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“Elbert in the Air” and other new titles

January 17th, 2023
2023 books
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2023 books
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2023 books
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2023 books
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“Elbert in the Air,” is a brand-new picture book by Monica Wesolowska, with art by Jerome Pumphrey (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2023, $18.99). Elbert cannot help it, he has to be up in the air. His mom understands, and together, they make it work.

“Love is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement,” written by the gifted and insightful Sandra Neil Wallace, with illustrations by Caldecott Honor Recipient Bryan Collier (2023, A Paula Wiseman Book/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ages 4 and older, $18.99).

This beautifully illustrated biography tells the story of Chicagoan Diane Nash, an American hero who not everyone knows about. Hoping that with this book, lots of kids and grown-ups know who she is. Nash’s story is extraordinary. After attending Howard University in Washington, D.C., Nash transferred to Fisk University in Nashville. Her political work ignited when she led John Lewis and 122 other students in Nashville in the first of lunch counter sit-ins. The Nashville Student Movement began. The comprehensive timeline in the back of the book, the resources, quotes, bibliography… all of it. This is a meaningful, powerful book. Highly recommend.

“Me and the Boss: A Story About Mending and Love,” written by Michelle Edwards, with illustrations by April Harrison, is a cool book about the big sisters who look out for you even when they’re getting on your nerves. (Anne Schwartz Books/Random House Children’s Books, 2022, $18.99.)

“Little Black Boy: Oh, the Things You Will Do!” written by Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Larry C. Fields III, with illustrations by Paul Davey, is a beautiful, dreamy, empowering picture book. (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House, 2022, $18.99.) A young boy loves marine biology and is inspired by his heroes, Samuel M. Nabrit, Robert K. Trench and Ernest Everett Just. Great title.

“Little Black Girl: Oh, the Things You Can Do!,” by Kirby Howell Baptiste, with more beautiful art by Paul Davey, is a lovely, sweet book about a girl who knows that the sky is the limit. (Or rather, not the limit.) (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House, 2022, $18.99.)

“You have sparks in your brain and fire in your heart. You can decide where to stop and where to start.”

Yes, she would like to become a robotics engineer, she is thinking, and is inspired by some of my favorites: Claudette Colvin, Audre Lord, Toni Morrison… ahhhh. Yes, kid. Go for it. This is a fantastic pair of books. 

“You Gotta Meet Mr. Pierce! The Storied Life of Folk Artist Elijah Pierce,” by Chiquita Mullins Lee and Carmella Van Vleet, with extraordinary illustrations by Jennifer Mack-Watkins. (Kokila/Random House, 2023, all ages, $18.99.) This is a great modern day telling of the true story of a great man and artist.

He really does sound like someone I would have liked to have met. People like Mr. Pierce? We are all better off knowing people like this. He made incredible wood carvings, and as a side job, worked as a barber. His barbershop? Was also an art studio. Man, do I love stories like this. Mr. Pierce’s list of honors is included in the back of the book.

“Your life is a book and every day is a page.” — Mr. Elijah Pierce 

Mr. Pierce passed in 1984, but you can still see his work at the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; the American Folk Art Museum, New York, New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“You Come From Greatness: A Celebration of Black History,” by author Sara Chinakwe and illustrator Ken Daley is a vibrant new picture book from WaterBrook/Random House. (2023, all ages, $13.99.)

“You come from people who spoke with voices as mighty as a lion’s roar. You come from change makers and status shakers, people ready to rally in unity to ensure your future.”

I appreciate the list of names of the powerful people pictured here, the recommended reading list in the back, the added bios, and the enthusiastic nature of this book. It lifts up the reader, the imaginary hero of the book, and all of us.

I’ve got to say… it’s pretty cool to see real-life historical heroes finally get credit where credit is due. Big smiles for all of these titles. Have a great week.

WM

First book review of 2023

January 2nd, 2023

Bok!

