Book review: The Clock Flower (Book 3 of The F.I.G. Mysteries) by Barbara Casey

Book Details:

Book Title:  The Clock Flower by Barbara Casey (Book 3 of The F.I.G. Mysteries)
Category:  YA Fiction,  208 pages
Genre:   Mystery / Fantasy
Publisher:  Gauthier Publications, The Hungry Goat Press Imprint
Release date:  February 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 (There is light profanity and some threat of violence.)

Book Description:

Dara Roux, abandoned when she was seven years old by her mother. Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan. Accepted to Yale University.

Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan. Accepted to MIT.

Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was sixteen. Exceptionally gifted in music and art. Orphan. Accepted to Juilliard.

The three FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—as they are called, have graduated from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women after returning from New York City where Dara learned why her mother abandoned her all those years ago, and they are now attending universities where they can further their special talents. This means they will be separated from each other and from Carolina, their much-loved mentor and teacher who is “one of them,” for the first time in their young lives. They vow to try living apart for one semester, in the so-called real world that doesn’t include the orphanage; but if things don’t work out, they will come up with another plan—a plan where they can be together once again.

​Dara is invited through Yale University to take part in an exciting archeological project in China. Jennifer, once again visualizing black and white images and the unusual sounds of another cadence that seem to be connected to Mackenzie, is engrossed in creating her next symphony at Juilliard. Mackenzie, because of her genius at problem-solving, is personally chosen by a US Senator to get involved in a mysterious, secret research project involving immortality that is being conducted in a small village in China—not too far from where Dara is involved with the archeological site. Once there, however, she finds herself facing a terrifying death from the blood-dripping teeth of an ancient evil dragon. Her best friends, the FIGs and Carolina, rely on their own unique genius and special talents to save her as she discovers the truth of her birth parents.

The Cadence of Gypsies: Book 1 of the F.I.G. Mysteries

Book Details:

Book Title:  The Cadence of Gypsies (Book 1 of The F.I.G. Mysteries) by Barbara Casey
Category:  YA fiction,  272 pages
Genre:  Literary/Mystery
Publisher:  Gauthier Publications/Hungry Goat Press
Release date: April 2015 (e-Book)
Content Rating:  PG-13 (A few expletives, mild sexual innuendo)

​Book Description:

On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

The Wish Rider: Book 2 of the F.I.G. Mysteries

​Book Details:

Book Title:  The Wish Rider (Book 2 of The F.I.G. Mysteries) by Barbara Casey
Category:  YA Fiction, 160 pages
Genre: Literary / Mystery
Publisher:  Gauthier Publications
Release date:  May 10, 2016
Content Rating: PG-13

Book Description:

Seventeen-year-old Dara Roux and her two best friends, Mackenzie Yarborough and Jennifer Torres, the three collectively referred to as the F.I.G.’s (Females of Intellectual Genius) because each has an intelligence quotient in the genius range, have just returned from Frascati, Italy. It was there that their much loved teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, discovered that her birth parents were gypsies, and that she had a connection to the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world.

Now, with graduation from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women behind them, Dara asks her friends to help her locate her birth mother when she learns that she might be living in New York City. Relying on Dara’s gift for speaking and understanding foreign languages, the black and white images that stir musical cadences in Jennifer’s mind, and Mackenzie’s mathematical calculations that normally provide numerical solutions and answers to life’s most difficult questions, the determined young women tirelessly go from one address to another in search of Dara’s mother.

Their determination turns to desperation, however, as they encounter a dark hidden society more dangerous and terrifying than they could have imagined. It is there that Dara hopes to find out why she was abandoned in a candy store all those years ago.

​Buy The Clock Flower:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

Barbara Casey

Meet the Author:

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction true crime and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency. Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara is also a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in cutting-edge adult nonfiction. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband, and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Fitz, a miniature dachshund; and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.
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Connect with the author:  Website
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REVIEW:
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The Clock Flower is the third novel in the FIG series about three gifted young women and their mentor, Caroline.  If you have already read the other two books you will have already met each girl:  Dara – the linguist, Mackenzie the math whiz and problem solver and Jennifer – gifted in music and art.
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Because of their unusual gifts and personalities, the girls have bonded with each other and with Caroline, who treats them as younger sisters.  Their inability to interact with others places them at a disadvantage and Caroline acts to smooth the way for them.
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This novel focuses on Mackenzie, who is asked to help troubleshoot a missing ingredient in a very ancient formula in China.  Intuitively, the other two girls as well as Caroline seem to be drawn into her world through music, art and Carolina’s intuition as a gypsy’s daughter.  As with the previous two books, we can expect plenty of excitement and plot twists in this story.
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The author is able to develop fascinating plots and storylines which keep you hooked throughout the book.  However, I found that too much time was spent trying to make this book into a standalone, in fact almost 40% of the book was trying to recapture the storyline from the first two books.  There was a lot of repetition during the first part of the book and the storyline could have done with more character development.
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I always enjoy a good mystery and The Clock Flower keeps you on the edge of your seat.  I look forward to reading another FIG adventure!
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Book review: The House of Kane by Barbara Casey

