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Interview with Dina Rudick (plus a giveaway!)


I am happy to share a recent interview with author and photo-videographer Dina Rudick!  

I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with Dina and to be able to glean some insight about who she is as an individual and what inspired her to write her first book, Barnyard Kids - A Family Guide for Raising Animals.  Given my lifestyle and interests, the book caught my eye.  When I got Dina's book in my hands, I was immediately drawn in by the captivating photography and great content.

After speaking with Dina, learning about her unique story and a little bit about her values, purpose and drive, it was quite apparent that she is a pretty remarkable individual - one that I hope to have the opportunity to meet in person some day.  

I hope you enjoy the interview!

Dina_Rudick_author_2Can you tell us a little bit about yourself ?  

I grew up in the countryside of Northeast Ohio.  During my childhood I grew up around all sorts of animals including goats, chickens, geese and horses.  

My life then transitioned from living in a rural area to life in the city.  I have a career as photojournalist.  I currently work for the Boston Globe.  I live with my husband Erik, who is also a photojournalist and our 2 1/2 year old son, Wendell, who we named after Wendell Berry - who inspired us as a farmer, writer and philosopher. 

After living the big city life, my husband and I were drawn to our spiritual roots - and actual roots - and our dream of running an organic farm.  My husband attended a year at The Farm School - a specific farm that is run by adult student farmers.  There he was taught everything, ranging from organic vegetable farming to raising farm animals.  From that experience we developed our enterprise - Plough and Star Farm - a CSA in Massachusetts.

My interests?  I am longingly interested in yoga.  I just lack the time to commit to my practice the way I could pre-baby and pre-farm! I like walks in the woods and to be outside.  I like to cook, especially cooking for people that I love.  I also enjoy down time with family.

What inspired you to write Barnyard Kids? 

My husband and I shared a lot of writing and imagery on our blog  We wrote about what is is like to be city-folk photographers who would like to be farmers.  The publishers at Quarry Books reached out to us to write a book.  At first I said no, but they kept asking and I pitched this book as they were looking for great instructional books that were intelligent for older kids.

Can you tell us about the process of writing the book?   

All of the photos in the book come from my husband's year at The Farm School.  When organizing the book I first decided on the structure of the book, then which animals I was going to include, and then I how it would be best to learn the information.  I spent a lot of time researching each animal in succession (chickens, pigs, sheep & goats, cows, horses and rabbits).  I wrote the book not from the perspective of an expert, but that of a researcher and compiler - not just giving my opinion, but offering practical, research grounded information - and from that the structure of each chapter would flow.

Out of the farm animals that are highlighted in your book, do you have a favorite? Why?

Oh a favorite?  It is hard to choose.  First I would pick chickens, because they are incredibly useful, easy and fun -and sometimes hilarious.  After chickens I would say sheep.  I love whitnessing the process of lambs being born, especially the nuzzle ewes get aroung the time of pregnancy.   Then there are pigs.  I respect pigs.  They are sturdy cylinders of muscle.  Pigs are smart and cunning, they have unique personalities, but are easy to underestimate.  Horses are great, but they are a big investment - and goats, goats are like big dogs.  I guess I really do not have a favorite, but I do know I would really like to get my own flock of sheep.

Anything else?

One of the things that I have learned is that raising animals is a lot like raising kids.  There is always more than one answer to a given situation and a multitude of strategies.  When writing the book I had to be careful of what to say.   I needed to be sensitive, aware and right - but not exclusionary.

Thank you so much Dina for your conversation!   

Now for more fun!


To enter my giveaway to win your very own copy of Barnyard Kids - A Family Guide for Raising Animalsleave a comment below.

Comments will close by 9am CST on Saturday, December 26th.

Winners will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced in this post shortly after.

comments closed, the winner is:

Heather S.

photo credits in this post:  image 1 & 2 Juliette Lynch/, photo 3, 4, 5 & 6 Dina Rudick and Erik Jacobs 

Congratulations and thanks for participating! 

Interview with Christine Chitnis (plus a giveaway!)


I am so happy to have an opportunity to share with you a recent interview with one of my writing mentors, Christine Chitnis!

