Loris's Books
Boy Soup cover
More about Boy Soup
Now in Spanish
Order Loris's Books!for the Creative Classroom

BOY SOUP

Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Paper ISBN 1-55037-416-8, Library Binding ISBN 1-55037-417-6
Published by Annick Press, distributed by Firefly Books

Giant woke up with a big hurting head.
“I am sore I am sick I feel awful,” he said...
Completely depleted and tending to droop.
The only prescription? A bowl of boy soup.

The Giant — no genius — consults his ancient Home Medical Guide when he has a terrible cold, and finds that it recommends Boy Soup. He captures half a dozen children. One of them, however, is a girl, and it’s Kate who devises a subtle scheme to outwit the Giant. Hint: they erase the writing in the old book with something all kids wear on their feet, then insist the book meant soup made by boys, not of boys. Boy Soup has a highly satisfying and unusual ending. Perhaps that’s why teachers have done such interesting projects with it, and why kids draw so many variations of pictures from the book.

See some of these in Ideas for Activities, and here’s a PDF of soup bowl coloring page you can draw on, write in, or fill up with collage.

“Back when I was a living, breathing, and frequently underprepared children’s librarian I used to keep a stash of surefire, one-size-fits-all picture books for last-minute emergency storytimes. …Were I to assemble such a first-aid kit today, I would certainly include Boy Soup, Loris Lesynski’s first picture book. It’s a story … with just the right blend of predictable and surprising, rhythmical language that trips off the tongue, bold energetic pictures, an inventive kid-inspired solution to the plot’s dilemma, and at the centre of the book, a giant who is simultaneously threatening and pathetic.

“The story is a dandy one but it is better in Lesynski’s words than mine because she gives us the tale in rhyming couplets that roll right along with nary a stumble.”

Author/reviewer Sarah Ellis in Quill & Quire, 1996

“an imaginative and well-told story that will make children excited to turn each and every page.… This book gives adults a great opportunity to teach children about friendship and how to treat people. “… the text's rhyming pattern is a great teaching device for children and will really get kids excited TO READ!”

kidsdomain.com

“This short children's book is simply wonderful! The rhyme scheme, the colorful illustrations and the fabulously fantastical story line are all ingredients for a memorable read!… Very addictive, makes you want to memorize it and recite it every day!… I heartily recommend this book for kids of all ages, from 2 to 102!”

epinions.com

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Catmagic cover
More about Catmagic
Now in Spanish

CATMAGIC

Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Paper ISBN 1-55037-532-6, Library Binding ISBN 1-55037-533-4
Published by Annick Press, distributed by Firefly Books

“The Witches’ Retirement Home
has a room!”
said Arabelle Witch to the cat
on her broom...

And so it begins, when Arabelle and her unconventionally blotchy, splotchy cat come into this cluttered household. There are so many dots and specks and patterns that Izzy is quite camouflaged. Which means not noticed, which means getting kicked, tripped over, and worst of all, sat on.

He solves his problem by collecting leftover scraps of magic and creating a spell that allows him to live comfortably in the safest place in the house — on the ceiling.

When I’m reading this book aloud and start slowly showing the pages rightside up and then upside down after Izzy’s move, there isn’t a peep in the place. I guess everybody lies on the floor at some time or another and imagines the room upside down.

I’ve loved the projects that classes have done with Catmagic; some of them are described in Ideas for Activities.

A grade 3 girl gave me the idea for the roof shaped like a witch’s hat. A grade 4 designed the potion cups on the first page.

Here’s a PDF of a cat coloring page. You can either color it like Izzy or turn into one of his relatives (Soozie with pink polka dots? Whizzie with yellow lightning bolts on top of black fur?)

“…a delicious rhyming story, chock full of fanciful illustrations… highly recommended as a gentle tale that emphasizes fantasy and fun.”

Resource Links The Year’s Best List

“… Poems are wonderful ways to get kids thinking, moving, giggling and jiggling. Make that poem funny and about a silly topic, and the fun is doubled. Catmagic is a book of rhyme and rhythm about displaced witches and a cat who find a happy solution to their problem.