(Photo by Nancy E. Rawley)

Books! Here is what’s new on the nightstand as we tumble headfirst into the new year. Yes, Year of the Rabbit, yes yes yes yes. In that spirit, I’m trying to finish this review before the battery runs out on my laptop. Here we go…

Just received a review copy of “Between the Listening and the Telling: How Stories Can Save Us,” by Ashland, Oregon, writer Mark Yaconelli (Broadleaf Books, 2022, 188 pages, $24.99). The Ford Family Foundation sent this one. They send out free books to reviewers, and they fund scholarships. Good people, good work! And you know I live for stories. xoxo

“The Sugar Mouse Cake,” written by Gene Zion, with art by Margaret Bloy Graham, is an old favorite from when I was a baby. A young kitchen worker dreams of becoming the royal pastry chef, so he and his pet mouse enter the baking competition. Have I reviewed it before? I have no idea. But pick up a copy for the kids or grandkids if you’re lucky enough to find one, looks like it’s out of print. (Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, Jan. 1, 1964, $334.02 on Amazon nooooooo…)

“Dressing Up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head,” written by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Diana Toledano (Beach Lane Books, 2022, ages 3-8, all ages, $18.99). Oh, my friends, the genius of my girl Edith Head. Get this one for the artists, fashionistas and movie buffs in your life. It’s delightful.

Ciao for now, bon appetit, and Happy Year of the Bunny,

xoxo and love,

WM

Saturday Book Review, y’all

December 31st, 2022

Bok!

St. John’s Wort/yellow flowers, photo by Nancy E. Row

Hullo, hullo, dear readers. Happy New Year’s Eve and here is a round-up to end all round-ups for the year, with a great selection of eclectic titles. What are you reading today?

Turn the TV off, grab a book and get over here.

When I was a kid, some of our best family times involved everyone reading. Ignoring each other, occasionally; sometimes avoiding each other entirely, sure, even in the same room. Funny, you know? My fave was when we were companionably eating dinner together-but-apart, while we all read.

My family, both sides, Mom’s and Dad’s, and our extended families, grandparents, aunts/uncles/cousins, most of us enjoy reading, swapping books, talking about literature.

Here’s the thing — reading, together and apart, can be one of the most sociable things on Earth. Fun for the babies, the little kids, the struggling readers, the big kids and grown-ups… and for those of us who live to read. Happy New Year, welcome 2023.

Forget about the phone, the TV, the Netflix and all of the rest and find something to read.

Up first:

Leftover from Christmas, I have a very special copy of “Reindeer in Here: A Christmas Friend,” written by Adam Reed and illustrated by Xindi Van. (OK, TV tie-in on this one — it was also an animated special on CBS/Paramount. Simon Spotlight, 2017/2022, $29.99.) This book is about not being like everyone else, and yes, that is perfectly fine. Set comes with a picture book and a plush toy, and is perfect for a belated gift now, or to stash until next year.

“City Spies: City of the Dead,” by James Ponti, is skedded for release Feb. 7, 2023 (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2023, ages 8-12, grades 3-7, 389 pages, $18.99). In this fourth book in the series, the kids head to Cairo to do some international codebreaking.

Along those lines… “The Lost Library,” by Melbourne-based writer/illustrator/designer Jess McGeachin, is a cool new picture book, and no, it’s not just for library geeks such as myself (Viking, 2022, $18.99). Oliver moves to a new house and is feeling out of sorts. Luckily he has his books for entertainment, plus an extra he finds in his closet. One thing though… it’s marked, “Please return to: The Lost Library.” With his new friend Rosie, they set out to return the book. Beautiful. Reminded me of China Mieville’s classic, “Un Lun Dun.”

Shannon Gibney’s “The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be,” is a new release for the new year (Dutton Books, 2023, 237 pages, $18.99.) The jacket calls it “a speculative memoir of transracial adoption,” and that’s a great description for this well-researched, well-thought-out journey to make sense of a hidden past. Gibney, a mom of two, author and college prof, lives in Minneapolis. Interesting read.

