
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Who do you picture as the ideal reader of BBF, and what would you like them to take from it?
Middle graders or anyone who likes fantasy – I think it’s an entertaining story with a solid message behind it that you can do anything you set your mind to, and you should be able to stand up for your rights.
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Was it hard to come up with an original world for your story in such a crowded genre? And how did you think up all the little quirks, like the goblin-ears hand sign?
I feel like I live in a fantasy world… It wasn’t too hard to create this world – I started with how things are, like kids in high school and living in our world, and adapted them to the characters and setting. I tweaked our society to keep it simple and relate-able, yet unique, how they communicate, jobs, slang, etc, plus their magical specialties, and I didn’t go too far so it seemed more natural. I think epic fantasy (like the Hobbit) is much harder. That’s like starting from scratch!
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You’ve also published a novel for adults – is there a different process that you go through when writing for a younger audience?
Well, I feel a lot younger than I am, so writing younger was easy. The adult story, POP TRAVEL is definitely for a more mature audience. It’s a futuristic techno-thriller, but it’s not dark and dismally serious. I love action and adventure and humor, so those elements are in all my stories. POP TRAVEL has more mature vocabulary and situations, but I think it still appeals to a younger audience, as well. My 13 & 14 yo boys enjoyed it and they don’t like to read… I say it’s PG-13.
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Have you got any projects in the works right now that we should look out for? And will there be gargoyles appearing?
I’m hoping to have SIMULATION ready to submit in September (next book after POP TRAVEL). And I’m writing the rough draft of CRADLE ROCK (sequel to BBF in the Beast World series). Plus, in my spare time (ha!) I’m working on an anti-princess story that I’m hoping to put on youtube with storyboard animations (via my awesome illustrator) and songs! Just wish I had more time for it all! (I will have to animate a gargoyle just for you in WHEN THE WIND BLOWS, book three in Beast World)
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I really enjoyed the book as well – really original world and story.
I’m so glad you did! This is all so exciting! Thanks for your fun questions! You ROCK! (get it? gargoyle? hee hee)
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AhAAA! I see what you did there! BBF was released on June 24, so it’s hot off the press and ready for your grubby little paws to grab.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge – if you’d like to find out more about this challenge, and jump on the safari bus, simply click here!

Until next time,
Bruce

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Read-it-if Review: The Ratastrophe Catastrophe (The Illmoor Chronicles #1)…

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imageGood morning my valued minions readers! Today I have a little ripper for you.  It’s been a while since I’ve brought you a little ripper.  But here one is. It’s a rippingly, shreddingly, gnawingly good read.  It is Book 1 of The Illmoor Chronicles…The Ratastrophe Catastrophe by David Lee Stone.  I was lucky enough to receive a digital copy for review from the publisher via Netgalley, for which I am truly grateful.  You might have noticed the button over there indicating that this book is also part of my Fairy Tale Makeovers Review Series, as it is based on a fairy tale.  See if you can guess which…

The Ratastrophe Catastrophe follows a …colourful…cast of characters as they deal with a series of events that threaten to bring life in the city of Dullitch to a veritable standstill.  Simple farm lad Diek Wustapha is key to these events, in that it is he who is chosen by an ancient being of dark magic to be its new vessel.  After being commandeered by this ancient being, Diek finds that his flute playing suddenly ratchets up a notch (hooray!) but this newfound talent seems to come with the added complication of a compelling voice invading his thoughts and making him complete tasks that are somewhat ethically questionable (boo!).  Meanwhile, the Duke of Dullitch has his own problems. Big, hairy, rat-faced problems.  The city has been overrun by rats of all sizes and the Duke can find no other alternative than to advertise for mercenaries to neutralise the problem.  Enter Gordo and Groan, Jimmy Quickstint, Tambor the ex-sorceror and ex-town-councilman and of course the newly supercharged Diek, and you can be sure the problem will be dealt with in the quickest possible timeframe with the least amount of disruption to the people of Dullitch.  Or not.

ratastrophe catastropheRead it if:

* you don’t mind a bit of a rat infestation to liven up your town’s calendar of events (and drive out those pesky tourists)

* you’d happily swap some of the children around your dwelling in payment for a thorough and successful pest control program

* you’ve ever been considered woefully inept at a particular task…only to have your talent bloom like the last flower of the season to the astonishment, jealousy and mild-to-middling unease of those around you

* you adhere fervently to the motto “Never trust a simpleton with a flute and a parade of children trailing after him”

This was an unexpected fun, funny and surprising read.  I requested it thinking that it would be a dark, twisted retelling of the Pied Piper of Hamelin story, but instead found it to be a complex and hilarious politico-slapstick comedy of (mostly) errors.  I expected it to be a middle grade read, but the language and the plot are tricky enough as to place it almost at adult level in some places.  There is some wonderful satire based on the internal workings of a town council, and much of the humour is extremely dry – incidentally just the way I like it! – but I can’t imagine a middle-grade audience settling into the humour in the way I did as a grown-up.

The characters are a parade of wonderfully flawed and suspicious individuals.  There’s the barrowbird, purveyor of insults and spurious advice to its unlucky owner; Burnie, the translator turned town councillor who could easily be one of the cleverest of the bunch despite being a troglodyte; the unfortunate, pint-sized Mick, unwilling associate of unsuccessful adventurer Stump; Vicious, the Duke’s pet dog (at least we think it’s a dog); not to mention the inimitable mercenery duo of Gordo Goldaxe (dwarf) and Groan Teethgrit (barbarian).  And that’s mostly just the supporting cast!

