Category Archives: Grandchildren

If You’re Wondering What to Read Next, Look No Further! (Part 2 of 2)

Friends!  If I didn’t load you up with enough book ideas last week, fear not! I’ve got a few more. These are geared for families…

Our first book is a stand alone, but the second one leads to the third and the author of the third happens to be an endorser for our first selection. (Who’s on first?) Stay tuned…

I confess I bought this first book purely from the cover as I’m obsessed with penguins:

I wanted to jump in the cover, a la Mary Poppins and the chalk drawing in the sidewalk, and follow the Pied Piper, girl, and penguin, also toting a book along.

“Most engagingly conversational” would be my assessment of Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone’s writing.  I love the book because it does two things for the reader:

1 – It shows you why the authors want their book club participants to not just merely read their selections on the surface.  They help you become detectives.

2 – The book also helps you should you be considering starting a book club.   You’ll receive all kinds of ideas and advice. Clearly the Goldstones are experienced and love every single second of their time doing this!

Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook (which we’ll get to in a minute), said of Deconstructing Penguins, “Not just the single best book on leading a book discussion group, it is also about how to dig a tunnel into the heart of a book. In my ideal world, every reading teacher would trash that boring classroom text and adopt this book as a curriculum bible.”

The Gladstones say,

Early into the book, we get to see the Gladstones in action with parents and their children who’ve come to their book club.  Even more fun, the first book they discuss is none other than Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Simply delightful!

Our second book is by a lovely author I learned about from one of Ann Voskamp’s blogposts.  She raved about Sarah Mackenzie who founded the Read-Aloud Revival podcast.  Sarah’s book is called The Read-Aloud Family:  Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids.

Sarah and her husband, Andrew, live in Spokane, Washington with their six kids, so trust me, she knows what she’s talking about in this book!!! We get to learn from her experiments with her own children and see firsthand how reading aloud blessed and hugely benefited their whole family. Her strong, Christian faith overflows in her writing too which is an added bonus.

The book’s divided into three parts.  We watch the experiment unfold, we learn how to ask compelling questions, how to create a book club culture in your own home, etc. and finally we gain huge lists of recommended books, their synopses, all for certain ages.  Invaluable!

Finally, the last two books are by the same author. One happens to be one of a gazillion books my own Mother gave to me.  The author is Jim Trelease and the book Mother gave me is Hey! Listen to This: Stories to Read Aloud. (Notice it says “edited by Jim Trelease.”)

It includes books in categories, sometimes only excerpts from novels, causing you to want to run out and find the entire book.  He introduces authors, many times telling stories of their upbringing or why they began to write, all of which is as interesting as the actual excerpt he includes! Categories include:  Tell Me a Story!, Tales from Long Ago, School Days, Food for Thought, etc. (There are eight more!)

Jim Trelease is best known for his The Read -Aloud Handbook: Includes a Giant Treasury of Great Read-Aloud Books. (I have the 7th edition, which says, “Now completely revised and updated.”)

This book is so thorough. From convincing statistics in the beginning to over a hundred pages of pure lists of books, age appropriated, succinct synopses, it’s easy to see why Sarah Mackenzie flipped over it and adopted Jim’s strategies immediately.

Pulling these four books out again has renewed my enthusiasm for reading to our grandchildren. I’d totally forgotten that the book my Mother gave me is autographed by Jim Trelease and dated 4-23-96, so John Jr. would’ve been ten years old by then. She must’ve gotten to hear him speak somewhere and had him sign it.  I wish I’d paid closer attention back then!

I’ll stop before throwing any more book suggestions at you (this is the end of Part 2!), before you throw some books at me!  Regardless, you cannot go wrong with any of these and your friends and family will thank you for your efforts.

Psalm 127:3 reminds us, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from Him.” (NIV)

’Til next time!

 

 

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If You’re Wondering What to Read Next, Look No Further…(Part 1 of 2)

Friends!  2020 has found me in three lovely locales of our home on a mission to declutter. (Audible groan.) Problem is I don’t spend enough time, thence the improvement isn’t visible yet.

