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Monster: A Graphic Novel

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A stunning black-and-white graphic novel adaptation of Walter Dean Myers's Michael L. Printz Award winner and New York Times bestseller Monster, adapted by Guy Sims and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile Monster is a multi-award-winning, provocative coming-of-age story about Steve Harmon, a teenager awaiting trial for a murder and robbery. As Steve acclimates to juvenile detent A stunning black-and-white graphic novel adaptation of Walter Dean Myers's Michael L. Printz Award winner and New York Times bestseller Monster, adapted by Guy Sims and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile Monster is a multi-award-winning, provocative coming-of-age story about Steve Harmon, a teenager awaiting trial for a murder and robbery. As Steve acclimates to juvenile detention and goes to trial, he envisions the ordeal as a movie. Monster was the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award recipient, an ALA Best Book, a Coretta Scott King Honor selection, and a National Book Award finalist. Now Monster has been adapted into a graphic novel by Guy Sims, with stunning black-and-white art from Dawud Anyabwile, Guy's brother. Fans of Monster and of the work of Walter Dean Myers—and even kids who think they don't like to read—will devour this graphic adaptation.


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A stunning black-and-white graphic novel adaptation of Walter Dean Myers's Michael L. Printz Award winner and New York Times bestseller Monster, adapted by Guy Sims and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile Monster is a multi-award-winning, provocative coming-of-age story about Steve Harmon, a teenager awaiting trial for a murder and robbery. As Steve acclimates to juvenile detent A stunning black-and-white graphic novel adaptation of Walter Dean Myers's Michael L. Printz Award winner and New York Times bestseller Monster, adapted by Guy Sims and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile Monster is a multi-award-winning, provocative coming-of-age story about Steve Harmon, a teenager awaiting trial for a murder and robbery. As Steve acclimates to juvenile detention and goes to trial, he envisions the ordeal as a movie. Monster was the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award recipient, an ALA Best Book, a Coretta Scott King Honor selection, and a National Book Award finalist. Now Monster has been adapted into a graphic novel by Guy Sims, with stunning black-and-white art from Dawud Anyabwile, Guy's brother. Fans of Monster and of the work of Walter Dean Myers—and even kids who think they don't like to read—will devour this graphic adaptation.

30 review for Monster: A Graphic Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    Monster: The Graphic Novel is a companion to (RIP) godfather of African American Children’s and YA literature Walter Dean Myers’s classic and still wildly popular tale of juvenile justice and representation, Monster, and it is not, as are some recent comics adaptations of books taught in American schools such as Speak, To Kill a Mockingbird, or The Handmaid’s Tale are, an instant classic artistic rendition of the original, but it is good and especially useful as a way of helping visualize the st Monster: The Graphic Novel is a companion to (RIP) godfather of African American Children’s and YA literature Walter Dean Myers’s classic and still wildly popular tale of juvenile justice and representation, Monster, and it is not, as are some recent comics adaptations of books taught in American schools such as Speak, To Kill a Mockingbird, or The Handmaid’s Tale are, an instant classic artistic rendition of the original, but it is good and especially useful as a way of helping visualize the story. The question is whether it was really necessary to do a comics version, as the story is easily accessible and pretty “visual” in the original, as Steve Harmon, stuck in jail for the trial, keeps a journal and shapes his experience of events into a screenplay. In keeping with the continuing middle grades and YA fascination with multiple fonts and type sizes, it is (still, two decades after its initial publication) lively and visually interesting (for them) as a text as it focuses on the trial, giving kids ample opportunity to engage in their own “mock trials” and inquiry into juvenile justice in their vicinities. But the graphic adaptation just focuses on the trial, and not the representation of experience in a journal or screenplay with which Steve is engaged, so it is far more straightforward than the original. I read it with my Growing Up class in conjunction with other books on juvenile justice such as The Hate U Give, Neighborhood Girls, American Boys and the Poet X, with some poetry on related issues (including 1919 by Eve Ewing and Bloodstone Cowboy by Kara Jackson. I’ll say that most of my students who read this version of the book liked it quite a bit more than I did. I thought it was just fine but I’d never substitute it for the original.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    Monster: A Graphic Novel by Guy A. Sims This was a book with high tension and even though it was a graphic novel, it really showed the fear and possibility of wrongful imprisonment. Excellent mode to bring issues to the young adult/teen that would not normally read a regular novel. It's about a boy that lives in a very poor neighborhood and there street gangs everywhere. He knows where they are and sometimes they talk to him or his friend. There's a robbery and someone is killed. Two guys are arre Monster: A Graphic Novel by Guy A. Sims This was a book with high tension and even though it was a graphic novel, it really showed the fear and possibility of wrongful imprisonment. Excellent mode to bring issues to the young adult/teen that would not normally read a regular novel. It's about a boy that lives in a very poor neighborhood and there street gangs everywhere. He knows where they are and sometimes they talk to him or his friend. There's a robbery and someone is killed. Two guys are arrested then our guy of the story is too. It's his story of what he goes through with his family, his own lawyer, the other lawyer, etc. The kid is in a video class and occasionally it shows him and his class making this into a movie. This is the only weird part of the story. I guess it was to show what happened after but it puts these little bits into the story during. Anyway, it was a good story regardless.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Karen Rose Ginman

