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Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller

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Margarito acts like any other eleven-year-old aficionado of lucha libre. He worships all the players. But in the summer just before sixth grade, he tumbles over the railing at a match in San Antonio and makes a connection to the world of Mexican wrestling that will ultimately connect him—maybe by blood!—to the greatest hero of all time: the Guardian Angel. A 2012 Pura Belpr Margarito acts like any other eleven-year-old aficionado of lucha libre. He worships all the players. But in the summer just before sixth grade, he tumbles over the railing at a match in San Antonio and makes a connection to the world of Mexican wrestling that will ultimately connect him—maybe by blood!—to the greatest hero of all time: the Guardian Angel. A 2012 Pura Belpré Author Honor Award winner! Xavier Garza was born in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. An enthusiastic author, artist, teacher, and storyteller, his work is a lively documentation of the dreams, superstitions, and heroes in the bigger-than-life world of south Texas.


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Margarito acts like any other eleven-year-old aficionado of lucha libre. He worships all the players. But in the summer just before sixth grade, he tumbles over the railing at a match in San Antonio and makes a connection to the world of Mexican wrestling that will ultimately connect him—maybe by blood!—to the greatest hero of all time: the Guardian Angel. A 2012 Pura Belpr Margarito acts like any other eleven-year-old aficionado of lucha libre. He worships all the players. But in the summer just before sixth grade, he tumbles over the railing at a match in San Antonio and makes a connection to the world of Mexican wrestling that will ultimately connect him—maybe by blood!—to the greatest hero of all time: the Guardian Angel. A 2012 Pura Belpré Author Honor Award winner! Xavier Garza was born in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. An enthusiastic author, artist, teacher, and storyteller, his work is a lively documentation of the dreams, superstitions, and heroes in the bigger-than-life world of south Texas.

30 review for Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    This is a wonderful bilingual thriller! It is funny, exciting, and full of action. It is very popular with the students at my school. I hope to find more bilingual books as good as this one!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Probably one of the worst books I've ever read. But I read it in Spanish so I guess that made it productive for me. Many questionable grammar and vocabulary errors as well as punctuation errors. Probably one of the worst books I've ever read. But I read it in Spanish so I guess that made it productive for me. Many questionable grammar and vocabulary errors as well as punctuation errors.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sonta

    Good bilingual resource. Fun fast paced story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This is an awesome book! Great to use in an ESL classroom, but I used it in my regular class and they liked it too!

  5. 4 out of 5

    kermit

    it's really good because there is a kid that likes to restyle his restyle name is Maximilian but his real name is lalo I think it's really good because there is a kid that likes to restyle his restyle name is Maximilian but his real name is lalo I think

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I loved that this is a side-by-side bilingual book, but the plot jumped around so much and it didn't make sense to me. I loved that this is a side-by-side bilingual book, but the plot jumped around so much and it didn't make sense to me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shaeley Santiago

    Max is a huge lucha libre fan. Turns out it's part of his family's history. Max is a huge lucha libre fan. Turns out it's part of his family's history.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David