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Book Details:

Book Title:  The House of Kane by Barbara Casey
Category:  Adult Fiction,  198 pages
Genre: Mystery / Suspense
Publisher:  ArcheBooks Publishing
Release date:  February 2014
Format available for review:  Print, ebook (gifted Kindle and PDF)
Will send print books:  Internationally
Tour dates: Aug 15 to 26, 2016
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is some light profanity.)

Book Description:

Aislinn Marchánt, a writer and editorial consultant, is hired by the major New York publishing company, Kane Publishing House, to help determine why several submissions sent to them have mysteriously disappeared only to be published later by another publisher. Are the editors at Kane simply not being diligent enough with the in-coming material, or is there something more sinister going on? Working from her West Palm Beach home, Aislinn quickly becomes involved with the House of Kane as well as with Caldwell Kane, the man who hired her.

As Aislinn works toward uncovering the various layers of truth of her former husband, her elderly neighbor, and Kane Publishing House, she continues to research her own novel, the story of a love between two people that becomes fractured because of the misunderstandings created by two different cultures. Her research takes her to abotanica where a Santerian priest reveals the truth in her own life and a destiny that is joined to that of Caldwell Kane.

Praise for The House of Kane:

Simultaneously wise and poignant, exotic and suspenseful, House of Kane is a fascinating story of loyalty, treachery and the power of destiny. With an insider’s view into the world of high stakes publishing, Barbara Casey weaves a masterful story that haunts the reader long after the final page.
Nancy Steinbeck, Author of The Other Side of Eden: Life with John Steinbeck

Barbara Casey’s House of Kane is a touchingly tender love story, set in an intrigue-riddled
publishing industry. Her characters are interesting and varied. Her story is refreshing and engagingly told. Aspiring writers will want to read House of Kane to tap her wisdom about getting into print.
John DeDakis, Former CNN Senior Copy Editor, Author of Fast Track

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble  

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Meet the Author:

Originally from Carrollton, Illinois, author/agent/publisher Barbara Casey attended the University of North Carolina, N.C. State University, and N.C. Wesleyan College where she received a BA degree, summa cum laude, with a double major in English and history. In 1978 she left her position as Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Development at North Carolina Wesleyan College to write full time and develop her own manuscript evaluation and editorial service. In 1995 she established the Barbara Casey Agency and since that time has represented authors from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014, she became a partner with Strategic Media Books where she is involved in acquisitions and day-to-day operations and oversees book production.

Ms. Casey’s two middle-grade/young adult novels, Leilani Zan and Grandma Jock and Christabelle (James C. Winston Publishing Co., Trade Division) were both nominated for awards of excellence by the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, the National Association of University Women Literary Award and the Sir Walter Raleigh Literary Award. Shyla’s Initiative (Crossquarter Publishing Group), a contemporary adult novel (occult romance/mystery), received a 2003 Independent Publisher Book Award and also an award of special literary recognition by the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. The Coach’s Wife (ArcheBooks Publishing), also a novel for adults (contemporary/mystery), was semi-finalist for the 2005 Dana Award for Outstanding Novel and listed on the Publisher’s Best Seller List. The House of Kane (ArcheBooks Publishing), released in 2007, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination. Another contemporary novel for adults, Just Like Family, was released at Christmas 2009 when it received “Special Recognition from the 7-Eleven Corporation.” The Cadence of Gypsies, a novel written for new adults, was released in 2011 and was reviewed by the Smithsonian Institute for its List of Most Notable Books. Her novel for adults, The Gospel According to Prissy, received a 2013 Independent Publishers Book Award for Best Book in Regional Fiction. In 2016, Ms. Casey’s biography/true crime Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly was released as well as The Wish Rider, the sequel to her young adult book The Cadence of Gypsies.

Her award-winning articles, short stories, and poetry for adults have appeared in both national and international publications including the North Carolina Christian Advocate Magazine, The New East Magazine, the Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer, the Rocky Mount (N.C.) Sunday Telegram, Dog Fancy, ByLine, The Christian Record, Skirt! Magazine, and True Story. A thirty-minute television special which Ms. Casey wrote and coordinated was broadcast on WRAL, Channel 5, in Raleigh, North Carolina. She also received special recognition for her editorial work on the English translations of Albanian children’s stories.