    Wonderfully illustrated but lacks some clarify in the narrative in the opening scenes for those unfamiliar with the story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Bea

    Very moving and beautifully drawn. I have to read the novel now.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    I vividly remember reading the original Monster novel written by Walter Dean Meyers, so I was excited when I came across this graphic novel adaptation. I usually enjoy graphic novel adaptations and love that they make important stories accessible to a wider audience of readers, but unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this adaptation. I found the story disjointed and jumbled, and would have appreciated if more background information was provided at the start. Providing readers with a better understandi I vividly remember reading the original Monster novel written by Walter Dean Meyers, so I was excited when I came across this graphic novel adaptation. I usually enjoy graphic novel adaptations and love that they make important stories accessible to a wider audience of readers, but unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this adaptation. I found the story disjointed and jumbled, and would have appreciated if more background information was provided at the start. Providing readers with a better understanding of who Steve is and what has happened would make for a more engaging story and a deeper connection with the main character.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Reading is my Escape

    I love the original book and how it is written as a screenplay by the boy on trial. It's amazing (and heartbreaking) to see inside his mind as he goes through the trial and tries to decide if he is the monster they are claiming he is. The graphic novel format is done very well and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love the original book and how it is written as a screenplay by the boy on trial. It's amazing (and heartbreaking) to see inside his mind as he goes through the trial and tries to decide if he is the monster they are claiming he is. The graphic novel format is done very well and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Connor