I first met Christine at a Squam Art Workshop a couple of years ago. Then I became one of her students in an online class that she offered.  In the class Christine was able to give me some practical knowledge and confidence to pitch my writing, which led me to the opportunity to write a monthly School Days column for Minnesota Parent Magazine.

In the November issue of Minnesota Parent I was delighted to see a recipe featured from Christine's most recent book Little Bites: 100 Healthy, Kid Friendly Snacks.  As it turns out it was a surprise for Christine as well! We were both happy to have made this unique connection in print.  And, I must say, ever since I got my hands on her book, I have had a lot of fun trying out some of the recipes with my own little ones.  Most recently I made the Carmel Apples with Sea Salt & the Broccoli and Cheese Soft Pretzel Knots, both which I highly recommend!



To add to the fun, I have an interview with Christine to share with you and an opportunity for you to win  a copy of Little Bites!

Enjoy - and good luck!

Christine, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

When I'm not busy writing and photographing, I can be found chasing after my two wild boys or escaping to my studio for a bit of sewing and knitting.  I am an avid home cook, passionate about feeding my family wholesome, delicious, seasonal fare.  I live in Providence, Rhode Island with my family, three chickens and overflowing community garden plot.  You can follow along on my adventures here: @c.chitnis ( or


What inspired you to write Little Bites?  Can you tell us about your collaboration with co-author Sarah Waldman on the book?

Our goal with Little Bites is to offer recipes for simple, wholesome food made from ingredients that everyone can recognize, and to leave families with the feeling that making their own snacks is easy and enjoyable.  Children think of snacks as fun, tasty, easy-to-eat foods, but we parents know that the very best snacks are all that and more: when done right, snacks give our kids a needed boost of energy and they deliver dense amounts of nutrition in a small package.  

I worked on Little Bites for a year with my co-author, though from the initial idea to publication took over two years!  As Sarah worked on the recipes, I would focus on photographing the seasons and the food, along with helping her test the recipes.  We felt strongly about writing and cooking with the seasons, instead of trying to rush the process.  I also wrote each chapter in season, which really helped me capture the seasonal feelings that I wanted to convey.


Do you have a favorite recipe in Little Bites?
I can honestly say that I love every recipe in the book so it makes it tough to pick favorites.  Since it's fall, I'll highlight a few of my fall favorites: on the savory side I can't get enough of the Roasted Pumpkin Hummus.  We eat a ton of hummus in our house, and I really appreciate this seasonal twist to add a bit of flare to our regular recipe.  When it comes to sweets, the Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies are insanely delicious!  I've had a bumper crop of carrots from my garden this year, and I'm thrilled to be able to turn them into something sweet.
Tell us about your upcoming book.
My third book will hit shelves in April of 2016.  Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet: 75 Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream, Fruit-Forward Ice Pops, Frozen Yogurt, Granitas, Slushies, Shakes and More.  I'm all about healthy eating but I don't like the idea of making certain foods off-limits.  We eat dessert all the time in our family, but I make it from scratch from real, whole foods ingredients.  These frozen treat recipes are all free of refined sugar, instead relying on natural sweeteners and fruit for their flavor.  They are light, delicious desserts that you can feel good about eating, while still satisfying your sweet tooth.  It is a gorgeous book, I have to say: hardcover, luscious matte pages, and full page pictures of each recipe.  I really love Roost, my publisher, for their commitment to producing books that feel and look beautiful.  It is truly an honor to be counted among their roster of authors.
Thank you Christine!  
*photos are from - except the images of the salted carmel apples and pretzels -

To enter my giveaway to win a copy of Little Bites: 100 Healthy, Kid Friendly Snacks, leave a comment below:

Comments will close by 9am CST on Saturday. Winners will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced in this post shortly after.

Comments closed - The winner is:  #8 Kelly with the comment:

Thanks for putting her book on my radar - looks like one I'd like to add to my collection. Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies? Yum.

Congratulations Kelly!- 


Interview with Nikki McClure (plus a giveaway!)

