New Releases

Great New Releases for October

Our new releases for this month features the latest from The Mixed Up Files contributor Jennifer Swanson, a biography of a president, a sequel, several middle-grade debuts, a Junior Library Guild selection and starred reviews for a number of these great new books for young readers. Buy or pre-order now using the links below each title. Snuggle in with one of these new releases. Happy reading!

Save the Crash-test Dummies, written by Jennifer Swanson, illustrated by Temika Grooms Peachtree Publishing Company, October 1

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Jennifer Swanson, author of more than thirty-five nonfiction books for young readers, once again educates and entertains in her latest.

This entertaining book navigates readers through the history of car production and offers a front‐seat view of the science and engineering that makes the world’s most important vehicle safe for us to drive.
Cars take us to work. To school. To soccer practice. To the grocery store and home again. Can you imagine a world without them? It’s not easy! One of the reasons we can use cars so much in our everyday lives is because they are safe to drive. But that hasn’t always been the case. If it weren’t for the experiments conducted over decades that involved all kinds of crash test volunteers―dead, alive, animal, or automated―cars as we know them might not be around. And then how would you get to school?
Filled with fun four‐wheeled nuggets of history and explanations of how cars actually work, this nonfiction book from former science educator and award-winning author Jennifer Swanson will appeal to lovers of all things that go and readers who are interested in getting in under the hood and seeing how things work.

“Attractively designed and engagingly written―sure to appeal to readers with a taste for the scientific and technical.” ―Kirkus Reviews”

Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament, written by Kim Long, Running Kids Press, October 1

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For fans of The Amazing RaceLexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament is the perfect adventure for middle grade readers who like scavenger hunts and puzzle-solving.

Twelve-year-old physics whiz Lexi Magill won’t let anything stop her from winning Wisconsin’s Teleportation Tournament–the annual competition where teams teleport around the world to solve science-based puzzles. She needs the prize money if she wants to re-enroll in the science academy her parents can no longer afford. Added bonus: she’ll be able to reconnect with her best friend Haley.

But Lexi’s two teammates put a wrench in her plans. When one misreads a clue that lands the team in a castle in Germany, and the other loses her teleportation medallion in Poland, Lexi wonders what she’s gotten herself into. Struggling to keep her team under control as the race rages on, Lexi not only has to figure out how to get back on course (literally), but she must decide how far she’s willing to go to win, and who her real friends are. With riddles to solve and messages to decode, this interactive read won’t disappoint!

Lily’s Story, written by W. Bruce Cameron, Tom Doherty Associates, October 8
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Lily’s Story is a new standalone story in the bestselling A Dog’s Purpose Puppy Tales middle grade series by New York Times bestselling author W. Bruce Cameron!

A rescue dog to the rescue!

Lily is the smallest puppy in her litter and the only girl. Her brothers are bigger and stronger and like to push her around. When Lily meets a girl named Maggie Rose at the animal shelter, Lily discovers things are not so bad. Lily’s size means that she can help other animals who are in trouble. It’s Lily to the rescue!

The Last Dragon, The Revenge of Magic #2, written by James Riley, Aladdin, October 8
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Fort Fitzgerald is determined to uncover the truth, but a new student at school and the secrets he has to keep complicate matters in this second novel in a thrilling new series from the author of the New York Times bestselling Story Thieves!

Fort Fitzgerald can’t stop having nightmares about the day his father was taken from him in an attack on Washington, DC. In these dreams, an Old One, an evil beyond comprehension, demands the location of the last dragon. But other than some dragon skeletons dug up with the books of magic on Discovery Day, Fort has never seen a dragon before. Could there still be one left alive?

And weirdly, Fort’s not the only one at the Oppenheimer School having these nightmares. His new roommate, Gabriel, seems to know more than he’s letting on about this dragon as well. And why does everyone at the school seem to do whatever Gabriel says? What’s his secret?

