BPL Teen Blog

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Welcome to Billings Public Library's teen-produced blog! Explore reviews about books, movies, music, and more. This is also a place for teens to share their own creative writing and art! Want to submit your work? Email us or use the FORMS tab above to write your own review! Check the BLOGGING TIPS tab for information to help you write a blog post.

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Nov 12, 2022

Book Review by Tatum

The Weight of Our Sky

Author: Hanna Alkaf

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My Thoughts: I liked the book The Weight of our Sky by Hanna Alkaf because of the suspense elements and the great characters. My favorite characters were Vince and Auntie Bee. They are both such kind characters that helped Melati despite her being different than them. I love the cover art of the book representing later in the story when Melati and Vince take the scooter right before Vince gets shot and they find Azizah. My favorite part of the book was the end when Melati is able to overpower her Djinn and was able to help get her mother’s patient safely to the hospital as well as the part when she really realizes that she has been able to help so many people and realizes that not everyone she becomes close to ends up dead or hurt. I was able to relate to most of the main characters in their want to keep their families safe from harm. Finally, I don’t typically re-read books but maybe I’ll listen to the audio book some time in the future. 

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Sep. 28, 2022

Book Reviews by Sofia & Tatum

The Ghosts of Rose Hill

Author: R.M. Romero

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What’s the Book? The Ghosts of Rose Hill by R. M. Romero

Set the scene: It takes place in present day Prague, Czechia.

My thoughts: I loved this book. The setting was great and I really liked the way Romero showed magic.

Favorite characters: I like Ilana because she is passionate about her interests and is determined to live her life to the fullest.

Similar books: I have read many books where the main character is thrown into a magical world, but none quite like this one.

Feelings after the book: I felt inspired and a little sad because of the bittersweet ending.

Other thoughts: I had never read a book in a kind of poem format before and I thought it was really cool.

Pass it on: I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to be immersed in a magical world.


My Thoughts: I liked the book The Ghosts of Rose Hill by R. M. Romero because of the intriguing story line and the fun characters. This was the first book I have read that has been formatted like a poem and it was a fun new experience. I would read this book again not only because it is a good story but also because I was able to read it all in one day and as someone who doesn’t really re-read books, I would be more willing to take the time to re-read this one because of the shorter read time. Furthermore, my favorite character in the book was Benjamin. He was a kind character that I, as well as Ilana, fell in love with. I also enjoyed the other characters such as the other ghost kids very much. Also, the cover art on the book is also very beautiful. My favorite parts of the book are when Ilana is first getting to know Benjamin and when Ilana plots and goes through with her plan to take down Wasserman. Finally, the ending of the book made me feel pretty melancholy. It was sad that Ilana and Benjamin were separated but it was also happy that Ilana was able to save him and the other kids so that they could finally pass over properly. The finishing quote of, “But I’m not there yet. Which just means I’ll have to do enough living for the both of us.” Hit pretty hard for me. Overall, the book was very enjoyable, and I would give it a 10/10.


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Jul. 28, 2022

Book Review by Sienna, 16

The Idiot

Author: Elif Batuman

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Set the scene: This semi-autobiographical novel explores the life of a Turkish American women, Selin, in her freshman year at Harvard University. Within the novel many Eastern-European and Russian philosophical texts are shown in contrast to reality. These realities being the complexities of immigration, class, race, gender identity, and language. The Idiot, shows how different worldly ideologies don't show how morally ambiguous situations truly are.

My thoughts: This book is incredibly complex and in parts hard to interpret (largely in part to the language barrier between Russian and English), with all of that aside it is one of the best coming of age books I have read in ages. It shows the reader the emotional evolution as many experiences expose her to new people and theologies. I found the ability to apply mental illness and romance while contrasting them very interesting. Many romances tend to cut out peoples inner struggle, but this novel embraced them and made them important to the story.

The main character, Selin, has many problems very common amongst young people, that being the inability to feel secure within yourself. I feel many young people can learn valuable lessons of how to grow, from this novel.

There are not many books like it, but it follows a similar pattern to Normal People by Sally Rooney. They have very different stories altogether but some parallels showing how platonic and romantic relationships evolve as people grow more knowledgeable.

After reading this book I felt as if I had gone through some traumas explored in the story. The Idiot is so well written it reads as you are reading her thoughts directly.

Pass it on: I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in philosophy, foreign language, and/or coming of age books.

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Jun. 14, 2022

Book Review by Carleigh, 12

The Elephant in the Room

Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan

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My Thoughts: The Elephant in the Room is truly a great book. There is so much drama and built up anger in the main character's life that you get so invested. You can see she grows and branches out over time to this smart confident person.

Blogger Bio: I am a Twelve year old girl from Billings, Montana. I go to Ben Steele Middle School.

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Jun. 14, 2022

Book Review by Avery, 14

The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

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My Thoughts: This book is a must read for teens. I absolutely loved it and wished it never ended. It's a little sad towards the end but also really happy in some places. If you are looking for a little bit of romance, that too will be found in this book. 100% recommend!! Please read! Side note: would not recommend to kids under the age of 13 because of foul language and "situations".

Blogger Bio: My name is Avery and I love doing art and reading a good book!

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Jun. 10, 2022

Book Review by Naomi, 14

I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001

Author: Georgia Ball

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Set the scene: The only thing Lucas loves more than football is his Uncle Benny, his dad's best friend at the fire department where they both work. Benny taught Lucas everything about football. So when Lucas's parents decide the sport is too dangerous and he needs to quit, Lucas has to talk to his biggest fan. So the following day, Lucas takes the train to the city instead of the bus to school. It's a bright, beautiful day in New York. But just as Lucas arrives at his uncle's firehouse, everything changes - and nothing will ever be the same again.