“Loris Lesynski… displays consistent strength throughout Catmagic as a children's poet and illustrator … Kids will be engaged by the humorous subject matter and beat as well as the interestingly drawn and colorful illustrations … The pictures are funny by themselves, as Izzy protects himself against being crushed by donning a spaghetti pot on his back and a colander on his head.

“…Catmagic is a book for all seasons, not just Halloween. It will make a great addition to any book collection. A great read-aloud.”

Canadian Review of Materials

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Night School cover
More about Night School

NIGHT SCHOOL

Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Paper ISBN 1-55037-584-9, Library Binding ISBN 1-55037-585-7
Published by Annick Press, distributed by Firefly Books

Eddie was a “night owl.”
He loved to stay up late.
“A special school for kids like me?
I’ll go—it could be great!”

Eddie gets his best ideas and biggest bursts of energy at bedtime. Surely there has to be a school for other night owls? He finds one, a proper Night School. It’s exciting at first but changes as the hours tick by. Eddie’s eyes get grittier. The bizarre things happening, are they real? Are those ghosts, or shadows? When do they get to go home?

I had a fabulous time with the visual humor in Night School —the lava lamps, the Nighttime is the Right Time school slogan, the class study on “Ancient Egypt at Night,” and all the books in the classroom with the titles Goodnight Moon and Silent Night, In the Night Kitchen, Franklin in the Dark and Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Night School students’ ‘lunch’ is a tray of nightclub hors d’oeuvres kids ; they get flashlights and table lamps for recess in the dark playground. It’s by shouting out the school’s dirty word that Eddie and his friends finally escape from Nigh School — can you guess what it is? (Okay, I’ll tell you: it’s morning.)

There’s more about some of the classroom projects Night School has generated on the Ideas for Activities page.

“Through her artwork, Lesynski unveils a gift for comic subtlety, a pleasant enhancement to her quirky wit. We all at one time or another have suspected that one of our teachers is a witch… The magic spell of Night School will make a Lesynski fan out of any reader, and the already-converted have a pleasurable opportunity to see this book creator’s talent develop.”

Canadian Children’s Literature no. 105-106

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Ogre Fun cover
More about Ogre Fun

OGRE FUN

Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Paper ISBN 1-55037-446-X, Library Binding ISBN 1-55037-447-8
Published by Annick Press, distributed by Firefly Books

He squished his face. He squashed his face.
He tried to keep it shut.
He glued his mouth with jam inside
to keep it tighter but—
it opened like an oven door
for one ENORMOUS yawn
quite so big it just about
obliterated Gron...

The ogres have never, ever yawned before. They’d never even seen anyone else do so either. One day when he’s especially bored, the ogre-boy Gronny goes wandering and “catches” yawning from some strange little creatures playing ball off.

Back home, the ogres catch the yawning in turn from Gronny, and their ogre lives fall apart. Yawning ceaselessly, they spill their ogre cocoa, their cheeks puff in and out like green balloons, and the ogre babies start bawling. Gronny has to trek across the land again to find “the little creatures” and see what can be done about it.

This was my second book and I wasn’t that confident yet about drawing people, so ogres shaped like pickles and old potatoes seemed like an excellent idea. I actually kept a turnip on my drawing board to get that ogre-feel.

Kids and I talk about what ogre school would be like, or ogre pets, or ogre birthday parties. Their designs of ogre fashions and snacks are especially interesting pinned up around the classroom.

On the Ideas for Activities for Ogre Fun page, there’s a lesson on cross-hatching, which is perfect for those potato-sack ogre clothes.

And what about yawning— a curious action, isn’t it? Alligator yawns are famous, but what about fish yawns? Do giraffes yawn? Do worms? The story has almost 200 “s” sounds in it to make the ogres ssssleeepy — can you find them? A reading of Ogre Fun in a classroom ends best with a huge growly group yawn.

“…an inviting rollick told in happy, staccato rhyme:
The ogres went hysterical!
The babies started crying!
The slugs-on-toast fell
upside down,
the sausages went flying.