Fort’s going to need the help of his friends Cyrus, Jia, and Rachel, if he’s going to have any chance of keeping the Old Ones from returning to Earth. Unless, the Old Ones offer something Fort could never turn down…

Franklin D. Roosevelt, written by Teri Kanefield, Abrams, October 8
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The fifth book in the Making of America series, Franklin D. Roosevelt examines the life of America’s 32nd president: his birth into one of America’s elite families, his domineering mother, his marriage to Eleanor Roosevelt, his struggle with polio, and his political career. A Democrat, Roosevelt (1882–1945) won a record four presidential elections and is the longest-serving US president.

During his time in office, he led the country through the Great Depression and World War II. He helped to redefine the role of the US government with the New Deal. Scholars often rate him as one of the three greatest US presidents along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The book includes selections from FDR’s writings, endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.

The Story That Cannot Be Told, written by J. Kasper Kramer, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, October 8

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A powerful middle grade debut that weaves together folklore and history to tell the story of a girl finding her voice and the strength to use it during the final months of the Communist regime in Romania in 1989.

Ileana has always collected stories. Some are about the past, before the leader of her country tore down her home to make room for his golden palace; back when families had enough food, and the hot water worked on more than just Saturday nights. Others are folktales like the one she was named for, which her father used to tell her at bedtime. But some stories can get you in trouble, like the dangerous one criticizing Romania’s Communist government that Uncle Andrei published—right before he went missing.

Fearing for her safety, Ileana’s parents send her to live with the grandparents she’s never met, far from the prying eyes and ears of the secret police and their spies, who could be any of the neighbors. But danger is never far away. Now, to save her family and the village she’s come to love, Ileana will have to tell the most important story of her life.

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution, written by Lisa Jenn Bigelow, HarperCollins Publishers, October 8
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The Thing About Jellyfish meets Raymie Nightingale in this tender middle grade novel from Lisa Jenn Bigelow, acclaimed author of Drum Roll, Please.

Hazel knows a lot about the world. That’s because when she’s not hanging with her best friend, taking care of her dog, or helping care for the goats on her family’s farm, she loves reading through dusty encyclopedias.

But even Hazel doesn’t have answers for the questions awaiting her as she enters eighth grade. What if no one at her new school gets her, and she doesn’t make any friends? What’s going to happen to one of her moms, who’s pregnant again after having two miscarriages? Why does everything have to change when life was already perfectly fine?

As Hazel struggles to cope, she’ll come to realize that sometimes you have to look within yourself—instead of the pages of a book—to find the answer to life’s most important questions.

Lost Horizon, written by Michael Ford, HarperCollins Publishers, October 8

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This gripping sequel to Forgotten City is a twist-filled survival adventure that’s Mad Max for tweens.

Everything Kobi once believed was a lie. Not only are there other survivors of the Waste that devastated the world thirteen years ago, but beyond the wasteland of Old Seattle lies a gleaming new city where thousands are desperate for a cure.

To put an end to the Waste—and bring justice to those responsible–Kobi and his new friends will have to return to the heart of Old Seattle, where the outbreak began. It’s a dangerous journey. But Kobi knows what lies ahead. And he’s ready to fight.

Nail-biting suspense and nonstop thrills make this action-packed adventure perfect for young readers who love survival adventures like Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet or dystopian series like Jeanne DuPrau’s City of Ember.

Blood Mountain, written by James Preller, Feiwel & Friends, October 8
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Told in alternating points-of-view, James Preller’s powerful middle-grade survival story will have readers on the edge of their seats.

Carter and his older sister Grace thought the hike with their dad and their dog would be uneventful. If anything, they figured it was Dad’s way of getting them off their screens for a while.

But the hike on Blood Mountain turns ominous, as the siblings are separated from their father, and soon, battling the elements. They are lost.

They are being hunted, but who will reach them first? The young ranger leading the search? Or the mysterious mountain man who has gone off the grid?

The Space We’re In, written by Katya Balen, Holiday House, October 8

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Ten-year-old Frank has trouble navigating his relationship with his younger brother Max who is autistic.

