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Shark Summer

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When a Hollywood film crew arrives on Martha's Vineyard with a mechanical shark and a youth film contest boasting a huge cash prize, disgraced pitcher Gayle "Blue Streak" Briar sees a chance to turn a bad season into the best summer ever.

After recruiting aspiring cinematographer Elijah Jones and moody director Maddie Grey, Gayle and her crew set out to uncover the truth of the island's own phantom shark and win the prize money. But these unlikely friends are about to discover what happens when you turn your camera toward the bad things lurking below the surface. 

304 pages, Paperback

First published May 4, 2021

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Ira Marcks

7 books14 followers

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5 stars
127 (18%)
4 stars
324 (46%)
3 stars
215 (30%)
2 stars
22 (3%)
1 star
7 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 117 reviews
April 29, 2021

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SHARK SUMMER is super cute. In some ways, it reminds me of an edgier kids' adventure movie, like Monster House (2006) or Tower of Terror (1997). After the heroine, Gayle, suffers an arm injury that gets her off the team, summer at Martha's Vineyard seems pretty boring. Her mother is working double-shifts to cover her medical expenses, which means that their dream of opening a boutique ice cream store are put on ice until they have the time and resources.

While moping around, Gayle meets two other kids: Elijah and Maddie. Elijah is the son of a journalist and Maddie's parents are historians. Both of them are outcasts like her, and the three of them unexpectedly end up working together on a youth film festival project in order to win the prize money being put up (as a publicity stunt for a Hollywood-filmed movie that's clearly inspired by Jaws that's also being filmed in Martha's Vineyard concurrently).

What you get with this book is some Scooby Doo-like chills-and-thrills, East Coast gothic vibes, some spooky history about cults and sharks, and an unexpected friendship. It was much darker than I was expecting, and may be too dark for really young readers, but for middle grade and up, I think this would be perfect. It really does remind me of some of those niche kids' horror movies I watched when I was young, and I think anyone who enjoyed Goosebumps or Eerie Indiana will love this. I'm always a huge fan of middle grade books that don't condescend to their young audiences and this is that.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Larakaa.
679 reviews16 followers
July 11, 2021
A very fun read. Had some Gravity Falls vibes to it. And the background story of the filmcrew creating Jaws was a neat extra
Profile Image for Lexy Twidell.
101 reviews2 followers
April 1, 2022
This was really interesting and unique! The characters felt new and different than anything I've read in a while and their various storylines weaved together in very engaging ways. I was drawn to each character's story, even 'side' characters like Gayle's mom struggling to feel successful. I recall a page where Gayle comes home to find her mom asleep in front of the TV, watching some movie she was inspired by or something and you could just see so much emotion in the way Gayle looked at her mom, immediately understanding what is in her heart. That's the beauty of graphic novels - one single panel can add so much depth to a character's story.

This really felt like a classic kids summer adventure movie - a group of misfit kids, coming together to make something for a competition, going on a journey together that leads them to discover so much more about each other and the town they are in, only to realize what's really important in the end.

I enjoyed this a lot and will be recommending it for sure.
Profile Image for Iris Ileana.
10 reviews
July 19, 2021
No. Felt incredibly long. The story was absolutely dull and to be quite honest felt extremely corny. There is something off putting about the bully always being protected by the bullied and that somehow changing their attitude completely. I definitely should have stopped reading.
Profile Image for Jessica.
1,161 reviews80 followers
August 29, 2021
What a fun summer read! I’m always a fan of graphic novels, but I’m always particularly excited when I get asked to review one that is aimed at the Middle Grade audience. It’s fun to see how the author and illustrator work together to tell a story that will resonate with a younger audience. Or, you know, with an audience who just loves this stories hahaha. In this case I think that they hit the nail right on the head!

Gayle Briar is in a mood. She lost her star pitcher status to a broken arm, her mother moved her to a new home, and now even their dream plans for moving there have fallen through. It’s no wonder that Gayle’s character isn’t pleased at the beginning of the story. Funnily enough though, I found myself understanding her completely. Change is hard and, as my grandpa used to say, it often comes in waves. How do you hold your head above the water until the wave passes?