… just the sort of things that kids can enjoy: happy disasters that neither threaten nor teach. It's a refreshing change.

Lesynski’s drawings are both fun and competent as well as deep enough to provide children with pleasurable viewing. That is, I think, something that is often overlooked in children's books. Kids see everything, because everything is new. Flaccid drawings bore them: growing young minds feed on detail. Lesynski has provided that detail in her loose but finished illustrations. The story is competent and engaging …charming, well-metered and fun …and the ogres are likable and understandable.

January Magazine

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Rocksy cover
More about Rocksy

ROCKSY

Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Paper ISBN 1-55037-750-7 Library Binding ISBN 1-55037-751-5
Published by Annick Press, distributed by Firefly Books

Nobody chooses
scratches and bruises
but that’s what you get when you fall.
But don’t ever moan,
“I WISH I WERE STONE!”
—for that’s not he answer at all!

Roxanne “is a lovely, lovely little girl, but, alas, a terribly clumsy one. “ Ow!,” “Ouch!” and “Oops!” are what she says all day as she bashes herself, stumbles and falls.

Exasperated at getting hurt so much, she wishes she were made of stone — unfortunately blurting this out just as she’s accidentally crossed the border into the Magic Wood.

Her wish comes true. At first, anything is possible — hurtling down the dragon slide, reckless wheelies, mile-high swinging.

But she still can’t catch a ball with any finesse. The other children begin to ignore “a person made of stone.” Her supper tastes quite dreadful to a rock tongue, and her cat freaks out when she tries to pat him with boulder hands. At night, her twig bed collapses.

Thoroughly miserable, she starts to cry. (And what do you think comes out of her eyes? Right, pebbles!) The only solution is to return to the Magic Wood and see if the Spirit of the Forest (whose scribbly picture I based on brilliant children’s author Mem Fox — check her out at http://www.memfox.com) will renegotiate the wish.

But does Rocksy ask to magically and instantly become better at playing ball? Not this kid; her request is that the Spirit to becomes her coach and teaches her the balance, fast footwork, and catching skills she wants.

This is what I wanted most as a child, to be shown how something worked and taught how to do it myself, rather than either floundering around or becoming good at it without knowing how I got there.

Find out more about Rocksy on the Ideas for Activities page.

“…a wonderfully illustrated rhyming story full of fun and wisdom… a combination of a ‘be careful what you wish for’ book and a ‘how-to’ guide for kids who always seem to be stumbling over their own body parts… told in vibrant rhymes… will charm both kids and adults.”

The Hamilton Spectator

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Dirty Dog Boogie cover
More about Dirty Dog Boogie

DIRTY DOG BOOGIE

Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Paper ISBN 1-55037-572-5, Library Binding ISBN 1-55037-573-3
Published by Annick Press, distributed by Firefly Books

If you need something poetic and exciting in your classroom right away, skip all this and go right to Ideas for Activities with Dirty Dog Boogie.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and writing in rhyme was particularly fun, the rhythm and beat of words and phrases, the satisfying and sometimes even surprising end a poem could come to. Dirty Dog Boogie was my first collection of poems; it took such a long time to get my poems published it sure wasn’t about ego anymore and I’d become much more interested in how enthusiastically kids warmed to doing the out-loud rebound reading with me, and how teachers telling me they often wrote variations of my poems or new ones of their own after digging into Dirty Dog Boogie. So I say up front (or rather on the back — cover of the book, that is) that you can “change the words, arrange the words or rearrange the beat.” Meaning: it’s your book now; do what you want with it.

You’ll decide for yourself if you like the Dog; meanwhile here are some reviews and editorial commentaries:

Dirty Dog Boogie was on Resource Links The Year’s Best List

School Library Journal said it “will appeal to fans of Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein...”

The Globe & Mail felt it would “ leave you breathless but wonderfully energized.”