Nikki Header
Meet Nikki McClure, an inspiring artist, author and individual known for her painstakingly intricate and beautiful paper cuts. Nikki cuts her images from a single sheet of paper and creates a bold language that translates the complex poetry of motherhood, nature, and activism into a simple and endearing picture.  
I am a big fan of Nikki's work, I own several of her publications, and I often share her books with my children both at home and at school.  Nikki was also the cover artist of my first published piece in Taproot Magazine.  Needless to say, I am very happy to share our recent conversation:
::Nikki, please tell us a little bit about yourself - where you live, your family, and your interests.
I live in Olympia, Washington along the east shore of Budd Inlet, the southernmost part of the Salish Sea (Puget Sound).  The fog is lifting, the waning moon is in the sky, pine siskins are chattering away and I have fed the crows leftover scraps of eggs and bacon. My son is at school, he’s 10 and the proud completer of his essay about Bufflehead and American Wigeon migration. (I’m so happy that’s over!) My husband, Jay T. is looking at some wood at a friend’s shop. Jay T. builds fine furniture. He has a shop at home. I work at home too. My studio is on the bottom floor (almost a basement…but with windows and a door).  It’s a quiet morning and I finished an image for my next book yesterday, so today is the pause to consider which one I’ll tackle next. 
My interests? Outside. But I also love insides too, all the ways that people live and make spaces into homes and fill them. And I’d rather sleep inside most of the time. Outside I marvel at cedar leaf plaiting, eagle mating, dome weaving spiders, everything really. I putter about and stare and stare and garden some to get my fingernails properly caked with dirt.
::Can you tell us about the process of creating one of your paper cuts, from your ideas and inspiration to a final product?
Ideas, they come from all that staring and dirt digging: my living. I then make several small sketches, little squares, look through photos, stage some photos perhaps, draw more sketches. When I have a sketch I like, I draw it to size, transfer it to black paper using graphite transfer paper. Then I redraw it on the paper following the transferred guide lines, and start cutting! The hardest thing first to get it over with. Faces usually. The final paper cut is scanned, sent to a friend to clean up, paste together, color if needed. I then send the digital version to the printer or publisher. The original I glue down and frame and show at an exhibit and sell it. Then I start all over with more staring and dirt digging.
::In most of your paper cuts you have a word paired with an image.  What comes first, the word or the image?  
The image usually comes first, though I keep a list of words only wall for the next calendar. The words that appear as necessary and needed. Sometimes the words appear while I am cutting out the final image, before it is completed.  My sketches usually have a trail of words, one leading to the next. I consult the dictionary often and get lost in etymological rabbit holes.
::Do you have a favorite?
Do you?
Re- words, pre- words, trans- words- 
Courage has been a favorite at times. I like the COUR, heart, but it also has RAGE and it is a word that serves as a guide. I feel it tugging my heart forward.
::Through your work, you share messages of simplicity, connection, and gratitude that encourage people to slow down, pay attention, and to live a rich and mindful life.  What impact has sharing these messages with the world through your art had on your own life? 
This is a difficult one to answer for some reason. The immediate impact is that I have been supported by so many people and have been able to just BE. Be an artist making images and exploring ideas without having to hustle much or compromise. I am able to do what I want, mostly. I still have to get up too early and stay up too late. I know my son will have more options as he creates his life. But even I have to sit at computers too much!! And after a day of thinking and making, I often don’t have any creativity left to make dinner.
The most remarkable thing is when people share their stories of how the art has affected them. The impact it has had on their lives. That’s the part I never expected. I am just making the pictures that I want to make of mostly my tiny life, moments, seconds freeze-framed. But those moments, this small life has had some profound connections with people that reveals how art, art, can connect memory and experience, and transfers energy between people. I’m sounding kinda kooky here. But I can’t explain some of the things that have happened. Deaths and grieving and healing and loving. The calendar is made for a future that comes true for strangers. So I play with that sometimes. What do I want to happen in December of 2016? I’ll be making that image soon.