Ms. Casey’s award-winning science fiction short stories for adults are featured in The Cosmic Unicorn and CrossTime science fiction anthologies. Ms. Casey’s essays and other works appear in The Chrysalis Reader, the international literary journal of the Swedenborg Foundation, 221 One-Minute Monologues from Literature (Smith and Kraus Publishers), and A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation).

Ms. Casey is a former director of BookFest of the Palm Beaches, Florida, where she served as guest author and panelist. She has served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Florida, and was the Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 through 2003. She is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and writers’ conferences around the country including the SCBWI Regional Conference, the Harriett Austin Writers Conference in Athens, SIBA (Southeastern Independent Book Sellers Association), Florida Writers Association, and the University of Auburn, Montgomery. She makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and three dogs.

Connect with the author:  Website 

REVIEW:
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The House of Kane is an fascinating glance into the world of publishing. Aislinn, a successful and sought after writer and editor, receives a mysterious phone call from a well respected publisher.  Her curiosity piqued, she agrees to go to New York.  Her life will never be the same.
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The novel is well-written with excellent character development including those of the secondary characters.  Their seemingly ordinary lives begin to interweave with that of Aislinn’s and several unexpected plot twists and surprises keep you wondering how these connections will play out.
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I don’t want to give away any clues to the story but suffice it to say that this was a delightful mystery / romance / thriller that had me reading non-stop until the last page!
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Book review / guest post / giveaway: KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly by Barbara Casey

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Book Details:

Book Title:  KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly by Barbara Casey
Category:  Adult non-fiction, 196 pages
Genre:  Biography / true crime
Publisher:  Strategic Media Books
Release date:  February 2016
Available for review in:  Print,  PDF
Will send print books:  Internationally
Tour dates:  May 2 – 13, 2016
Content Rating:  PG-13 (There are some expletives and descriptions of crimes, although nothing gory or too graphic)

Book Description:  

Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly is a biography of the woman who made a career of crime. With a lust for danger, she masterminded the crimes that took her and her husband, and others who included her own mother and stepfather, on a spree across Minnesota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas. Starting with smaller crimes that included bootlegging, smuggling liquor onto an Oklahoma Indian reservation, and other petty crimes, she encouraged her husband, George Barnes aka George Kelly, toward a life of more serious criminal activity that eventually escalated into bank robberies, kidnapping and extortion.

Many believe that it was Kathryn, after giving him a machine gun, who developed George’s feared persona and the name of Machine Gun Kelly. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was even convinced that the two were somehow connected in the Lindbergh kidnapping. Kathryn and Machine Gun Kelly were eventually captured after kidnapping Charles Urschel, a wealthy Oklahoma City oilman, and collecting a $200,000 ransom the largest ransom ever paid at that time.

Eventually, the two were captured in Memphis, where Kelly had grown up as a boy. During their trial in Oklahoma City, movie cameras were allowed into the courtroom for the first time as curious spectators across the nation watched. Kathryn, while claiming to be an innocent victim in a bad marriage, remained unrepentant, smiling and primping for the cameras, and writing threatening letters to the judge and attorneys assigned to the case as well as her victims.

Convicted in 1933, Kathryn served twenty-five years of her life sentence at FPC Alderson, West Virginia, when in 1958 she was finally released into obscurity. Although much has been written about Machine Gun Kelly, there is very little known about Kathryn.

Through narrative, FBI files, rare quotes from George Kelly’s son and other relatives and associates, extensive research, and several photographs, Kathryn Kelly ¬The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly is the first book ever written about a woman who chose to follow a life of crime during the Prohibition era.

Buy the book:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Barbara Casey

 Meet the author:  

Barbara Casey is a partner in Strategic Media Books, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. She is also a manuscript consultant and the author of numerous articles, poems, and short stories.

Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including the Independent Publishers Book Award. Her novel, The House of Kane, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and The Gospel According to Prissy, also a contemporary adult novel received several awards including the prestigious IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction. Her most recent young adult novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, received the Independent Publishers Living Now Award and was reviewed by the Smithsonian for its list of Best Books.

Ms. Casey makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author:   Website

GUEST POST:
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KATHRYN KELLY and the “Trial of the Century” by Barbara Casey

Several years ago, thousands of our citizens shivered in fear of a kidnapper whose name had much to do with the terror he engendered: he was called Machine Gun Kelly. However, there was someone far more dangerous than Machine Gun Kelly. That was Machine Gun Kelly’s wife.