    The following review originally appeared in the July 5, 2012, edition of The Monitor. Top Shelf Review: Award-winning Book Perfect for Valley Kids Last week the Pura Belpré Medal (named for the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library) was officially awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). This award is given annually to a Latino/a writer and illustrator whose work best reflects the Latino experience in a young adult or children’s literature. One of the book The following review originally appeared in the July 5, 2012, edition of The Monitor. Top Shelf Review: Award-winning Book Perfect for Valley Kids Last week the Pura Belpré Medal (named for the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library) was officially awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). This award is given annually to a Latino/a writer and illustrator whose work best reflects the Latino experience in a young adult or children’s literature. One of the books recognized by the ALSC was Xavier Garza’s Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel, a bilingual Lucha Libre thriller. Garza, originally from Rio Grande City, is an artist, teacher and storyteller whose many works brilliantly capture the intersection of mythic and everyday along the border. Maximilian is a 12-year-old fan of Mexican wrestling. His biggest hero is the Guardian Angel, a Santo analogue who has been wrestling and making movies for four decades. Max’s family is pure Valley: an extended network of siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles whose love for one another is balanced by their often explosive personalities. The book centers on the relationship between Max and his uncle Lalo, who indulges the boy’s love of wrestling more than his mother wants. When Max finally gets to see his idol in action, a series of events unfurl that reveal the wrestler to be a member of the family (I won’t mention his identity). This revelation leads several characters to evolve in unexpected ways, and by the end the reader understands how Lucha Libre—an art form that requires wrestlers to bond and work as partners to inspire the crowd—can also bring families and communities together. Also sweetly poignant is the sub-plot about Maximilian’s crush on hazel-eyed Cecilia (whose affection he wins in a great scene). Lalo’s crazed ex-girlfriend “completa el cuadro,” as we say, leaving the reader with a rounded, warts-and-all portrait of a true-to-life family. Garza’s masterful illustrations and the many well-written action scenes make this a must-read for middle-grade boys. The translation by Luis Humberto Crosthwaite and Carla González Campos manages perfectly to capture the breathless feel of the original. Reading the book, I was reminded of another seminal title, one that influenced Xavier Garza and many other local writers (including me): Stories That Must Not Die by Juan Sauvageau, a collection of bilingual border tales that has captured the imagination of struggling young readers throughout our state for 35 years. Fans of Garza and Sauvageau should note that NES will be re-releasing many of those stories individually with illustrations by notable Texas artists. Garza is lending his talents to the project, illustrating “The Sobbing Woman” and other popular tales.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gladys

    I really enjoyed reading this book! In all honesty, I thought I wasn’t. I’m not a big fan of Lucha Libre, even American wrestling. I never quite found the appeal to it. So when I picked this up, I thought, “Oh, great.” To my surprise, I ended up enjoying it! Perhaps it was the Mexican cultural elements that it had. I felt I could relate, well not really with Max but with having his family “characters” as current versions of my family as well. It was a really quick read; I thought it would take m I really enjoyed reading this book! In all honesty, I thought I wasn’t. I’m not a big fan of Lucha Libre, even American wrestling. I never quite found the appeal to it. So when I picked this up, I thought, “Oh, great.” To my surprise, I ended up enjoying it! Perhaps it was the Mexican cultural elements that it had. I felt I could relate, well not really with Max but with having his family “characters” as current versions of my family as well. It was a really quick read; I thought it would take me longer to read it but I finished it quite fast. I particularly loved the humor to it. It caught me off guard to realize how much it actually made me laugh. And just reading about lucha libre was more interesting that I initially thought it would be. My grandfather was actually a well-known luchador as well. They called him “Pacheco” and to this day, is stilled referred by that name, even my dad. I remember my dad showing me pictures of my grandfather with a mask holding men above his head and small little clippings of his name being mentioned in Mexican newspapers. It’s a lesser known fact about my family that not many of my friends know. Now that I think about it, I wish I could have seen my grandpa in action at the ring. Now that would have been a spectacle! Overall, I probably would not have picked this book up had it not been for this class I had to read it for. The added pictures enhanced the story, the humor made it memorable, and I would not be shocked if any boy or girl would want to pick this up with excitement. It’s a book that I would introduce to reader early on, making them interested in a subject and sport that connects back to our native roots.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    2012 Pura Belpre Award. Produced in 2011 for grades 1-5 with themes of heroes, Mexican Americans, families, and Spanish language. Maximilian is a typical rising sixth grader and loves the wrestling world and his here is one Guardian Angel. He is finally able to go to a wrestling match and almost falls into the ring and none other than Guardian Angel helps him back over to his uncle. Then they are asked to come back stage after the match and they find out that the Guardian Angel is really his mot 2012 Pura Belpre Award. Produced in 2011 for grades 1-5 with themes of heroes, Mexican Americans, families, and Spanish language. Maximilian is a typical rising sixth grader and loves the wrestling world and his here is one Guardian Angel. He is finally able to go to a wrestling match and almost falls into the ring and none other than Guardian Angel helps him back over to his uncle. Then they are asked to come back stage after the match and they find out that the Guardian Angel is really his mother's brother - Rodolfo! Max is so very excited to be related to this wrestling star!! Teachers and librarians could use this as a way to introduce bilingual books to students. Have the students compare the one side of the page in English to the other side in Spanish. If there are any Spanish speaking students, they could read one page in Spanish and then another student could read another page in English. It would be a great book for the teacher to read aloud with the students taking part in class.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    As a child I grew up watching "Lucha Libre" a Mexican version of wrestling with my male cousins. It was probably the only venue that I was not penalized for being a girl. I knew the wrestlers names and their signature moves. I can totally relate to Margarito and his enthusiasm of watching these masked super heroes. This story reminds me so much of my childhood and the anticipation of the count when the wrestler goes down. And let us not forget the eagerness of wanting the masked hero to be 'unma As a child I grew up watching "Lucha Libre" a Mexican version of wrestling with my male cousins. It was probably the only venue that I was not penalized for being a girl. I knew the wrestlers names and their signature moves. I can totally relate to Margarito and his enthusiasm of watching these masked super heroes. This story reminds me so much of my childhood and the anticipation of the count when the wrestler goes down. And let us not forget the eagerness of wanting the masked hero to be 'unmasked'! This story is a great tale of a time when kids watched TV for the sheer pleasure of good versus evil and the bond that we all felt boy or girl when we watched together. There was, at least not in my eyes or Margarito's, no fake fighting, it was real to us and we jerked, bobbed and weaved with every flip and punch. Xavier Garza's rendition is right on target. This would make a great story to read for any middle school-er but Mexican kids will relate well to the story line. It is suspenseful, it is funny and pure of heart. One-Two-Three- And the winner is..... all who read this story!