Lucky for Gayle, there is a movie being filmed on the island and getting close to that opens an adventure like nothing else. I wish that I could share more, but I dare not spoil anything! What I will say is that this reminded me a lot of all my favorite books as a kid. Filled with mysteries, a little darkness, and the kind of friendship that only blooms in the face of something a little scary.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this! If you’re looking for something fun for a summer pool read, or looking for a good read for your kid’s summer list, pick this up! The illustrations are vibrant, and convey the story so well. I highly recommend you give it a shot!
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,408 reviews34 followers
June 8, 2021
Gayle and her single mother recently moved to Martha’s Vineyard from Boston to open a boutique ice cream store. Gayle, a star pitcher for a local softball team, breaks her arm during the championship and loses the game. Reeling with guilt at losing the game and inadvertently forcing her mom to take an additional job to pay hospital bills, Gayle joins budding cinematographer Elijah and bullied teen Maddie to film a movie for a contest with a $3,000 prize. They meet the production crew on a big-budget shark movie that is filming on the island and discover a gruesome local legend based on a past tragedy. While this graphic novel is aimed at middle schoolers, it has a mature sensibility and an eerie “Goosebumps” vibe. Gayle, Maddie, and their families are white, and Elijah and his father are Black; characters are from various socioeconomic groups. Family ties are strong, and a queer romance is hinted at. Marcks has a distinctive art style, capturing characters in a cartoony, almost caricaturelike manner and conveying emotion well. His panels are small but easy to follow, with a soft purple hue that has narrative significance.

Verdict: A bridge between simpler narratives and more mature content, this is a strong addition to graphic novel shelves, with appealing art and a strong story about friendship.

I reviewed this book for the School Library Journal magazine and the review can be found here: https://www.slj.com/?reviewDetail=sha...
Profile Image for Sandy.
2,526 reviews59 followers
July 23, 2021
What a great adventure! Gayle had led her team to the Championship but now, the star pitcher was nursing her wrist and reflecting back on that flyball that landed her in the emergency room. With her mother’s dream on hold, Gayle’s shoulders felt heavy with guilty. Her mother would now have to seek employment at a hotel and the doors to the Black Cat Creamery would stay shut. Gayle’s medical bills needed to be paid off before she could continue on with the store’s grand opening.

I liked how honest Gayle’s mother was, how responsible Gayle felt and how Gayle wanted to help remedy the situation. Gayle being a teen, sees beyond herself while at the same time, she acts like a kid. When Gayle comes across a flyer for a contest, she’s determined to win the cash prize, and she begins putting in motion, what she has to do to get that accomplished.

To win this contest, it’s not as easy as it first seems. In their effort to win, the small group discovers an old mystery which they attempt to solve……….

There’s a lot of activity in this graphic novel. This being said, I think that they did a great job with the panels in this book. They provided a variety of sizes to keep the story interesting and to keep the story flowing smoothly. There’s just enough detail in the artwork and the color choice was on the darker side, which added to the mystery and drama of the story. I enjoyed how this new group of friends worked together also.
Profile Image for Alicia.
559 reviews8 followers
December 5, 2022
I really liked this story. I thought the art style captured the characters really well, and and I really liked all the colours and the nature panels.
Gayle, Maddie, Elijah and Lex were all interesting characters. I liked seeing them interact and learn about each other, and I liked the ending. I thought the character growth was sweet, and I think this book would really resonate with middle grade readers.
I also loved the Maddie’s dad communicated through sign language, and I loved how the author showed it. I realized but didn’t realize for a few panels because it was just quietly included.
I liked the story of Atwood, and the mystery of the shark, and I liked how the characters went about searching for answers. I also liked all the nods to the film crew that was filming their own shark movie.
Profile Image for Mehsi.
11.9k reviews361 followers
July 9, 2021
A summer that started off horrible will turn into something fun. Friendship, sharks, and cameras!

So I had the pleasure of being part of the Blog Tour for this book, I even had an e-ARC. But I had to get my own copy to actually be able to read the book (which I definitely didn’t mind because what I could read was tons of fun). Because sadly, the e-ARC had the same problem many graphic novels on Netgalley have. Blurry text. Not doing single pages but double which squeezes everything together. Thankfully Amazon had the book in stock and I quickly got it. And I immediately went to read it and WOW.

