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Jack and Noah's Big Books

A ridiculous website devoted to a ridiculous book series

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Mexican food and the mayoral election

I like Mexican food, but I've never been a fan of refried beans.  After the events in 'Jack and Noah's Big Election,' I have a feeling that Jack won't be eating them anytime soon.

Brexit vote over, onto the next huge election

It's an election year.  The Brexit vote, the presidential elections, the Omaha mayoral elections.  If you want the real scoop on how politicians are elected, check out 'Jack and Noah's Big Election.'

The law offices of Greta C. Taylor

For those of you new to the Jack and Noah series, you might assume that the books are all about boys.  That's not quite true.  Greta is Jack's little sister, and she teams up with Delaney time and again to save Jack, Noah and Crazy Luke's bacon.  Now, that  isn't the same as saving Bacon - because Bacon is Greta's pet pig.  

Who knew dogs and pigs would get along?

Jack has a dog, Greta has a pig, Noah has chickens, and Crazy Luke smells like a combination of all three.  It's great to be a kid!

Kissing in an elementary school musical?

School is out, but fun is in!  Join Jack, Noah, Greta, Delaney, Crazy Luke and all the neighborhood gang in 'Jack and Noah's Big Election.'  The perfect start to your children's summer reading program is at www.jayslagle.com.

The first day of summer - get them reading!

Your children's teachers worked so hard during the school year to get the kids' brains in shape by the end of May.  Don't let their brains turn to mush by July 4th -- get them to read every day!  The Jack and Noah is a great series for kids 6-14, and it will make them want to read more.  

Read aloud or independent reading

Thanks to all of you who visited my book signing event yesterday at the Bookworm.  Copies continue to be available at The Bookworm, Amazon and my basement.  If you'd like a signed copy, I can ship directly to you.  Today's t-shirt winner is Bob Kohout, who shared yesterday's post.  There are six days left in the 'I Love Crazy Luke' t-shirt contest.  You can enter a drawing for a free t-shirt by reviewing my books on Amazon or Goodreads, by sharing my Jack and Noah posts, or by following the Jack and Noah facebook page.

Self-published authors are shameless marketers

Self-published authors don't have a legion of agents and publishers driving their book sales, so they have to do a little of everything to be successful.  Check out my self-publishing tab on my website for more information on the process.  I have a book signing event at The Bookworm today from 12:00-1:00.

Parents tired of summer whining, flock to book signing

Let's face it, it's only June 17 but your kids are already getting on your nerves - just a little bit.  Really, you just want an hour a day where you can enjoy your latte and put up your feet.  Jay's book signing event is Saturday, June 18 at the Bookworm from 12:00-1:00.  The Bookworm is located just north of 90th and Center.  Free gifts for the first sixty purchases!

Fudrock's campaign slogan scares little children

Omaha Mayor Sidney Fudrock has never been know for being a conventional mayor, but his new campaign poster seems a bit bizarre for even him.  Fudrock, who recently replaced his city car with a $5 million tank, is using that tank as part of his re-election campaign.  It's too early to tell whether his campaign approach will pay off, but that all becomes clear once readers finish 'Jack and Noah's Big Election.'

Omaha Police begins to plan for book signing

I have heard from some pretty unreliable gossips that don't even live in Omaha that the the OPD's primary focus this week has been on preparing for a huge book signing at the Bookworm on Saturday from 12:00-1:00.  We're talking riot gear, smoke bombs, armored vehicles - and that's just what they're doing to prepare in case Crazy Luke shows up.  I can't imagine how they'll be able to control all the 10-year-old fanatics who love this book series.  Come early - there's a 17% chance of winning a t-shirt, a 33% chance of winning a cool book mark/ruler, and a 50% chance of winning an adorable pig eraser.  There's a 100% chance of laughing once you read the book.

 

The Next Great American novel?

I'm a little embarrassed by all of the talk about whether 'Jack and Noah's Big Election' is in the running for the next 'great American novel,' joining the ranks of 'The Scarlet Letter,' 'Moby Dick,' and 'The Grapes of Wrath.'  I'm mostly embarrassed because I'm the only person in the world who's having this discussion about 'Big Election.'  I have had some great feedback from the Bausch and Hobday families, whose children giggle non-stop while reading the book.  Anyway, my viewpoint is that any book that kids will read over a lazy summer is a great American novel.  Let's make American great again by avoiding summer mush brain!