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Yingling

    I like to think of this book as a learning experience. I found out quite a bit about Lucha Libre, and how and why it is so popular in Mexico and with the Latino community in America. There is a lot to admire about this part of wrestling, and the author does a solid job of treating it with respect and in humanizing the profession, which, the more I think about it, is a way of life for the performers. All the characters in the book are well-drawn, and I especially liked the family-oriented scenes. I like to think of this book as a learning experience. I found out quite a bit about Lucha Libre, and how and why it is so popular in Mexico and with the Latino community in America. There is a lot to admire about this part of wrestling, and the author does a solid job of treating it with respect and in humanizing the profession, which, the more I think about it, is a way of life for the performers. All the characters in the book are well-drawn, and I especially liked the family-oriented scenes. There is just a nice, innocent touch of romance which is very appealing. Unfortunately, I don't speak Spanish, but having the book be bilingual, with English and Spanish on facing pages, works very well. Again, it was a learning experience---I think I picked up a few Spanish words in the process! All in all, a very enjoyable book. I am looking forward to reading another in the series, and I hope the author will write more of this fascinating part of Mexican, and perhaps, as it may grow, American culture.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    Maximilian is indeed a fantastic thriller! At first, it seemed like the plot would be predictable and bland, and then--BAM! An unexpected twist that took me on a ride that made reading this book such an enjoyable experience. I read this book twice. The first time, I read it in Spanish because I had never read a Spanish novel before and was surprised at how simple the language was and how much I was able to comprehend. Afterwards, I read it in English and noticed a few things that I had misinterpr Maximilian is indeed a fantastic thriller! At first, it seemed like the plot would be predictable and bland, and then--BAM! An unexpected twist that took me on a ride that made reading this book such an enjoyable experience. I read this book twice. The first time, I read it in Spanish because I had never read a Spanish novel before and was surprised at how simple the language was and how much I was able to comprehend. Afterwards, I read it in English and noticed a few things that I had misinterpreted, making the story even more complex cohesive than before. I really enjoy the concept of bilingual novels. This one is a good start, because it's geared toward a younger YA audience so the language is somewhat simple. I recommend this book to anyone looking to read a thrilling story en Espanol!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    It was so fun to think back to the wrestling matches that I saw at the Freeman Colliseum in San Antonio when I was in high school. I wasn't a wrestling fan, but a friend was and her family took me with them. I watched some matches on tv with her family before going. All through the book there were little things that brought back some memories and made me smile. I think it is a great book and have passed it on to a few students who love WWF. It also reminded me of Niño Wrestles the World. It woul It was so fun to think back to the wrestling matches that I saw at the Freeman Colliseum in San Antonio when I was in high school. I wasn't a wrestling fan, but a friend was and her family took me with them. I watched some matches on tv with her family before going. All through the book there were little things that brought back some memories and made me smile. I think it is a great book and have passed it on to a few students who love WWF. It also reminded me of Niño Wrestles the World. It would be cool to read that one first and then do a read aloud of this one in maybe 3rd grade. It is a great story of a young boy getting to meet his idol. There is a lot of fun action and lots of laughter and family fun too.