This is going to be a bit chaotic of a review. Haha. I loved this book so much but my mind is a bit scrambled. So sorry in advance!

In this one we meet Gayle who had the worst luck ever. Her season with baseball ended up terribly with her getting a broken arm and thus rendering her useless. There goes her summer of baseball. I felt for Gayle, she just moved, baseball is her whole life and then BOOM, injury and it’s over. Add to that this is America so have fun with debts (which still is totally fucked up to me) so other plans are also over as her mom has to work twice as hard to get money. So it was a bit doom/gloom at the beginning with a very unhappy Gayle, a summer that seemed to go nowhere… but thankfully the book gets much happier and the fun got back!

Because there is a competition! Make a movie. Win tons of money. Thankfully, Gayle has a wonderful friend named Elijah who loves making movies. Together they search to make a movie and meet friends along the way. I really loved seeing this group of kids get closer. Because at first there was quite a bit of tension. Maddie is a bit weird of a character and it took me (and the rest of the kids) to get used to her strange ways. But boy, she could tell stories!

I really had fun seeing the kids make their own movie, narrate, interview, and shoot beautiful scenes and have Elijah stitch it together to make something. But I also loved that we saw bits and pieces of the other movie (the big one from Hollywood) pop up at times. I love Jaws so it was fun to see all the props, see the robot shark.

I wasn’t a fan of Lex, but I started to warm up to him as the story went on. He does have some more improving to do, but he is getting there.

The ending, wow what a thrill! What a ride! I feel sad that this was their decision… but I could also understand why. The epilogue was such a nice addition and it had me smiling from ear to ear because it was just so sweet and heart-warming.

The art? Love love love it. It is such a great style and I love the colours that were used. They fit so well with the mood, the summer vibes.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book to all! Be sure to check this one out!

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com/
Profile Image for Melanie Dulaney.
1,376 reviews66 followers
April 13, 2021
Film-making, sharks, friend drama, and financial woes are all wrapped in a graphic novel format for middle grades to younger YA readers. Cartoonist Ira Marcks' panels have a slightly edgy look to them that will appeal to the older in the target age group, but with the appeal of sharks and a whole section on movie monsters, a wide array of readers will be racing to read this one. While the main characters are in junior high, Marcks keeps this book free of profanity, violence and sexual content and the drama between friends and frenemies does not revolve around dating or other scenarios that might be considered too old for the more middle grade reader. Solid addition to any library's graphic novel collection. Thanks for the print ARC, Little and Brown and Amazon Vine!
98 reviews34 followers
July 4, 2021
My 10 year old son got a signed copy of this book after the author did a Zoom talk with my son’s class. My son LOVED this book - loved the story, loved the art - and asked me to read it because he loved it so much. He would give this book 5 stars, which is good, because he’s the target audience. I wasn’t as crazy about the book - would give it 3 stars - so I split the difference to give it 4 stars.
Profile Image for kimreadsandreads.
430 reviews11 followers
June 26, 2021
I really try hard to read a variety of genres but I am such a mood reader that I sometimes get stuck in a rut and read the same thing repeatedly. That is one reason I was really glad that @tbrbeyondtours & @iramarcks gave me the opportunity to read and review Shark Summer a graphic novel by Ira Marcks.

I have a twelve year old step-grandson who I had in mind the whole time I was reading this. I think it is perfect for that middle-grade age group, girls or boys, but I enjoyed it as an adult too because it wasn’t written down to a lower level but had some solid plot themes and real depth. Yes- all that in a graphic novel! I also have a daughter who has always been obsessed with sharks and I could see her clearly as one of the characters in this book.

There is a mystery to solve and these kids are all about that, plus winning the prize money from the youth film contest would be nice too. I got some great Scooby-Doo vibes here, just a little bit darker and with a little more meat in the bones.

The artwork was great and the story fully entertained me. I am so glad I read this one and you will be too. It would be a great addition to your TBR.