::Tell us about your new book IN.  What was the inspiration behind this book?
A sunny day in June when we were freed from school! And all my son wanted to do was stay inside. Inside!!!
Not outside, where I wanted to be. So I gave him so much inside that eventually he broke free. We made popovers and were cozy. By the time he bored of the inside world and had read every book (well, not actually. We do have a lot of books), he ran outside…and it was raining! Oh, he was soooo happy! He loves the rain. There is a storm water river that happens when it rains. He can dam it up, build bridges, tiny, tiny forts…and get completely wet and muddy and happy. He really does jump into mud puddles belly first.
::What's next?
On that list is another book, “Waiting for High Tide” which I am making the final art for. Interspecies needs being common. A raft is built. There is a sharp hatchet. Hungry gulls. Everyone lunching. And vision and glasses.
The 2016 calendar. 1/6 done!
A summer solstice card.
A gate for the Seattle Food Bank.
Nettle noodles to make tonight which means picking nettles in the woods and trying to find the other deer antler to match the one I found a few weeks ago picking nettles.
And theme night at school tonight as well…that essay is done!!
Los Angeles Art Show, April 4th, at Giant Robot. there is artwork from IN and some 2015 calendar originals.
and a bigger fence to build to keep the deer out of my berry garden: raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries.
Now to make another picture for “Waiting for High Tide”.
Thank you Nikki!
Now for more fun!  I have a copy of Nikki's new book IN to giveaway courtesy of Abrams Books.
To enter use the Rafflecopter below:


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Interview with Mary Casanova (and a 3 book giveaway!)


Are you looking for some reading and writing inspiration?  

I am excited to share with you an interview with award winning Minnesota author,

Mary Casanova!



Mary, you have written numerous award winning books in a variety of genres for a wide span of ages for children, ranging from lyrical picture books to historical fiction young adult novels.  Can you tell us briefly how your career as a writer has developed and grown to include such a rich variety of published literature?

Early on in my writing dream, I envisioned writing novels for adults. Along the way, I wrote short stories, articles, and poems--accumulating a mountain of rejections and a few small publications.  Not until I later when I was working toward a Master's Degree in English did I consider writing for younger readers. I stumbled upon a course in Writing for Children, read HATCHET by Gary Paulsen, and thought I might have a northwoods kids novel in me. I figured, if I could write a book that boys wouldn't put down, perhaps I could garner the interest of an editor. My first novel was MOOSE TRACKS, published in l995, and it's still turning reluctant readers (often boys) into more avid readers. 
After that, I wrote more middle-grade novels set in Minnesota (STEALING THUNDER, WOLF SHADOWS, RIOT, WHEN EAGLES FALLS.) From there, I ventured into historical fiction by traveling to France to write a novel set in the 1500s during a dark time in history, influenced by my earlier research about wolves and people's superstitions. That resulted in CURSE OF A WINTER MOON, which in turn led to being asked to write for American Girl, as they were looking for someone to write a novel for them set in France during the time of King Louis XIV. I returned to France to write  CECILE: Gates of Gold, set in 1711 at the Palace of Versailles.
Hosting an exchange student led to the retelling of a Chinese folktale and picture book called THE HUNTER. Paddling on Rainy Lake one day and rescuing a dog swimming after us lead to writing ONE-DOG CANOE.
And so I kept branching out and building on what I'd already done: writing adventure novels, historical fiction, picture books, series, American Girl books, and more recently, my YA-adult novel, FROZEN. (Not to be confused with the Disney story.)
I look forward to discovering what's next!
Do you have a favorite book that you have written - or do you find yourself favoring a certain type of genre?

I love reading historical fiction that somehow illuminates a time period and a slice of history. That's why it's no surprise that my favorite genre to write is historical fiction. Unfortunately, it's also the hardest. It requires so much research. Every detail must ring true and be plausible to the time and location, which is why I always do research on location (Norway for THE KLIPFISH CODE, set in WWII during the Nazi occupation), and the islands and locations used in FROZEN, set in l920 northern Minnesota on Rainy Lake.