  15. 5 out of 5

    KidsFiction Teton County Library

    TCL Call # J SPANISH Garza X Adam's rating: 3 stars Max, or Maximillian as only his mother calls him, is going on 6th grade and is obsessed with lucha libre - a form of wrestling like WWF in Mexico involving masks. Max's favorite luchador is the Guardian Angel. The mystery in the subtitle of the book is the identity of the Angel, which happens to be Max's close relative. Don't worry there's no need for a spoiler alert as this "mystery" is solved less than halfway through the book. The Angel reveal TCL Call # J SPANISH Garza X Adam's rating: 3 stars Max, or Maximillian as only his mother calls him, is going on 6th grade and is obsessed with lucha libre - a form of wrestling like WWF in Mexico involving masks. Max's favorite luchador is the Guardian Angel. The mystery in the subtitle of the book is the identity of the Angel, which happens to be Max's close relative. Don't worry there's no need for a spoiler alert as this "mystery" is solved less than halfway through the book. The Angel reveals his identity to the entire family who had taken him for dead and spends quality time with Max, and uncle Lalo training for a massive luchalibre fight! A fun book for a 2nd - 5th grader in English and Spanish that brings you into the world of La Lucha!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Arsalaan Hernandez

    Maximillian is by Xavier Garza. Its a very thrilling and funny book. The book is about a boy and his name is max, and he loves watching lucha libre. His favorite luchador is the one and only Guardian Angel. Nobody knows who the Guardian Angel. But Max might. Max really wants to know who he is. But Max doesn't have enough time with a girlfriend. I thought the book was worthy of five stars cause it included a lot of suspense and mysteries which I love. When Max wanted to know who the Guardian Ange Maximillian is by Xavier Garza. Its a very thrilling and funny book. The book is about a boy and his name is max, and he loves watching lucha libre. His favorite luchador is the one and only Guardian Angel. Nobody knows who the Guardian Angel. But Max might. Max really wants to know who he is. But Max doesn't have enough time with a girlfriend. I thought the book was worthy of five stars cause it included a lot of suspense and mysteries which I love. When Max wanted to know who the Guardian Angel is he didn't stop. That created a lot of suspense because I kept thinking, what will he do or he will he ask. I think my cousin Amado would like this book because it has a lot of funny parts and he loves things that are funny.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Henry Bemis

    This is the first bilingual book I've read. While I can't read Spanish fluently, it was fun to follow along when the two languages were telling the same story on pages right across from each other. The book is fast-paced, full of surprises, and definitely fun for any elementary or middle-school student who enjoys wrestling or lucha libre. When I say this book involves action, it just doesn't say "So and so fought." Oh, no. It goes into a literal, blow-by-blow account of what goes on in the ring a This is the first bilingual book I've read. While I can't read Spanish fluently, it was fun to follow along when the two languages were telling the same story on pages right across from each other. The book is fast-paced, full of surprises, and definitely fun for any elementary or middle-school student who enjoys wrestling or lucha libre. When I say this book involves action, it just doesn't say "So and so fought." Oh, no. It goes into a literal, blow-by-blow account of what goes on in the ring and otherwise. Not a boring book at all, unless you just aren't into action. Would definitely recommend it for children 10 and up.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leticia