Mayor renames pedestrian bridge to honor Jack and Noah

With all the bickering we've been seeing on the political stage, it sure is nice to see an example of where everyone - Republicans, Democrats, vegetarians - can agree.  On Sunday the Omaha mayor renamed the 'Green pedestrian bridge over Dodge Street by Memorial Park' to 'Jack and Noah's Big Bridge.'  This proclamation accomplished two things -- it shortened the bridge's name by almost 50%, and it proves yet again that Jay will do pretty much anything to promote his books.

Crazy Luke on FBI's most-wanted list

For those of you who are new to the Jack and Noah series, Crazy Luke is a four-year-old neighbor who tends to cause a lot of trouble -- like getting-thrown-in-jail-kind-of trouble.  This character is very loosely based on my neighbor and godson Luke, who was four years old when I started writing 'Jack and Noah's Big Day.'  Crazy Luke is most often cited as readers' favorite character, but he almost wasn't in the book.  He wasn't even mentioned in the first draft of 'Big Day,' but my editor told me how important it was to have failures and disasters in children's books.  Crazy Luke came to life during that second draft, and he's got even more tricks up his sleeve in 'Jack and Noah's Big Election.'  Who knew he'd be such a popular villain?

 

Famous Omaha building is home to 28-floor cookie drop

The plan was genius.  Drop cookies from the roof of a 28-floor building and see who can catch them.  Just another of the great catastrophes in 'Jack and Noah's Big Election.'

  

Elmwood Pool to be destroyed by tank

I know politicians say a lot of things they don't mean to do, but Mayor Fudrock seems pretty serious about closing Elmwood Pool when he shows up with an army tank.  Can Jack and Noah save their favorite swimming pool?  Why does the mayor own a tank?  Are the kids wearing clean underwear?  All this and more in 'Jack and Noah's Big Election.'

Mayor to sell Memorial Park to developers

It's a sad day when the Omaha mayor has to sell Memorial Park to pay for his personal army tank.

Let's focus on the real election

With the presidential primaries wrapping up, isn't it time to focus on an election that holds intrigue, corruption, flawed candidates and 24-hour press coverage? Yes, it's time to focus on 'Jack and Noah's Big Election.'

Books make you taller and smarter

It's a well-known fact that reading books can make you smarter - my 'Early Readers' tab at www.jayslagle.com includes reference to research on this topic - but books can also make you much taller, if you stack them them correct way.  Congrats to Lisa H and Morgan F for winning t-shirts today.

Give your kids some excitement

Ditch the video games and go-kart tracks.  Jack and Noah's Big Election is the most exciting option for kids this summer.

Mothers want summer books

Emma G is today's t-shirt winner.  From June 5-25, I am giving away one 'I Love Crazy Luke' t-shirt each day to someone who begins following my Jack and Noah facebook page, shares one of my Facebook posts, or writes a review of either of my books on Amazon or Goodreads.

Election intrigue?

So the current political cycle has no intrigue, you say?  Check out the election excitement in Jack and Noah's Big Election!

Congrats to Toni C on winning the June 5th t-shirt drawing!

Daily t-shirt drawing thru June 25

From June 5 through June 25, I'll be giving away a free 'I love Crazy Luke' t-shirt each day to someone who, on the previous day, subscribed to my Jack and Noah Facebook page, shared a Jack and Noah post, or posted a review of either of my books on Amazon or Goodreads.  Limit one t-shirt per family, selected by drawing a name from all of the entries each day.  Winners will be posted each day on my Facebook page and website blog.

Big Election book trailer

A few weeks before the school year concluded, I asked Jeremy Caniglia at the Creighton Prep arts program if any of his students would create a video for the release of my second book, Jack and Noah's Big Election. Seth Bench, Sam Bench and Philip Tilden had about two weeks to write, cast, film and edit this four-minute book trailer. The trailer is exceptional, and Jack and Noah's Big Election is now available at the Bookworm and Amazon. Learn more about the book at www.jayslagle.com.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDGCv8kKMpg&feature=youtu.be

Book signing on June 18

The Bookworm is hosting a local author day on Saturday, June 18.  I'll be at The Bookworm, located just north of 90th & Center, signing copies of my second book, 'Jack and Noah's Big Election.'  In addition to book purchases, I'll also have a prize bowl where book buyers can win kid-sized Crazy Luke t-shirts and other fun stuff.  I hope to see you there!