Just started reading “Remember Me Now: A Journey Back to Myself and a Love Letter to Black Women,” an engaging combination of stories, poems and letters “to sisters of all walks of life,” by Faitth Brooks (Waterbrook, 2023, 194 pages, $23).

She can write, man. I’m just saying. (Speaking of “man” — the guys need to read this one, too, and get clued in. Sorry but not sorry. It’s true.) After I finish this review, I’m spending the rest of the afternoon on the couch, curled up with Faitth’s book. The dedication reads: “To my mother, grandmothers, and ancestors, who survived so I could soar.” Beautiful. (Look for her podcast, too, Melanated Faith.)

Peace. Love. Happy 2023. Please, God, let it be better than the past few years.

WM

“You So Black” book review

December 5th, 2022

Bok!

“Wild roses” (photo by Nancy Row Rawley)

You know the history of the phrase, “You So Black”? You’re smart, you probably do, but I didn’t. It started, according to history provided by author/poet/artist Theresa Tha S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D. and illustrator London Ladd, as a “remnant of ‘The Dozens.'”

The Dozens was a game of insults, practiced by enslaved black people, who would ridicule each other on the auction block to discourage potential slave masters. Over the years, it evolved/devolved into an insult competition, to make people feel bad about their skin color.

That’s where the artists picked up, switched it up, and brought us the new picture book (which will be released in January) “You So Black” (Denene Miller Books, Jan. 2023, ages 4-8 — and up — $18.99.) It isn’t just a picture book, it’s a gift. It’s magical. It glows. It takes an old “game” and makes it an affirmation, a joy.

Just a joy, this book.

“You so Black, when you smile, the stars come out. You so black, when you’re born, the god come out.”

London uses a mixed media approach with his work — cut paper, tissue paper, colored pencil and acrylic paint. All of my faves, by the way. Like I said, it glows. And Theresa’s poem has the sweetest rhythm.

Theresa and London will be on tour with the book; please check their websites for details. Peace.

WM

Gift ideas 2022

November 23rd, 2022

Bok!

(“Last summer…” photo by Nancy)

Hello, dear friends and readers, how are you today? It’s cold and clear here, but not pouring like it was yesterday. I was out and about, and the roads resembled lakes. The underside of my car is washed clean now.

But today I’m home and rocketing through a list of books for you. Any and all would be great holiday or birthday or no-reason-needed gifts. I’m going to organize it a bit differently, and just throw some great titles at you. I wouldn’t mind uncovering my dining room table, I think it’s there, somewhere, under the stacks and stacks of new titles. So here we go. I’ll give you three categories: All ages, big kids and little kids.

Please support authors, illustrators, book publishers and the work they do, and your local booksellers, too. I always include Amazon links because they’re easy. Check with local booksellers, though, because they often ship or sometimes even deliver in person, or let you do a drive-by pick up.

XO and happy shopping.

WM

For all ages:

“Lunar New Year Mad Libs,” yes, I said Mad Libs. Super fun way to entertain the kids and each other at a gathering or party.

“Give This Book Away!” by Darren Farrell, illustrated by Maya Tatsukawa (Random House Kids, 2022, $18.99). This is a super idea — take this pretty picture book, take the love, take the words, take the kindness, spread it around. Pass it on. Especially love the flyleaves — lines and space to write the names (and cities) of everyone the book has gone to. Aw. Y’all know I live for stuff like this. Share the soup, share the space, share the compassion. Just do it. (Nike didn’t make that up… I did. LOL.)

“Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea,” by Ashley Herring Blake, is a middle grade book, but I’m including it under all ages because it deals with grief (loss of a parent) in such a thoughtful way. I really love this book, which includes a family story, a mystery from the past, a mermaid’s tale, and, of course, the deep blue sea. Highly recommended.

“The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Life in Native America,” young readers adaptation, and “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee,” the grown-up edition will be good additions to your bookshelf. (David Treuer, who is Ojibwe, from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, a New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist; Penguin Young Readers, 2022, ages 12 and up, 275 pages, $19.99.)