My Thoughts: It was very informational on 9/11, the author does an excellent job of making you feel like you are there and how the attacks dramatically changed people's lives. The main character Lucus is my favorite as he is the one we see as the events of 9/11 unfold.

I was amazed at the men and women that survived the attack and all the first responders that rushed into the towers without a second thought of their lives. I also felt mad at the terrible men that planned the attacks that they could be so evil to take so many people's lives.

Pass it on: I would pass it on to anyone who loves historical fiction or who wants to learn more about 9/11 like I did.

Jan. 5, 2022

Artwork by Ellie Chakos, 14

MHA in the park

My Hero Academia in the Park

Dec. 21, 2021

Artwork by Ellie Chakos, 14


Hi everyone, Ellie here. I made this art because The Owl House, a show made by Dana Terrace, is being canceled. Why? Because someone in the upper ranks of Disney decided that this show wasn't worth the time. But I disagree. The Owl House is a revolutionary cartoon. The creator is female. The main character is gay. There are non-binary characters and queer characters, and the show never makes it a big deal. One character is shown to have two fathers, and no one even bats an eye. This representation is extremely important in the media world, and this show fearlessly makes the choice that everyone deserves the chance to have characters like them on screen. So maybe, with a little help from all the fandom peeps out there, we can do something incredible, and save The Owl House.

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Oct. 5, 2021

Book Review by Ellie Chakos, 14

Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame

Author: Supriya Kelkar

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What’s the Book? Strong As Fire, Fierce As Flame is a realistic fiction book about oppression and colonization in India during the 1800s, and one young girl trying her hardest to be free. It is written by Supriya Kelkar, who also wrote That Thing About Bollywood. (Also a great book.) 

Set the scene: This book takes place during the British Colonization of India, and also during a time when women were horribly mistreated. Meera, the main character, was married when she was four. When she turns thirteen, she will be given to her husband and pretty much put into servitude for the rest of her life. But then, something happens. Her husband, also only thirteen, is killed. And Meera’s family is going to force her to commit Sati, which is a ritual in which a wife sacrifices herself when her husband dies, so that he will not be alone. Meera is scared, and her parents are both going to force her to die. So, she runs. She runs away, and becomes a servant for a British family. Meera has escaped, but she soon finds that the British are planning. Will she be brave enough to stand up for what is right, and join the rebellion?

My thoughts: This book was incredible, and I learned so much while reading it. I was horrified by things like Sati, and Child Marriage. But I was also empowered. During this time, women rose up, and even when they went through horrible things, they still fought for what they thought was right. They really are Strong as Fire, Fierce As Flame. Nothing will ever stop these women.

Favorite characters: Of course I love Meera, the main character. She is truly courageous and brave. She worked for her freedom, and she took a stand against what is wrong. I also love Sepoy Charan, a soldier who is secretly a woman. She is truly a Mulan. Fighting for the rebellion and posing as a man so that she can fight. Nothing is stronger than a woman determined to change things for the better.

Similar books: Another book I read around the same time as this one, that is also very empowering, is Yara’s Spring, written by Jamal Saeed and Sharon E. McKay. Yara’s Spring also takes place during a time of deep oppression, and it is also something everyone needs to read. It takes place during the civil war in Syria, and it is about the journey of a young girl desperate for freedom and a better life for her younger brother. The author, Jamal Saeed, was actually a war prisoner in Syria for over ten years. He escaped, and his story is true. That is what this book was made for. To tell the story of things happening in Syria right now.

Feelings after the book: I wasn’t even sure how to feel after reading this book. It was scary, to think about the things that happen in the world, but I am also so grateful that it exists and that I got to read it. It truly made me feel that even when things aren’t fair, and when we are oppressed, we can fight back. We can change the world for the better. I read once that if you don’t like the world the way it already is, then change it.

Other thoughts: The world is screwed up. I’m just gonna say it. But that’s why we need books like this, to show us that it isn’t hopeless. We can change things. We can make the world a better place, for everyone.

Pass it on: Seriously, everyone read this book. It might change your life for the better. It might make you think about what you want to change in the world. Maybe this book will inspire you to take a stand.

Blogger bio: Hi, I’m Ellie, and I am a feminist. I believe in equal rights for women, and equal rights for everyone in this world. I write these book reviews about books that mean something to me. So, just expect even more reviews about fighting for what is right. And probably some fanart about it too. ;)

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Jun. 30, 2021

Book Review by Ava Greenwell, 13

The City of Bones (Mortal Instrument Series)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Set the scene: The City of Bones takes place in New York City. There are also throughout the series several other places Clary and her friends visit, real and made up. You visit not only several landmarks in New York City, but the Shadowhunters' home country Idris, and even some dimensions and realms!

The City of Bones is a very well thought out and written kick off to the Mortal Instruments series. The entire series is very entertaining to read, and also continues past the Mortal Instruments. Along with the extras like the Bane Chronicles, there are also three (soon to be four!!!) series featuring other characters. The Infernal Devices is set in the late 1800s in London, and is from the warlock Tessa Gray's point of view. The Dark Artifices is set five years after the end of the Mortal Instruments and stars Emma Carstairs as she continues to investigate the murder of her parents. Finally, the fourth series out right now is the Last Hours, from the point of view of the children of the Infernal Devices characters. All of these books are heavy on action, and also has a bit of romance thrown into the mix. The City of Bones in the Mortal Instruments sets the foundation for the Nephilim world, and I would suggest reading it first, but you can read any of the four series first.

My favorite characters from The City of Bones is Isabelle Lightwood and Tessa Gray. Isabelle is a perfect example of teenagers today; she chooses her dates based off of who would make her parents the most angry, and also speaks her mind. She never lets Jace or Alec tell her what to do, and is a horrendous cook. Tessa loves to read, and constantly quotes her favorite books. You meet Tessa as an adult in the Mortal Instruments, but even when she is older you can see her love for books. Tessa is also kind, compassionate, and is willing to go to great risks to help anyone and everyone.