3rd grade classroom visit

I visited the third grade classes at Mary Our Queen elementary school today and spoke to 40-odd kids that are taught by Mrs. Zuegner and Miss Reimers.  When I say '40-odd,' I don't mean that the kids were odd.  What I mean is that I didn't take the time to count them, so there might have been 39 or there might have been 41, but who's counting?  Well, obviously I wasn't counting or I'd know the actual number.  I do know that my third cousin Lily was in the classroom.

I spoke to the kids about my book and why writing is such an important skill for them to develop.  After my talk, the kids asked about thirty questions and most were about Crazy Luke.  In every classroom I visit, Crazy Luke is always the kids' favorite character, and that was the same today.  One student even asked me to brainstorm - on the spot - five different catastrophes that Crazy Luke might cause.  I gave up after two.  

I also gave the kids a preview of my next book, Jack and Noah's Big Election.  The students thought they were being super sneaky by trying to weasle out details of the book, but I didn't tell them about Noah running for student council or anything at all about the mayor's tank.  Whoo!  Thank goodness I didn't share those secrets.  

I rarely take selfies but I make a habit of doing so when I visit classrooms.  Thanks to Mrs. Zuegner, Miss Reimers and all of their great third graders!

 

 

Progress

I completed the first draft of Jack and Noah's Big Election in mid-January.   Four friends and family members have read it, and now I'm working on the second draft.  My goal is to publish it by September.  Of course, my previous goal was to publish it by last December, so I don't always set realistic goals.  

Jack and Noah's Big Day ended with their big birthday party on August 17, just before they started third grade.  Jack and Noah's Big Election follows the boys from September through November during third grade.  

I just submitted my book cover design to my graphics designer.  Here's the book introduction on the back of the book:

"After Jack and Noah spent the entire summer planning the coolest birthday party even, their parents were hoping for a quiet start to third grade.  That all changes when Greta adopts a pig, Noah runs for student council, Jack launches his musical career and the boys try their best to sell 10,000 Girl Scout cookies.  If that wasn't enough, Jack and Noah discover that Omaha's mayor wants to close the city's swimming pools and schools.

Jack and Noah are not your typical third-grade boys and there's nothing normal about their families, neighbors or city.  In Jack and Noah's Big Election, the boys learns that God and family comes first, Crazy Luke still can't be trusted, and sometimes losing is just as good as winning.  Children and adults can let their imaginations run free while they celebrate the big life of Jack, Noah and all their friends."

Have a big day!

Life after baseball

I was getting pretty cocky last November (2014).  I had written two-thirds of the first draft of Jack and Noah's Big Election, I had the rest of the book's outline completed, and all I needed was a little time and focus to hit my two-year publishing deadline.  And then baseball season arrived.  

I had the pleasure of leading an indoor practice season beginning in January, and then I coached Henry's team beginning in March.  That lead into all-star season and, before you know it, Memorial Little League won State and advanced to Regionals for the first time in 26 years.  We returned from Indianapolis yesterday, and today my LAB (life after baseball) begins.  

It's premature to even think about writing again.  All I've done the past seven weeks is work and coach baseball, and I didn't do either  very well.  However, I did do an excellent job of ignoring my wife, my two other kids, my health, my dog, and countless other people and things that are important to me.  I need to focus on those first, and then hopefully I can dig into writing again.

I appreciate the two ESPN commentators who made a point to mention my book on the ESPN3 broadcasts.  You gave me a short-lived but fun spike in my website activity, which made me realize that I've also ignored my website for about six months.  So.... life after baseball begins now.  I hope I can make it a big life.

It never helps to brag...

As I dig out of a pile of work at my real job - being a boring accountant - I realize that I bragged back in September that the first half of Jack and Noah's Big Election had already been written.  "Geez," you're thinking, "if the book is half done in September, it ought to be all done by January."  And you would be wrong.  