Several of your American Girl novels have been made into full length movies, how involved are you in the process of a book being adapted to film?  How it feel to have your stories and characters shared in a movie format?
I love that my stories are given another chance to reach an audience through film. I always remind myself--and kids--that movies are never the same as books. So far, I've been very happy with the films, CHRISSA STANDS STRONG (HBO/American Girl) and McKENNA SHOOTS FOR THE STARS (Universal/American Girl). In both cases, the films get at the heart of the story and convey the basic themes and messages I intended in the books. 
I was on set when McKENNA was being filmed in Winnipeg. I sat in one of four director's chairs and had the privilege of watching a director work. It seemed much like my writing project. He'd watch scenes being enacted, and ask for another take, and another, and another, and another. Once what was filmed matched pretty closely what he had in mind, he'd say, "That's a wrap." And then he'd direct the crew and actors to move on to the next scene. I do lots of revisions, too, and at some point I have to say "good enough." Time to move on to the next chapter--or book.
As far as my actual involvement in the screenwriting, it's different each time. I was heavily involved with CHRISSA, asking the screenwriters from Hollywood to at times pull back on dialogue if it sounded to old for my characters. I made some changes in the books to better sync up with the film, but not many. It felt like a really great collaboration. With McKENNA, I read the screenplay in my hotel room the night before going on set. Watching it enacted the next day was pure magic!

On your website you mention you are working on a sequel to your young adult novel Frozen, are you currently working on any other projects?
I do have some exciting projects in the works with American Girl, but that's all pretty hush-hush until it comes out. Keep watching for it!
And yes, I'm working on a sequel to FROZEN, set to release in 2016. In addition, I will have two new picture books coming out over the next few years from the UMN Press . . .  I'm always working on something.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When I'm not writing, I'm often spending time with our barn cat, three dogs and three horses. Oh, and we recently added chickens to our menagerie!. I love being around our animals and being outside, whether it's trail-riding, hiking, swimming, or skiing. I also enjoy playing the piano, baking, and reading! Living up north gives me the active-yet-quiet, nature-filled life I need as a writer.
 Thank you Mary for such an inspiring conversation!  
Now for more fun!  Mary is generously offering a giveaway of 3 of her books:

One Dog Sleigh:

Harness bells jing-jing-jingle under branches frosted white, but is there enough room for everyone when squirrel, owl, lynx, and other forest animals ask to play?

Filled with lyrical text, bouncy rhythm, and whimsical illustrations, this is one heart-warming and adventurous sleigh ride you won’t want to miss. Bundle up and climb aboard!

Bk_stealing-thunder_2014_200-dsStealing Thunder:

Libby loves her horses, and although she doesn't have one of her own, she's lucky she can always visit with the horses that belong to her neighbors, the Porters. For years Libby has helped Mrs. Porter—Jolene—care for the horses in exchange for lessons. And during her time there, she has forged a special bond with Jolene's prize horse, Thunder.

Libby's world changes when Jolene mysteriously leaves and Libby is no longer free to see Thunder as much as she'd like. Bound and determined, she sneaks into the stable to visit Thunder. But Libby notices blood around his eye and realizes that Mr. Porter is taking his anger out on the horse. With the help of Griff, a new boy in her class with whom Libby is spending increasingly more time, she decides to steal thunder to ensure his safety. But Mr. Porter is on the lookout for Libby and has a backup plan of his own ...

In this fast-paced adventure, Libby finds her own voice as she stands up for what she believes in a world of adults who think they know best.

When Eagles Fall:
After getting in trouble and in a near-fatal accident, Alex Castille-Reed is sent to join her biologist father on an eagle-banding expedition in International Falls, Minnesota. She soon finds herself stranded on a small island with an injured eaglet, forced to fight for her own life, as well as that of her new charge.

Struggling against a storm, a bear, and hunger, Alex uses resources she never knew she had to make it home again.

Readers will find When Eagles Fall to be an exciting adventure story of survival and self-discovery.

For your chance to win 
One Dog SleighStealing Thunder, & When Eagles Fall,
enter the giveaway below:

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::Cinnamon Spice Play Dough

Cinnamon spice play dough

It's November!

For a kindergarten teacher, the start of a new month is much more than a flip of a calendar. 

It's now time for turkeys, cornucopias, and cinnamon spice play dough!

Making a new batch of play dough was one of my weekend to-dos and I thought I would share the recipe that I am using for the month of November with you here today.


Cinnamon Spice Play Dough

5 cups water

5 cups flour

2 1/2 cups salt

3 T cream of tartar

1/2 cup vegetable oil 

6 T cinnamon

1 T ground cloves

1 T ginger

Heat water and oil in a stockpot on medium-low heat on the stove-top.  In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, cream of tartar, cinnamon, ground cloves, and ginger.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the oil and water mixture, continuing to heat and stir until the mixture pulls away from the pan and is no longer sticky.  Dump the dough on a tray and let cool.  Knead until the dough has a uniform texture.