Profile Image for Raven Black.
1,963 reviews5 followers
July 4, 2021
A friendship story, a family story and more. Things are bumpy but that's ok. Life is bumpy. When reality and movie magic fantasy come to this Scooby Gangs island, a lot is unmasked and healing can start.
Profile Image for DeAnne.
654 reviews17 followers
June 26, 2021
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

I didn't know a ton about this graphic novel going in but I was prepared for it to be a fun summer story, and it was! I really enjoyed the story as we followed Gayle as she navigated summer in Martha's Vineyard, made new friends, dealt with a movie crew on location and dove deep into an old legend. She was definitely a complex character with not only issues that a lot of teens face, but she's also having a crisis of identity due to what happened in her last baseball game, plus those she thought were her friends maybe aren't as good of friends as she thought. While the plot has lots of components to it, I felt they were all wrapped up really well by the end of the graphic novel.
Profile Image for Jill Jemmett.
1,690 reviews22 followers
June 13, 2021
Gayle Briar was the pitcher on her softball team until she broke her arm. Now, her mother has moved them to Martha’s Vineyard because her mom has fond memories of spending the summers there when she was a kid. Their plan to open an ice cream stand is put on hold when her mom has to get a higher paying job to pay for Gayle’s hospital bills. Gayle explores the island and watches the filming of a shark movie. Gayle ends up finding Elijah, a young eager filmmaker, and Maddie, a local girl with a ghost story. The three of them make a shark film to enter into a film competition, but they end up uncovering an ancient island secret.

This is the perfect summer read. Gayle had moved to Martha’s Vineyard, but since it was her first time spending the summer there, it was like she was on a vacation and learning about the island for the first time. Elijah was just in town for the season and Maddie had lived there all her life, but she was bullied by the local children. They were each outsiders in some way. The three of them made a good group to discover the island secrets.

I love it when characters explore an ancient ghost story! Those stores about ghosts and hidden histories fascinated me as a kid. Maddie knew a ghost story and they used it as inspiration to make their film. What Gayle and Elijah didn’t know was that the ghost story was part of a deeper secret on the island. This secret reveal at the end of the story tied everything in together, and made the story feel complete.

Shark Summer is a fun middle grade graphic novel for the summer!

Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Candice Ryan.
242 reviews
June 22, 2021
What a fun and exciting story! I actually did not expect to like this as much as I did. The storyline took on a darker twist to it that I did not see coming. I enjoyed mystery (Scooby-doo)/middle grade horror (Goosebumps shows and R.L. Stine books) as a child and this was very reminiscent of those. I can not help being drawn in to any story that involves sharks and mysteries because those are two of my favorite things. This novel is good for all ages... young and old alike. This is definitely one that earns a place on my shelves for sure.
Profile Image for Paige (pagebypaigebooks).
238 reviews9 followers
July 25, 2022
I'd like to thank TBR and Beyond Tours for inviting me to be a part of their Shark Summer tour! Check out my blog post and instagram for a mood board I created for the book! I also posted this review on my Instagram and blog!