While on one of these missions, I uncovered a pile of “I didn’t know I had these books?”  So, dear reader, it’s your lucky day as I was elated to rediscover these books!

This week and next, I’ll be sharing snippets for you because you will want to have your own copies or at the very least, check them out from the library to help you with your reading—for yourself, for your children, and for your grandchildren.

This week we’ll unpack two excellent resources by Gladys Hunt.  I’m sad to report Gladys died at the age of 83 in 2010.  But, it’s our grand fortune she’s left us such rich, rich books.  (At the end of the post, I’ll tell you about some of her other books. Today we’ll just discuss two of hers.)

The books?

Honey for a Child’s Heart:  The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life (4th edition with an Annotated List of Books for Ages 0-14) by Gladys Hunt

Honey for a Woman’s Heart:  Growing Your World through Reading Great Books by Gladys Hunt

The title for both books begins with the word, “honey”. This was inspired from Proverbs 16:24 which says,

One of the many things I love about the book for children  is the emphasis Gladys places on family time and how it’s enriched by reading. She offers ways to do this in addition to the incredible age appropriate lists with brief descriptions of the books. She also notes awards the books have won such as the Caldecott Medal, Caldecott Honor, Newberry Award, Honor, and Medal, the Corbetts Scott King aware, and the Boston Globe/Horn Book award.

Regarding her lists, we also learn, “Two chapters list special books considered long-standing classics:  picture book classics and classic children’s novels.”

Gladys says,

Gladys is obviously a wordsmith. She advocates reading not just for our education, but to increase our faith. She adds, “I can’t imagine any pleasure greater than bringing to the uncluttered, supple mind of a child the delight of knowing the many rich things God has given us to enjoy.”

Now watch how she ends this particular paragraph:  “Parents have this wonderful privilege, and books are their keenest tools.”  Yes!

Early into the book, we readers are gifted with a quote from Emily Dickinson from The Poems of Emily Dickinson. It captures the case for reading Gladys is building:

Actual illustrations from various books such as Mary Poppins and Charlotte’s Web, for example, delight our eyes every few pages. They are wonderful windows into these many books!

Gladys’ book for women, “Honey for a Woman’s Heart:  Growing Your World through Reading Great Books,” is equally filled with a wealth of information.  She opens with this from Mark Twain:

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.”

Then we get FOUR reasons we need to dive into this book, the fourth of which is my favorite:

“Fourth, expect books to become ‘ministers’ to your life, to say to you what you need to hear…The books recommended in the chapter on spiritual growth and the ideas for taking the Bible seriously could start a personal revolution!”

Every two to three pages, Gladys has little gray boxes with “extra” interesting topics such as:  “Children’s books I read at adult dinner parties”, “Books that inspire courage in Me” , “Books that touched every sense of my being,” and “Books that propelled me forward on my journey with God,” just for starters.

Don’t miss Chapter 7:  “Honey from the Rock:  Reading the Bible.”  Her love for the Lord is positively contagious and you’ll learn about so many books you probably didn’t know about!  I howled out loud at this recommendation:  The Bible for Blockheads by Douglas Connelly.  Here’s Gladys’ synopsis:  “In the kindest way, Connelly helps increase the reader’s biblical understanding.”

I’m making a list, or two, or ten, of books that sound like must-reads.  I’ll head to the library and see if I can’t look at them first before I jump in and buy them.

When I was corresponding with author Kay Swatkowski about her book, A Grandmother’s Prayers, that I recently wrote about, she told me she used Gladys’ books with her own children and when she was a teacher. She added, “I’m a firm believer that good literature is one of the best teachers for children!”

Here are two more books by Gladys and Barbara Hampton:

Read for Your Life:  Turning Teens into Readers

Honey for a Teen’s Heart

Now you know what I’m about to say, “Run, don’t walk, to your nearest library or bookstore and grab these books!  They’re worth telling all your friends about!”

‘Til next time!

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are “affiliate links.”

