Archive for the ‘snark and sarcasm (consider it creative writing)’ Category

…and they’ll offend you and you and YOU!   Well, if I’m doing my job right they will.  There are books in the library that offend everyone because there are books FOR everyone.   It’s like going down the rabbit hole — follow me around that circular logic, my friends.  Wheee!

Just in time for Banned Books Week, a coworker sent me an email about this crazy-crazy happening that took place over the weekend.   I didn’t hear about until now because my computer has died and it just sits there, taunting me, like a big, silver paperweight….holding my music hostage!! *sniffle*  Anyway…

SPEAK up for SPEAK!!!

An associate professor of management at Missouri State University, Wesley Scroggins, has written a diatribe about how Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson is basically soft porn and should be removed from the school libraries in the district where he lives. 

Yes, he’s talking about THAT Speak, which ten years on is still an extremely popular young adult novel.  I’ve mentioned it in this blog before: briefly in a review and as a book that’s been made into a film – incidentally, the film stars Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame). 

So, here is Ms. Anderson’s response. 

…and please, oh please, play the video of her reading her poem “Listen”, which she created based on reader response to Speak.

Now, I took a sharp left turn when I could have been a teacher, so I’m going to go to an expert on this one.  

Here is an extremely well-reasoned and literary rebuttal to Mr. Scroggins’ “willful misreading” (I like that, that says it so well) by Philip Nel, Professor of English and Director of Kansas State University’s Program in Children’s Literature. 

This story has been all over the interwebs and Twitter has kinda exploded (Follow the thread #SpeakLoudly) and Ms. Anderson and Sarah Ockler, whose book Twenty Boy Summer is also being challenged have just done interviews with the paper that printed the initial opinion piece.  (he’s also going after Slaughterhouse Five, but Kurt Vonnegut can’t fight back…)  So anyway, keep an eye out for that article.

Here Ms. Ockler explains a bit more about the situation (who the challenge/opinion piece writer is, why this is a bigger deal than just the removal of one or two books from a school district’s library, and how you can get involved if you want to do something more).  Apparently this is the same area where another school board recently removed Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian.

I just have to say…this reminds me so much of the craziness that happened with Sarah Dessen’s book, Just Listen.  In Florida, an upset parent stood up in front of school board members and began reading portions of the date-rape scene, which by necessity is horrific

Yet instead of saying that yes, that particular scene was unsavory but necessary and that there is more to the book than just that scene, the parent and the school board member running the meeting painted the whole book with the same brush, disregarded the fact that the book was important for so many reasons, and that perhaps, by describing that situation, other teenage girls might recognize that a situation they’d been subjected to was non-consensual…or they might recognize a situation getting bad and get themselves out of it before they are hurt. 

*okay…deep breath*  Go here for Ms. Dessen’s response at the time.

Earlier today I set up the Banned Books Display for the teens in my library.  Every year someone will inevitably say, “…but no one really bans books anymore, right?”  Um, no.  …and people still hold book burnings, too (that Qu’ran incident is only the latest and greatest), though they’re mostly symbolic and feel-good events, “Throw another Harry Potter on the barbie!”  Perfectly fine, yay First Amendment rights and all that…they can burn them as long as they bought them…no worries.

What I worry about is when somebody other than a child or teenager’s parents comes in and takes books away from those teens.  The theme for this year’s Banned Books Week is particularly apt, “Think for yourself and let others do the same.”  

Putting up big walls around teenagers will not keep them safe, for someday they must go out into that world.   Refusing to let them see the reality of choices, even bad choices (for example, what can happen to you when you’re addicted to methamphetamines like the main character in Ellen Hopkin’s book Crank), leaves them vulnerable.

Hopkins, who you may or may not have heard was dis-invited from a book festival earlier this year, says it so well in her Manifesto: “Ignorance is no armor.”  Please read the whole Manifesto.

So, I’ve gone on a bit, but please, share with me and those people who read this blog…have you read Speak, or Just Listen, or any one of the top hundred books banned this decade? 

Please, #SpeakLoudly.  The next book facing a challenge might be one you need to read.