Frank loves soccer, codes, riding his bike, and playing with his friends. His brother Max is five. Max only eats foods that are beige or white, hates baths, and if he has to wear a t-shirt that isn’t gray with yellow stripes he melts down down down.

Frank longs for the brother he was promised by his parents before Max was born—someone who was supposed to be his biggest fan, so he could be the best brother in the world. Instead, Frank has trouble navigating Max’s behavior and their relationship. But when tragedy strikes, Frank finds a way to try and repair their fractured family and in doing so learns to love Max for who he is.

In her debut novel, Katya Balen uses her knowledge of autism and experience working with autistic people to create an intriguing and intense yet always respectful family story.

For readers of Counting by 7s and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

Fighting for the Forest, written by P. O’Connell Pearson, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, October 8

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In an inspiring middle grade nonfiction work, P. O’Connell Pearson tells the story of the Civilian Conservation Corps—one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal projects that helped save a generation of Americans.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933, the United States was on the brink of economic collapse and environmental disaster. Thirty-four days later, the first of over three million impoverished young men were building parks and reclaiming the nation’s forests and farmlands. The Civilian Conservation Corps—FDR’s favorite program and “miracle of inter-agency cooperation”—resulted in the building and/or improvement of hundreds of state and national parks, the restoration of nearly 120 million acre of land, and the planting of some three billion trees—more than half of all the trees ever planted in the United States.

Fighting for the Forest tells the story of the Civilian Conservation Corp through a close look at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia (the CCC’s first project) and through the personal stories and work of young men around the nation who came of age and changed their country for the better working in Roosevelt’s Tree Army.

Double Helix Book Blast Tour!

Welcome Back to the Explorer Academy!

Welcome to the Explorer Academy: The Double Helix Book Blast!


To celebrate the release of Explorer Academy: The Double Helix by Trudi Trueit on September 24th, blogs across the web are featuring special content from the world of the Explorer Academy, as well as 5 chances to win an Explorer Academy Prize Pack!

Decoding Yourself

In Explorer Academy: The Double Helix, Cruz and his friends not only learn about the world around them, but discover new things about themselves as well — and it can help readers do the same. Use the questions below to help kids relate the adventures of Team Cousteau to their own lives, and find more in the freely available readers’ and educators’ guides!


1. Cruz learns that the ancient city of Petra was one of many cities known as the “rose city.” Why might this be such a common name for a city? What nicknames does your city, town, or county have?

2. This is an image of DNA that 20th-century scientists used to determine the structure of DNA, the building blocks of all living organisms. Dr. Rosalind Franklin, whose team made the image, wasn’t credited with the achievement because two other scientists — Watson and Crick — published the findings as their own. Why might it have taken so long for Franklin’s original finding to become public after the other scientists took credit? Why do some histories still fail to give her credit for the discovery? In terms of recognizing achievements, when might gender matter?

3. While taking a break in a shop, Cruz happens to notice a postcard of the mosaic artwork in the Byzantine church and compares it to the birthmark on his wrist. He realizes the shapes resemble the double helix pattern of DNA. How much does luck versus skill influence Cruz’s eventual success? When was the last time you achieved something through a combination of luck and skill?



Blog Tour Schedule:
September 23rd – YA and Kids Books Central
September 24th – Java John Z’s
September 25th – Always in the Middle
September 26th – From the Mixed Up Files
September 27th – BookhoundsYA

“A fun, exciting and action-packed ride that kids will love.”  
—J.J. Abrams, director of Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lost and Alias
Explorer  Academy  is  sure  to  awaken  readers’  inner  adventurer  and  curiosity  about  the  world  around  them.”
—LeVar  Burton,  host  of  “Reading  Rainbow”and “LeVar  Burton  Reads”

: National GeographicAmazon | Indiebound

Follow TrudiWebsite | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

Follow National Geographic Kids: Website | Twitter | Books Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