Blog Tour Post

Instagram Post

I had a lot of fun reading this! The artwork was beautiful and I was definitely a fan of the colouring style. The setting had a great small town vibe that was reminiscent of summer. I enjoyed all the characters and thought that they each played a unique role in the story. I loved seeing their friendships develop and seeing how this helped each character grow. It was also realistic in that not all friendships are perfect and they need work and cooperation to flourish. The idea of making a home movie for a contest was very cute and made for a very interesting story as they travelled around the island and interviewed residents. The movie being shot on the island also gave insight into movie making and seeing one of the crew take the kids under their wing was very heart warming. I felt that the plot progressed at a good pace and had many twists. Overall this was a very enjoyable graphic novel that I think is perfect for the summer!
2 reviews
September 8, 2021
Fantastic - this beautifully illustrated graphic novel explores the friendships, heartaches, adventures and tough life lessons of a young girl recovering from a physical injury, regret and a new home setting. Set in Martha's Vineyard during the filming of SHARK! (Here meant to represent JAWS) Gayle breaks her arm and causes a rift with her best friend during an important softball game. Her initial outlook on the next few months of summer is bleak - until she makes new friendships and together they devise an exciting plan to make a movie together and win a huge prize - the unexpected outcome and the friends' adventures are highlighted by vivid colors, fully realized characters and expert storytelling by Marcks. This isn't just a book for kids, but can be enjoyed by all ages.
Profile Image for Katja.
205 reviews29 followers
July 3, 2022
Beautiful and rich in atmosohere, with highly developed characters and interesting conflicts, this is a must-read for anyone interested in YA / middle grade graphic novels!
Profile Image for Ryan.
465 reviews
July 9, 2022
Shark Summer is the debut graphic novel of author Ira Marcks about a girl named Gayle as she spends her summer coping with both moving to Martha's Vineyard and her baseball season ending pretty bad. Her mother is trying to open up a creamery business, making Gayle feel a sense of duty to help out, since it is clear her mom is struggling to pay the bills. Not helping is that her ex-teammate Lex (Alexandria) appears to be uninterested in rekindling their friendship since the game costed them both the season & Gayle's arm. Upon meeting Elijah, an amateur filmmaker, they enter a film festival contest to earn the prize money (for Gayle) and recognition (for Elijah). They receive tips from a special effects worker, from a visiting film crew for a summer blockbuster, on how to make a film, specifically, what kind of story they want to tell. Ultimately, the duo decides to unravel the mystery of an old island legend, looking to see how the myth originated from, and along the way, they make an unexpected partnership with a loner girl, Maddie, who seems very interested in the legend. Time is running out before the deadline arrives and the team needs to find all the information they could find from a story does not want to be told by the islanders.

I felt a little mislead by the premise, as I originally believed that their would be a literal phantom shark lurking the waters as the kids go on their film expedition. It's partially true, but it's not in the way you would think. This story is both a mystery plot and more character-driven, as they continue their investigation, Gayle learns that she must let go of the pain that she feels about herself, from her past incidents on the team. Only then would her mind be cleared and she could see how much it was impacting her relationships with those around her. Luckily, the story ends on a happy note that Gayle is able to move on from her grief and be able to reconcile with Lex while becoming more optimistic in her outlook of the new saga in her life. Since Gayle is the main protagonist, she gets the most development in her character, but that leaves the supporting cast a little lacking in their growth, namely in Lex, since she was not as present in the plot as Elijah & Maddie. Regardless, I found the story engaging and suspenseful in answering the story behind the phantom shark. Since it's a graphic novel, the text is not too heavy, rather it is the panels themselves that shows us how much the characters go through, which I thoroughly enjoyed the cartoonish style Marcks has done here. An uplifting story for young audiences and myself, especially after reading a handful of dry materials, I'll be sure to check out Marcks' next release soon as he seems real promising with these kinds of stories!
Profile Image for Jodie "Bookish"  Cook.
1,717 reviews3 followers
June 1, 2021
Book Review
Title: Shark Summer by Ira Marcks
Genre: Graphic Novel
Rating: 4 Stars
As many of my readers will know I don’t read comics and graphic novels that often but Shark Summer caught my eye with its beautiful cover and interesting premise. On thing I noticed straight away about this graphic novel was that the art style was super cute and really appealed to my tastes. The way the graphic novel is designed and the story itself really reminded me of later 2000’s kids movies that were slightly edgier, moving towards the teen genre like Monster House. We are introduced to Gayle who after breaking her arm gets to spend the summer at Martha’s Vineyard. Her mother is working extra hard in order to cover her medical expenses (America!) which means the dream of opening an ice cream store are put on hold for the time being. I really liked how the family dynamic was established early on and that some of the internal conflict came from things that ordinary people reading this novel can relate to like medical expenses.
While Gayle mopes around as kids do she makes some new friends in the form of Elijah and Maddie. Both Elijah and Maddie are outcasts like Gayle which means they instantly bond and end up working together on a youth film project in order to win the prize money. Any horror movie fans like myself will be able to tell that the movie in this graphic novel is clearly inspired by Jaws if it wasn’t obviously from the cover then it soon becomes very easy to see in the story. The rest of the graphic novel is just following Gayle, Elijah and Maddie on this wild adventure that to me reminded me a little of Scooby-Doo mixed with some major gothic vibes, strange history about cults and the sharks themselves.
Overall, I wasn’t expecting Shark Summer to be as dark as it turned out to be and I think depending on the reader this might be too dark for some younger readers. If you were fan of scary books like Goosebumps as a kid or enjoyed movies like Monster House then I would definitely recommend Shark Summer as it brought back all those creepy, nostalgic feelings for me and I really enjoyed it, however, I would recommend getting a physical copy rather than a digital one as the layout was strange to read on my kindle and I did have to go back once or twice as I felt that something was missing but it was probably a formatting issue.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tess.
85 reviews8 followers
July 29, 2022
Martha’s Vineyard is taken over by a film crew making the movie “Jaws” I MEAN “Shark!” Meanwhile a youth film contest is going on and the winner gets $3000 which inspires a group of unlikely friends to make their own film investigating the shady history of their hometown.

