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White Bird: A Graphic Novel

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A powerful, unforgettable graphic novel from the world of Wonder, by globally bestselling and award-winning author R J Palacio. To the millions of readers who fell in love with R J Palacio's Wonder, Julian is best-known as Auggie Pullman's classroom bully. White Bird reveals a new side to Julian's story, as Julian discovers the moving and powerful tale of his grandmother, w A powerful, unforgettable graphic novel from the world of Wonder, by globally bestselling and award-winning author R J Palacio. To the millions of readers who fell in love with R J Palacio's Wonder, Julian is best-known as Auggie Pullman's classroom bully. White Bird reveals a new side to Julian's story, as Julian discovers the moving and powerful tale of his grandmother, who was hidden from the Nazis as a young Jewish girl in occupied France during the Second World War. An unforgettable, unputdownable story about strength, courage and the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives, from the globally bestselling author of Wonder.


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A powerful, unforgettable graphic novel from the world of Wonder, by globally bestselling and award-winning author R J Palacio. To the millions of readers who fell in love with R J Palacio's Wonder, Julian is best-known as Auggie Pullman's classroom bully. White Bird reveals a new side to Julian's story, as Julian discovers the moving and powerful tale of his grandmother, w A powerful, unforgettable graphic novel from the world of Wonder, by globally bestselling and award-winning author R J Palacio. To the millions of readers who fell in love with R J Palacio's Wonder, Julian is best-known as Auggie Pullman's classroom bully. White Bird reveals a new side to Julian's story, as Julian discovers the moving and powerful tale of his grandmother, who was hidden from the Nazis as a young Jewish girl in occupied France during the Second World War. An unforgettable, unputdownable story about strength, courage and the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives, from the globally bestselling author of Wonder.

30 review for White Bird: A Graphic Novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Calista

    The back matter from the author talks about this story and it's historically based, but it's still a fiction story. I was surprised. It felt so possible that I thought this was a non-fiction account. The premise is that Julian, part of the Wonder gang, has an assignment at school to ask his grandmother to tell a story. He gets her on the phone and asks about her story and she then tells him of her time as a teen girl in southern France during WWII as a Jew and how she survived. It was such an en The back matter from the author talks about this story and it's historically based, but it's still a fiction story. I was surprised. It felt so possible that I thought this was a non-fiction account. The premise is that Julian, part of the Wonder gang, has an assignment at school to ask his grandmother to tell a story. He gets her on the phone and asks about her story and she then tells him of her time as a teen girl in southern France during WWII as a Jew and how she survived. It was such an engrossing story and I didn't want to put it down. The Nazi's came to her school and you know the atrocities they committed against people. She escapes, thanks to a boy with polio and his family hides her. I thought it was very well done. The author does link this into the present. The grandmother talks about how terrible this time was and how it must never be repeated and she is heartbroken to read the headlines of children separated from their parents at the border and put in jail. It breaks her heart and it is something that Nazi's would do. It's terrible. I felt this was so well done and it's a good book for any child curious about WWII and what was happening over there. It doesn't get too graphic, but there is enough to know that it was deadly. If you loved the book 'Wonder', the I think you will also enjoy this story too. R. J. is amazing at making you feel for the characters.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan

    Wow! I borrowed this today from the library. I was going to concurrently read it with the other two library books I have at home and other reading material too. I had three phone calls I meant to make today. I picked up the book to start it, and I didn’t put it down until I finished it. I did not expect that. This is a Wonder story. I’d wanted more information about Julian and this book provides it. I love Holocaust stories and often enjoy graphic novels so when a GR friend recommended this book Wow! I borrowed this today from the library. I was going to concurrently read it with the other two library books I have at home and other reading material too. I had three phone calls I meant to make today. I picked up the book to start it, and I didn’t put it down until I finished it. I did not expect that. This is a Wonder story. I’d wanted more information about Julian and this book provides it. I love Holocaust stories and often enjoy graphic novels so when a GR friend recommended this book I was eager to read it. This is a wonderfully done book. It’s fabulous. The story is amazingly great and the art is perfect. This author is also an accomplished artist. I was near tears during much of it. I read it easily in one reading session, including the 14 pages of non-fiction extras of text & photos at the end of the book. (I did note 2 minor(?) factual errors about Anne Frank and family. They were not in one tiny room and Anne’s mother never made it to Bergen-Belsen, but the gist of Holocaust details given is good enough!) At the end of the graphic book proper I appreciated the tie in to the current refugee crisis. The people and situations seemed so real I kept forgetting that this was historical fiction and not biography/non-fiction. I’ve read other 2019 graphic books this year. Two are nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards. I just checked and this one isn’t there, or didn’t get to the semi-finals. That’s a shame. I’d happily voted for another and a third book I liked is also nominated. This one should be on the list too. It’s superbly done. This book is powerful, meaningful, relevant, and entertaining too. For me it was nearly flawless. It’s one of the best graphic books and one of the best Holocaust books I’ve read. The first paragraph of this review would probably have sufficed. I. Could. NOT. Put. It. Down! Highly, highly recommended. Lowest appropriate age for this book is a subjective decision. The friend who recommended it to me says for 9-year olds. I say 11 and up. The author probably says 8-12 as it is a book written for children. ETA: I guess I'm wrong. Kids 9 and up seem to love this book. It's a great book with a great message so I guess that is a good thing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    White Bird is a gorgeous graphic novel in the same genre of Wonder where we learn the backstory of Julian (and in so-doing, grant some humanity back to this character from Wonder who was the bad guy in that story). Julian needs to do a report for school about his family and he asks his grandmother about her story. We then go back to Occupied France where she spent the war like Anne Frank in hiding. She falls in love with a polio victim who saves her life. It is a moving story using the image of White Bird is a gorgeous graphic novel in the same genre of Wonder where we learn the backstory of Julian (and in so-doing, grant some humanity back to this character from Wonder who was the bad guy in that story). Julian needs to do a report for school about his family and he asks his grandmother about her story. We then go back to Occupied France where she spent the war like Anne Frank in hiding. She falls in love with a polio victim who saves her life. It is a moving story using the image of a white bird as a metaphor for love and freedom. It is HIGHLY educational about the plight of Jews during WWII and the Holocaust. My daughter was moved and was so happy that Julian shows himself to have a soul after all. Absolutely recommended.

  4. 4 out of 5

    mindful.librarian ☀️

    Phenomenal historical fiction graphic novel re: the Holocaust. And yes there’s a sticker saying it’s a Wonder story but it’s really not related to Wonder at all besides being 100% Julian’s grandmother’s history. I’d put this at an older level than Wonder for sure not because of reading level but simply because of the deeper topics of war, genocide, death, etc. I’ll be putting it in my elementary and middle school libraries but selling it way harder at the MS level.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peggy House

    I have never given a poor book rating before, but must follow my conscience. I find it egregious to compare the extermination of 6 millions humans to illegals sneaking across the border. It is an insult to my ancestors who waited in line for their turn to enter the US legally. The ending of this book does not give the young minds who read it an accurate picture or comparison.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Holocaust is in no way similar to what is happening at the US Southern Border. To link the two is an insult to those who suffered and died during the Holocaust. If that hadn’t been in this book, 5 stars. With it? 1 star. Not saying what is happening currently at the Border is a-ok, but it is NOT a concentration camp. It is NOT the attempted extermination of a people, or even of one person. 1, highly surprised and saddened by this book, star.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mariah Roze

