Retold/Adapted By Jewell Reinhart Coburn

Illustrated By Connie McLennan

Can you imagine a tale of “Cinderella” set in rural Mexico?  This is exactly what you’ll find in the book, Domotila, where the story takes places in the region of Hidalgo, Mexico, complete with adobe houses, colorful villages and young girl so talented she can turn cactus into a delicious treat called nopales.  And, in everything she does, she follows her mother’s wonderful advice: “Do every task with care and always add a generous dash of love!”.

As you probably guessed, the young girl is named Domitila and her family falls upon hard times.  She is forced to travel to the city to cook and work for the governor’s family and there she encounters the “prince”.  Through many twists and turns, the story leads to a satisfying ending where the value of a kind and caring person is seen as real talent and beauty.

Although there’s something magical about any Cinderalla tale – this one truly shines in terms of cultural authenticity and an engaging story. This is a satisfying book to read together with children as well as a great pick for bilingual families or those wishing to learn a bit more Spanish.

And there’s even a recipe for cactus nopales – cook it, if you dare!

Domitila is not only "sweeter than a cactus bloom in early spring," she is also a talented cook and an amazing leather artist. most of the classical elements of a Cinderella story can be found in Domitila. A gentle weaving of her mother's nurturing with strong family traditions is the secret ingredient for Domitila to rise above hardship to eventually become the Governor's bride. Moreover, with a firm belief in simplicity and realism, Domitila makes a lasting impression as a triumphant Cinderella in her humility, service, and unassuming modesty.

Unlike most ivory tower Cinderellas, the only transformation in this story is Timoteo's—Domitila's suitor—as we watch him mature from an arrogant politician's son to a compassionate family man. There is no glass slipper to fight over, and no fairy godmother to save the day. All Domitila has are her innate qualities and her family legacy. Finally, the readers are invited to get to know Cinderella for who she is, unlike the typical fantasy character!

With love and care in every stroke, McLennan captured on canvas the warmth of relationships, the fondness for color and texture, and the versatile patterns characteristic of the Mexican people. Readers will soon fall in love with the shimmering light of the desert landscape and this well-told story of Cinderella-with-a-twist.

List Price: $17.95 USD
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Retold by Dharmachari Nagaraja

The byline of this book describes this wonderful bedtime storybook perfectly – Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire.  Retold by Dharmachari Nagaraja, these 20 modern versions of classic Buddhist stories are fun, intriguing and teach profound lessons without ever seeming “preachy”.

Buddah at Bedtime is also a beautiful looking book.  It is illustrated throughout with some of the most lovely, multicultural images that bring the stories alive and don’t seem to limit them to any one tradition but could easily charm readers from any culture in the world.

Best of all – the stories delight.  Animals talk. Families travel to exciting celebrations. A rich miser learns the real value of friendship and four sisters discover the value of sharing their ideas and wisdom, instead of seeing things from only one perspective.  This is a story book that the adults in your family will enjoy at least as much as the younger listeners – perhaps even more!

Highly recommended!

Categories : Bedtime, India
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Written by Yoshiko Uchida

Years ago I stumbled across several volumes of books for young readers by Japanese American writer, Yoshiko Uchida.  I fell in love with her ability to tell a compelling story from the eyes of a young person and this is one of my favorite volumes by her – the Rooster Who Understood Japanese.

It’s about a little girl named Miyo and her neighborhood.  Although a handsome rooster lives next door and is the pride and joy of her elderly neighbors, it becomes a problem for another resident who threatens to call the police because of it’s early morning crowing. Miyo is afraid the beloved pet will have nowhere to go and will become someone’s meal.  So she takes on the mission of finding a home for this special bird – a rooster that understands Japanese.

Uchida has a gift for weaving realistic details into her stories in regard to prejudice and the difficulties faced by Japanese Americans in the USA during the 1950s – 1970’s. Her young heroines succeed by using grace, cleverness, persistence and patience and have a way of making their world a better place, despite the obstacles they are forced to overcome.

And the rooster?  There’s happy ending there, too.  But you have to read the book to find out how it all turns out.

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Based on a Poem By Alejandrao Cruz Martinez, Illustrated By Fernando Olivera

Translated By Rosalma Zubizarreta

Sometimes when people are different, they are not always treated well. Have you ever experienced this?

Such was the case in the story of Lucía Zenteno, the main character in this beautiful and lyrical book that is based on a Zapotec (Mexican) legend. Although she is beautiful and kind, she is different and is treated very badly for it.  So she decides to leave. The problem is this. The river and all the things in it are so much in love with Lucia that they leave with her and the village has no water.  To reconcile with Lucia, the village must learn an important lesson about treating everyone with kindness – no matter how different they might appear to be.