Main character: Gayle, former star of the local softball team, recovering from a broken arm, who wants the prize money to help her mom start up their family ice cream shop.

Side characters:
- Elijah, son of a reporter covering the movie production, with an enthusiasm for film, and a seemingly unlimited budget
- Maddie, an outcast teen who lives in a lighthouse
- Lex, Gayle’s teammate, Maddie’s bully, and daughter of a wealthy hotel owner
- Their parents (including Maddie’s dad who speaks ASL)
- Various island residents
- Various film crew

Art style: kind of nostalgic, comic strip style, which suits because the book is set in the 1970’s

Personally I loved:
- The cult storyline which gave me Lovecraft vibes
- The cute wholesome ending (following the dark dramatic climax)
- The fact that there’s another book coming, inspired by “The Shining,” featuring Elijah!

Who would I give it to? Kids who love “The Goonies,” kids who like mysteries, kids who like horror, kids who like “Goosebumps,” kids who read “Misfit City.”
Profile Image for Eli.
65 reviews3 followers
July 17, 2021
***** A delightfully refreshing and interesting graphic novel story by a debut children's author & illustrator. After Gayle is sidelined from baseball after a painful accident, she makes the unlikeliest of friendships with Elijah and Maddie, outcasts of their own specialties. They live on Martha's Vinyard, which is having a film fest with a large cash prize - they set out to make a movie together about a haunting tale of the island, each with their own motive to win the big prize. I read a lot of books and sometimes it is the same story or themes or even current events rehashed and remixed over and over. This is was a completely new story for me with lots of mystery and a great storyline! It is an awesome summer read for fans of comics and graphic novels.
Profile Image for Alicia.
5,887 reviews119 followers
June 11, 2021
An entertaining yet mysterious beach read about a summer on the island where the bigwigs have come in to shoot a fancy movie yet Gayle is licking some wounds after a failed baseball season and the fact that her mom's dream of owning an ice cream shop has been traded out for housekeeping so Gayle has to find something to entertain herself this summer- and making a movie for a contest is the best way to do that.

The distinctive style works so well with the bright coloring and characterizations. It feels vibrant and fresh in both aspects with an added campyness that entertains.
Profile Image for emyrose8.
3,465 reviews15 followers
July 15, 2021
This is a fun summer graphic novel that takes a strange turn at the end. Still enjoyable though. You learn some things about filming too.

Note- bullying, some gore, mild peril, ghostly things (magical realism)
Profile Image for Kirstie.
325 reviews14 followers
August 15, 2021
4.5 rounded up. There’s a lot going on in this 290 pages graphic novel. I really enjoyed it and especially loved the mystery and Maddie! ❤️ The friendships are sweet and the tales of the island had me hooked. Sort of felt the beginning was a bit of a drag, but a minor issue.
Profile Image for Katelyn.
121 reviews107 followers
November 18, 2022
Loosely inspired by the filming of Jaws, a group of friends spend the summer working on a documentary whilst a big Hollywood shark movie is being filmed on their island. Yes it's for kids, but it had me emotional. I absolutely loooooved this.
Profile Image for Kris Patrick.
1,498 reviews72 followers
Shelved as 'abandoned'
May 8, 2022
I don’t wear reading glasses for kid books
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