For the big kids:

“We Were the Fire: Birmingham 1963,” written by Shelia P. Moses (Penguin Young Readers/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022, ages 8-12, 159 pages, $17.99), is moving historical fiction about the American Civil Rights Movement. This one should really be included in the all ages list, it’s powerful and needed.

“Core 52 Family Edition,” by Mark E. Moore and Megan Howerton (WaterBrook/Multnomah, 2022, 223 pages, $16.99), is a guide to building kids’ Bible confidence. (There is a “Core 52” for the grownups, too.)

Fairy tales! Always. “Cinderella — with Dogs!” is a great new title from Linda Bailey, with hilarious and sweet illustrations by Freya Hartas (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022, $18.99). Woof!

For the little kids:

“Chinese New Year,” a Mr. Men Little Miss Book, originated by Roger Hargreaves (written and illustrated by Adam Hargreaves, Grosset & Dunlap, 2018, $4.99). This series, which started in 1971, is just a lot of fun. We catch up with our friends, Little Miss Neat, Mr. Greedy, Little Miss Shy and all the others, trying to celebrate the New Year and messing it up thoroughly. Completely. Is there any hope for this crowd? Haha.

Two more for Lunar New Year, which is coming up early for 2023… Jan. 22nd. Yes! Year of the Rabbit, on of my favorites. Beautiful. * “Alex’s Good Fortune,” by Benson Shum (Penguin Workshop, 2020, $4.99). and… * “Natasha Wing’s The Night Before Lunar New Year,” with Lingfeng Ho, art by Amy Wummer.

Uni the Unicorn is my new best friend, yo. So cute. Hello, “The Haunted Pumpkin Patch,” (with stickers! Sorry. Little late on this title); “How to Say Thank You” (includes punch-out thank you cards) and… “Reindeer Helper.” All titles are written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, with illustrations by Brigette Barrager. (Random House, 2022, $6.99-$10.99.)

Friday, Friday, Book Day

November 11th, 2022

Pix

“Stealing All the Scratch,” photo by moi, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

I love the deer, I do.  Look at those spots! (The babies are bigger now, and still not full-sized, but have lost their spots, alas.) Honestly, though, they need to ramble on and find other food sources. The poor chickens. The deer eat all the food I scatter for the birds, then wedge into their coop and eat whatever they can get from the dispenser.

Only… poor chickens nothing! I saw one of the big girls chase off three deer (not these ones — a buck and two does) the other day, and it was pretty funny. I stamped my foot at them, shoo! and the Ameraucana (do you know what they look like? They’re gorgeous, and their eggs are cool) came tearing up behind me, lieutenant chicken, there to aid and assist. The deer fled and the chicken went back to the flock.

We’ve been raising chickens, or they’ve been raising us, pretty much since we moved into this place, five years this month. #thedaysgoslowtheyearsgofast #truth

They have broken my heart, stressed me out, cost me way more money than I ever thought possible. But they’re my friends, they’re sociable, fresh eggs are pretty great (15 hens now and one rooster = anywhere from 2-12 eggs a day) and I love them. I’m a chicken chick now. Would be nice to travel, though… maybe. Someday. Just sayin.

On to the books!

Received a case of books today, all spiritually-based. If you are in search of some new titles on that topic, here are several:

“Brown Baby Jesus,” by written by Dorena Williamson and illustrated by Ronique Ellis (WaterBrook, 2022, all ages, $15.99). Beautiful rendition of the story of Jesus’ birth, weaving in the stories of Adam and Eve, Moses, David and Bathsheba and others. The art is exquisite.

Dorena Williamson also gifts us “Crowned with Glory.” This sweet picture book, illustrated by Shellene Rodney, is a real treat. A little girl’s hair symbolizes a crown, and the glory of community, service, church, friendship and family. (WaterBrook, 2022, $12.99.) The author and her husband Chris founded Strong Tower Bible Church.