“…an exuberant collection of child-centered rhymes that dance in your head and bounce off your tongue, that beg to be read, chanted, or sung aloud... terrific in a classroom, allowing teachers to have fun liberating the poet in every child.” Canadian Book Review Annual

“This wild, funny, word-loving collection of poems contains dozens of demonstrations of different word play. There are springboards galore for children to write poems of their own.

“This poetry for kids really rocks. Loris Lesynski wrote and illustrated this hilarious collection of poems that is sure to make you and the kids want to rhyme every word you hear. It is playful, silly and a ton of fun. A great way to get kids interested in a lost art. Lesynski makes it easy to ‘ALWAYS keep a BIT of boogie GOing in your HEAD.’” The Echo

“A nifty book of poetry for this age group is Loris Lesynski’s Dirty Dog Boogie. This collection of rhymes will have everyone toe-tapping, finger-snapping and grin-grin-grinning.”

Dirty Dog Boogie is a gem of a children’s book, full of light-hearted irreverent rhymes. The cartoon-like blue and white illustrations match the spirit of the poems, a natural result of both being the creations of one talented person.

“The subject matter is original, the rhythm impeccable, the play on words amusing, and, if an entire poem doesn't stick in the mind forever, certain parts of it will — ‘it gobbled up the grub and grew,’ ‘always keep a bit of boogie going in your head, ‘puddles of sun.’ Parents and teachers will find this a terrific book to read to little children, who, when they are older, will enjoy the fun each time they read it to themselves.” Canadian Materials

“This collection is sure to be a hit with students for read-aloud, classroom choral speaking and quiet reading sessions. Loris Lesynski explores child friendly topics such as having a brother, doing homework, having wet feet and having to sit still. The whimsical, blue-ink drawings enhance the light-hearted, creative poems. The pleasures of music and movement and their connection to poetry are stressed throughout the book. Suggested Use: Grades 1–5; Poetry.” Saskatchewan Education

Please check out the Ideas for Activities with Dirty Dog Boogie page and About Writing and Drawing. The dog is available for as a PDF for a page to color.

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Nothing Beats a Pizza cover
More about Nothing Beats a Pizza

NOTHING BEATS A PIZZA

Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Paper ISBN 1-55037-700-0, Library Binding ISBN 1-55037-701-9
Published by Annick Press, distributed by Firefly Books

These poems sprang from the silly sound of “beats a pizza” in the title (I almost always start a book by the title coming first). Some of them then turned out to be about pizza, some not.

What reviewers said:

“Poet/illustrator Loris Lesynski knows children, fun, food and good poetry. Her second collection of verse serves up 34 delectable poems for children to munch on, mull over, and read aloud. And there’s plenty on each well-designed page to engage children… but the real treat is the poetry itself… invites readers not only to savor words but to whip their own poetic concoctions.” Quill & Quire

“Loris Lesynski's second volume of poetry for children… is a brightly-colored, rollicking group of highly imaginative poems. Lesynski's use of language is wonderful, with rhymes and rhythms that beg to be read aloud and subject matter that would appeal to children and parents alike. A number of poems deal with pizza, and directions on the cover instruct readers to ‘Read out loud — with pizzazz!’

“Lesynski's illustrations are bright and comical. The page layouts have been done carefully to achieve a gloriously cluttered feel, with a wide variety of fonts, textures and a large number of smaller illustrations and quips inserted in seemingly random locations. These cluttered layouts are perfect for drawing children back to this book for further readings. This is a book that is perfect for sharing and reading aloud for any age. Canadian Materials

“...Lesynski gives the topic of pizza a poetic beat and the results are hilarious… silly, sizzling poems meant to be read aloud....” The St. Catharine’s Standard

“Levity rules… Lesynski’s forthright approach to children's queries and opinions can b disarming... always offered up with lighthearted, rollicking beat, nevertheless Lesynski provides kids with some thought-provoking sentiments, spurring them on to think about themselves and the people around them from a slightly different perspective. And as usual, the sheer fun of saying things in verse is impressed upon the reader.” Toronto Star

“Craftsmanship is also a key trait of Loris Lesynski’s work, both her smooth and often ingenious rhyme schemes and her meticulous use of words — not to mention the lively artwork she produces to accompany her poems.” The Sunday Herald, Halifax

Nothing Beats A Pizza won a Mr. Christie Silver Medal. Check out the Ideas for Activities page, and also the pizza PDF on the coloring pages.