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Christmas Gift Ideas – Gift Idea #2 of 4: This is for your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews…

Friends!  Please allow me to share another Christmas gift idea. This one is for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or neighbors and especially if you hail from Kentucky…

I met a lovely author at the Kentucky Book Festival last month thanks to our daughter-in-love, Lauren, who discovered her.  Her name is Evelyn B. Christensen.  One of many books she’s written is called The Twelve Days of Christmas in Kentucky. (It was chosen to represent Kentucky at the 2017 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.)

Much to my delight, not only does this fun book offer loads of information about our state, children and adults will learn a LOT about the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  Literally the wealth of information you’ll gain will astonish you.

Many of you know our family has exploded this year with three wee bairns arriving:  Ford in March, Henry in April and Charlotte in August.  One of many delightful discoveries in The Twelve Days of Christmas in Kentucky is the interaction between Marybeth and her cousin Martin.

Naturally, reading about the cousins with our now four grand angels, who are all cousins, got Lauren and me so excited.  Evelyn’s book comes in two types of editions:  a board book (which I scooped up for all the cousins, shhhh, don’t tell) and a regular slick paper edition for older ones.

We readers get to travel all over the state, learning as we go about the state bird, the cardinal, and the state tree, the tulip poplar, just for starters.  We go to the Louisville Zoo, Mammoth Cave, the National Corvette Museum, Louisville Slugger Museum, a coal mining museum, the Kentucky Horse Park and many more fun stops.

 

Evelyn’s description on the back of her book gives us its plot:  “Marybeth is so excited about cousin Martin coming for a Kentucky visit that she gives him one VERY unusual gift on each of the twelve days of Christmas. As the days pass and the gifts pile up, Martin writes lively letters home to tell his mom and dad all about this trip.”

Illustrations by Kent Culotta are most appealing to the eye and fun to look at on each page.  His details will delight readers of all ages.

Our Lauren suggested we take all the cousins to many of these destinations together as a family.  What a fun goal to have!  Be thinking of your relatives and friends who would enjoy this book…

Finally, don’t miss other books by Evelyn. She’s a master at creating puzzles and she includes new ones each week to try out on her website which is a tremendous resource for us parents and grandparents:  www.evelynchristensen.com

This book, Mensa for Kids:  Fun Puzzle Challenges, was also available at the Kentucky Book Festival. Mensa actually asked Evelyn to create this book!

Finally, I love how Evelyn shares her faith with us on her website, telling us she learned over the years God had gifted her with a mind to create these puzzles to teach children fun ways to learn math skills.  She teaches us learning can be fun and not a chore.

She credits a study her small group was doing by John Ortberg called If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.  She said that was the turning point for her with her writing, realizing God had given her these gifts to share.

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and GRAB The Twelve Days of Christmas in Kentucky!  Your family and friends will love it!

‘Til next time!

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Grab This Devotional for You, Your Kiddos, and Grands! You’ll Learn More Than You’d Ever Guess…(with help from Louie Giglio)

Friends!  This past Christmas, I bought FOUR copies of Louie Giglio’s devotional for our grands and our library. Let me tell you why…

You may be familiar with pastor, speaker, teacher, and writer, Lou Giglio. He’s who started the Passion conference for 18-25 years olds and their leaders.  These conferences have been filling arenas for years.  Just a week ago, four different arenas sold out to thousands who got to hear messages from Louie, Christine Caine, and Matt Chandler, with worship being led by David Crowder and Kari Jobe, among others.

Louie and his wife, Shelley, pastor Passion City Church and make their home in Atlanta, Georgia.

Louie says the Passion movement “exists to call a generation to leverage their lives for the fame of Jesus.” Early on, their story connected to the confession found in Isaiah 26:8 (now known as the 268 Declaration) which says,

So, let’s dive into this eye-opening devotional aimed at kids, but equally interesting for us adults.  It has 100 devotions based on four categories:  Space, Earth, Animals, and People.  Each entry opens with a Scripture, a brief devotional with pictures, always ending with a fun fact called, “Be Amazed,” and a simple prayer.