“Hues of You” is a super cool new activity book “for learning about the skin you are in.” Lucretia Carter Berry, PhD, wrote the book, with illustrations by Adia Carter (WaterBrook, 2022, 63 pages, all ages, $14.00). I’d like copies of this to gift everyone I know.

“Color-Courageous Discipleship: Follow Jesus, Dismantle Racism, and Build Beloved Community” is a new release from Michelle T. Sanchez, with a foreword by Ed Stetzer and an afterword by Jemar Tisby. (WaterBrook, 2022, 279 pages, $18.00.) Sanchez, the senior discipleship and evangelism leader of the Evangelical Covenant Church, presents a “guidebook grounded in the gospel.”

Michelle T. Sanchez also brings us “God’s Beloved Community,” a new picture book with illustrations by Camila Carrossine, a Brazilian artist who does beautiful work. The book is a companion to “Color-Courageous Discipleship.” (WaterBrook, 2022, ages 3 and up, $14.00.)

“Be the Difference, Serve Others and Change the World,” is a cool new monthly planner with a religious focus (2021, Ink & Willow/WaterBrook, $16.99). It’s my very favorite type of planner, too — undated. (As I tend to buy and misplace my planners, rediscover them, and then use them for a couple of years.) Lots of room for bullet journaling; tips, hints and tricks; and invitations to write, sketch and cut and paste wherever you’d like. Great quotes and scripture, too:

“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” — Isaiah 25:4

Talk soon! Keep reading.

WM

Books for the season… Boo!

October 29th, 2022

Pix

“BFF Squishmallow” (photo by moi)

Good morning, friends, and Happy Halloween Weekend!

I have a couple of scary books to share…

“Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch,” the sequel to “Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch,” is perfect for grades 3 and up. Author Julie Abe has brought us another charming tale about a cool little witch and her brave efforts to protect her community, the magical Rivelle Realm. (Hachette Book Group, 2021, 356 pages, $7.99.) Check out Abe’s other title, too: “Alliana, Girl of Dragon.”

And something a little scarier for the teens…

“Eternally Yours,” edited by Patrice Caldwell, contains “15 stories of paranormal love to capture your heart and resurrect your soul.” Whoa! (Viking, 2022, 382 pages, $19.99). Contributing authors include Melissa de la Cruz, Akshaya Raman, Adib Khorram and others. Great, and somewhat terrifying, book.

Book reviews from me to you

October 7th, 2022

Pix

Purple asters (photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Good morning, dear ones. What have you been up to?

I know it’s a little early for the holidays, even Halloween, but I have an idea for this year. Why not turn off the TV, the phones, the tablets, the laptops, and read a book, instead? There, I said it. I had the news on and just turned it off. So here are some ideas for books for the kiddos you may have in your life. If you don’t? Social service agencies, schools, community centers and lots of other places are happy to receive books as gifts. Where do you think my review copies land? I also share with the neighbors and my friends and family, of course. Share the love, share the books. Get rid of the tech, even if it’s just for a little while.

This week’s titles:

“Santa Mouse Bakes Christmas Cookies,” based on the character created by Michael Brown (Little Simon, 2022, $8.99). Santa Mouse, nestled into his cozy sardine tin bed, smells something delicious! Could it be… cookies? (Don’t bake them for half an hour, though, guys! Ten minutes or less should do. Sweet little addition to the Santa Mouse books. And not just a board book — a cushiony board book with lots of colorful illustrations.

“Five Little Dreidels,” a bright and cheerful board book by Jeffrey Burton, illustrated by Juliana Motzko (Little Simon, 2022, $6.99). Fun variation on the “Five Little Monkeys” story/song, this time with a table full of yummy holiday food, chocolate gelt, and playful dreidels who can’t stop getting into trouble.