    Steve Harmon has been accused of being in a robbery on December 22nd. Go along with Steve during the court trial and find out if he had a role in the robbery. Is Steve guilt like everyone else or is innocent like he says he is.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    ”Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I’ll call it what the lady prosecutor called me: Monster.” While I’m not 100 percent proof positive, I think I might have benefited from reading the novel first. Steve Harmon is sixteen years old and being tried as an accessory to murder. Supposedly, he’s been accused of being the lookout to a robbery that resulted in th ”Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I’ll call it what the lady prosecutor called me: Monster.” While I’m not 100 percent proof positive, I think I might have benefited from reading the novel first. Steve Harmon is sixteen years old and being tried as an accessory to murder. Supposedly, he’s been accused of being the lookout to a robbery that resulted in the murder of a local store owner. He claims he’s innocent, but in the eyes of the public he’s nothing more than another messed up black teenager from the wrong side of the tracks. As the trial proceeds, Steve begins to think of his experience akin to a movie and writes it down in the form of a screenplay, partly to let the truth come out and partly to keep himself from going insane. ”’We lie to ourselves in here. Maybe we are here because we lie to ourselves.” Interspersing his prison experiences with the trail and the events leading up to the trial, Monster is a portrayal of how even though we are led to believe that justice is color-blind, it might not always be the case. The original novel was published in 1999, but I was struck by how relevant its themes of racial injustice, prejudice and police brutality are. Especially considering the Black Lives Matter movement, this graphic novel couldn’t have come at a better time. I think the author touches on these subjects with a frank honesty many other authors are afraid of using, and it shows in both the character’s actions and observations by Steve. I also think the black and white illustrations by Dawud Anyabwile set the right tone of the novel and how dark and despondent the characters seem to be, and the human emotion he creates on the character’s faces simply leap off the page. That being said, when it came to the writing and overall execution of the graphic novel, it fell flat for me. I think a lot of the material was lost in translation when it came translating the novel’s original content to graphic novel format. And since the author Walter Dean Myers didn’t adapt the novel himself (he passed away the year before this was published), I think that maybe some of the material may have been overlooked or omitted to make it shorter, which I think is a shame. Maybe it would have made more sense to me if I had read the book first and I could see what might have been omitted, but I feel that a lot of side characters got too much time and the main character himself got too little time. The narrative format of the book also threw me off, and not in a good way. Not only was more time given to the side characters and not on Steve Harmon himself, the time jumps between the crime and the events of the trial were mumble jumbled within one another. The defendants' POVs were interspersed with Steve’s, making it occasionally hard to discern who was talking and whose POV we were listening to. And to be perfectly frank, some of the information given seemed to be fluff in order to fill in the plot gaps, and not relevant to the original story. It made me lose interest in the story and made it harder to connect with the characters. While the flaws of the justice system and the racial prejudices of minority youths is explored and examined thoroughly and in a respectful matter, the messages could be occasionally marred by a choppy narration style and too much time given to side characters. Still, the message of this novel could far outway the cons, given the right reader. However, if you’re considering reading this, I would recommend reading the novel first to gain a better understanding of what is going on, and to get deeper inside Steve’s head. Recommended with reservations.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    Myer's 1999 novel is a favorite class discussion novel for our 8th grade, so it was interesting to see it adapted into a graphic novel. Steve Harmon is an African American teenager who is very interested in film, and the book is presented as if it is the screenplay for a movie Harmon is making for class. Steve is on trial because he is accused of being the lookout for a robbery that ended in a drugstore owner being shot. Steve protrays his neighborhood, the people he knows, and his perception of Myer's 1999 novel is a favorite class discussion novel for our 8th grade, so it was interesting to see it adapted into a graphic novel. Steve Harmon is an African American teenager who is very interested in film, and the book is presented as if it is the screenplay for a movie Harmon is making for class. Steve is on trial because he is accused of being the lookout for a robbery that ended in a drugstore owner being shot. Steve protrays his neighborhood, the people he knows, and his perception of the events. The lawyers at the trial bring up doubt concerning many of the events, and Steve, while he knows he is not guilty, begins to doubt the actions that caused him to be in this situation. This is a timely book, given the current events in the news this summer. The graphic novel makes the characters seem very immediate and real, whether it is the arrogant swagger of Bobo, or the grief and disbelief of Steve's father. The difficulties that Steve faces in his neighborhood are not glossed over, and there are elements in the novel and in this graphic version that make this more suitable for young adult readers. It is a good book for springboard discussions about how innocent people can be accused of crimes when they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. This version stays true to the novel, although the beginning lacks some of the background information that helps readers to understand the situation in the novel. The pictures capture the gritty, inner city feeling of the setting, and will make this story more accessible to readers who find pictures easier to process than paragraphs of description. Monster: A Graphic Novel is a must have for readers who are being introduced to this story for the first time, or who have read the novel and want to see the story told in a different way. Teachers will find that using these books for a compare/contrast exercise could be very interesting. I, sadly, am not one who likes pictures, and since this book (given the original screenplay format) has always been confusing for me, I didn't much care for it personally. Will have to buy a copy, though!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    We read this book in my literacy class (Along with Monster) to study graphic novels. We also acted it out (I played Briggs), so . . . I'm not really sure how to review this book. It was good, and I think I would've liked it more had I not had to read it in sections and write paragraphs on it. Overall, it was a great book. Hopefully I get a chance to re-read it in the future without all the pressure of soaking up every detail to write a report on. 4 stars. We read this book in my literacy class (Along with Monster) to study graphic novels. We also acted it out (I played Briggs), so . . . I'm not really sure how to review this book. It was good, and I think I would've liked it more had I not had to read it in sections and write paragraphs on it. Overall, it was a great book. Hopefully I get a chance to re-read it in the future without all the pressure of soaking up every detail to write a report on. 4 stars.