    I love R.J. Palacio's books. She does such a great job at telling everyone's stories and connecting them to each other. I was extremely impressed with this story because she taught about the holocaust, but didn't make it gory. This is definitely a book that I plan on reading with my students in the future. Also, they should turn this story into a movie. "A Wonder story. In R. J. Palacio's collection of stories Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian's I love R.J. Palacio's books. She does such a great job at telling everyone's stories and connecting them to each other. I was extremely impressed with this story because she taught about the holocaust, but didn't make it gory. This is definitely a book that I plan on reading with my students in the future. Also, they should turn this story into a movie. "A Wonder story. In R. J. Palacio's collection of stories Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian's grandmother, Grandmère. This is Grandmère's story as a young Jewish girl hidden away by a family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II told in graphic novel form."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Georgia

    I got the arc of this at the ALA conference, and it was amazing! The story was so sad, but it was really really good. In fact, I was so desperate for it not to end that I read all the way into the authors note and the research, which was very interesting. I especially appreciated the tie in to today, which was very important and moving.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Skip

    Julian (from Wonder) has a homework assignment, and asks his grandmother to tell a story. This book is her story of being a teenage Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied France. Being separated from her parents when the Nazis came to her school, the hatred they fomented, and their vicious search for the Jewish children. She escapes, thanks to a boy classmate with polio, whom she has mostly ignored, and how his family hides her. It is a story of human kindness and bravery in a world gone mad. 4.5 stars, a Julian (from Wonder) has a homework assignment, and asks his grandmother to tell a story. This book is her story of being a teenage Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied France. Being separated from her parents when the Nazis came to her school, the hatred they fomented, and their vicious search for the Jewish children. She escapes, thanks to a boy classmate with polio, whom she has mostly ignored, and how his family hides her. It is a story of human kindness and bravery in a world gone mad. 4.5 stars, and one that most everyone would benefit from reading.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Celia

    Cut out the last 8 pages and this is a 5 star middle grade graphic novel. That's what I'll be doing when I share it with my nieces and nephews some day. The illegal immigration issue in the United States is not in any way similar to the Holocaust. That someone could draw that comparison boggles my mind and dishonors the sacrifices and deaths of millions of Jews and those who helped them. When people break the law of a country, they cannot expect that country to welcome them with open arms or to lo Cut out the last 8 pages and this is a 5 star middle grade graphic novel. That's what I'll be doing when I share it with my nieces and nephews some day. The illegal immigration issue in the United States is not in any way similar to the Holocaust. That someone could draw that comparison boggles my mind and dishonors the sacrifices and deaths of millions of Jews and those who helped them. When people break the law of a country, they cannot expect that country to welcome them with open arms or to look the other way--whether they are citizens or not! Unfortunately, American policies on immigration were not enforced so there are thousands of people who illegally built a life here. It may look like the government is the bad guy in this situation, but the bad guy is the guy who breaks the law. And immigrating illegally is, by definition, breaking the law. The United States of America does not have the responsibility or resources to host the entire world. We welcome those we can. But to improve the lives of millions and billions more, the governments of the countries people are fleeing need to change. And that change will be brought about best from the inside. Don't be so arrogant as to assume that the United States is meant to be the savior of the world. That position is already taken.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Fauchelle

    For a Graphic novel that is quick to read it packs a punch. I haven't cried at the end of a book for a long time. This is a story set in France during world war 2, it is told from a Childs point of view, her name is Sara. It shows her lovely life before the war then when the Germans turn up at the School to take the Jews children Sara hides and gets help from an unexpected person and his whole family help hid her for well over a year. This isn't a story about anger and hatred but of Courage and For a Graphic novel that is quick to read it packs a punch. I haven't cried at the end of a book for a long time. This is a story set in France during world war 2, it is told from a Childs point of view, her name is Sara. It shows her lovely life before the war then when the Germans turn up at the School to take the Jews children Sara hides and gets help from an unexpected person and his whole family help hid her for well over a year. This isn't a story about anger and hatred but of Courage and kindness. "evil will only be stopped when good people decide to put an end to it". At the back of the book is a Glossary for some of the terms and places in the book so this is a good book for an older child so they can learn about the war, which is important if we are to change things for the better. We need to all stand up and be counted when it comes to injustices around the world. Start by showing kindness to the people we meet along the way each day. Start with Hello.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Waring