One of the downsides to trying to be an author while doing other things - working  a full-time job, watching three very cool kids grow up, trying to be a good husband, avoiding turning into a noxious pile of blubber - is that it is pretty hard to do all of them well at the same time.  The major turning point in my book-writing schedule came in October due to the Muffin Top Incident.  In short, I realized that when I attempted to write (5:00 a.m.) and work out (6:00 a.m.) every day, what generally happened was that I did write every day but I didn't work out.  Not working out led to a muffin top.  You know, when you're stomach fat starts to hang over the waist of your pants.  Not a pretty sight.  So I stopped writing.  

As of January 20, 2015, this is is where I stand.  Actually, I'm sitting.  My muffin top is less obvious, and I hope to run a marathon this spring to eradicate that very same muffin top.  Work is still busy, but not as bad as two weeks ago when I was chained to my desk listening to an endless loop of Pandora's greatest hits from the '80s.  And the first draft of the book is about 75% done, with the outline for the remaining 25% completed and just begging to be written.  Now if people were only begging to read it.  

Once I finish the first draft, I'll read the whole thing, identify sixty-three fatal errors in the story, and fix those.  If all goes well, I let (make) my family read the second draft.  I then keep getting after until I'm so sick of it that I just publish the darn thing.  Could be next November.  Could be November 2016.  If anyone wants to send me a pre-publishing bonus, I'd work a lot harder on it.  Of course, it's almost baseball season, and not a lot gets done in baseball season...

 

Halfway There?

I haven't posted many things on my website the last few months, primarily because I'm trying to be diligent about working on book #2.  I'm about 50% through converting my outline - egads, I'm actually following an outline - into a book, and I just passed the 200 page mark.  Of course, this is the just the first draft, and part of the writing process is to first get something on paper.  After the first draft is complete, I'll read it all and decide that it's horrible and that I should have never started writing a second book.  Of course, I'll change my mind at some point, because you just can't let a book sit there without having your son ask you six hundred times why it isn't published yet.

My only disappointment thus far is that I can't get any of my kids to read the book as I'm writing it.  Henry is perpetually in the middle of another book.  Greta says she read the outline and she thinks that this is as good as reading the book.  Jack is in high school and has about three minutes of spare time every night.  

My goal is to write at 5:30 a.m. about four or five days each week, for about 45-60 minutes.  At this rate, the first draft should be completed by Christmas, which means the final draft may be ready by Christmas 2015.  Maybe.

A productive August

I could get hit by a truck any day now, but I'm pleased to announce that I've begun writing my second book, Jack and Noah's Big Election.  Before you start pre-ordering the book for this year's Christmas gifts, you should remember that it took me over five years to publish my first book.  However, I learned a few things along the way, so I'm hopeful I can complete the second book in a more timely manner.  I even wrote an outline for this book, which means that I already know how it's going to end... and I think my sixteen fans will enjoy it.  Two weeks ago I started the first draft and now have finished over twenty chapters, and I'm trying to write every day at 5:30 a.m.  Ugh.  That's sleeping time.  

As you can imagine, my kids are thrilled that I'm writing a second book.  I've printed off the first one hundred pages of my first draft and... none of the kids have bothered to read any of it yet.  It's just sitting there in our living room collecting dust.  

Here's a few hints about what is in the second book. Crazy Luke becomes even crazier.  Jack and Noah both dream of becoming music stars.  Noah runs for student council against a new character, Audrey Mackarel.  You know, like the fish.  Noah still eats a lot, Greta is still smarter than any boy, and there's a new pet in the Taylor house.  Third grade can be exciting, but third grade for Jack and Noah is downright crazy.  

While you're waiting for the second book, feel free to re-read the first book.  In Jack and Noah's Big Day, the big birthday party falls on Sunday, August 17 -- that's just seven days from now.  Most of you are heading back to school, so celebrate the end of summer by reading one last book!

Clinton Elementary rocks!

I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from Ms. Kunce, a third-grade teacher at Clinton Elementary in Lincoln, NE.  As the school year wound down, Ms. Kunce began reading the book to her kids each day.  They loved the book, but hated it when she'd finish an exciting chapter where they had to wait until the next day to find out what happened next.  The children wrote book reports and made posters for a contest.  The top three kids in the poster contest won copies of Jack and Noah's Big Day.  The whole class also made a six-foot high piece of art for their school hallway.  Thanks, Ms. Kunce, for sharing Jack and Noah with your kids.