This reminded me of nothing so much as the early episodes of the TV series Blackadder, and there are certainly a few “cunning plans” bandied about throughout the pages of this book (with generally the same success rate of those dreamt up by Baldrick).  Now obviously, given that this is based on the story of the Pied Piper, the reader generally knows how the story is going to turn out.  The author has thrown in so many supporting characters however, that there really is plenty of new stuff here to get your teeth into.

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I am very pleased that this is just the first in a series and I’ll be scouting about to get my hands on The Yowler Foul-Up which is book number two, and of which there is a small excerpt at the end of this edition.  Oh, and it would make the perfect choice for category eight of the Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge – a book with wordplay in the title.  Click on the attractive button for more information about the challenge and to board the Safari bus!

You want my advice?

(“Yes!” they chorused, “Tell us, Bruce!”)

Don’t bother with the middle graders – buy this one for yourself.

Until next time,

Bruce

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An Easy-to-Keep Resolution: Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge links are up!

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Good afternoon New Year’s revellers!  It’s resolution day – yes, the one day of the year that all beings, be they stone or flesh, are encouraged to make resolutions that are destined to be abandoned before the balloons from New Year’s celebrations have shrivelled like unloved plums.  As I am a kind and benevolent being however, I here present to you a resolution that will be easy – nay, enjoyable – nay, uplifting! – NAY! LIFE CHANGING*! – to keep.  That, my friends, is the resolution to participate in the Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge!  The details of the challenge run thusly:

1. Read at least one book from each category listed below.  Make sure the books you choose are aimed at Small Fry – that is, the target audience of the book must be aged from birth to 18 years (or 21 for our American friends).  So you can read picture books, early chapter books, graphic novels, middle grade books or young adult books.  The categories are:

A book with something related to Safari in the title

A book with a piece of furniture in the title

A book with a specific time in the title

A book with someone’s name in the title

A book with something that comes in pairs in the title

A book with something precious in the title

A book with something unsightly in the title

A book with some form of wordplay in the title

2. Link your reviews/progress under the relevant linky lists on the category link up page (you can find it below).  If you don’t have a blog, you could link to your Goodreads shelf/reviews, or simply comment on the challenge page as you go.

3. Before you begin, write a post (or comment) announcing your resolution to participate and add it to the link on the main challenge page.

4. Buy and wear a garish safari style hat and wear it while reading your challenge books (optional).

So what are you waiting for? Jump on the safari bus with the intrepid explorers who have already signed on!  For more information about the challenge, click on the challenge image at the top of this post. *Life-changing nature of participation in the challenge not a guarantee*

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY RESERVED THEIR PLACE ON THE SAFARI BUS:

As the clock ticked over last night, my little shelf-elves were hard at work putting together the link up page for each of the categories of the Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge 2014!  If you have already signed up for the challenge, you can find the category link up page here, or as a sub-tab of the main challenge page in the blog header.   Also, you may notice at the top of the page I have included an alternate challenge button design – you might find it hard to believe, but some people find it disturbing to look upon my wizened countenance and therefore I have provided a rosy-cheeked safari-ing cherub for those sensitive folk.  Feel free to grab either one from my sidebar.

I look forward to safari-ing with you all this year.  Hi Ho Safari-Gargoyles, AWAY!

Bruce

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Small Fry Safari KidLit Readers Challenge 2014: Sign Up!

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Afternoon all! After a very brief and not very deeply considered period of reflection, I have decided to take the plunge and host a readers challenge for 2014.  I hope you will join me in committing to conquer this most wiley and tricksy of beasts:

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The Small Fry Safari KidLit Readers Challenge!

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* The Challenge will run from January 1st to December 31, 2014.

* Challengees must read at least one book from each category (listed below).

* Books selected must be aimed at a target age range of under-18, so anything from cloth books to Young Adult is acceptable.  Books can be any format you like – print, audio, ebook – and any genre.  Alternatively, books could be ABOUT children – for example, parenting books, or memoirs about children

* The categories listed are a loose guide and creative interpretation of the categories is not only encouraged, but applauded. Loudly.

* Challengees should link their reviews/progress under the relevant linky lists on the main challenge page.  If you don’t have a blog, you could link to your Goodreads shelf/reviews, or simply comment on the challenge page as you go.

*Feel free to display the challenge button (html for which is in the sidebar) and share about the challenge wherever you like!

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1. A book with something related to Safari in the title (eg: Rumble in the Jungle, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt)

2. A book with a piece of furniture in the title: (eg: 100 Cupboards, The Adventures of the Wishing Chair)

3. A book with a specific time in the title: (eg: Grim Tuesday, The Eleventh Hour)

4. A book with someone’s name in the title: (eg: Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret?, Cinderella Ate My Daughter)

5. A book with something that comes in pairs in the title: (eg: Shoes From Grandpa, The Twins at St Clare’s)

6. A book with something precious in the title: (eg: Where’s the Gold?, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone)

7. A book with something unsightly in the title: (eg: Scarface Claw, The Ugly Duckling, Get Back, Pimple!, Trash )

8. A book with some form of wordplay in the title : (eg: Dark Lord: A Fiend in Need, The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets, The French Confection)

So what are you waiting for?? Click the link to sign up below!

I hope to battle out this challenge with you all by my side, intrepid explorers!

Until next time,

Bruce

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