Some folks around the blogosphere who are Speaking out for Speak:

YA author Jo Knowles


YA author Cecil Castellucci




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Hurricanes Diane and Earl tango over the Atlantic (August 29, 2010)

(Image by NASA/MODIS Rapid Response Team)

Okay, all together now.  We can DO this. 

“Double rainbow, double rainbow, double rainbow! 

Puppies and kittens and teenagers in cosplay!”

Earl, Earl go away, come again some…NO, just go away!

We’ve already had our flood (thanks to Tropical Storm Hanna), and we’ve been through our fire…wasn’t this year supposed to have been a plague of some sort?  Peeper frogs, perhaps?

Okay.  So here’s the deal.  If you’re on the coast, you might want to batten down the hatches  .   Librari-Con will go on as scheduled unless County offices are closed, but since we should be saying “Goodbye, Earl” early Friday morning according to NOAA, I think we’ll have ourselves a wonderful time on Saturday.  No worries!  🙂

See you at the Con,




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There have been very few submissions for our Teen Tech Online Challenges event this month — actually, there have been none. 


HOWEVER, I choose to believe that lots of teens have tried out the Flickr toys and made hilarious/poignant/touching works of art which they have then shared with their friends and family. 


I do not do this because of any pesky facts or statistics — simply my general faith in creativity of teenaged-folk and my actual experiences with getting them to participate in activities and share their creations. 


Unless duct tape is involved.  That seems to bring them in. 

‘Cause it’s AWESOME!


So, because they [YOU!] did not come to me….

…I will come to them [YOU!]. 

Kinda like stalking.  But with software.


Here are some shiny linky-bits and fun stuff that I’ve found as I’ve skipped merrily down the road to he….um…to the park. 

I love parks.  Lots of trees.  They rock. 

Parks, that is, not necessarily the trees…unless they’re petrified…but that’s really rare….um. 


Right.  Here you go.  J



Make an animated GIF from your pictures.



Think collages but without the glue.



Turn words into shapes.



Make beautiful word clouds.



Make your very own computer game.



…’cause teen tech week is EVERY week. 

I guess this means that there’s joy to be found, after all. 

Awesome.  J




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Sneak counter-attack!  Go little stickman, go!

We had lots of fun at North Regional last Thursday (12/4/08) at the teen Holiday DIY program, and so I thought I share some pics of my glass votive craft.  The teens had lots of great ideas including using masking tape to make stencils and then spraying the glass with “frost,” and painting holiday patterns (one girl created a really cool candy cane motif).

The next teen crafty programs are December 16 at the East Regional branch (glass ornaments, program starts at 5:45 pm) and December 20th at the Cliffdale branch (various crafts, program starts at 3 pm, registration is required for this one).

Join us for some crafty fun!  …and beware of stickmen tossing snowballs! 🙂



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What is NaNoWriMo?


National Novel Writing Month was started in July 1999 by a group of friends who challenged themselves to write novels for the same reason, they say, “for the same dumb reasons twenty-somethings start bands. Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do.”


Along the way, they realized how much fun there can be in the crazy, frantic, caffeine-fueled gladiatorial match between a word-processor and a calendar…and they’ve infected others!  In 1999, 21 people took part in the noveling goodness.  In 2006 there were nearly 79,000 participants from around the world!


You see, this isn’t your typical coffee-house or ‘meet at Marge’s house’ writing club.  This is a “seat-of-your-pants, kamikaze creativity, how-fast-can-you-type, don’t-you-dare-waste-precious-seconds-revising” noveling experience. 


You write.  You write quickly. 

Liberate your inner novelist – make mistakes and let the editing wait until December. 


Take a story for a ride:

Throw your main character into a den of lions…or emus…or badgers.  Then have him sing his way out of it.

Introduce a mysterious stranger, Haldovitan Maxmundialuter Triptalebovish the Third, of course, he prefers to go by “Max.” 

Explore the budding romance between a teenage vampire cheerleader and hot-bodied, but pale, surfer dude who prefers to “hang ten” by moonlight.