Louie tells us, “My prayer is you’ll be truly amazed and in awe as we learn that the God who created Betelgeuse, one of the biggest stars we know about, also created YOU—from the number of hairs on your head to the color of the skin on your toes. This indescribable Creator knows you better and loves you more than anyone on Earth ever  could.”

One of many favorite entries is #36, called “The Eyes Have It.”  Our Scripture is,

In this entry, we learn that at five months into a baby’s life in utero, his/her eyes will have two million optic nerve endings. (“One million stretched out from your brain to meet and match up with another million optic nerve endings stretched out from your eye.”)

Louie asks, “Can you imagine matching up two million different wires and getting them all exactly right?” He teaches us that’s what God does when making our eyes. This is just one of many reasons each and every baby is an absolute miracle.

And while at five months, babies can’t see yet, at six months, the skin covering of the eyes separate, giving us eyelids. How beyond wild is that?

Now, let’s “Be Amazed: Chameleons have some of the coolest eyes around.  A chameleon can see in a total 360-degree circle—all the way around its body. Each eye can move separately from the other, so it can look in two different directions at once!”

And, let’s pray:

There are ninety-nine more equally fascinating entries in this devotional.  It’s impossible to choose a favorite. Each can be a great topic at your dinner table! (The day after Christmas I read another fascinating entry about the starfish, entry #90, to all six of our adult children who loved it. Boys and girls, young and old will gobble this devotional up. The challenge will be to only read one at a time!)

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why We Must Consider the Legacy We’re Leaving… (With help from the Green girls of Hobby Lobby)

Friends!  Just wait ‘til you hear about this life-changing, must-read book…

It’s written by Jackie Green and her daughter, Lauren Green McAfee. (Jackie’s husband, Steve, runs Hobby Lobby and their stories woven throughout are incredibly fascinating.) The book is called Only One Life:  How a Woman’s Every Day Shapes an Eternal Legacy.

I heard the authors interviewed on the Eric Metaxas show recently (www.metaxastalk.com ) and promptly ordered the book. What intrigued me is the book’s format.  Each chapter focuses on an attribute of what makes a good legacy:

What’s super cool is how the girls introduce you to a Biblical character, a historical character, and a modern-day character for you to meet and see how their lives exemplify these attributes in each chapter.  Some I was familiar with, while others were lovely discoveries.

For example, Winston Churchill’s nanny, Elizabeth Anne Everest, was a very strong Christian and had a huge influence on him, teaching him to memorize Scripture, giving him a personal faith.

Let this soak in for a minute:

“It can be argued that because of her, the Nazis did not come to rule Europe, and because of the way she carried out her duties, the Soviets would not realize their aspirations to extend their brand of Communism to the world.”

The Green girls said Churchill “would attest that the prayers and spiritual principles he had absorbed from Elizabeth Everest were the anchor of His soul.”

Another new-to-me historical figure is Elizabeth of Hungary who’s in the chapter on the legacy of generosity. Elizabeth’s mother is who gave her such a strong faith.  She was born in 1207.  Her father was King Andrew II of Hungary.

She was highly influenced by Francis of Assisi who said,

Elizabeth married at age 14, having been betrothed to Prince Ludwig of Thuringia at the ripe age of 4! Amazingly, she “helped establish a monastery in Thuringia. She also used her dowry to found eastern Europe’s first orphanage.” Her story is full of intrigue you won’t want to miss.

You also don’t want to miss Jackie Green’s relation to Queen Elizabeth II!  This is in the chapter on the legacy of wisdom, Queen Elizabeth being our modern-day character. Other modern-day women we meet include fireball Christine Caine on the legacy of rescue, wise teacher Kay Arthur, and on loyalty, the one and only Ruth Bell Graham. (These are just 4 of the 12!)

We also learn that Marie Green “imparted her faith and values to David Green” (Jackie’s father-in-law) who then left his faith to his children, one being Steve, Jackie’s husband.  She adds, “There is nothing more important than to point a child toward their Heavenly Father and the redemption available through Christ.