  11. 4 out of 5

    April

    With listening to Serial, watching Making Murderer and reading All American Boys, I cannot get enough of media that explores the American justice system, flaws and all. My full review With listening to Serial, watching Making Murderer and reading All American Boys, I cannot get enough of media that explores the American justice system, flaws and all. My full review

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    A powerful visual representation about social welfare in today's society and how African American youth are viewed by the justice system. A powerful visual representation about social welfare in today's society and how African American youth are viewed by the justice system.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kara Belden

    Underwhelmed... maybe I would have preferred the original to the graphic adaptation?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Fuad Deane

    Such a good look at the injustice of the judicial system when things are stacked against a young boy. This Graphic novel depiction is Steve's story as he plays it out as of this is a movie. Each player in this case is a character in this movie. Such a good look at the injustice of the judicial system when things are stacked against a young boy. This Graphic novel depiction is Steve's story as he plays it out as of this is a movie. Each player in this case is a character in this movie.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dolly

    This adaptation of the award-winning novel by Mr. Myers is very faithful to the novel’s narrative. With over 150 pages of illustrations, dialogue, and internal monologue by Steve Harmon, the story captures the essence of life for a young man on the streets of Harlem, the terror of an adolescent who is experiencing being inside the prison system for the first time, and the changing perspectives of those in the court room, from the attorneys and court officers to the jurors, from family members an This adaptation of the award-winning novel by Mr. Myers is very faithful to the novel’s narrative. With over 150 pages of illustrations, dialogue, and internal monologue by Steve Harmon, the story captures the essence of life for a young man on the streets of Harlem, the terror of an adolescent who is experiencing being inside the prison system for the first time, and the changing perspectives of those in the court room, from the attorneys and court officers to the jurors, from family members and witnesses to the defendants, all observing the testimony and the court proceedings that will determine the fate of two young men’s lives. Using Photoshop to create black and white digital illustrations, the illustrator focuses primarily on the faces and the intense emotions experienced by the people in the story. By deliberately using variations of head position, gaze direction, and body language, the illustrator is able to convey much of the meaning of the story beyond the words and dialogue that are written on the page. The reader can, for example, see that the very sharp professionalism and cold detachment of Steve Harmon’s lawyer contrasted sharply with the rumpled, less polished demeanor of James King’s lawyer, which corresponds to their performance in defending their respective client. In addition, the shifting focus in various frames to depict just part of a face or reflecting the image of one character against another or even to zoom out or in on a scene really helps to capture the emotions of those whose lives will be dramatically changed by the final verdict. “After we had won the case…what did she see that caused her to turn away?” (p. 153) One of the best aspects of this medium, I believe, is the ability to relate more to the characters, see each of them as a flawed human being, and understand more about the dehumanizing effects of long-term imprisonment. I loved the fantastical film class images that transition the reader from the intensity of the plot and depict the scene as merely part of a movie, a figment of Steve’s imagination, an absurdity that relates to Shakespeare’s quote from As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players”.