 

 

 

I'm growing a mustache...

My friends only need to look at my face to know that it's May.  This is the sixth year I've grown a mustache during May as part of Mustaches for Kids, a national organization that raises money for children's charities by... you guessed it... growing mustaches.  It sounds stupid, and it is, but the Omaha chapter raised over $200,000 for the Nebraska Make-A-Wish charity in May 2013.  The downside to all of this is that I look really creepy in a multi-colored, straw-like mustache, and when I meet someone for the first time, it's not always convenient to say, "I know you think I'm a fool for growing this nasty mustache, but it's for charity."  So, for many of the people I meet this month, they'll do their best to avoid eye contact while they hold tightly onto their children, purses and wallets.  

 

Random silliness

Your teacher is a spy

I visited three school groups in early May, and as part of the presentation I made up a story about one of their teachers. If you're interested in finding out more about the great teachers at OPS, check out the story by clicking HERE.

 

Lauren R's review

As part of my visit to Beveridge Magnet Middle School last Monday, I received several student reports on the book that also included a review of the book.  Here's a review from Lauren R, along with her report cover:  

"Jack and and Noah's Big Day is an exciting adventure. This book is very interesting and fun. This book would be good for all ages. Every aspect of it is creative. I really like how this book shows good moral values, such as how important responsibility is. Anyone who wants to read a good book or just something to do should read this book. It will pull you in and make you want to read it until the end. Throughout the story there are exciting surprises and thrills. You will want to tell everyone far and wide across the world about this amazing book."

 

The critics have spoken

At the end of my talk at Beveridge Magnet Middle School on Monday, the literary arts teacher (the fabulous Mrs. Grefe) handed me about six reports prepared by students.  At the end of each report was the student's review of the book.  The reviews were very good, but realistic enough to make me realize that I'm not yet on the cusp of a Pulitzer Prize.  Here are a few of the report covers from these very bright 7th graders.

  

 

Miller Park Elementary visit

I had the pleasure of visiting Mrs. Griger's 6th grade class at Miller Park Elementary today.  We talked about how important it is to practice reading and writing, just like sports, and how that will pay off in high school, college and at work.  We also discussed why playing video games more than an hour per day cause mush brain.  The kids couldn't believe that my kids sleep at least 10 hours a night.  I introduced my next book idea to them, but they seemed a little skeptical.  Finally, they got to see a short clip of my 'Greatest Hits' mustache video, since the YouTube video in Jack and Noah's Big Day doesn't exist.  Thanks to all the great kids, and to Mrs. Griger.  With this visit, my Spring 2014 international book tour is now complete.

 

Beveridge Magnet School rocks!

Today I had the good fortune to visit with 270 seventh graders at Beveridge Magnet School.  BMS is an Omaha Public School magnet middle school for arts and global studies.  Mrs. Grefe and Kearney teach language arts to 7th graders, and all 270 kids read the book, and then prepared either timelines, book reports or videos regarding the book.  It's a very creative and bright group of kids and teachers.  As is my custom, I took a selfie with the kids.  The funniest part of today was when I showed the pictures of the 8-year-old Jack and the 14-year-old Jack.  After more than just a few oohs and ahhs from the 7th grade girls, one of the girls asked for Jack's Instagram name during the Q&A session.  Fortunately, Jack's mom was in the audience, and she told me I couldn't share his Instagram account.  Beveridge Magnet School and writing rock!

Time warp

Jack and Noah have been best buddies since kindergarten but they're growing up.  Below are photos of them from their First Communion in second grade and their Confirmation in eight grade.  For a dad who likes little kids, but who also really likes the 14-year-old version of Jack, this is pretty hard.  Fortunately, in book years Jack and Noah are just entering third grade, so there's lots more to find out about them.  (If you look really closely, you can see a cookie crumb on the right corner of Noah's mouth in the first picture.)

Fontenelle Elementary visit

I had the great pleasure today to visit with 40+ third graders at Fontenelle Elementary School who are taught by Miss Seymour and Mrs. Bachmann.  The teachers had read Jack and Noah's Big Day to both classes over the last few months, so I talked about the book, why reading and writing are so awesome, and why they should never spend more than an hour a day playing video games.  The best question was: "How much money did you make by writing a book?"  My response was, "Well, so far I've lost about $1,000."  Her follow-up question was:  "How much money do you have left after losing $1,000?"  Umm, I'm not going to answer that question.  If Greta finds out how much shopping money I have, I'm in serious trouble.  