This brilliantly translated book – the story shines in both English and Spanish – is a great tale of life, love and nature.  It’s a magical short story that speaks volumes about compassion and learning to love others without prejudice.

Retells the Zapotec legend of Lucia Zenteno, a beautiful woman with magical powers who is exiled from a mountain village and takes its water away in punishment.
List Price: $9.95 USD
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Categories : Being Different, Mexico
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Written and Illustrated by Jon J. Muth

(Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy)

Have you ever had a burning question about life?  Nikolai has three of them!

He is certain that if he can answer these three important questions, he will always know what to do in life. Adapted from a well-know story by Leo Tolstoy, author and illustrator Jon Muth retells this fable with a small boy and several animals, making it fit better into a child’s world (the original story was about a czar of Russia).   As Nikolai ponders these important questions he finds himself caught up in a storm.  When he finally reaches the wise old turtle who may be able to help him, the answers become clear.

This is a beautiful, thoughtful read for parent and child alike!

What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? Nikolai knows that he wants to be the best person he can be, but often he is unsure if he is doing the right thing. So he goes to ask Leo, the wise turtle. When he arrives, the turtle is struggling to dig in his garden, and Nikolai rushes to help him. As he finishes work, a violent storm rolls in. Nikolai runs for Leo's cottage, but on his way, he hears cries for help from an injured panda. Nikolai brings her in from the cold, and then rushes back outside to rescue her baby too.
List Price: $17.99 USD
New From: $8.23 USD In Stock
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Categories : Russia, Uncategorized
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By Rafe Martin, Illustrated by Famimeh Amiri

A bridge of monkeys – how could that be?

In this retelling of a Buddhist Jataka tale, you follow the story of a group of monkeys and their wise king.  They live in a secret location near a tree that bears the most beautiful and wonderous fruit.  One day a human king finds out about this tree and it’s possible that the monkeys may not only lose their own tree, but their very lives!   How does their wise monkey king overcome these difficulties and save the day?

What are Jataka tales?  Author; Rafe Martin, shares a forward to the book that explains the history of jataka tales – some 500 or so stories about past lives of the Buddha, meant to inspire, encourage and teach.  This retelling of one of those tales is a beautifully illustrated book that also teaches a marvelous lesson about finding positive solutions to troubling problems and what it means to be an inspiring leader.

The Monkey Bridge (Hardcover)

By (author): Rafe Martin

From the renowned author of The Rough-Face Girl comes an exquisitely rendered version of one of India's best-loved tales about what it means to be a king. In the heart of Benares, on the banks of the river Ganges, stands a tree with fruit so perfect it can only be called treasure. How the tree got there is a tale of two rulers--one selfish and proud, one generous and brave--one a man and one a monkey. Having studied the Buddhist tradition for decades, Martin is at his lyrical best in this fable of how a human king's greed puts a tribe of monkeys in mortal danger, while a monkey king's sacrifice restores peace to his kingdom. Exquisitely illustrated with watercolor and gouache paintings in the authentic style of Indian and Persian miniatures, The Monkey Bridge has something important to say about the nature of true nobility and leadership.  
List Price: $17.00 USD
New From: $57.98 USD In Stock
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Written by Pooja Makhijani, Illustrated By Elena Gomez

This book is a gentle and moving story of a young girl whose family no longer lives in India.  However, her mother has a suitcase of her special and beautiful saris underneath her bed that she brings out and wears on special occasions, like the day her daughter was born.

A trip through the suitcase shares many wonderful details of family history and the girl finally convinces her mom that she is old enough to wear a beautiful sari of her own.  Which one does she pick and what special surprise does her mother have to go with the sari?  Pick up this book to experience a wonderful dress-up adventure, Indian style.

Categories : Early/Elementary, India, Moms
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Monkey Photo

Written By Gita Wolf, Illustrated By Swarna Chitrakar

Monkey Photo by Gita Wolf and illustrated by artist Swarna Chitrakar is another example of unique Indian folk art, this time the patua (Bengali folk style) from Bengal is showcased. The layers of stripes and dots and curls make the animals look exotic and fanciful, and my kids wanted me to read very s-l-o-w-l-y so they could pour over the illustrations.

This is a silly story of a monkey who is tired of being photographed by tourists. He grabs the camera, and begins to snap pictures of his other animal friends in the jungle. My son (4) says “I would call the police if he stole my camera!”