    This exceptional graphic novel was written by R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder and Auggie & Me. Palacio begins the novel with Julian, a character from Wonder, video-calling his Grandmere to learn about the Holocaust for a school assignment. We see a different side to Julian, who has started a new school year with some regrets about his prior behaviour. Julian’s grandmother agrees to tell him everything in the hope that the future generation will not repeat past mistakes. Julian is moved by his Gra This exceptional graphic novel was written by R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder and Auggie & Me. Palacio begins the novel with Julian, a character from Wonder, video-calling his Grandmere to learn about the Holocaust for a school assignment. We see a different side to Julian, who has started a new school year with some regrets about his prior behaviour. Julian’s grandmother agrees to tell him everything in the hope that the future generation will not repeat past mistakes. Julian is moved by his Grandmere’s story that is equal parts survival and suffering. The emotional depth of the story is breathtaking, and Palacio artfully grabs the reader’s heart without going into traumatising physical detail. If you are looking for a story of concentration camps and death marches, you will not get it here. If you are looking for a story about bystanders, regrets, standing up for change and the beauty of human relationships in the midst of such atrocity, then this is the novel for you. Middle grade readers will learn a lot about history and being a good human from this beautiful graphic novel. There is a poignant link to current political events towards the end of the novel, which readers will (hopefully) reflect on carefully too. Kudos to Palacio for creating yet another powerful story, this time in a completely different medium. This novel would be perfect for all readers but is particularly worth considering for struggling and resistant readers, as it really packs a punch with an economy of words. In the alternative, it would make an engaging extension or companion text for students studying novels such as Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The Wrong Boy, The Girl in the Blue Coat, The War that Saved My Life, Once (to name a few).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Max Yeshnowski

    This was a really good book. But at the end when the author compared the holocaust to trump and immigration it made me decide to give this book a four star rating.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    What a wonderful read! Kindness is hope! “You might forget many things in your life, but you never forget kindness. Like love, it stays with you …forever.”

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tori (InToriLex)