The mystery deepens and the action intensifies for 12-year-old Cruz Coronado and friends in the exciting third book in the Explorer Academy series.The adventure continues for Cruz, Emmett, Sailor, and Bryndis as they continue their studies at sea and travel to exotic locations around the world. A mysterious person alerts Cruz to impending danger while he and a few trusted pals explore ancient ruins in Petra, Jordan, and search for another piece of the puzzle his mother left behind. Worst of all, now his father has gone missing, which prompts Aunt Marisol, his number one protector, to leave the ship in search of him. Who is the new professor who takes her place? How does the new technology he introduces help or hurt Cruz’s quest? Why is Nebula determined to stop Cruz before he turns 13? The clock is ticking as his first teen birthday draws near … a milestone that will change his life forever, one way or another.

About the Author: Author Trudi Trueit is a gifted storyteller for middle-grade audiences. She has written more than 100 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction, including The Sister Solution, Stealing Popular and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series. Trueit lives in Everett, Washington.

  • One (1) winner will receive SIGNED copies of Explorer Academy books 1-3, Explorer Academy Codebreaking Activity Adventure, an ADVANCE copy of Explorer Academy Ultimate Activity Challenge (not otherwise available to the public until November!), an Explorer Academy pin, baseball cap, bag, digital watch, bookmark, and a $50 Visa Gift Card!
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 10/4 at midnight ET

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Explorer Academy Recruitment Day — October 10, 2019

October 10th, 2019 is Explorer Academy Recruitment Day. From New York to Vancouver, Ohio to Texas, and all points in between, real-life National Geographic Explorers will be talking to thousands of kids across North America, sharing their experiences and revealing how the Explorers themselves inspired the coolest school on the planet: The Explorer Academy. Explorer Academy author Trudi Trueit will also be in her hometown of Seattle, talking to local schools (if only we could make more Trudi’s to go around but, alas, she is one-of-a-kind). Thanks to the series’ publication in a dozen countries, Explorer Academy Recruitment Day has turned into a GLOBAL phenomenon, with students all over the world participating in events similar to the ones happening in North America.

10/10, 6:30 – 7:30 pm
PUBLIC EVENT with Nat Geo Explorer Rae Wynn Grant
1555 KIng Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Event details:  Presentation, Q&A, and signing of posters

10/10, 7:00 pm
PUBLIC EVENT with Nat Geo Explorer Jennifer W. Lopez
17 Haverford Station Road
Haverford, PA  19041
Event details:  Presentation, Q&A, and signing of posters

10/12, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
PUBLIC EVENT with Explorer Academy author Trudi Trueit
7430 164th Ave NE
Redmond, WA 98052
Event details:  Presentation, Q&A, and signing

Interview with Meredith Davis: Collaborating Over an Ocean

A few years ago, one of my favorite things to do on Facebook was follow the posts of my friend Meredith Davis. Her and her family were looking after a girl from Rwanda who had bravely left her family to come to Austin, Texas, in the hope that her curled feet could be corrected so she could walk. I had the privilege of meeting Rebeka once, very briefly when I had to collect something from Meredith and Rebeka was in the car. Her smile has stayed with me ever since.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgSo when I heard that Meredith and Rebeka had co-written a middle-grade book about Rebeka’s journey and it was getting published by Scholastic, I rejoiced. Rebeka’s story is one of fear but making your own courage (something that any reader of my novel knows is important to me), resilience despite challenges, and the joy of knowing that, even though our world often looks harsh, there are wonderful examples of community and love.

HER OWN TWO FEET: A RWANDAN GIRL’S BRAVE FIGHT TO WALK comes out on Oct. 1, and I can assure you that it is absolutely wonderful. So inspirational and touching, as well as beautifully written, this is a book I hope will be available in every library and read by every kid and adult. (You can find it on IndieBound here.)

I’m thrilled to have had a chance to chat with Meredith about how this book came about. PLUS, there’s a giveaway at the end…

Tell us how you and Rebeka met.