-Becky Morales, Kid World Citizen (

Monkey Photo (Hardcover)

By (author): Gita Wolf

Monkey lives in a jungle that tourists love to visit. But he’s getting tired of them taking pictures of him all the time—especially since he never gets to see the results! So he decides to help himself to a camera and swing around the jungle, surprising friends and foes . . .

Here, Mr Monkey
Me too, please!
Look at my spots
I can say 'cheese'!

Illustrated by Swarna Chitrakar in the brilliant Patua style of folk art from Bengal, and featuring verse by Gita Wolf, Monkey Photo records jungle life at its hilarious best.

A unique "jungle" art gallery featuring portraits of animals caught off-guard, this is a show that is sure to delight young readers.

List Price: $16.95 USD
New From: $1.65 USD In Stock
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Categories : Animals, First Readers, India
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Written By Anushka Ravishankar

Illustrated By Durga Bai

One, Two, Tree by Anushka Ravishankar, Sirish Rao, and illustrated by the exceptional artist Durga Bai, is the perfect preschool or kindergarten book, counting the numerous animals that somehow fit into an enormous tree. What makes this book so remarkable is the traditional folk art, from the Gond Tribal tradition of Central India. My daughter (4) says “How can so many animals climb up a tree?!” Check out other books by internationally renown Indian author Ravishankar like award-winning Tiger on a Tree, I Like Cats, or Excuse Me, Is This India?

-Becky Morales, Kid World Citizen (

One, Two, Tree! (Hardcover)

By (author): Anushka Ravishankar, Sirish Rao

This visually stunning read-aloud book invites young children to count the improbable numbers of animals that clamber up an ever-expanding tree. Brilliant original art by a tribal woman artist from central India brings alive this vivacious and colorful tree of animals. One, Two, Tree! combines the sophistication of an art book for children with the accessibility of a read-aloud nursery rhyme tale.

List Price: $16.95 USD
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Written By Cress Sia, Illustrated By Lisa Butler

How exciting to take a trip to the Philippines!

In Hartlyn Kid’s new release; The Bamboo Dance, readers can visit a schoolyard in this country and meet two good friends, Paco and Diego.  It’s an exciting time as many of the children are learning to do a special dance with bamboo poles called the tinikling. It’s fun to watch and participate in, but requires fancy footwork in order to not get your feet stuck as the bamboo poles tap on the ground and then click together.

Paco is very good at the tinikling dance right away, but Diego finds it a bit more difficult.  In fact, he’s almost ready to give up trying.  Will his friend let him feel defeated, or can Paco find a way to help him succeed so they can both enjoy their new skill together?

The answer is in this beautifully illustrated, collage-style book that also shares many details of everyday life and fun in the Philipines.  Pick up this beautiful book to learn about friendship, fun, encouragement and a really exciting dance tradition called tinikling.

The Bamboo Dance (Hardcover)

By (author): Cress Sia

Grab your Hartlyn Kids passport and journey with us to the country of the Philippines!

Meet Paco and Diego, two Filipino boys, as they learn to dance the tinikling, the national dance of the Philippines. Along the way, they will learn that practice makes perfect, especially when you have the encouragement of your friend!
List Price: $12.99 USD
New From: $19.98 USD In Stock
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Written by Kathy Tucker, Illustrated By Grace Lin

Once upon a time there were seven Chinese sisters – 6 older girls and one young baby.  They all lived together happily together, each with their own unique set of talents.  Then one day, a hungry dragon arrives and is bent on stealing the baby sister.

How will the other six sisters save the day?  It’s a wonderful, heroic tale of how each person’s unique talents make a difference in the world.

A beautiful, fanciful story with great girl/female role models!

The Seven Chinese Sisters (Paperback)

By (author): Kathy Tucker

Once there were seven Chinese sisters who lived together and took care of each other. Each one had a special talent. When baby Seventh Sister is snatched by a hungry dragon, her loving sisters race to save her.
List Price: $6.99 USD
New From: $5.08 USD In Stock
Used from: $4.97 USD In Stock

Categories : China, Courageous Kids
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Retold/Written and Illustrated by Ed Young

It’s interesting how some story themes find their way all around the world.

Lon Po Po is very much like the story known as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. In this story, a loving mom must leave her three smart and clever daughters – Shang, Tao, and Paotze – to visit their grandmother on her birthday.  She gives them instructions on how to be safe, but the wolf nearby is clever.

He knocks at the door and declares that he is Grandma.  Then he blows the candle out and tries to find other ways to get close enough to harm the girls.  But the three sisters are not fooled – they outwit the wolf at every turn with brilliant and clever moves – overcoming evil with a sharp mind and a good heart.