The Mortal Instruments, in my opinion, is very similar to Harry Potter. Both Harry and Clary are thrown into a secret society on one of their birthdays, and are not really given the option to leave. They also both have a friend (Ron and Jace) to guide them and answer their questions, no matter how ridiculous. Finally, they both have a villain somehow connected to them that has been presumably dead for at least a decade.

I felt very confused and annoyed by the ending of the book, and was anxious to get back to school the next morning to check out the next book. I also stayed up very late that night trying to come up with a logical explanation to the ending.

The Mortal Instruments series as a whole has many shocks and cliffhangers, and I would suggest reading this series with a friend or two for more fun with it.

Pass it on: I would suggest this book to anyone who loves secret societies and magical beings such as werewolves, vampires, and Faeries. I also would suggest this book for anyone looking to dive into a new series.

Blogger Bio: I am 13 years old and starting 8th grade at Castle Rock. My favorite genre is historical fiction, though I do at times enjoy a good dystopian and romance. I have two cats that basically run my life, and work on my writing whenever possible.

npr throughline

Jun. 24, 2021

Podcast Review by Hank Jagodzinski, 15

Throughline (NPR)

Hosts: Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah

The podcast Throughline, by NPR, is an insightful dive into our world that connects the present moment to other times in history. I really enjoy how it manages to turn historical topics into fascinating audio stories without making them seem like just a narrated 8th-grade history textbook. The hosts Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah do a fantastic version of investigative reporting by bringing information from archives to life.

Throughline helps provide context for our world today, and it always makes me think of new questions about history. It does a great job of highlighting diverse characters who have impacted civilization in ways that aren’t always discussed.

One episode that I found especially enjoyable was titled “The Land of the Fee” and explored how the practice of tipping was started. It helped open my eyes to why the United States ended up with the custom that most people in other countries find totally bizarre. I absolutely recommend Throughline to anyone who is interested in what people and events shaped the society we live in today.

Blogger Bio: I’m a 9th grade student at Billings Central Catholic High School. I love Billings Public Library and enjoy reading dystopian, realistic fiction, and fantasy novels. I’m a reporter and editor for the BC Chronicle, the school newspaper at Central, as well as a member of my school’s speech team. As a member of the library’s Teen Advisory Group, I’m looking forward to helping promote the library’s many services and opportunities to students in the Billings area.

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Jun. 15, 2021

Book Review by Andrew Davenport, 14

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Book 2)

Author: Suzanne Collins

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What's the book? Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2nd book in the Hunger Games Series) by Suzanne Collins, whom is a fabulous writer.

Set the scene: The place where Catching Fire takes place is in "Districts" where there used to be a continent/country called America, but now it is called Panem.

Your thoughts: Catching Fire is an interesting, engaging and productive book. It is probably my number one book out of the Hunger Games Series.

Favorite characters: My favorite character is a hard one - I like most of the characters, but if I could choose one it would be Gale, because he is greatly impacted by the Hunger Games and Quarter Quell, but remains strong and steady for his family and Katniss.

Similar books: This book is not similar to any books I have read -except maybe another book in the series but this one goes much more in depth on the characters and back story.

Feelings after the bookI feel sad because of what happens during the story regarding District 12.

Other thoughts: I would love to write more about this book because I love it so much, however, I don't want to give any spoilers away by accident. Let's just say, if you like action in a book that captures a 14 year old boys attention - this is the book for you!

Pass it on: I would recommend this book to anyone who likes action! This book is AMAZING, but so is the WHOLE series.

Blogger Bio: My name is Andrew and I recently moved to Billings, MT from Phoenix, AZ! I love to read books especially ones on repairing and building things. My favorite book series would be The Hunger Games (but you probably could guess from reading my review). In my free time - and I have A LOT of it now that it is summer and I am in a new city - is reading, making car/vehicle models and sometimes play Dungeons and Dragons with my older and more annoying brother, and dad.

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View photos from our Teen Art Class At Crooked Line Art Studio, June 14th, 2021. 

This class was presented by Local Artist, Damin Johnson. We explored the book, The Little Prince and the use of satire, metaphor, and other literary devices expressed with art.

Photos by Clare Keenan


Jun. 14, 2021

Photo by Josh Davenport, 17 

Butterfly Fairy Garden Teen Take-Away Kit 

While I did the Butterfly Fairy Garden (because I like all things gardening), my bro did the Zombee project. I completed the Zombee one too as we switched projects :) However, my Butterfly Fairy Garden is much more superior.......at least in my own opinion (hee hee I am just kidding). I am loving all the projects and classes the library offers for us teenagers.

Bio: I am 17 and I like to garden, playing D & D, hanging with my dog (DUKE) and reading! I just moved to Montana from Arizona last month and I am LOVING IT.


Jun. 14, 2021

Photo by Andrew Davenport, 14

ZomBEES project

Here is a picture of me after I did this month's Zombees project.....still collecting data - so far nothing to report but it was a fun project and if it helps save the bees, I am 100% in.

Bio: I am 14 and I love to read books, play games, and build things......mainly take things apart and try to figure out how to put them back together. I just moved here from Phoenix, Arizona and I was happy to see how big the library is here - plus, odd fact, the same architect built Billings library as the one that built the one in Downtown Phoenix - What are the odds?!?!? It was destiny that I move here.

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Jun. 14, 2021

Book Review by Ellie Chakos, 14

Song For a Whale

Author: Lynne Kelley

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What’s the book? Song For A Whale is a contemporary fiction book, written by Lynne Kelley. It is absolutely amazing. I got Song For A Whale as a birthday gift from my best friend, and she chose well. This book has a special place in my heart, because it gives me all the feels.