Relate the exploits of investigative reporter extraordinaire Alice Wundlind as she pokes around in the shady underworld to bring readers the True Fairlyland Story of celebrities like the infamous cat burglar, Goldie Lochs.

Devise new and interesting ways of killing off characters – or sending them on vacation, if you are a kinder, gentler-type of writer.


The sky’s the limit, kinda.  Shoot your novel into outer space, another time, or even another dimension.  What if humans haunted ghosts in their reality?  What if your character was a bad luck magnet?  Maybe aliens invade just so that they can watch Jeopardy in real-time rather than time delay? What if a butterfly flapping its wings in South America really did trigger a global disaster?  It’s your novel…anything can happen.

Check it out, warm up the word processors, and jump on in!

It’s not too late to sign up and go for it!  Click on the icons at the bottom of this post for the official National Novel Writing Month site or the Young Writer’s Program, sign up and register your account, search authors for “missy_teen_librarian” and add me as a writing buddy, and get noveling!!! 





What is NaNoWriMo?

How can I play?

What if I’m 12 years old or younger, or I’m a teenager who doesn’t want to write 50,000 words?


Fun Stuff:

Writing Craft & Technique — The Building Blocks of Creative Writing: Writing technique and craft, including character development, plot, dialogue, style, and point of view.

Writing a Novel: Advice on the unique challenges of starting to write a novel, and seeing it through completion.

Creative Writing Prompts to Jumpstart Your Writing: Interested in incorporating a freewriting habit into your day, but afraid of the blank page? Or maybe you just want to take your creative writing session in a new direction. Either way, these creative writing prompts, helpful for poetry and fiction, will get you writing.

Creative Writing Exercises To Generate New Short Story Ideas: Sometimes the hardest part of writing is figuring out what to do with that blank page. Coming up with new short story ideas doesn’t have to be painful, however. These exercises are designed to get you writing — and hopefully on your way to a new short story.


How To Use the Dictionary to Discover New Writing Prompts


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…it’s all over but the shouting: Yay!  Wh00t!  Alright, NAPTIME! 

oh, wait, that last one’s probably just me.  🙂  

Well folks, we almost got swept away and we had a couple of artists and presenters who couldn’t make it at the last minute which meant that we had to cancel or replace some panels and workshops…

Tropical Storm Hanna caused the park behind the library to flood...no picnics today.              

…but we persevered, broke out the umbrellas for a bit, and had a great day after all!

Check out the fun on our teen Flickr page!

Librari-Con 2008 pics

Librari-Con 2008 pics

I’d like to thank everyone who helped to make Librari-Con 2008 possible: my partner-in-crime-and-teen-services, Katharine, The Anime Arsenal, special guests The Carolina Garrison of the 501st Legion, Nick Capiot, Will Hays, and Robert “Dr. Gonzo” Wicker, the members of SRPE, all of the talented folks who inhabited Artists’ Alley, our teen volunteers a.k.a. “the minions,” and the Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center’s staff, administration, and our Friends of the Library.

Planning is already underway for Librari-Con 2009…comments and suggestions are always welcome, although there is just this one thing:

*Please note, we are a public library, not a restaurant.  Several patrons have already “suggested” that we give away free food.  Great, fine, wonderful suggestion…never gonna happen…not if you still want summer reading club prizes, video game programs, or refreshments at anime club meetings.*  OK – getting off the soapbox now.  All OTHER suggestions and comments are welcome.  🙂

Were you here?  Did you have a good time?

Peace and pocky, ya’ll. 

Oh, almost forgot!  Check out the great pics taken by the 501st! 

Mini-Vader is my favorite!



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How bad, how good, does it need to get?
How many losses? how much regret?
What chain reaction would cause an effect?
Makes you turn around
Makes you try to explain
Makes you forgive and forget,
Makes you change
Makes you change

Great song, folks: “Change” by Tracy Chapman from her album Where You Live (2005).


Change your wardrobe — Wield scissors, patches, and sewing skills* at one or more of the T-shirt Recycle programs at the North Regional, Spring Lake, and Hope Mills branches. *sewing skills optional – please bring your own t-shirt to style.