Although the cover of the book and some illustrations can appear a bit scary for youngest readers, the book is uplifting and has a happy ending.  It’s great to see young girls in strong roles – ready, willing and able to overcome evil with the power of their mind and their heart.


"(Young's) command of page composition and his sensitive use of color give the book a visual force that matches the strength of the story and stands as one of the illustrator's best efforts." --Booklist

"Absolutely splendid." -- Kirkus Reviews. "An extraordinary and powerful book." -- Publisher's Weekly

The now-classic Chinese retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and one of the most celebrated picture books of our time.
List Price: $7.99 USD
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Motherbridge of Love (Hardcover)

By (author): Xinran

This beautiful poem celebrates the bond between parent and child in a special way. Through the exchanges between a little Chinese girl and her mother, Motherbridge of Love offers a poignant and inspiring message to parents and children all over the world.
List Price: $16.99 USD
New From: $12.49 USD In Stock
Used from: $1.99 USD In Stock

Written by Xinran, Illustrated By Josée Masse

How do you answer an adopted child’s questions when they ask – “Who is my mother?” or “where do I come from?”.  This beautiful book presents a lovely and poetic way to share an explanation of the combined heritages of adoptive children.

The book is actually a poem that was submitted anonymously to the charity – Motherbridge of Love.
Located in the UK, Motherbridge of Love, was set up by prominent Chinese Journalist and author Xinran who wanted to find a way to connect adopted girls from China with their birth culture

Not only beautifully written, but elegantly illustrated by Josée Masse, the book also shares a version of the poem written in Chinese calligraphy.  A wonderful find for anyone who has adopted or is considering adoption, every page of this book shares a message of the love and care that link the birth mother, the adopted mother and the child through a “motherbridge of love.”

Highly recommended!

Categories : adoption, China
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Written By Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz, Illustrated By Meilo So

The next book I’d like to recommend was one of our first purchases after we came back from China: Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats: a Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities and Recipes, by Nina Simonds, Leslie Swartz and the Children’s Museum, Boston. This treasure is a reference guide, holiday cookbook, craft book, customs guide, and folktale library is a phenomenal addition to anyone who would like to explore Chinese holidays. Not only does it cover Chinese New Year, but equally expounds on the Lantern Festival, Qing Ming, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. If you are interested in Chinese culture and celebrations, you will love this book.

This book chosen and reviewed by Becky Morales of Kid World Citizen.  There are lots of wonderful resources for learning more about Chinese New Year as well as a host of exciting world cultural traditions at:


Filled with delectable recipes, hands-on family activities, and traditional tales to read aloud, this extraordinary collection will inspire families everywhere to re-create the magic of Chinese holidays in their own homes. They can feast on golden New Year's dumplings and tasty moon cakes, build a miniature boat for the Dragon Boat Festival and a kite at Qing Ming, or share the story of the greedy Kitchen God or the valiant warrior Hou Yi.
This stunning compilation from bestselling cookbook author Nina Simonds and Leslie Swartz of the Children's Museum, Boston, is the perfect gift for families that have embraced Chinese holidays for generations--and for those just beginning new traditions.
List Price: $21.00 USD
New From: $5.06 USD In Stock
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Written by Grace Chang, Illustrated By Chong Chang

On Monday, January 23, 2012 the Lunar New Year is here! For the next 15 days billions (literally) of people will be celebrating 2012, as the year of the dragon. Here are two of our favorite books about Chinese dragons.

For an introduction to Chinese dragons, there is no greater book than Jin Jin The Dragon. Beijing-native Grace Chang has crafted a magical story about a dragon who is searching for his identity. With help from many wise animals he meets on his quest, he gets a name, and learns what he can accomplish with his inner strength and courage.

This book chosen and reviewed by Becky Morales of Kid World Citizen.  There are lots of wonderful resources for learning more about Chinese New Year as well as a host of exciting world cultural traditions at:

Jin Jin the Dragon (Hardcover)

By (author): Grace Chang

In this captivating tale, the newly hatched Jin Jin goes on a quest to discover what sort of a creature he is. Along the way he meets a fish, an eagle, a lion, and many other animals with which he shares some characteristics. As he compares himself to them he declares, "I'm a little part of each of you, but not quite like any of you!" Then when he meets Turtle and Old Crane, not only does he find out that he's a dragon, but very special dragon. He's a Chinese dragon, unlike most dragons depicted in fairy tales and furthermore, he has a very special talent. As the story unfolds, readers learn about Chinese culture, the origin of Chinese characters and the lore of Chinese dragons. Jin Jin the dragon is a charming parable of self-discovery suitable for children wondering about their own identities and origin.
List Price: $16.95 USD
New From: $13.45 USD In Stock
Used from: $1.15 USD In Stock

Categories : China, Chinese New Year
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Written By Arthur Cotterel

A great book – both visually and for it’s educational content!