J. Edgar Hoover, 1938, Persons in Hiding

In Oklahoma City, the case was being tried in the building that housed the post office, federal offices, and courthouse. Surrounded by armed officers, entry into the courtroom was allowed only with a pass after taking an elevator to the seventh floor and then climbing two flights of stairs to the ninth floor. In addition, everyone was required to be “patted down.” Inside, there wasn’t an empty seat available, the “electric air charged with excitement,” as it was reported on film. It was the first time movie equipment with sound had been permitted in a federal courtroom.

There were other “firsts” as well. It was the first kidnapping trial after the passage of the “Lindbergh Law,” making kidnapping a federal crime. It was the first major case solved by J. Edgar Hoover’s evolving and powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was the first crime in which defendants were transported by airplane. And, at the time, it was the largest ransom ever paid—two hundred thousand dollars, the equivalent of about three million dollars in today’s currency. The date was October 12, 1933, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly and his wife, Kathryn, were on trial for the kidnapping of wealthy Oklahoma City oil man, Charles F. Urschel.

From the old photographs and film footage that have survived, George appears uneasy and sullen, wearing a dark suit, silk tie, and white shirt; and even though smoking was forbidden in the courtroom, cameramen captured him smoking several cigarettes. The facial cuts and large bump on the side of his head that he had received from federal agent J. C. White two days earlier are also visible.

Kathryn seems to have enjoyed the attention as she fluffs her hair and smiles confidently into the flashing and whirring cameras and posing for newsreel cameramen from Fox, Paramount, and other agencies that had followed them to Oklahoma City from Memphis where they were arrested. Fashionably dressed in high heels, a black satin dress decorated with feather epaulettes, and a hat perched jauntily on one side of her head, the members of the press and spectators alike were captivated by this tall, attractive, green-eyed brunette.

Many brought their lunch so as not to lose their seats. Some members of the press noted the “Roman holiday” atmosphere. Everyone watched as Kathryn and her husband, the notorious Machine Gun Kelly, awaited their much-anticipated verdicts.

REVIEW:

Moll:  noun,  Slang.
1.   a female companion of a criminal.
2.  a female criminal
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Who likes a good gangster movie?  Then this book is just for you. Kathryn Kelly:  The Moll Behind Machine Gun Kelly recounts the tumultuous activities of Kathryn and George Kelly as they rise from petty crime, bootlegging, bank robberies and eventually into kidnapping.  Both were raised during the 30’s when poverty was rampant and prohibition was spawning bootleggers all over the country.

The book reveals much about Kathryn’s personality – from her upbringing in a poor farming family to a swanky and confident woman enjoying the good life of travel, furs, jewellery and cars – and always one step ahead of the law.
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Calculating and intelligent, she falls for George Kelly, a criminal with a larger-than-life reputation.  Kathryn’s manipulation of the media increases her husband’s notoriety.  They are untouchable.  Or so they think.
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I enjoy history and followed their stories with interest.  The many photographs and excerpts of documentation written by Kathryn added much to the story and I was amused by the expressions used during the time.  My father read the book as well and told me how much he enjoyed it.
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This was a fascinating glimpse into the life of a daring and ambitious woman during the depression.  Even if you aren’t a history buff, I’m sure you will find it fascinating.
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Book review: In the Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey

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Book Details:

Book Title:  The Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey
Category:  YA fiction,  272 pages
Genre: Literary/Mystery
Publisher:  Gauthier Publications/Hungry Goat Press
Release date:  March 2011 (Hardcopy); April 2015 (e-Book)
Format available for review: print and PDF
Will send print books: Internationally
Tour dates:  April 25 to May 6, 2016
Content Rating:  PG-13 (A few expletives, mild sexual innuendo)

Book Description:

On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Nobles

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Meet the Author:  

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014 Barbara became a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in true crime and other cutting-edge adult nonfiction. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author:  Website

REVIEW:
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Cadence: the rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words / the flow or rhythm of events.
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Who loves a secret?  There are plenty of secrets in the Cadence of Gypsies. Some we learn of right away and some come as complete surprises.  This book reminds me of a book that was given to me by my mother 40 years ago – the plot was different but it had the same wonderful story-like quality that will captivate both young and old alike.
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Carolina is an American girl who was adopted when she was four years old. She receives a box containing an ancient manuscript from her birth parents which mesmerizes her and she is intent on deciphering its contents.  Despite all her diligent research, she’s hit a dead end.
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She needs to return to the land of her birth to investigate other documents that will enable her to learn not only the contents of the manuscript but also the truth regarding her family and adoption.  Her companions, three feisty but highly gifted young women agree to accompany her and their camaraderie and friendship are the glue she needs to discover the manuscript’s secret.
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A good “read-aloud” book that will have you turning the pages until you discover all its secrets.
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