Rebeka and I first met at the Austin airport at 2:30AM on August 6, 2012. She didn’t speak English, I didn’t speak her language of Kinyarwanda, we were both a bit bleary-eyed and scared as we stepped into the unknown together. Rebeka briefly met my husband in December 2011 when he was on a trip to Rwanda. Amazingly, some of our friends had recently sponsored her so she could go to school, and the husband and father of that family is a doctor. When he found out about her medical condition, he applied to a Dell Children’s Hospital foundation and their doctors agreed to treat her for free if they felt her twisted feet would respond. It was truly a miracle, all those small pieces coming together to bring her to Austin. When we got the call, asking if we would host her, we said yes.

Rebeka Uwitonze runs circles around Meredith's daughter on their trampoline.

Rebeka Uwitonze runs circles around Meredith’s daughter on their trampoline.

She had seen pictures of our family in preparation for her trip to Texas to receive treatments for her club feet. There was a photo of her family sitting on the counter back home, which I studied frequently, but we didn’t meet in the flesh until that fateful morning. In twenty-four hours, she went from scared and tired, to chasing after my sons and running circles around my daughter on the trampoline.

Why did you both decide to write this story?

I’ll answer for myself first and then for Rebeka, sharing the reasons she shared with me when I asked her this same question. I wrote this book so that more people would know about this resilient, funny, courageous girl who lived with us for almost a year as she went through thirty-one casts, fifty-eight hospital visits and three painful surgeries to turn her feet straight. I want more readers to know about Rebeka’s home country of Rwanda, too, a country I love.

Rebeka partnered with me as co-author because she was excited about encouraging other kids. She doesn’t want her story to be forgotten. We needed each other to write the book in a way that honored how she was thinking and feeling as a young girl crawling, as a seven-year-old teaching herself how to walk, as a nine-year-old leaving her family to come to America, and as the young woman she is now.

How did you and Rebeka collaborate on this book, especially with such a great distance between you?

This is a great question! The distance made our writing process unique. There were other complications in addition to the giant ocean that separated us. I couldn’t call Rebeka or send her an email since she had no cell phone and very limited access to computers and the internet. Our communication had to be carefully planned, taking into consideration the seven-hour time difference and the schedules of school administrators who would need to pull her from class and bring her to the office.

We mostly worked in three big chunks. In 2017, we talked a lot about the shape of the book, deciding what scenes to include and what to leave out. In addition to talking to Rebeka, I interviewed her parents, her former teacher, house mother at her boarding school, and staff from the organization who got Rebeka sponsored to go to school (Africa New Life).

In 2018, it was all about revision as I brought the entire manuscript to Rebeka in both written form and a DVD. I had hired a Rwandan in the US to translate and record the entire book so that both Rebeka and her parents could listen to it. Edits were made until we were both happy with it.

The next summer was spent working on promotion together. We are both debut authors! The summer of 2019, I flew to Rwanda to record a video of Rebeka giving a tour of her home and school and answering readers’ questions. The readers were ten Texas kids who read advanced copies of her book. I plan to show that video at all my presentations, and we both look forward to where this project leads us next.

The conversations between Rebeka and her sister at the end of each chapter are wonderful. How did you both come up with the idea of ending the chapters in this way?

Rebeka Uwitonze and her sister Medeatrece.

Rebeka Uwitonze and her sister Medeatrece.

The summer of 2017, Rebeka and I lay side by side on a bunk at the guest house and dreamed up how to tell her story. Earlier that week, Rebeka showed me the bed she and Medeatrece shared when they were little girls. Her affection for her little sister was so evident. There were nights when she lived with us that I would hear her whispering with my daughter after dark in the room they shared, the way she did with her sister. All those memories and experiences came together as the first-person vignettes between the chapters.

I love the photographs throughout. How did you choose which to include?