Anyway, thanks to the great third graders at Fontenelle Elementary.  Check out my selfie with the kids at the start of the presentation.

The Policeman cometh

In Jack and Noah's Big Day, Jack and Noah are frequently visited by policemen and firemen.  Last night Grandpa was puttering around our house after dinner, and he opened a window that isn't meant to be opened.  Alas, the window has a panic alarm attached to it, and the alarm company can't cancel a panic alarm.  The police were called and, yes, they visited.  I did not give the policeman a copy of the book.

  

Crazy Luke

I'm sorry to report that the debut of the short story 'Crazy Luke' was not successful.  Last Friday, Greta presented 'Crazy Luke' in the Humorous Interpretation category at the Creighton Prep speech meet.  Despite memorizing the eight-minute story and throwing in quite a bit of pizzaz, Greta failed to place out of about 60 students.  Well... there's always this week.  Long live Crazy Luke!

Jack & Noah hit the classrooms

Jack and Noah's Big Day is making the rounds of Omaha schools as part of 'read-to-the-class' activities or as part of a literature curriculum.  This spring the following teachers and schools have included Jack and Noah's Big Day as part of their lesson plans:

Beveridge Middle School Language Arts - Mrs. Grefe
Fontenelle Elementary Third Grade - Ms. Seymour and Mrs. Bachmann
Benson West Elementary Fourth Grade - Mrs. Gorczyca
Miller Park Elementary Sixth Grade - Mrs. Griger

Good luck to all of these classes!

 

Back in school

Do you remember being in school when a teacher handed out an assignment - a writing assignment - that sounded so daunting that you were fairly certain you would never finish it?  Seriously, how can you fit in writing a 3-page report about weasels when you have baseball practice, a game of kick-the-bucket with the neighbors, your parents' stupid requirement that you have to eat dinner while sitting down, and, well, the normal twenty-three trips to the bathroom each day?  That's where I am right now.  I'm just starting to work on an outline for a sequel to Jack and Noah's Big Day, and the mountain is looking pretty steep.  I think I'll start by going to the bathroom.  Only twenty-two trips to go today.  

Fantasy Dictator Ratings

In the midst of a 5-mile run on a treadmill, my mind began to wander.  News of Putin and Ukraine has dominated the headlines, and I keep thinking there has to be a funny way to think about him.  Funny, you know, in addition to the dumb pictures of him riding a horse without a shirt, or doing whatever else he does on TV to show Russians that he's a manly-man.  So, while this isn't even mildly interesting to my young readers, I thought that there ought to be a fantasy league for dictators.  Here's the March edition:

 

Snowden leaks Obama's notes on Ukraine crisis

That Eddie Snowden keeps getting into trouble.  Somehow he managed to get a photo of President Obama's handwritten notes from today's White House meeting on the Ukraine crisis.  Frankly, the notes tell us quite a bit about how boring the meeting was, but very little about the US response to it.   However, I like the President's thinking.  Jason Bourne would be perfect for this job, although I'm a little disappointed that the Red Dawn crew from 1984 didn't cross his mind.  Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen could resolve this Ukraine with a dozen portable grenade launchers. 

 

Yes, I'm fine

Beveridge Magnet Midde School

The 100,000 employees of Jack and Noah's Big Corporation from all over the world (but mostly just in my house) would like to recognize the 7th Grade Language Arts class at Beveridge Magnet Middle School, which is beginning to read Jack and Noah's Big Day today.  Mrs. Grefe is obviously a wonderful teacher and will be leading the class through the book.  If they're not sufficiently warped by the time they finish the book, then I'll visit the class to finish the job.  So... a big shout out to my readers at Beveridge Magnet Middle School!

Another magazine cover...

I suppose I'll eventually get tired of being a media darling, but I'm pleased to announce that I'm being featured as the cover story in the new magazine, 'Keep Your Day Job.'  To be honest, I haven't done a lot of research on the magazine, but I figure that any publicity is good publicity.  Right?

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