    A short and heart tugging read about a girl who escaped the holocaust. But most importantly about how well meaning individuals who did nothing allowed it to happen. I picked this up on a whim although I have never read the book Wonder. I'm happy I did because in a time like this of unrest, I was able to sit hard and think on how I can make sure I am apart of the resistance instead of a passive observer. A short and heart tugging read about a girl who escaped the holocaust. But most importantly about how well meaning individuals who did nothing allowed it to happen. I picked this up on a whim although I have never read the book Wonder. I'm happy I did because in a time like this of unrest, I was able to sit hard and think on how I can make sure I am apart of the resistance instead of a passive observer.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    Book blurb: This is Grandmère's story as a young Jewish girl hidden away by a family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II told in graphic novel form. "Just remember: we are not defined by our mistakes, but by what we do after we've learned from them." Julian - the bully from Wonder - has a school project and calls his grandma to ask about her life story. This graphic novel educates middle grade readers about some of the atrocities of WW2. The art is lovely, and I so appreciated the light am Book blurb: This is Grandmère's story as a young Jewish girl hidden away by a family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II told in graphic novel form. "Just remember: we are not defined by our mistakes, but by what we do after we've learned from them." Julian - the bully from Wonder - has a school project and calls his grandma to ask about her life story. This graphic novel educates middle grade readers about some of the atrocities of WW2. The art is lovely, and I so appreciated the light amidst all the darkness. The one star ratings for this book all seem to revolve around people being upset that the author equates the holocaust with what's currently going on at the US southern border. That's not how I read it. In my opinion, the author is showcasing how de-humanizing any group of people can lead to horrific actions, and that standing against that in any context is a lesson we should all have learned from history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This book expands upon Julian's story in Auggie & Me. It is a visually verbal history of Grandmere's history, of growing up during the holocaust & meeting Julian's namesake. Very touching & includes important historical insight. Additionally, there is an afterword, author's note, a note about the dedication, in-depth glossary with photos, a suggested reading list, list of organizations and resources, bibliography and image credits that will be a great and valuable resource for students and other This book expands upon Julian's story in Auggie & Me. It is a visually verbal history of Grandmere's history, of growing up during the holocaust & meeting Julian's namesake. Very touching & includes important historical insight. Additionally, there is an afterword, author's note, a note about the dedication, in-depth glossary with photos, a suggested reading list, list of organizations and resources, bibliography and image credits that will be a great and valuable resource for students and other readers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    R.J. Palacio is SUCH a rock star! Not only has she written a completely different style of book in this graphic novel, but she has also wrecked my emotions again! We received our ARC from a very dear friend who knew this book would quickly be in the hands of the kids in our middle/high school. My daughter, a fifth grader, devoured the book and couldn’t wait for me to read it because she was dying to talk to someone about the story. Congratulations, R.J. Palacio, for changing our level of empathy R.J. Palacio is SUCH a rock star! Not only has she written a completely different style of book in this graphic novel, but she has also wrecked my emotions again! We received our ARC from a very dear friend who knew this book would quickly be in the hands of the kids in our middle/high school. My daughter, a fifth grader, devoured the book and couldn’t wait for me to read it because she was dying to talk to someone about the story. Congratulations, R.J. Palacio, for changing our level of empathy and our lives forever once again! This story deserves to be read by ALL, young and old.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I loved everything about this graphic novel....it was a fabulous story of World War 2 and the story of the narrator’s Grandmother. It was delicately told and heart-wrenching. It seemed to be ending well until it became clear the political agenda was strong and had to be thrown in at the end. Ugh - that was disappointing. It was a strong story, all on its own, without having to throw in an agenda. But the story was good and it’s always good to remind us to focus on kindness.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Allen Berrebbi

    Would have been great if the author eliminated the last few pages which took a beautiful story about a horrific time in history, and used it to make an anti-Trump comparison to the border situation. Which the author should have known better. To compare the rounding up and extermination of legal citizens who broke no laws, simply because of who they are, to illegals breaking into a country, breaking laws, and being rounded up to be returned (not killed) is despicable. Outrage that was never there Would have been great if the author eliminated the last few pages which took a beautiful story about a horrific time in history, and used it to make an anti-Trump comparison to the border situation. Which the author should have known better. To compare the rounding up and extermination of legal citizens who broke no laws, simply because of who they are, to illegals breaking into a country, breaking laws, and being rounded up to be returned (not killed) is despicable. Outrage that was never there when other presidents did the same thing. Now if the author compared it to true genocides going on now, like The Rohingya in Myanmar or The Nuer and other ethnic groups in South Sudan, then I would have had more respect for the book. A shame that a few pages ruined an otherwise great story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kaytee Cobb

    Absolutely stunningly beautiful and heartbreaking. Tissues for days.

  22. 4 out of 5

    The Artisan Geek

    16/3/20 A beautiful piece of fiction about the Second World War. Palacio draws from various sources to create a heartbreaking story infused with a bit of fantasy that had me teary eyed for most of the journey. Would definitely recommend. You can find me on Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website 16/3/20 A beautiful piece of fiction about the Second World War. Palacio draws from various sources to create a heartbreaking story infused with a bit of fantasy that had me teary eyed for most of the journey. Would definitely recommend. You can find me on Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ryanne

    This book was so good I would recommend this to anybody. However, you should read the Julian chapter of Auggie and Me before you read it because the book will not make sense, and you will be very confused.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    I loved this book! It was so full of action and so meaningful. I definitely recommend this book to anyone.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eli