I had so many pictures from our time with Rebeka in Texas, and pictures of our times in Rwanda, it was really hard to choose. We wrote the manuscript first, and then chose the pictures that best represented the text. I kept a blog when Rebeka lived with us (if anyone wants to go back through those, they can still find them on my website, which kept me accountable to document our time together. I am so thankful for all those pictures now!

We sent about seventy to the editor and were so pleased that they were able to incorporate almost all of them. We were also hopeful that the pictures would be spaced throughout the text instead of clustered in the middle, and again, our wish came true!

Scholastic was amazing to work with. Their designers did a great job of working to make sure the pictures appeared as close to the text they represented as possible. There were only five pictures that weren’t taken by my husband or me. They were taken by friends who were happy to let us use them. I was especially pleased when Scholastic chose esteemed humanitarian photographer Esther Haven’s picture of Rebeka for the back cover. It is one of my favorites!

What have been your biggest joys and challenges so far in bringing this book to shelves?

Rebeka Uwitonze and Meredith Davis in 2017, during Meredith's first visit to Rwanda.

Rebeka Uwitonze and Meredith Davis in 2017, during Meredith’s first visit to collaborate with Rebeka in Rwanda.

Oh, there are have been so many joys. One of the biggest was getting to see Rebeka three years in a row and finding out more of her story as we worked on the book, and watching her rise to the occasion, poised and eloquent as she was interviewed for various media opportunities.

Getting to share news about the publishing deal with so many friends and family who have watched me write and submit over the years was also a big thrill. All those years of heartache and rejections have prepared a rich soil where many close relationships grew, and those same people who encouraged me when I was down are now cheering for me.

The challenge has definitely been the physical distance between Rebeka and I, but Rebeka is used to challenges and I have learned a lot from her. We made it work, just like she’s done her whole life.

This is the first book for both of you. Will we see others? (I hope so!)

I hope so, too! For me, I am digging into another narrative nonfiction project and I have lots of fiction projects I am eager to return to as well. I can’t imagine my life if I wasn’t mired in a writing project. It’s a little like being pregnant, with a whole world going on inside of you, a secret you carry around as you wait in lines and shop for groceries and do the normal things you do.

As for Rebeka, I would love to see her write another book. Right now, her focus is school. She got a late start, entering kindergarten at the age of nine, just months before coming to America. But she is smart and determined, and the same girl who left her family at age nine to fly to America and live with strangers while she had surgeries is the girl who will one day graduate and go on to change her world.

I hope that this experience will encourage not just Rebeka, but many other Rwandans to write books. Nonfiction and fiction, books about their lives, books about worlds they’ve made up, books that are influenced by their own unique culture and country. I have had some really great conversations with some enterprising men and women in Rwanda, encouraging them that the world needs their voices.

What’s the most important thing you hope readers will take away from this book?

Courage, compassion, curiosity . . . there are so many things, it’s hard to choose the most important! We hope this book will awaken a curiosity in readers for those who look or act different, whether it’s the color of skin, a different language, or a disability. We want readers to crave the story behind what makes someone different, and that in the craving, they will engage others with compassion, empathy, and interest.

We want readers to be courageous when faced with a hard choice, because sometimes chance comes once!

Thank you, Meredith, for taking us behind the scenes of HER OWN TWO FEET.

Seriously, this is an amazing story wonderfully told. I know you’ll love it as much as I do. Here’s more about Meredith and Rebeka:

Meredith Davis and Rebeka Uwitonze with their book!

Meredith Davis and Rebeka Uwitonze with their book!

Meredith Davis worked at an independent children’s bookstore and started the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators before earning her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives and writes in Austin, Texas, and Her Own Two Feet is her debut book. Visit her online at

Rebeka Uwitonze goes to school in Kayonza, Rwanda, and spends her holidays at her home in Bugesera. She was born with arthrogryposis, a disease that caused her joints to contract, resulting in stiffness, clubfeet, and muscle atrophy in her arms. Her Own Two Feet is her debut book, in which she is able to share her inspiring story with the world. To find out more about Rebeka, go to

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