Lots of great books to check out: 99 ways to cut, sew, trim & tie your t-shirt into something special, by Faith Blakeney; T-shirt makeovers : 20 transformations for fabulous fashions, by Sistahs of Harlem; Tease : 50 inspired T-shirt transformations by superstars of art, craft & design, edited by Sarah Sockit; Generation T : 108 ways to transform a T-shirt, by Megan Nicolay; The ultimate T-shirt book : creating your own unique designs : batik, tie-dye painting, marbling, stamping, screen printing, by Deborah Morgenthal; and The great T-shirt book! : make your own spectacular, one-of-a-kind designs, by Carol Taylor.


Change the conversation — Take a deep breath and express yourself in poetry, rap, song, and dance at the teen open mic night being held at the Headquarters location on June 17th starting at 6:30 pm.

Change your body —  Incorporate the Dance Dance Revolution gaming programs at the Bordeaux and  Hope Mills branches into your summer workout.  🙂

Also consider: 15-minute workouts for dummies DVD [my personal choice :)], Fitting in Fitness : hundreds of simple ways to put more physical activity into your life by the American Heart Association  or one of many exercise related books and videos available to borrow.

Change your appearance — Become Inu-Yasha, Edward Elric, Naruto or one of many assorted ninja at one of the cosplay workshops at the Headquarters’ Bordeaux, and Hope Mills locations.

Try these titles: Fashion and style – The Tokyo look book : stylish to spectacular, goth to gyaru, sidewalk to catwalk by Philomena Keet with photographs by Yuri Manabe; Japanese pop culture – Mechademia 1 : emerging worlds of anime and manga and Mechademia 2 : networks of desire, both edited by Frenchy Lunning.

Change your skill set — Okay, this one is all for fun!  Join us for origami workshops at Headquarters, Cliffdale, Hope Mills, North Regional, and Spring Lake.  Visit East Regional in July to make a duct tape wallet, macracme bracelet or keychain, and try to make some interesting origami.   

There’s lots of books in our collection to check out before, during, and after these programs, too: Easy origami by Didier Boursin; Origami in action : paper toys that fly, flap, gobble, and inflate! by Robert J. Lang; Got tape? : roll out the fun with duct tape! : 25+ quick and easy duct tape projects for the whole family by Ellie Schiedermayer; Ductigami : the art of the tape by Joe Wilson; and Hemp jewelry by Judy Ann Sadler.


Check out Instructables.com for more “how-to’s”: duct tape wallets, origami, and hemp bracelets.  There are also some great ideas for recycled projects.

Here’s to a summer of change and discovery @ your library!

Hope to see ya at one of our programs!



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…what else are ya gonna do this summer?

I thought that this might be a good way to get everyone’s attention for this year’s Teen Summer Reading Club at the Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center…did it work?  🙂

The uber-vague theme this time ’round, Metamorphosis @ your library, lets us play with a lot of different ideas this summer…and we’re doing it all for the teens! 

…well, and the teens’ parents

…and the children who will someday become teens

…okay, and yes, we’re doing it for ourselves!  But it’s so much fun!!!]

One definition of metamorphosis is transfiguration: a striking change in appearance or character or circumstances

…it is also an album by Hilary Duff, but I’m not going there.  You can if you want to.  I’ll stay here.  Thanks.  Send me a post card.  🙂

So, here’s how to play:

From now until July 31, 2008, come visit any Cumberland County Public Library location and pick up a 2008 Teen Summer Reading Club booklet.

  1. Read 3 books (fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, books on tape, or e-books.  No magazines.)
  2. List the titles, authors and rate whether or not you liked the book on the reading log located on the back cover of the Teen Summer Reading Club booklet.
  3. Remove the reading log from the booklet and bring it to any library location to receive a silver Transformation Pen. (One per person, while supplies last)  Pick up your first continuation log at this time (orange).
  4. Read three more books and list the titles and authors on the orange log. 
  5. Bring this completed log to any library location and receive a book bag.  (One per person, while supplies last)  Pick up your additional continuation logs at this time (green). 
  6. You may keep reading and filling out as many green continuation logs as you wish. 
  7. All logs that are returned to any Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center location by 9:00 pm on July 31, 2008 (one original log from the Summer Reading Club booklet, one orange continuation log, and any number of green continuation logs) are eligible for the local prize drawings and the grand prize drawing.