You’ll learn how Hobby Lobby came to be as well as their thoughts on generosity, how they run the company, and even the details about the Supreme Court’s ruling over their health insurance, regarding their pro-life beliefs.  Your jaw will drop more than once over the details the Lord helped them overcome in an excruciatingly long trial, especially with such intense scrutiny from the media.

Also in the chapter on generosity Jackie discusses “the legacy-building power of a lifestyle of generosity.” We glean pearls from their family discussions.  She shares,

“A committee reviews and makes decisions on giving corporately,

…viewing each request through a specific lens

Will it advance God’s Word?

Will it save a person’s soul?”

We readers also get to learn about the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., that the Greens started.  It’s a wild journey you won’t want to miss.  The Museum is at the top of my Bucket List. (www.museumofthebible.org )

Further details on the museum can be found in another book the Greens wrote called, This Dangerous Book:  How the Bible Has Shaped Our World and Why It Still Matters Today.

Of all the Biblical characters we meet and learn about in Only One Life,  my three favorites are:  Huldah the prophetess, Hannah, and Ruth (but then how could we leave out Mary the Mother of Jesus, and Esther, and the seven others??!!!).  The chapter on teaching stands out to me perhaps because I love to teach.

Huldah is introduced to us in 2 Kings, chapter 22, Mary Lyon, who started Mount Holyoke College is the historical heroine, choosing Psalm 144:12 to be the college’s motto:  “That our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.” (KJV), and Kay Arthur is our modern-day teaching example, having started Precepts Ministries International with what the Greens call an “unlikely start.”

The legacies left from Huldah, Mary, and Kay are astonishing.  Don’t miss the details included.  Seeing their impact on countless souls makes you think in each case, “Wow, that is just from one woman!”  Exactly the point of the book.

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab Only One Life.  You’ll find yourself sharing story after story with your friends and family, and the best part is they’re all true!

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What is Barefoot Hope?

Friends! I learned a new, fantastic-n-fun phrase this week. The crazy thing is the phrase popped off a page I was reading in a book I’ve read more than once. Huh? How did I miss this?

The phrase is barefoot hope.  Its inspiration came from a winsome and bright four-year-old little girl.

Author Kay Swatkowski had her four-year-old granddaughter, Nikki, over for a visit. It was a cool, crisp spring day. Kay had just let Nikki out in the backyard to play. Within seconds, she noticed Nikki had plopped down on the ground, immediately taking her shoes off and “flinging her socks through the air.”

(This story comes from Day 43 of a Grandmother’s Prayers: 60 Days of devotions and prayer. This is one of my favorite daily reads, thanks to my sis-in-love, Margee, who gave it to me when our little Claire Elizabeth was born. I read it, and when I complete the 60 days, I start all over. It’s a superb gift for new grandmothers!)

Kay said Nikki was barefoot and dancing with joy. Nikki hollered to her, “Grandma, where is my pool? Can Papa put up the swing? Summer is here!”

Kay told her summer wasn’t here yet, that it was too cold, and she best put those shoes and socks back on. Clearly determined and overly astute (!!!) Nikki said, “But Grandma, look at the trees! Summer is here.”

Kay couldn’t argue with that as many of their maple tree’s branches were dotted with green buds. Nikki correlated the buds with summer.

Kay said, “Nikki was filled with hope. Barefoot hope—a hope that made her act in faith on the promise of warmth, sunshine, and hours on a swing.”

We readers are then shown Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:32,

Kay said Jesus “shared this parable to encourage His followers to be as observant about watching for the signs of His coming as they were about anticipating the coming of summer.”

As if reading my mind, Kay confesses she wishes she had a barefoot hope not only for the coming of summer, but more importantly for His coming, Jesus’ return. She said her hope is “more of a wouldn’t-it-be-nice hope that does little to change my daily life.” My excuse is I simply forget. Ouch!

Now she shows us how to tie this subject to our grandchildren, defining barefoot hope as a prayer for them, praying they will:

“Hope in His promises.

Hope in their future.

Hope that God will always be with them, even in their struggles.

Hope for forgiveness.

Hope for divine intervention.