Set the Scene: Song For A Whale takes place in Texas, but soon Iris, the main character, is off on a journey to find someone else who is alone. Song For A Whale starts off with Iris, who is deaf. She doesn’t fit in and she can’t communicate with other people very well, including her family. But once Iris learns about Blue 55, the whale who can’t communicate with any other whale, she starts to feel a  little less alone. Soon Iris has started a journey to find the whale, and show him that someone is listening to him.

My Thoughts: Anyone who has ever felt alone needs to read this book. Iris is an incredible representation of a person who just needs someone to listen. I adore this book, and there are so many great things about it. The characters are easy to connect to, and the plot is fast moving, but still tender and emotional. The book also has a few chapters that are from Blue 55’s point of view, and they are heartfelt and sincere.

Favorite Characters: There are lots of great characters in this book, but I have to choose Iris as my favorite. She is brave and smart, and she is easy to understand, because her experiences are just like what many kids go through. Along with Iris, I also love Blue 55, the whale, and Iris’ grandmother.

Similar Books: This book can go right to the top of my list with So B. It and Ruffian. I love adventure books with monsters and excitement, but I also love books that resonate within me. Song For A Whale is one of these books, and just like Words On Fire and The Girl Who Drank the Moon, this book will stay with me forever.

Feelings After the Book: After reading this book, I felt so satisfied. Lynne Kelley does such an amazing job creating a character that you can relate to immediately. Song For A Whale makes you feel stronger than before you read it, and it is uplifting and energetic.

Other Thoughts: Another thing I love about this book is the different topics that Lynne Kelley covers in it. Not only was this book an amazing read, but I also learned a lot about Whales, the Deaf Community, and Radios. It was really fun to understand the culture of Deaf people.

Pass it On: I think that anyone who has ever felt alone needs to read this book. Even if you think that no one is listening to you, and that you are entirely alone, you aren’t. There will always be someone out there who understands you. The positive messages in this book are truly inspiring.

Blogger Bio: Hi I’m Ellie, and I love reading and making these reviews/fanarts. Thanks to everyone who showed their support! “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” - John Holmes

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May 11, 2021

Book Review by Ellie Chakos, 14

Ruffian: Dragonsong

Author: Anne McCaffrey

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What’s the book? DragonSong is a science-fiction/fantasy novel written by Anne Mccafrey. I first found this book when my mom and one of her friends convinced me to read it, and I wish they had given it to me sooner. Dragonsong is a creative masterpiece.

Set the scene: Dragonsong takes place in the world of Pern, a land in which dragons and fire lizards roam. There are many different settlements around Pern, and in one small sea-hold, there lives a girl named Menolly. Menolly is a musician at heart, but is held back by her parents, and the fact that in her land, girls can’t be harpers. (Harpers are the musicians of Pern)

My thoughts: This book is incredible. It makes you feel inspired, and it induces strong emotions. The magical dragons and fire lizards of Pern are a joy to read about. The characters are very well written, and Menolly is a wonderful example of strong females.

Favorite Characters: Of course, my favorite character is Menolly. She is so strong and fearless, and when she realizes that she will never be happy in her home, she runs away and fends for herself. I also love the fire lizards in this story. They each have a personality, and the way Anne Mccafrey describes them is amazing.

Similar Books: This book has many sister books. Anne Mccafrey wrote dozens of books that take place in the land of Pern. But Dragonsong is still an original masterpiece. The story is wonderful, and the ending is surprising and lovely. The story continues in the sequel, Dragonsinger, which is also an incredible read.

Feelings after the book: After this book, you feel inspired. It reminds us that even when things get really bad, we can still change them for the better.

Other Thoughts: You probably know by now that I love books about strong females and feminism, so it is definitely not a surprise that there is feminism in this book. Because of the close-minded people that Menolly lives with, there is a lot of sexism in her home. But Menolly doesn’t let this stop her, and she accomplishes her dreams anyway, even with everyone around her telling her she can’t.

Pass it on: Everybody, READ THIS BOOK!!! This book has something for everyone. It has dragons and evil aliens, singing and music, powerful females, and an irresistible element of magic. I absolutely recommend this book.

Blogger bio: Hi I’m Ellie, and I love books, movies, and anything else nerdy I can get my hands on. Remember, “We could all use a little more weird in our lives.” - Fitz Vacker

May 10, 2021

Artwork by Ellie Chakos, 14


Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Explore more art from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Apr. 30, 2021

Artwork by Ellie Chakos, 14


Ahsoka Tano and Grogu from Star Wars

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Apr. 21, 2021

Book Review by Elsa Rogers, 14

Ender's Game

Author: Scott Orson Card

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What’s the Book? This book is called Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I came across it when I went downstairs to my dad one day in seventh grade and asked him if he had anything I could read. Are you seeing a pattern yet? Me, not knowing what to read and complaining to someone about it and that person giving me a FANTASTIC book? Yeah, it happens a lot. So my dad, being the wonderful individual he is, pulled out like five different books and walked me through each one. I ended up choosing Ender’s Game and did not regret it.

Set the Scene The book, being a sci-fi, takes place in the far future in North Carolina. Ender, our main character, doesn’t stay there long though. He ends up going to a place called Battle School, which is in space, and I would love to explain everything to you as far as why he ends up there, but that would be more than a few spoilers. What I can say is that Battle School is there to train children and older how to defeat this certain species of aliens called buggers.

My Thoughts I absolutely LOVED this book! It was one of the first sci-fi’s I had read and it got me hooked on the genre. I thought it was incredibly ingenious with a masterful storyline and plot along with perfectly built characters. It was definitely one of the smarter books I’ve read and I deeply enjoyed the entire experience.

Favorite Characters My favorite characters include Ender and Petra. I really love Ender’s character because he has both the qualities of being compassionate and completely ruthless. It made him an exceptional leader and character. Petra was one of the very few women at Battle School. She is an incredible character and was often isolated for being a girl but was quick to prove her male counterparts wrong by working hard in the Battle School arena to show them that she was every bit as capable as they were. In other words, she is a female icon.