    I wanted to on enjoy this book more.l As a bilingual educator, I loved the idea of a bilingual book that introduces kids to the Mexican sub culture of Lucha Libre. The story was fun and the language accessible for a lower grade class. However, I found the narrator and the language a little bland. I think it soundeduveitis slightly better in Spanish, but even still, I get annoyed when authors leave out interesting descriptive language because they think it will go over a child's head. There were I wanted to on enjoy this book more.l As a bilingual educator, I loved the idea of a bilingual book that introduces kids to the Mexican sub culture of Lucha Libre. The story was fun and the language accessible for a lower grade class. However, I found the narrator and the language a little bland. I think it soundeduveitis slightly better in Spanish, but even still, I get annoyed when authors leave out interesting descriptive language because they think it will go over a child's head. There were also some issues with the pacing of the story that made it a bit confusing as to how fantastical it was going to be. All in all, it was an enjoyable story but fell a bit short of my expectations.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    Oh man, this book is perfect for fans of lucha libre wrestling with great play-by-play wrestling scenes and a plot that's just as dramatic as your favorite lucha libre matches. Maximilian is obsessed with lucha libre wrestling, a popular sport in his South Texas border town and across the border in Mexico. He is particularly obsessed with his hero, the greatest luchador of all time, The Guardian Angel. Rumors abound about who this masked hero is; is it possible he could be related to Maximilian? Oh man, this book is perfect for fans of lucha libre wrestling with great play-by-play wrestling scenes and a plot that's just as dramatic as your favorite lucha libre matches. Maximilian is obsessed with lucha libre wrestling, a popular sport in his South Texas border town and across the border in Mexico. He is particularly obsessed with his hero, the greatest luchador of all time, The Guardian Angel. Rumors abound about who this masked hero is; is it possible he could be related to Maximilian? The costumes, the drama, the mystery surrounding The Guardian Angel's true identity... this is shaping up to be one thrilling summer!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This isn't one I would have picked up on my own, so I'm glad it got an ALA award so that it came to my attention! This is a very fun and entertaining read. And I was so wrong on my prediction. Frankly I was waiting for Uncle Lalo to slip away and come back as the masked wrestler known as the Guardian Angel. I was totally wrong on it being (view spoiler)[ the long-missing great uncle (hide spoiler)] , though that was a great twist. The characters and settings are a lot of fun, and you don't have This isn't one I would have picked up on my own, so I'm glad it got an ALA award so that it came to my attention! This is a very fun and entertaining read. And I was so wrong on my prediction. Frankly I was waiting for Uncle Lalo to slip away and come back as the masked wrestler known as the Guardian Angel. I was totally wrong on it being (view spoiler)[ the long-missing great uncle (hide spoiler)] , though that was a great twist. The characters and settings are a lot of fun, and you don't have to be a fan of lucha libre (or even know what it is!) to enjoy this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris Halkovic

    My book was Maximillian the Greatest. This book wan an action/mystery book. This book was a great mystery when max trys to find out who the guardian angel, max’s favorite wrestler, really is. This book is all about Mexican wrestling. My favorite part of the book was probably the part that had the most action in it which was when the guardian angel, El Toro granda and the Aztec princess all fight the vampire velesqueze, dog man arroyo, and some other girl. I liked this book. I would give it 4 sta My book was Maximillian the Greatest. This book wan an action/mystery book. This book was a great mystery when max trys to find out who the guardian angel, max’s favorite wrestler, really is. This book is all about Mexican wrestling. My favorite part of the book was probably the part that had the most action in it which was when the guardian angel, El Toro granda and the Aztec princess all fight the vampire velesqueze, dog man arroyo, and some other girl. I liked this book. I would give it 4 stars and recommend it to anyone who needs a quick easy read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Harry Brake