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Thank you to the publisher for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 stars I was incredibly excited to see that a graphic novel was being made of this novel. Monster is one of those books that you'll never forget, and when I read it years ago, I was impressed with Meyer's writing, creativity, and the novel's structure. It is an amazing story, and I'm glad I got to read it again in a different format. I think the publishers were wise to roll this out now; sadly, it's still incr Thank you to the publisher for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 stars I was incredibly excited to see that a graphic novel was being made of this novel. Monster is one of those books that you'll never forget, and when I read it years ago, I was impressed with Meyer's writing, creativity, and the novel's structure. It is an amazing story, and I'm glad I got to read it again in a different format. I think the publishers were wise to roll this out now; sadly, it's still incredibly relevant (maybe even more so). As I was reading the novel, I frequently wondered if the publishers should have insisted on color--I lived in Harlem in my twenties and was missing the colors of the neighborhood, you see. Then I realized, "no," the black and white is just perfect. In the midst of the current national conversations we're having about racial disparities in our criminal justice system and the fate of many young, brown-skinned men in our country, the choice to make this colorless was perfect, I realized. I was close to giving the graphic novel a full 5 stars, the same rating I would give the novel, but I kept thinking of the kids in my classroom who would reach for this before the text version: readers who don't really like reading, but love a good story, especially told visually. The experimentation Meyer's employed in the novel is hard to translate visually. I admire Guy Sims' adaptation--I can't imagine working with that original script format, but it was tough--even for me. I struggled for quite awhile trying to "get" what was happening (it had been 15 years since I've read the story). Honestly, I tried to consider other ways Sims could have managed to show the setting/persona shifts, but I can't imagine anyone could do a better job and I applaud him for it. I'm actually going to read this again during the Christmas break, I enjoyed it so much.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Even though it won all the awards and was a common book in elementary schools, I never actually read Monster as a kid and picked this up as a way to get a deeper intro to the plot beyond "kid on trial for murder." 14-year old Stevie is facing 25-to-life after being accused of serving as lookout in a convenience store robbery. However, at 14, his mind is wandering throughout the trial and reframing everything as a movie. Not knowing the full plot ahead of time seems to be a key part of the book a Even though it won all the awards and was a common book in elementary schools, I never actually read Monster as a kid and picked this up as a way to get a deeper intro to the plot beyond "kid on trial for murder." 14-year old Stevie is facing 25-to-life after being accused of serving as lookout in a convenience store robbery. However, at 14, his mind is wandering throughout the trial and reframing everything as a movie. Not knowing the full plot ahead of time seems to be a key part of the book as many of the events have ambiguous interpretations and reader discovery is important. The graphic novel does a good job combining real life, Stevie's perception, and movie reel re-imaginings, and it makes me wonder how the formatting worked in print. The graphic novel itself is mainly harsh lines and entirely in black and white, playing on the book's themes of racial tension, guilt, and truth. Fun trivia: adapters Guy A. Sims and Dawud Anyabwile are apparently brothers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This graphic novel follows Steve Harmon, a black teenager who is awaiting his trial. Steve has been accused of robbery and murder, facing life in jail, whether he deserves it or not. Desperate to cope with his situation, Steve imagines his trial as a movie, writing down each scene and script. Through his trial, Steve faces who he is and how he wants to live his life. This graphic novel adaptation was my introduction to the original story by Walter Dean Myers. Though I know the original story uses This graphic novel follows Steve Harmon, a black teenager who is awaiting his trial. Steve has been accused of robbery and murder, facing life in jail, whether he deserves it or not. Desperate to cope with his situation, Steve imagines his trial as a movie, writing down each scene and script. Through his trial, Steve faces who he is and how he wants to live his life. This graphic novel adaptation was my introduction to the original story by Walter Dean Myers. Though I know the original story uses the words as a script, the adaptation works really well in this format. The art style feels like a comic book and is evocative of what Steve is feeling and how he views the world. I learned a lot about the justice system and minorities dealing with it. Content warning: language, murder, discrimination.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jae C