Similar Books None of the other books I’ve read have really reached the same level of butt-kickery in sci-fi that Ender’s Game did. I was blown away. Completely and utterly shook to my core. The reason you ask? A masterstroke from Mr. Card. Orson Scott Card literally pulled something (I can’t say-spoilers!) in the last couple chapters of the book. Evil. I absolutely loved it though and ran my head through it over and over again for weeks afterward.

Other Thoughts Other than the fact that it’s a FANTASTIC novel, no.

Pass it On I would ABSOLUTELY recommend this book. I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good sci-fi novel or to anyone who likes a really smart storyline. I, personally, would recommend it to my sisters… though I’m not sure one of them would be able to handle the “weird” names. I would recommend it to my own dear mother, though I’m not sure what her feelings are about sci-fi books or if she’s already read it. I would also recommend it to my best friend who I’m sure would enjoy it too.

Blogger Bio Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya… PSYCH! It’s Elsa. I really enjoy both chocolate and whipped cream and I am currently learning how to play the organ. With that, I would like to impart with you my one quote from tv and my one quote from a book. (Kudos to any of you who have gotten any of them from all of my blogger bio's) First, “well, the plot, unlike your hair, continues to thicken.”, and that “without stories, we wouldn't be human beings at all”.

Apr. 7, 2021

Artwork by Ellie Chakos, 14


Gravity Falls fanart of Mable and Dipper

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Check out the Comic Version, Gravity Falls: Cinestory Comic Vol. 1


Mar. 26, 2021

Book Review by Ellie Chakos, 14

Ruffian: The Greatest Thoroughbred Filly

Author: Precious McKenzie

Read more about the Billings author at This House of Books

What’s the Book? Ruffian is a Historical Fiction novel written by Billings author, Precious Mckenzie. It is a lovely read.

Set the Scene Ruffian is set in the 1970s, and it follows the life of Meg Murphy, a girl who doesn’t follow the expectations set upon her as a girl. She just wants to be with horses.

My Thoughts This book was such a fun read. It is based on a true story, the story of Ruffian, the fastest filly of her time. (Fillies are female horses under 4 years old.) This book is also very emotional, it makes you cry and then it makes you happy. It also has an element of feminism in it, and the main character, Meg, is a great representation of any girl who has had unrealistic expectations about who she is supposed to be set upon her.

Favorite Characters Meg. Undoubtedly my favorite character is Meg, because she is just like me in so many ways. She doesn’t strive to fit in, she just strives to be herself. She believes that women are just as capable as men. She has no interest in boys. She just does what she wants. I also love Ruffian. She is such a sassy horse.

Similar Books Since this book is based on history, it is similar to other books about the legendary filly, Ruffian. But it also tells a story about Meg, and the struggles she faced, being a teenager with parents who don’t understand her. This book is similar to others, but it is an original masterpiece nonetheless.

Feelings After the Book  After reading this book I was so sad, the ending was heartbreaking, but I was also happy, because the epilogue is so sweet and a very nice ending. It is also very inspiring. Meg knew what she wanted, so she took that dream and made it come true.

Other Thoughts It makes me sad that this book isn’t very well known. It is new, but I think people should read it. I read this book in one night, because I just couldn't put it down.

Pass it On I absolutely think people need to read this book. It is so inspiring, and it touches on many important subjects while still being a very good read. And any girl who doesn’t fit in with the popular kids will identify with Meg.

Blogger Bio Hi I’m Ellie, and I love Baby Yoda and all things Harry Potter. Remember, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” - Albus Dumbledore

Mar. 22, 2021

Artwork by Ellie Chakos, 14


A Pokemon inspired drawing

six of crows Opens in new window

Mar. 19, 2021

Book Review by Elsa Rogers, 14

Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

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What's the book? The book is called Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and it's so good. My friend and I were walking through the library, looking for a book that she could read when I remembered that I had just finished a book series. So, I mentioned (more complained) that I also needed something new to dig into. Naturally, she gasped loudly then laughed maniacally and handed me a book from the shelf. I did look at her skeptically, I'll admit it, but then she said four beautiful, simple words: 'It's about a heist.'

Set the scene: I honestly have no idea what time this book takes place. Probably the future, if I had to guess, but the where I can answer. It's called Ketterdam, and the beginning takes place in the crime-ridden parts of town. The seedy part. The shady part. You get the idea. Then they move on to where the heist actually takes place, and that's a word I don't even know where to begin with the pronunciation.

Your thoughts: I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. There are only two of them in the series which is SUPER sad, but I digress. The book is ingenious. One of the main characters, the one who's a big deal, is a criminal mastermind. Thief extraordinaire. Sass master supreme. You get the idea. He comes up with the plans on how to achieve the impossible heist and it's just so, so smart. The book moves at a very fast pace, and I found it impossible to put down once I read the first chapter. It's also super funny because of mostly all of the character's humor, and for a few of them, their wit. It's also serious and a little gruesome in a few parts but still very good. Every aspect of every chapter was perfect in every way, shape, and form. Highly, HIGHLY recommend.

There are six main characters that you get to read from their points of view. We have Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Wylan, Nina, and Matthias. The author did a fantastic job with each of them, because I love them all. If I had to choose a favorite from the favorites, I would say Kaz and Inej. There's a list of my most favorite characters that I have, and they both made it to the top along with Percy, Leo, and a few others. Kaz isn't just sassy. He IS sass. Pure, uncontrolled sass. He's also clever and cruel, yet still enjoyable and so simply divine and lovable. Inej is Kaz's spider, or his spy. She's definitely more calm and loving than he is and is more of the religious type. And, best of all, they both balance each other out and make the perfect combo. Out of them all, I'm most like Jesper. He's always smiling and light-hearted, and constantly moving, which is a lot like me. And he's just great in general.