    Lucha libre - I have never seen it since the 2 years I have been in Mexico, so that is on my list for sure, so I was even more skeptical about a BOOK on luchre libre, yet, wow - I was impressed. The puzzled plot, that reveals itself in an interesting and intriguing way - is AWESOME - I was thrilled to have met this author at ALAN in las Vegas - in 2012, and hearing his views of writing for younger audiences truly makes him a hero of the ring, whether he is a luchador in the physical sense, he cer Lucha libre - I have never seen it since the 2 years I have been in Mexico, so that is on my list for sure, so I was even more skeptical about a BOOK on luchre libre, yet, wow - I was impressed. The puzzled plot, that reveals itself in an interesting and intriguing way - is AWESOME - I was thrilled to have met this author at ALAN in las Vegas - in 2012, and hearing his views of writing for younger audiences truly makes him a hero of the ring, whether he is a luchador in the physical sense, he certainly has captured a heroic tale in his text!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ms.Gaye

    I ran across this title on the Cinco Puntos Press site. I saw it was an ALA Notable & Pura Belpre winner, and I wanted to read it for consideration of adding to a booklist. Fun story, simple yet interesting black & white illustrations, and an entertaining introduction to a sport perhaps unfamiliar to many children. Bilingual text makes it accessible to Spanish readers. Good pick for boys in grades 5-7 and reluctant readers.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mrs. Joseph

    I enjoyed reading this bilingual Lucha Libre thriller about a young boy, Max, who is obsessed with the world of Lucha Libre, and discovers a very close connection with one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. The graphics are very cool and the story moved at a good pace, gathering more momentum at the end. I would like to challenge myself and read it again in Spanish. I would recommend this book to bilingual readers and anyone who is interested in Mexican wrestling.

  25. 4 out of 5

    GalindoLibrarian

    I appreciate that this bilingual novel will appeal to a group of kids that will not find much else to read that is similar. Hard for me not to confront the places where I, personally, do not relate...I don't have much interest in luchadors or any kind of sport fighting. But I will have this book in my back pocket ready to recommend to a student who does. I appreciate that this bilingual novel will appeal to a group of kids that will not find much else to read that is similar. Hard for me not to confront the places where I, personally, do not relate...I don't have much interest in luchadors or any kind of sport fighting. But I will have this book in my back pocket ready to recommend to a student who does.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susie

    This book was fun to read. Max, the main character, occasionally gets into trouble, and makes a great narrator. There were some laugh-out-loud moments, and action that would interest students who are fans of lucha libre or wrestling. This would be a nice addition to our school library.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cinda

    Boys will love this adventure book about the world of lucha libre (Mexican) wrestling. Maximilian discovers that his great uncle is secretly his idol and the most famous masked wrestler in the world--the Guardian Angel.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Naranjo

    Max loves “Lucha Libre” and he is very excited because he is going to San Antonio to see his idol, Guardian Angel, wrestle. Max and the Guardian Angel have an encounter that will change their lives. Gr. 3-6

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    I enjoyed it very much and especially reading it in Spanish. A whole new world of Lucha libre was opened to me and the family is awesome. It's funny, romantic and a good adventure. I even have my own Lucha libre mask now. I enjoyed it very much and especially reading it in Spanish. A whole new world of Lucha libre was opened to me and the family is awesome. It's funny, romantic and a good adventure. I even have my own Lucha libre mask now.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Salsabrarian

    Max learns that his favorite Mexican wrestler is long-lost great uncle Rodolfo. When an ex-girlfriend (and luchadora Dama Enmascarada) crashes uncle Lalo's wedding, Rodolfo offers to fight her in a fundraiser for the church. A jaunty read for young fans of lucha libre. Max learns that his favorite Mexican wrestler is long-lost great uncle Rodolfo. When an ex-girlfriend (and luchadora Dama Enmascarada) crashes uncle Lalo's wedding, Rodolfo offers to fight her in a fundraiser for the church. A jaunty read for young fans of lucha libre.

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