  1. Completed reading logs will be entered into a drawing at the branch library where they have been returned, for a chance to win gift certificates from Barnes & Noble (2 local winners will be chosen at each branch).
  2. Following the branch drawings, all completed reading logs will then be entered into a grand prize drawing for a $50 gift certificate to the Cross Creek Mall.
  3. The winner’s names will be posted on the library’s website at www.cumberland.lib.nc.us .
  4. Winners have two weeks to pick up their prizes after notification.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center, Inc.


So, lots of reasons to visit the library this summer, along with some fun swag just for reading.  Check out the calendar of events for lots of teen programs this summer.  See you here!



       Transformer Pen             Teen Summer Reading Club logo

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…or simply fine tune the sensitivity on your shiny new, 7th Generation Mechanical Hound and send it after those radicals in that pesky underground book club.

     I’ll tell ya’ll right up front that I’m more of a cat person, however, as I was rereading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury earlier this month, I got the strangest picture in my head of what the Mechanical Hound must look like:  made of “brass, copper, and steel,” “flickering lights and sensors,” “capillary hairs in the nylon brushed nostrils,” with “four-inch hollow steel needles [plunging] down from the muzzle.” 
     So of course, I decided to make one for a library display.  J  No worries, right?  I just hopped on over to Google and started searching for “mechanical hound” thinking that some concept artist or creature creator had a vision or an idea that I could build upon with my mad-crafty skills.  Not so much.  Which surprised me, since the book’s been out and about for 50 years.  So I looked for base images like wolves, dogs, and robots. 
    Bradbury goes on to describe an eight-legged beasty that would keep even the bravest of folks on edge, were they the reading kind of person.  Now, I couldn’t really figure out how to make a creature with eight legs that didn’t look like a spider, so I had to be a little creative in my interpretation.
     Once I got a vague idea of where I was headed, I started experimenting and trying out different things.  My apartment looked like an episode of Junkyard Wars for a couple of weeks.  J  Most of my supplies were recycled bits of cardboard or tube rolls, dowel rods, coffee stirrers, etc.  In fact, I purchased less than $10 worth of supplies, and it turned out that I didn’t need most of what I did buy (more for the next craft challenge, I guess.). 
     So here he is, my mighty hound named…Fluffy.  Yup, that’s right: tough, mean-looking robot attack dog…itty-bitty, happy-bouncy name.  He’s secure in his, um, robot-hood.  If pressed to describe him, I’d say he has the fierce legacy of the Doberman breed…with all the tenacity of a Roomba. 


    Isn’t that right, Fluffy?  Such a good puppy…Hey, retract that needle!  Down boy…sit!  SLEEP MODE!  SLEEP MODE!!!

    Ahem, so if you read Fahrenheit 451 during our Big Read celebration, or if you read it now to see what the heck else Bradbury wrote about besides canine attack-robots, let me know what you think of my version of the hound.  If anybody wants to draw one and send a scanned image to ccplteens@cumberland.lib.nc.us, I’ll post it here on the blog.  I’m curious to know if anyone can make the eight-legged thing work. 
Check out the detailed pictures and descriptions of my Mechanical Hound on our teen Flickr page. 

©Lang Anti-Literacy Entertainment Corp. [Formerly “Lang Publishing”]

Serving the Greater Good Since 1984!



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…then how does it go?  Something borrowed, something blue?  I’m not too much of a traditionalist, but there are times…certain occasions that call for it and can be enhanced by a little bit of tradition.   

Also, my friend got married this weekend, so I’m in the mood!   

Therefore, in a random act of mixing metaphors (or analogies), I have a couple books that I want to share with you all. 