I would describe it as a mix between Oceans 11 and Lucky Logan... because of the heist.

After I finished the first book, I wanted to scream, and I'm pretty sure I did. Just like a small, high-pitched sound that was slowly emitted from the back of my throat. I was a little mad, but most of it was the fact that I craved the next book. I had really wanted to start it that instant, and I was really lucky that I had finished it on a Sunday night and I could get the next one from the school library the next morning. But I just absolutely adored the book.

Pass it on: Um, yes. Read it. I already said this but I HIGHLY recommend it. Out of everyone in my family, I would plead with both of my older sisters to read it, and my dad who loves a good heist as much as the next person. Heck, I would even tell my mom to read it, even though I already ranted the entire plot to her. And I would seriously recommend it to people who love witty and smart books, and most importantly, heists.

Blogger Bio: My name is Elsa, my favorite soda is Dr. Pepper, I have run two miles every day this week so far because I'm bored and have nothing better to do with my life so now my body is rebelling against me, and because of that I just have to say it's just that George and Harold each had a "silly streak" a MILE long, and UNHAND ME, BRIGAND!!

going wild Opens in new window

Mar. 18, 2021

Book Review by Ellie Chakos, 14

Going Wild

Author: Lisa McMann

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What's the Book? This book is a science fiction/middle school life book, written by Lisa McMann, the author of The Unwanteds.

Set the Scene: Going Wild is a book set in the present, about a girl named Charlie, whose parents have made her move across the country from Chicago to Arizona. While she is unpacking she finds a strange package in the garage, and inside is a sporty bracelet. But when Charlie puts it on, she finds that she has the powers of animals.

My Thoughts: This book was such a fun read. It is extremely imaginative, and the science fiction aspect of having the powers of several animals is very fun. It also portrays the middle school kid well, and shows the hardships of moving to a new school in a new town. It is also a fun read for any Spiderman fans, because it has that classic, “Use your power responsibly” message.

Favorite Characters: My favorite character is Charlie, although I am also a big fan of Mac and Maria, the secondary characters. The reason I like Charlie is because she is a strong and resourceful young woman, she isn’t afraid to stand up and fight the bad guys. She is also a great representation of how kids feel in middle school.

Similar Books: This book is a little similar to The Unwanteds, in the way that they both have kids and teenagers who fight for what is right. It is also, as mentioned before, similar to Spiderman comics.

Feelings After the Book: After reading this book, I knew that it would be something I would want to reread. It is just one of those books that you can read over and over again and never get tired of.

Other Thoughts: This book is super fun to read, and it is a series of three books, so the fun can continue. The later books get deeper into the villains of the story, and Lisa McMann develops some impressive bad guys.

Pass It On: This book is great for people who like action and adventure, but it is also a good read for someone who has moved and is struggling to fit in. It reminds us that good friends can be found anywhere.

Blogger Bio: Hi I’m Ellie, and I’m not an introvert or an extrovert, I’m a theater kid. And if anyone asked me what my favorite Marvel character was, it would be a tie between Baby Groot, Shuri, and Spiderman. 

jinxed Opens in new window

Feb. 26, 2021

Book Review by Ellie Chakos, 14


Author: Amy McCulloch (Amy Alward)

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What's the book? This book is called Jinxed. I got this book for Christmas, and I read it overnight. It was amazing.

Set the scene: Jinxed is a book set in the future, where everyone has robotic animal companions called Bakus that do everything a smartphone does, and more. The main character is a girl named Lacey Chu, and she dreams of becoming a companioneer, and designing new bakus.

 My thoughts: I adored reading this book. At first it starts out a little bit like Harry Potter, but it soon becomes a fast-paced adventure, and the book is impossible to put down. The sequel, Unleashed is equally good. They are both books I would reread, and I recommended them to my dad, who also enjoyed them very much. 

Favorite Characters: My favorite character in this book is the main protagonist, Lacey. She is super smart, and I feel that people can relate to the fact that she doesn’t have as much money or resources as other people, but doesn’t let that stop her from accomplishing her goals and dreams. Another favorite character of mine is Jinx, Lacey’s baku. He just has so much attitude and humor, it’s hard not to love him.

Similar books: Honestly, this book was unlike anything I have ever read. There are small similarities to some books, like the school aspect that is similar to Harry Potter, but the ideas in this book are very original. It is different from any other science fiction book I have ever read.

Feelings after the book: After reading this book, I immediately wanted more. The ending makes you want to immediately buy the second book, so that you can continue the story. I was also a little sad after finishing this book, because the first time you read an amazing book is very special. But once I got a hold of the second book, I basically swallowed it whole. It was even more suspenseful than the last book, and the main antagonist is an extremely well made character.

Other thoughts: I think people should read this book. It opens your eyes about how our cell phones control us, and how we should never give away our ambition.

 Pass it on: I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good read, who adores a good science fiction movie, and who loves imaginative books. It will please anyone.

Blogger Bio: I am currently in 8th grade, remote learning, and I am going to Senior next year as a freshman. My favorite hobby is doing community theater, and I love to sing and dance as well. I love to read, which is why I am doing this blog. I also love to draw, so I will be including a bunch of digital art in the blog. Also, corgis are amazing.


Feb. 25, 2021

Movie Review by Elsa Rogers, 14

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

Director: Bob Persichetti

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"With great power comes great responsibility." We've all heard that, right? Please tell me we have so that I don't lose complete faith in humanity. Please. Well in the unlikely case that you haven't, that's what Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker when he becomes Spider-Man. And, since we are now on the subject of the Amazing Spider-Man, please tell me that you've seen the best Spider-Man movie created, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.