Travel back in time to visit ancient China – a world of a myriad of discoveries and a profoundly advanced civilization. Like all of the Eyewitness books, it’s filled with brilliant photographs that bring history alive – from pictures of the famous terra cotta army to ancient instruments, acupuncture needles, bronzework and beautiful calligraphy brushes.  Discover how both leaders and average citizens lived as well as other details of daily life such as unusual systems of irrigation and weapons used in battle.  The books begins at the bronze age and follows Chinese history to the days of the last emperor and succeeds at being informative, entertaining and educational

Stealth learning at it’s finest!

Categories : China, Uncategorized
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Written by Valerie Petrillo

This book is a great way to learn about the culture and traditions of people who came to the US from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  There is a series of 70 crafts exploring cooking, art, dance, folklore and holidays as well as language, history and outstanding historical figures.

Some of my favorites from this book are the Mehndi hand painting, the Japanese fish printing craft, ribbon dancing activities, origami, taiko drumming and even a snakes and ladders game from India and a “kick-the-can” game from the Philippines.  There are lots of wonderfully easy recipes for such goodies as rice balls, Banana Lassi (yogurt drink), Vietnamese beef noodle soup and Cambodian spring rolls plus lots of suggestions for sweets!  Lastly, there are also pages for learning basic phrases in several languages such as Mandarin and Hindi.

All in all, this book is a treasure of information as well as fun activities that can liven up the home or classroom at Chinese New Year or any time of year!

Highly recommended!

Hands-on activities, games, and crafts introduce children to the diversity of Asian American cultures and teach them about the people, experiences, and events that have shaped Asian American history. This book is broken down into sections covering American descendents from various Asian countries, including China, Japan, Korea, Philippines, India, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Topics include the history of immigration from Asian countries, important events in U.S. history, sidebars on famous Asian Americans, language lessons, and activities that highlight arts, games, food, clothing, unique celebrations, and folklore. Kids can paint a calligraphy banner, practice Tai Chi, fold an origami dog or cat, build a Japanese rock garden, construct a Korean kite, cook bibingka, and create a chalk rangoli. A time line, glossary, and recommendations for Web sites, books, movies, and museums round out this multicultural guide.
List Price: $16.95 USD
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Written by Dawnine Spivak, Illlustrated By Demi

Many teachers recommend this book as a fun way to introduce children to haiku. Grass Sandals follows some of the life experiences of Basho, one of the most well-known haiku poets of Japan.  Basho lived in the 1600’s and loved nature and was even named after a banana tree.  When the poet decided to travel, his friends gave him some special gifts, including grass sandals and this book follows his quiet adventures accompanying them with poetry and wonderful Japanese style illustrations by artist, Demi.

What would a day with a monk or a poet in long ago Japan be like?  Pick up this book and you’ll see!

A simple retelling of the travels of 17th century Japanese poet, Basho, across his island homeland. The book includes examples of the haiku verses he composed.
List Price: $13.99 USD
New From: $7.99 USD In Stock
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Categories : Japan, Poetry
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Written and Illustrated By Jeanette Winter

What would you do if your library was in danger?  And all the books in it?  This is a story based on what happened to a courageous woman named Alia Muhammad Baker who was the librarian in the town of Basra, Iraq.  The story unfolds as war comes to their town and Alia suspects that the library may be in danger.  It may be looted and burned and all the books destroyed.  How does she save the books… almost 30,000 of them?

Although the book shares images of war, the illustrations also focus on Alia dreaming of peace and the actions that bring her community together in troubled times.  Although the topic or war is a difficult one, the book remains child-appropriate and an inspiring tale of what one person can do to make a difference even in the most harrowing of times

Suggested Reading Level – 5 and Up

"In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was 'Read.'"*
--Alia Muhammad Baker

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library--along with the thirty thousand books within it--will be destroyed forever.

In a war-stricken country where civilians--especially women--have little power, this true story about a librarian's struggle to save her community's priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries. Illustrated by Jeanette Winter in bright acrylic and ink.

Includes an author's note.
*From the New York Times, July 27, 2003

List Price: $17.99 USD
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