Hope for healing hurts and broken relationships.

Hope that Jesus is coming again to right the wrongs of this world and to take us to live with Him.

…as they trust in Him, they will overflow with a barefoot hope that makes them sing and dance with joy.”

Kay’s love for God and His Word permeates all of the pages of her book. She blesses us readers with numerous Scriptures which pertain to the day’s subject matter, and  in this case, hope of all kinds.

To learn more about Kay’s book, CLICK HERE for my post from last August.

Run, don’t walk, and grab this book! And kick your shoes off while you’re at it!

‘Til next time!

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Humans Go on Summer Vacation, Can Goldfish??? (Check out this new book by Sally Lloyd Jones!)

Friends! I’ve got a mini-vacation for you even if you’re not vacationing anywhere any time soon.  After this discovery, you’ll feel as if you’ve been to New York City on a summer vacation…no foolin’.

Author Sally Lloyd Jones has created an adorable children’s book which she says is a “completely true made-up story,” as parts are true, parts are amazing U.S. history, which history buffs will chew on, and the characters represent Sally’s relatives, however they live in England, not in New York City. Us adults will be charmed as well.

The book?  Goldfish on Vacation

I predict those of you anywhere close to NYC will go hunting for this fountain we’re about to learn about. I will for certain next time we visit.

Once again, I learned of this book thanks to Eric Metaxas on his radio show, www.metaxastalk.com This particular show aired 5/3/18. You don’t want to miss Sally and Eric’s banter, how this book came to be, plus her adorable accent.  (She’s the very same author who penned The Jesus Storybook Bible among many other books.)

Goldfish on Vacation opens with three children, “H, Little O, and Baby Em,” proud owners of three goldfish, “Barracuda, Patch, and Fiss.” The children go round and round in their New York City apartment just like the goldfish go round and round in their bowl. Not such a fun way to start your summer vacation.  Stuck.

At the end of the street where the children live, there’s an old, abandoned fountain which in its day was a place for horses to drink from…until cars were invented.

Because of the cars, folks no longer needed horses and the fountain became overgrown, abandoned, and a place for people to dump trash, sadly.

But, a curious thing happens. To the children’s great discovery, a sign is posted one day at the nearby Hamilton Fountain Water Garden:

“COMING IN TWO WEEKS! CALLING ALL GOLDFISH LOOKING FOR A SUMMER HOME!”

Out of the blue, a man begins cleaning up the fountain, restoring it, complete with plants such as lily pads, suitable for a LOT of goldfish to inhabit. The children’s Grandpa marks their calendar accordingly.

The fourteen days fly by and before they know what’s happening, the children can no longer see the man working on the fountain. It appears ALL the children living close by have arrived with their goldfish, swimming in their bowls, more than ready to let them have their own summer vacation.

Let me pause here to say the illustrator, Leo Espinosa, brilliantly captures the  plot of this story, offering the reader of any age to delight at the wonders on every page. (www.studioespinosa.com) You can see and feel the excitement of all the characters!

Scores of parents, grandparents, and children all become friends because of their goldfish. Fever pitch jumping up and down, in and out of the fountain ensues, and suddenly, summer’s over and school’s about to begin.

You may wonder HOW H, Little O, and Baby M get EXACTLY Barracuda, Patch and Fiss back home. Ah, my friend, you must read the book to find out.  You’ll be grinning ear to ear.

If by chance you live in NYC or near, head to Riverside Drive and 76th Street. You’ll find the real-live Hamilton Fountain which is named after Robert Ray Hamilton (who lived from 1850-1890).  He gave the fountain to New York and believe it or not, he just happens to be the great-grandson of one of our founding fathers of the United Sates:  Alexander Hamilton. Don’t you history buffs just love that?

Sally tells us a man by the name of Brad, who’s a volunteer for the Riverside Park Conservancy is who cleaned up the fountain.  Bravo, Brad! Thanks also goes to someone who gave money for the fountain to be restored in 2009.

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab Goldfish on Vacation.

You’re welcome.

Smile.

‘Til next time!

 

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