Spiderverse is one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life, and I am not overexaggerating. It's the impossibly perfect mix of humor, sadness, adventure, and pure gold. Because I enjoy it so much, it's my favorite movie, and that's saying something. There is a long list of movies that I absolutely love, but Spiderverse easily trumps them all. I've seen it so many times that I've lost count, and I could definitely quote the entire thing top to bottom if you would like. Just hook me up.

The movie follows a 14-year-old boy named Miles Morales who, well you know, gets bitten by a radioactive spider. He meets five other Spider-Men who all came from different dimensions, and who all say the same thing when they meet each other. "You're like me." After introductions take place, a lot of things happen, but I'm not going to specify just in that rare case that the person reading hasn't actually seen it. The movie was written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who also did Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, which is also a fantastic movie. You can expect a post about that one later.

I love every single one of the main characters except for Peni Parker. I just felt no connection, personally. But everyone else includes Miles, Peter B. Parker, Peter Parker Noir, Peter Porker, and the fantastic Gwen Stacy. Miles and Peter B. Parker have the best little friendship, which has a mix of a father-son relationship in it because Peter B. Parker doesn't have kids, and Miles doesn't connect with his own father as well as he did with his uncle, who, well, I can't say because that's a spoiler.

I really can't choose who, overall, is my favorite character, but I might just have to say Peter B. Parker with all the others tied in second. This certain Peter is sarcastic, a little sardonic, and loves to eat. There are so many more elements that color the background of his character, but if you haven't already seen the movie, you'll have to watch it yourself to get what I mean. One of my most favorite quotes from him that I will share with you is this: "I love this burger. So delicious. Mm. One of the best burgers I've ever had. In my universe, this place closed down six years ago. Mm. I don't know why. I really don't. Mm!"

So, now that you know the basics, you better go watch it. If you don't, that's okay, but know that you have missed out on something that is too wonderful for words.

Blogger Bio: My name is Elsa, I am super tired right now, I like escape rooms, and science is my favorite school subject. Since that's out of the way, I would just like to say that wherever I go, the wind follows, and the wind smells like rain, and, secondly, you shouldn't be worrying about you-know-who, you should be worrying about you-know-poo, the constipation sensation that gripping the nation!

Feb. 22, 2021

Artwork by Ellie Chakos, 14

Ellie Hazel

A fanfiction of one of my favorite characters from The Heroes Of Olympus

Ellie Ditto

Ditto, a cute Pokemon

Blogger Bio: I am currently in 8th grade, remote learning, and I am going to Senior next year as a freshman. My favorite hobby is doing community theater, and I love to sing and dance as well. I love to read, which is why I am doing this blog. I also love to draw, so I will be including a bunch of digital art in the blog. Also, corgis are amazing.

percy jackson book cover Opens in new window

Feb. 10, 2021

Book Series Review by Elsa Rogers, 14

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

and The Heroes of Olympus

Author: Rick Riordan

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What’s the book? The book series is Percy Jackson and the Olympians, along with the sequel series, The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan. I read this because I had family members tell me that it was pretty good, and that I would enjoy it, so I picked it up and wasn't able to put it down.

Set the scene: Describe the setting in which the book takes place (without spoilers!)  The book's timeframe is set in modern times, even though it was written a couple years back, but the first series takes place in New York at a special camp called Camp Half-Blood and the second series takes place all over the world.

Your thoughts: Did you like this book? Why or why not? Did anything stand out to you? I LOVE THESE BOOKS SO MUCH. They are still so enjoyable for me to read, and for those of you who like mythology, fantasy, something that makes you crack up, and a whole lot of sass, then this will be right up your alley. They are very well-written and I just love that they could make me laugh and cry at the exact same time.

Explain which character(s) were your favorite and why. Could you relate to any of the characters? I have a lot of favorite characters from both of the series. Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, Leo Valdez, and Dakota (whose last name we never get to know) just to name a very few. They all have different characteristics that I deeply enjoy, such as Percy's constant sass, Annabeth's constant ability to stay level-headed, Leo's humor that matches mine completely, and Dakota's addiction to Kool-Aid which might be why I connected with him on such a deep level. There are also a lot of really strong female roles which I really appreciated. I can relate to a lot of characters, like the way that some of them deflect serious issues with humor, how others are quick to come up with a crazy plan that should not have worked so well, or just simply the type of people that the characters like to hang around.

Is this book similar to any others you’ve read? If so, how? In a way, yes it is, but Rick Riordan just does a really good job with making it unique and making it his own. I've read books like Fablehaven (which was also really good) that includes magical creatures much like Percy Jackson does, but Rick just really breathes a different kind of life and a different level of sass into it, that makes me love it even more every time I re-read them.

What did you think or feel immediately after reading the book? With some of the books he leaves us on cliffhangers so, at the end of those ones, I want to scream and throw the book against the wall and then curl myself up into a ball and cry. But with the other books, I usually giggle maniacally, let out a content sigh and then go and get the next one, ready to continue the journey.

Other thoughts? In all honesty, if you are struggling in class when you get to your mythology section, read these books. I know a LOT about mythology because of them, it has helped a lot. I would also like to say that the first series focuses on Greek mythology, the sequel series dives more into Roman mythology, and then Rick made other mini-series that are about Egyptian and Norse mythology, so if you don't particularly love Greek or Roman, you've got options.

Pass it on: Explain who you would recommend this book to. I would ABSOLUTELY recommend these books! I made one of my friends finish the series because she stopped halfway through and she has now been successfully taught in the ways of Rick Riordan, so I would really recommend it to anyone you see fit! And I just have to say, if you haven't read it, you must. You absolutely must. And if you already have, do it again. I personally prefer these over the Harry Potter series too, so if you weren't quite satisfied with those and haven't read Percy Jackson, I would suggest that you get on it, my friend.