First, something old…well, 1980’s old, anyway: 

The Tomorrow series by John Marsden 

  1. Tomorrow When the War Began

  2. The Dead of Night

  3. A Killing Frost

  4. Darkness Be My Friend

  5. Burning for Revenge

  6. The Night is for Hunting

  7. The Other Side of Dawn



tomorrow-when-the-war-began-1.jpg dead-of-night2.jpg killing-frost-3.jpg darkness-be-my-friend4.jpg 

burning-for-revenge5.jpg night-is-for-hunting6.jpg other-side-of-dawn-7.jpg 


The series is told from the point of view of Ellie Linton, an Australian teenager who goes on a sleepover camping trip into the bush with several of her friends.  While they are out and about, they hear military planes flying low and ominous explosions in the distance.  When they finally head home, they find that a foreign country (never really identified in the books) has invaded and occupied Australia.  Along with Ellie and her friends, the reader is forced to wonder who these people are, why they are here, and how this could happen.   

The books are a mix of mystery, questing, and courageous acts (who is attacking, where are their families and how can they find or free them, what can they do to disrupt the enemy…I mean, they’re just kids…kids can’t make any difference, can they?)

 I read them a couple years ago…and then made sure that my library system had the whole series. They’re exciting, mysterious, and heartbreaking (in a couple places). I tell my friends about the books all the time, but you can’t force books on people.  

Trust me.  I tried once. Ripped a bunch of pages, and his nose has never really looked right since.   J 

Fans of Tamora Pierce, Francine Pascal, and other authors who create capable, intelligent, and strong female characters will enjoy Ellie. I’d also recommend the series to fans of Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series because, even though there’s no magical element, this is a group of people, thrown together, who work towards a common goal, often in life-or-death situations. They are forced to make difficult decisions, which have very real, sometimes very unfortunate, consequences.  

Now, something new… 

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser



Everyone’s heard of those alternative programs for teens…sort of a “scare them straight” approach to juvenile correction.  If you haven’t, here’s some information.   

I’ll let Mr. Strasser introduce this one to you.  Here’s what he says on his website 


In 2005 more than 10,000 teens were incarcerated in boot camps, most of them against their will.

In the middle of the night, 15-year-old Garrett is “kidnapped” and transported to a boot camp where he is subjected to physical and psychological abuse. The aim? To get him to conform to the camp’s standards. But how can he change if he shouldn’t have been sent there in the first place?

I did like this book a great deal, although it was difficult to read at times.  I imagined myself in a place like this…and then imagined myself safe at home…FAST!  The bit that got to me the most…the little twist of words that the author wrote that made me feel like sharing this book with ya’ll…are on the last page. 


With one sentence, Strasser made my head snap back and the words came out like I’d been punched in the stomach:  “AW [heck] NO!”  (sorry folks, this is a PG-13 blog. –ml) 

Of course, you realize that I cannot tell you what those words are.  “They” would take my library card away for spoiling such a twist.  Heck, I’d take my card away.  J 


Now, once you finish calling me names, give this book a chance and let me know what you think of the last sentence.  You can tell me what you think of the rest of the book, too.  If you want. 


Something borrowed… 

I nicked this book from a friend.  Don’t tell her I’ve still got it, okay?   

The Monsters: Mary Shelley & the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy Hoobler and Thomas Hoobler




This wonderful book is a bright light into the murky life and times of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus.  I was fascinated by how much she accomplished by the time she wrote the novel (she was only 19), and the events leading up to and inspiring her work.   

I’ve seen movie versions of Frankenstein, and who hasn’t run into Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster, or three, on a dark Halloween night?  I never really appreciated the darkness before, if that makes sense; the darkness that Shelley lived through, lived with, and that tinged her writing and her legacy.   

I’m glad I read it…and I recommend it (Thou shalt not fear nonfiction, kids).  Now I’ve got to sneak it back on my friend’s bookshelf…quick like a bunny!  

Finally, something blue… 

This one is tricky.  Should it be a book with a blue cover?  Blue as in sad?  Is there a Smurf novel out yet? 

Then again, maybe I won’t use a book at all.   

How’s this for something blue? 

Read on, read on… 



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