    I don't want to say I cried in the break room at work, but I definitely averted my eyes from my coworkers in shame. There's really no shame in crying at this, though. It was so beautifully done it could have only come from the author of Wonder. The artwork and dialogue were simple, and the storytelling and delivery were perfect at illustrating the incredible depth of suffering during the Holocaust without being too graphic for young readers. Absolutely recommend this to all readers, young and old I don't want to say I cried in the break room at work, but I definitely averted my eyes from my coworkers in shame. There's really no shame in crying at this, though. It was so beautifully done it could have only come from the author of Wonder. The artwork and dialogue were simple, and the storytelling and delivery were perfect at illustrating the incredible depth of suffering during the Holocaust without being too graphic for young readers. Absolutely recommend this to all readers, young and old alike.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Inge

    Clunky and saccharine. Doesn't explain or scaffold a lot of the unfamiliar words, concepts, and historical events. I didn't mind the supposed propaganda at the end, in fact, I think it was called for. But Sara being saved by the bats and later (possibly?) the wolf was preposterous and made the overall story seem cheap and fake. The "branding" of this Holocaust story as "A WONDER STORY" is in such remarkably bad taste, it cannot be overstated. Clunky and saccharine. Doesn't explain or scaffold a lot of the unfamiliar words, concepts, and historical events. I didn't mind the supposed propaganda at the end, in fact, I think it was called for. But Sara being saved by the bats and later (possibly?) the wolf was preposterous and made the overall story seem cheap and fake. The "branding" of this Holocaust story as "A WONDER STORY" is in such remarkably bad taste, it cannot be overstated.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Zavala

    This is my first ever graphic novel, so I don't really know how to rate the graphic portion. However, the story is perfect. It made me tear up at the end. My two boys (ages 13 and 11) will be reading this book! I think it should be required reading for all middle-schoolers. This is my first ever graphic novel, so I don't really know how to rate the graphic portion. However, the story is perfect. It made me tear up at the end. My two boys (ages 13 and 11) will be reading this book! I think it should be required reading for all middle-schoolers.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amber K.

    Loved it... full review to come. I need time to process this story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ms. B

    Graphic novel story about the French Resistance during World War II. I hadn't even realized there was a French Resistance hiding Jews and/or heelping them to escape to Switzerland. Now I have read two books in a row about this subject, this and Margi Preus's Village of Scoundrels. That one was told in third person with multiple characters who were part of the Resistance. This one is mostly a first person account told from Sara, a Jewish girl's (who grows up to be Julian's Grandma) point of view. Graphic novel story about the French Resistance during World War II. I hadn't even realized there was a French Resistance hiding Jews and/or heelping them to escape to Switzerland. Now I have read two books in a row about this subject, this and Margi Preus's Village of Scoundrels. That one was told in third person with multiple characters who were part of the Resistance. This one is mostly a first person account told from Sara, a Jewish girl's (who grows up to be Julian's Grandma) point of view. I think I may have rated this higher if I had read Julian's Chapter from Aggie and Me. This is an extension of part of that story and may have provided context for why Julian was calling his grandma and their relationship.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    White Bird is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel. The story is about a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust, with the lessons from her story being tied to the modern-day refugee crisis in the United States. While it is written by the author of Wonder and marketed as a “Wonder Story,” you don’t need to have read that book in order to read this one. It may, however, be a good introduction to the Holocaust for children and tweens who enjoyed Wonder. I had one issue with the book, which I’ll White Bird is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel. The story is about a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust, with the lessons from her story being tied to the modern-day refugee crisis in the United States. While it is written by the author of Wonder and marketed as a “Wonder Story,” you don’t need to have read that book in order to read this one. It may, however, be a good introduction to the Holocaust for children and tweens who enjoyed Wonder. I had one issue with the book, which I’ll place under a spoiler: (view spoiler)[ I am disappointed that Palacio chose to kill Julien. Disabled characters in children’s books are often miraculously cured or killed by the end of the story, which sends a terrible message to readers. The fact that when he died he was “free of his body… free of all his earthly limitations” is also ableist, and if Palacio really couldn’t have come up with a different ending for Julien’s story, she could have at least removed those few words. (hide spoiler)]

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