Blogger Bio: My name is Elsa, I hate going to bed, but I like to sleep, I play the clarinet and the piano, and I can't, I won't, and I don't stop, so Mike D come and rock the sure shot. And with that, I urge you to treat yo' self and to remember that hey, all the cool kids are sleeping with stuffed animals these days.

Star WarsThe Clone Wars Opens in new window

Feb. 3, 2021

TV Series Review by Elsa Rogers, 14

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Author: George Lucas

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Are you a Star Wars fan and are really disappointed at how the prequels turned out? Or are you just a Star Wars fan in general? Then have I got the thing for you. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a fantastic television series. It takes place in the middle of the second and third movies in the prequels (if that's what you're familiar with) but tells an excellent story about Luke and Leia's father, Anakin Skywalker, his padawan, Ahsoka Tano, Anakin's master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and so many others. Clone Wars was made by George Lucas (obviously) but also had a lot of help from Dave Filoni, who did The Mandalorian, and he did a fantastic job making so many of the characters likable and relatable.

The animation is weird, I admit, but I personally got used to it. When the show got more funding around the third season, the animation quality was improved, so if you're struggling with it, at least make it to that mark. You can find the show on Disney+ and I would highly, completely, 10/10 recommend. It's funny, heartbreaking, and ingenious all at the same time. I am mildly obsessed, but I don't apologize because, most importantly, it makes up for the fact that the prequels were very disappointing.

(And I know a lot of people like them, and they are fantastic because of the memes, so I very respectfully accept their opinion and I very respectfully disagree.)

Blogger Bio: My name is Elsa, and I am a huge TV binger and a ginormous bookworm. I enjoy fantasy and sci-fi, (no romance novels for me) writing my own books, drinking Kool-Aid, and astronomy. That being said, I urge you to remember that there is always money in the banana stand and to go crack open a Diet Coke in honor of Mr. D.

The Initiation Opens in new window

Feb. 1, 2021

Book Review by Hank Jagodzinski, 15

The Initiation

Author: Chris Babu

ISBN: 9781682615935

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What’s the book? The book I read was The Initiation by Chris Babu. I choose to read it because it was recommended to me.

Set the scene: Describe the setting in which the book takes place (without spoilers!) The book takes place in New America, which is the island of Manhattan several decades after a series of disasters known as The Confluence (a supervirus, a global technology/communications outage, rampant inequality, and overpopulation) destroyed most of humanity. The government in New York City has walled off Manhattan and has created a self sustaining society. That society is meant to be completely equal. But it isn’t. Residents are segregated into different regions by their class/occupations, and if you are born in one region, you have to stay there. The only way to move up in life is by completing the Initiation, a mysterious series of life threatening challenges which tests its participants bravery and intellect.

Your thoughts: Did you like this book? Why or why not? Did anything stand out to you? I really enjoyed reading this book, mostly because it takes place in a setting so different than we experience today. At the same time, many of the events which caused the downfall of society appear to be present now. When I first read this book in 2019, the world of New America seemed like such a remote possibility. But the COVID-19 pandemic created a world far more similar to a dystopia. COVID-19 is similar to the virus in the book, and the pandemic caused societies to put up figurative “walls” to protect their populations. The book describes an exodus from major cities, and riots across the country, again, strikingly similar to the events of 2020.

Explain which character(s) were your favorite and why. Could you relate to any of the characters? Drayden is definitely my favorite character in the book. He’s the protagonist and a math whiz. However, no character in the book is really that similar to me, but I can definitely picture some of my friends as several of the characters in the story.

Is this book similar to any others you’ve read? If so, how? Yes, this book is similar in many ways to the Hunger Games. There’s an evil corrupt government, and the people who work for the government have lavish lifestyles far better than the common people. The book is also a dystopia, and teens have to compete in deadly challenges, again similar to the Hunger Games.

What did you think or feel immediately after reading the book? I felt mostly grateful not to live in New America! But I was also eager to read the next book, The Expedition. The Initiation ends on a total cliffhanger, so chances are if you like the book, you’ll want to read the second one in the series as well.

Pass it on: Explain who you would recommend this book to. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes futuristic and dystopian novels, especially if you like suspense filled plot lines.

Blogger Bio: I’m a 9th grade student at Billings Central Catholic High School. I love Billings Public Library and enjoy reading dystopian, realistic fiction, and fantasy novels. I’m a reporter and editor for the BC Chronicle, the school newspaper at Central, as well as a member of my school’s speech team. As a member of the library’s Teen Advisory Group, I’m looking forward to helping promote the library’s many services and opportunities to students in the Billings area.

cilkas Journey Opens in new window

Feb. 1, 2021

Book Review by Ryan Dolan, 16

Cilka's Journey

Author: Heather Morris

ISBN: 9781250265708

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Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris is a sequel from the Tattooist of Auschwitz and it is a novel that shows so much strength and determination. This book is a graphic novel, but shows exactly what happened to the people of the Holocaust. Cilka’s Journey focuses on one main character, Cilka, who is a beautiful young woman who is taken from the guards and is used as their slave. For years, everyday, Cilka had to fight for her survival and endure hardships that many people today could not even fathom of having.  Cilka used her beauty to help other campmates escape, since she had an in with the Nazis. Not only is this book such a great read, but it is also based on true events. This actually happened to a girl in Auschwitz and it teaches us, as readers, to just appreciate all that we have. Reading this book puts a lot of things into perspective. When reading this novel it almost feels like you are there living in Auschwitz with Cilka as you dive into the book. Cilka’s Journey overall is a great read and if you love history this is the book for you!

Blogger Bio: Ryan Dolan is a junior at Billings West High. She enjoys basketball and helping make our community a better place to live. She volunteers at Reading Rocks, Special Olympics and the Montana Marathon to name a few. She wants to pursue a degree in Education or something medical because she enjoys working with people. She plans on going to the University of Montana in the fall of 2022.


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