    I enjoyed Monster because it had beautiful illustration and had tons of detail that was very helpful to understand inside the story, The story is about a young black teenager who was accused of killing a shop owner. I think this story was made to represent modern society. Even though the young kid was a lookout he had nothing to do with the murder. The author tried to show what is happening even these days. In america if you see a young black kid accused for murder many people would think it was I enjoyed Monster because it had beautiful illustration and had tons of detail that was very helpful to understand inside the story, The story is about a young black teenager who was accused of killing a shop owner. I think this story was made to represent modern society. Even though the young kid was a lookout he had nothing to do with the murder. The author tried to show what is happening even these days. In america if you see a young black kid accused for murder many people would think it was him.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Malachi Madrone

    This book was very interesting in the beginning it was a little hard for me to understand but progressively became more clear. I love how the court is connected with movies and acting whih is something I love and want to do so I can relate to the book. "That is why I take films of myself, I want to know who I am."(153) I love the ending I love how it cuts to the class watching the movie and I love the message of court and film it ties everything up very well. This book was very interesting in the beginning it was a little hard for me to understand but progressively became more clear. I love how the court is connected with movies and acting whih is something I love and want to do so I can relate to the book. "That is why I take films of myself, I want to know who I am."(153) I love the ending I love how it cuts to the class watching the movie and I love the message of court and film it ties everything up very well.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bunny Cakes

    This was a great read and very poignant!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Yawatta Hosby

    The graphic novel was great except sometimes the lettering was way too small, which got distracting.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Juwi

    3.5 stars I really liked the film aspect of the graphic novel. Intense read but an important one. Glad it had a hopefully ending! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I enjoyed this more than I thought because I was a little confused about what exactly was going on in the beginning. I haven’t actually read the novel told in verse, so wasn’t familiar with the story. Trials stress me out but at the same time I can’t look away.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Traci

    Pop Sugar Challenge 2019: book with no chapters I read the original when I started my job in alternative Ed and my students talked about it and I was excited to find the graphic novel version. I’m teaching this now and my students are thoroughly enjoying it and relating to it as well.

  26. 5 out of 5

    TheNextGenLibrarian

    Just as powerful as the novel #weneeddiversebooks #projectlitbookclub

  27. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    The original was a classic and appropriate for a lot of different levels. This may be more gritty and geared more towards high-school. It's a good story, though. The original was a classic and appropriate for a lot of different levels. This may be more gritty and geared more towards high-school. It's a good story, though.

  28. 4 out of 5

    lmv

    I read the original novel by Walter Dean Myers when it first came out, over 20 years ago. It struck a chord for its careful character portraits and resonance with dilemmas that some young people navigate daily. This adaptation, as a graphic novel, re-presents the story with added layers of affect that are brought to life with the illustrations. The last scene, reminiscent of the concluding moments in Myers’ novel, still packs a punch.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Really really compelling. I wonder how the book was different now compared to this graphic novel. So much is captured within the time frame of one trial. And the end of the book almost feels like a cliffhanger of identity. I wonder if it's like that in the novel. Powerful stuff. Really really compelling. I wonder how the book was different now compared to this graphic novel. So much is captured within the time frame of one trial. And the end of the book almost feels like a cliffhanger of identity. I wonder if it's like that in the novel. Powerful stuff.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Camille Dent

    *3.5 The art style is really beautiful, and it does give a brutally blunt picture of some negative aspects of the judicial system. I have not read the original novel, but I'm betting pretty heavily that the novel format suits the narrative better than this adaptation does. The graphic novel definitely has its strengths and portrays a difficult narrative style better than I thought it would, but it does not feel nearly as inductive for discussion as the novel is reputed to be. *3.5 The art style is really beautiful, and it does give a brutally blunt picture of some negative aspects of the judicial system. I have not read the original novel, but I'm betting pretty heavily that the novel format suits the narrative better than this adaptation does. The graphic novel definitely has its strengths and portrays a difficult narrative style better than I thought it would, but it does not feel nearly as inductive for discussion as the novel is reputed to be.

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