“I’m a Little Snowman,” written by Hannah Eliot and illustrated by Anna Daviscourt (Little Simon, 2022, $6.99), another awesome little board book, will be fun for the littles. “I’m a little snow pal/head to toes/here are my buttons/here is my nose” (sung to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”). We’re still celebrating the beginning of fall, but I think I’m ready for winter, people.

“I Want That!” Well, who doesn’t, baby? (Little Simon, 2022, $9.99.) This board book from Hannah Eliot and Ana Sanfelippo has cool little wheels on each page, so the babies and preschoolers can practice their dexterity. Turn the wheels and discover a cake, bananas, different dress-up items in the closet, and a box full of toys. Fun!

I reviewed “Airi Sano, Prankmaster General: New School Skirmish” a little while ago, but I’m giving it another shoutout. Great novel for grades 3 and older, and will really speak to a lot of children (and their parents) who feel not quite listened to or understood.

Happy book-shopping and happy holidays when we get there!

xo

WM

“The World Needs More Purple Schools” and other new titles

September 29th, 2022

Bok!

“Oh what you can see from the Ester Lee!” Highway 101, Oregon Coast (vintage postcard)

Good morning, readers. It’s a beautiful, rainy fall morning in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Hope it is good where you are.

What’s up? Leave a comment if you feel like it. I like to know you’re out there.

First up for review today:

“The World Needs More Purple Schools” (part of the Purple World series) is a new title by actress/author Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2022, ages 3-7, 40 pages, $18.99). Penny Purple takes us on a wild ride through her school, where we learn about learning, how to give back to the community, and the importance of being silly. And purple.

“Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure” hits the shelves Oct. 18, the second book in the new series written by Hena Khan, with illustrations by Wastana Haikal. (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2022, ages 7-10, 130 pages, $17.99). Zara takes off on another mission, this time to find funds to replace her stolen bike. Will sales from a Treasure Wagon bring in the much-needed money? Zara is an engaging character, and her family and friends are lively, too. Enjoy.

Witch Hazel from the Bugs Bunny cartoons was always a fave of mine. Now along comes another “Witch Hazel,” this one dreamt up by author Molly Idle (“Pearl,” “Coral,” the Tea Rex series, and “Flora and the Flamingo”). (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Little, Brown and Company; on sale: Oct. 11, 2022; ages 4-8; $18.99.) You will love the old-fashioned art and the charming family story.

Bon appetit, loves!

WM

Fall books for the kiddos

September 28th, 2022

2021

(Diamond painting by me, WM)

Yeah, I sometimes start projects and then don’t finish them. Doesn’t everyone? I like that meme that says, Yes, procrastinate! That way you have something to do tomorrow and all of this free time now.

#truth

I do like diamond painting, writing books, gardening, fixing up the house. Blogging and playing the piano, rearranging the furniture. It’s a simple life, overall, and it’s mine. I like it.

So what’s on the nightstand this week? Kids’ books about fall, leaves, pumpkins, all of it, and more books on the way. That means fun and good art. First up…

If you’re looking for a books about fall and leaves, start with these:

“Fletcher and the Falling Leaves: A Fall Book for Kids,” by Julie Rawlinson, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

“Leaves Falling Down: Learning About Autumn Leaves,” written by Lisa Marie Bullard, illustrated by Nadine Rita Takvorian

“Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom (DK Our World in Pictures)” (hardcover, illustrated, 2019)

“The Leaf Thief,” by Alice Hemming, illustrated by Nicola Slater

Received a lovely review copy of “If You Find a Leaf,” a new picture book by Aimee Sicuro (Random House Studio, 2022, $17.99). Let’s start with the cover, a little girl, with her doggy, in a boat with a big red leaf for a sail. And the flyleaves: leaves! Of course. Little leaf linden, Japanese cherry and elm, American basswood… just beautiful. The story takes us on an imaginative journey, travelled by our hero and her pup, high up in the air, sailing on the ocean and having a parade with her friends. In the back, you’ll find instructions on how best to preserve leaves. All in all, an amazing book.

Welcome, autumn. Glad to see you again.

WM

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