Store the dough in an airtight container and share it with a child in your life.


Touch a Butterfly - Book Giveaway!

Touch A Butterfly

I am excited to share with you an interview with the inspiring author, April Pulley Sayre!

Arpil Sayre

 April is an award-winning children’s book author of over 55 natural history books for children and adults. Her read-aloud nonfiction books, known for their lyricism and scientific precision, have been translated into French, Dutch, Japanese, and Korean. She is best known for pioneering literary ways to immerse young readers in natural events via creative storytelling and unusual perspectives. 

I recently contacted April, and she is graciously sharing some of her inspiration here today in my first author interview on Kids and Eggs. 

April, you have written numerous, award winning picture story books for children, which are your favorite, and why?

A.S. -Okay, now, unfair question! That's like asking a mother which of her children she likes best! :-) I'm always most enamored of the books I am currently working on, which are Raindrops Roll and Woodpecker Wham. But you probably mean books your readers can actually find. Well, Vulture View, which one a Geisel Honor, has a special place in my heart because the language felt just right, every piece in its place and Steve Jenkins' art is stunning. We also had a book together last year that I adore. It's Eat Like a Bear. That book is chewier in a good way. Every very was lovingly made and the art and design are just exactly what I wanted. So, you always love a book at the start. But the true test is whether you love it at the end, whether all the team of people in production have pushed and pulled and poured themselves into it to make it sing in ways you could not even imagine on your own. Eat Like a Bear and Vulture View and also Rah, Rah, Radishes: a Vegetable Chant all have that sense of completion. 

You mention that your travels have inspired many of your stories, can you tell us a little bit about how these rich experiences have affected your writing?

A.S. Most of my books come from my own experiences in rain forests, wetlands, prairies, and even in our very wild, animal-attracting gardens. They are slivers of the goofy nature joy that is my everyday life. Vulture View was written in a rain forest in Panama even though it is not set there. Army Ant Parade was set in that Panamanian rainforest as well. I am also a nature photographer so 4-8 hours a day are spent out in nature, photographing it. That's why I've acquired an intimate knowledge of nature that you cannot get from just being indoors. 

The book Touch a Butterfly-Wildlife Gardening with Kids is great inspiration to engage young children in the process of wildlife gardening.  What inspired you to write this book and what is your favorite activity/recommendation from the book?

A.S. If you want to know me and my heart and life, read that book. I pretty much poured into it the knowledge my husband and I have acquired about nature in the last twenty-five years. I'd always wanted to share that knowledge and the folks at Roost books asked me to create it in the form of an activity book for families. 

Are you currently working on a new book?  What adventures are in store for you next?

A.S. I'm always working on several books. I just corrected galleys for Raindrops Roll, a photo-illustrated book coming out Spring 2015. Today I'm corresponding with my editor about flap copy and some endmatter text tweaks for my next book with Steve Jenkins, Woodpecker Wham, which will be released by Holt in 2015.

Anything else?

A.S. Well, I just hope that families will get out in nature every chance they have. Get messy, get goofy, try gardening and don't worry if you don't have all the answers. Let kids help you find them! They are explorers. Hands on science, and hands on experiences in nature, build young people's sense of language, science, and natural joy.  Books can turn our eyes back to these joys in nature. That's my part of the cycle. But its' the follow up, the joy in nature, that is the most important. 

There's a superb program, called Story Walk, by Anne Ferguson in Vermont, that takes books outside...laminates the pages and posts them as signs for temporary or permanent outdoor trails for families.  Because of her work, my books are being used all over the country in the way. For instance, Trout Are Made of Trees has been used for walk through forests to streams. And Honk, Honk, Goose, is perfect for family strolls along lawns and to ponds. 

Thank You April Pulley Sayre for this inspirational interview!

Now there is more!  

I received a copy of April's book Touch a Butterfly - Wildlife Gardening with Kids from the publisher Roost Books for review, and I have decided to share it with one lucky Kids and Eggs reader!

Enter and help spread the word!  I know you'll enjoy the book!

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