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Cabbagehead cover
More about Dirty Dog Boogie

CABBAGEHEAD

Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Paper ISBN 1-55037-804-X, Library Binding ISBN 1-55037-805-8
Published by Annick Press, distributed by Firefly Books

I need a brain that’s brilliant.
I need a head that hums.
I need a head that’s ready when
a good idea comes.
Sometimes I’m a cabbagehead.
Sometimes I’m a star.
Always I’m amazed by where
my best ideas are.

In this book, I had the chance to say many things about ideas that I’d always wanted to — that they don’t come to us just when we’re feeling smart; that agility with new ideas develops with play and not from things requiring correct and immovable answers; that curiosity is way cool.

School Library Journal said “This collection of clever and funny poems, chants, and word games explores ideas and where they come from... The colorful cartoon illustrations convey they humor of the poems and reflect the author's joy in using words.”

Other reviews said: “Mirroring the facetiousness and irony of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, Loris Lesynski has created another collection of poetry for children. The poems in Cabbagehead explore issues ranging from ‘Who Invented Socks?’ to ‘Wet Pets.’ Lesynski’s wonderful ink, water colour and colored pencil illustrations are the highlight of this work. The book incorporates a lot of fun, whimsy, and satire.

“Readers will definitely get a few chuckles out of this work…. The illustrations work to greatly enhance the text, making them an integral part of the humour. Cabbagehead is a light and simple collection of poems that many children will enjoy.”

“Highly accessible as children will be able to feel their rhythm... The color illustrations... exude humor and originality.” Resource Links

And the publisher’s description went like this: “In her much-anticipated third collection of poetry, celebrated author Loris Lesynski explores the often frustrating ways in which our brains work. With her usual wit and irreverence, Loris presents jazzy, fun poems that speak to all of us. Who hasn't been perplexed by spelling or chased in the night by an idea that won't go away?

“Once again, Loris demonstrates how much fun poetry, and everyday life, can be! Her poetry begs to be read out loud, and children and adults will find themselves unable to resist snapping their fingers and chanting along! Recommended.”

Have a look at Ideas for Activities with Cabbagehead.

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Zigzag cover
More about Zigzag

ZIGZAG: Zoems For Zindergarten

Written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski
Paperback ISBN 1-55037-882-1, Library hardcover binding ISBN 1-5037-875-9
Published by Annick Press, distributed by Firefly Books

There’s a lot about Zigzag on this website. It was my most recent book (the latest one is always the most exciting) and I discovered so much about how children learn from spending all that time in kindergartens. Go to the Zigzag page for Ideas for Activities with Zigzag.

From the School Library Journal: “PreSchool-K— Twenty-two silly rhymes about kindergarten life. Beginning with ‘Kindergarten Rocks!’ the rollicking poems are full of energy and opportunities for participation. ‘Anything's a Drum’ makes for an ideal action poem with the cadenced lines,

anything’s a drum drum
a can can be a drum drum
tabletop’s a drum drum
chair a double chum drum…

“There is a logical progression to the selections, beginning with a verse about the start of the school day and flowing naturally into offerings about art activities, the classroom hamster, alphabet and math games, walking home safely, and the comfort of an after-school kitchen. The watercolor cartoons show examples of student art projects and the joy of participating in classroom activities. Many of the selections are appropriate for fingerplays and action rhymes for storytimes, or could be used to fill spare moments between lessons. Pair this book with Joseph Slate’s Miss Bindergarten titles (Dutton) and Nancy Carlson’s Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! (Viking). Shawn Brommer, © Reed Business Information

“With interactive scenarios, thumping rhymes, and lots of repetitive nonsense, these “zoems” will have preschoolers joining in the words and movements. As with Mother Goose, the fun is as much in the silliness and the sounds of the words as in any meaning. The subjects are dear to the audience (mud, Popsicles, pets, paint, monkeys). Although this has neither the wealth of information nor the tender illustrations of Rosemary Wells’ beautiful My Kindergarten [BKL Ag 04], it will be great for reading aloud, even with the lap-sitting audience, and the cheerful watercolor, pencil, and gouache art, with a touch of cartoonlike humor, adds to the appeal with images of kids jumping to the ‘zigga zagga beat.’ Hazel Rochman © American Library Association.

For reviews, activities and excerpts from the book, go to the Zigzag section.

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I Did It Because... cover
More about I Did It Because...

“I DID IT BECAUSE...”

How a Poem Happens

64 pp., 7-1/2" x 9-1/2", Annick Press (ages 7-12)
Paper $10.95 ISBN 1-55451-017-7, Library binding $19.95 ISBN 1-55451-018-4
Annick Press, distributed by Firefly Books

Reviews

Quill & Quire, September 2006:
It’s one of those certainties like death or taxes: after an author reading, someone in the audience will invariably ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” Without saying where, exactly, children’s poet Loris Lesynski ponders a related question in verse:

WHY...?
I did it because –
well the reason was –
it was really because because...
I did it because –
because everyone does –
because because because...

Even if the why of poetry is sometimes hard to explain, (Loris) Lesynski has no trouble discussing the how in a poetry collection that also provides a good amount of instruction for the youngest of writers. Concepts such as onomatopoeia, metre, and personification are explained in everyday, kid-friendly language, using (Loris) Lesynski’s own poems as examples. Most of the 39 poems were selected from the poet’s other collections, such as Nothing Beats A Pizza and Zigzag: Zoems for Zindergarten. Four are new creations.

This is the first book of Lesynski’s that she hasn’t illustrated herself. Instead, well-known picture book illustrator Michael Martchenko reinterprets these poems in his own distinctive style, using pencil, watercolour, and gouache.

In “The Bad Mood Blues,” Martchenko creates a scene featuring eight small, pudgy creatures bent on starting a young boy’s day in the worst way. In the original Nothing Beats A Pizza version, (Loris) Lesynski played up the rhythmic aspect of the poem by showing a beatnik-style blues trio. While the new illustrations are colourful, fun, and refreshing, the feel of the previous books has still been maintained, largely due to the same lively book design and layout.

Good advice abounds for picking poem topics, making interesting word and sound choices, and reading poems aloud. A handy rhyme chart, a bibliography, and website listings are just a few of the extras. Teachers of poetry will want this dual-purpose collection for their classrooms because (Loris) Lesynski shows that poem writing can and should be fun with an irresistible selection of contagiously rhythmic poems.

Reviewed by Carol L. MacKay

The Globe and Mail, September 2006:
There is a disclaimer in small print at the beginning of this delightful how-to book in which author-poet (Loris) Lesynski writes that though this book is about rhyming poems, poems don’t have to rhyme to be poems. She writes: “If you feel like writing a poem but don’t feel like writing in rhyme, GO AHEAD!”

She begins her book by exhorting nascent poems to “warm up writing a poem” by bending to find something to write with, lunding to find something to write on and balancing and flexing to find a favourite poem-writing position. This preliminary body work will get both blood and creative juices flowing. Michael Marthcenko’s colourful, cartoonish pencil, watercolour and gouache artwork supplies the visuals and keeps the humour quotient very high.

(Loris) Lesynski is a rhyme-maker whose own high-energy rat-ta-ta-tat dum-de-dum creations provide all the proof that the ingredients she advocates and the hints she offers — from picking a topic to finding rhymes — make a very fine pudding indeed.

Reviewed by Susan Perren

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To order Loris Lesynski’s books go here or:
Canada: Firefly Books Ltd. tel: 1-800-387-6192 (orders only) or (416) 499-8412
fax: 1-800-450-0391 or (416) 499-8313
USA: Firefly Books Ltd. tel: 1-800-387-5085 or (416) 499-8412
fax: 1-800-565-6034 or (416) 499-8313
e-mail: service@fireflybooks.com

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Bibliography