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A list of the best books for storytelling

For all those who wish to read stories to small children

“I love reading stories to young children! I have been doing it since 2012. Children thrive from storybooks – make it your duty to read to them as often as possible. Help turn them into book-worms – exploring the pages of books like magnificent wings of butterflies. Storybooks are more powerful than you could ever imagine”

Sherry – Storyteller for What Children Really Want

The main comment that I hear amongst parents, teachers and carers is “Gosh, there are so many children’s storybooks out there on the market, but which ones should I go for?”

At my story-time events, it’s so wonderful to experience the delight on the faces of the children that I’m reading the stories too. I try to pick easy digestible stories for ages 3 – 7 years approx, making sure that there is something for everyone, whether they are native English speakers or not (as most of my work is in Barcelona)

I’m happy to share a list of my favourite books that I use for my storytelling.

Maybe you know some of them? You may not know all of them, but they are worth seeking out as these are the ones I use and get a good reaction to at my story-time events.

I’ll also do a list of the storybooks that I use when I teach English to small children. I make sure I read from a fun storybook in amongst the teaching. I choose books that the kids really respond positively to, and ones that can be read several times without the risk of them getting bored with the story. I sometimes create a craft to go with the story. An attractive but easy craft that I can prep, and the children can complete it with a little bit of help if necessary. All of which you can easily do too! – I will soon be posting and doing video tutorials of the crafts that I do!

My personal lists of the best storybooks for story-time

Books that make great storytelling and are best read to a large group of children…

These are my personal top ten choices for books that I like to read to children when I am doing story-time to 8 – 20 children. Recommended for 3 years and up.

  • ‘Open Very Carefully – A book with bite!’ By Nicola O’Byrne and Nick Bromley.
  • ‘Beegu’. By Alexis Deacon.
  • ‘Something Beginning With Blue’. By Nick Sharrat and Sally Symes.
  • ‘Pants’. By Nick Sharratt and Giles Andreae. Can be used as a quick warm-up story
  • ‘Max The Brave’. By Ed Vere.
  • ‘Mr. Big’. By Ed Vere.
  • ‘Upsy Down Town’. By Sue Hendra.
  • ‘Animal Pants’. By Brian Moses and Anja Boretzki.
  • ‘Thank You For Looking After Our Pets’. By Tim Hopgood.
  • ‘The Ravenous Beast’. By Niamh Sharkey.

My all time favourites have got to be these 3…

  • ‘Shark In The Park’. By Nick Sharratt
  • ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’. By Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.
  • ‘The Colour Monster’. By Anna Llenas.

Books that are best read to children in small groups

These are my personal top ten choices for storybooks books that I like to read to children when I am teaching 1 – 4 children. You can easily read these choices to children at home.

  • ‘So Much’. By Trish Cooke and Helen Oxrenbury.
  • ‘Peter’s Pebbles’. By Cherie Zamazing.
  • Grizzly Dad’. By Joanna Harrison.
  • ‘The Tale Of Jack Frost’. By David Melling.
  • ‘The Kiss That Missed’. By David Melling.
  • ‘Billy’s Beetle’. By Mick Inkpen.
  • ‘Give That Back Jack – A Cautionary Tale’. By Phil Roxbee Cox and Jan McCafferty.
  • ‘The Day Louis Got Eatten’. By John Fardell.
  • ‘Big Mum Plum’. By Daniel Postgate.
  • ’10 Minutes Till Bedtime’. By Peggy Rathmann.

My bonus fav is this one!…

  • ‘Meet The Parents’. By Peter Bently. Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie. A great storybook for family members, or teachers, etc to read to children and remind them of how fantastic their parents are!

Buy your children’s books on Amazon

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Children’s books on Amazon USA

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Children’s books on Amazon UK

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Children’s books on Amazon ES

How to take a step further into story-time…

You don’t always need an actual book for storytelling.

  • Use puppets, cut-out figures, flash-cards or adapt any other simple props that you can easily find around you (sock puppets!)
  • Memorise a story, or make up your own one. Preform it in a wonderful, expressive storytelling manner with lots of vocal changes.
  • Make your own story on sheets of A2 and laminate them! You can see the result of my hand-painted story that I like to perform during the festive season

‘In A Cold Snowy Forest’ – by Sherry

‘In A Cold, Snowy Forest’

Do you want to add to these lists? Help others by letting us know if there are any other storybooks that you find great for storytelling/story-time.

Now jump to our other post where I share some of my great tips on techniques for storytelling…

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This ‘BEST BOOKS FOR STORYTELLING’ Blog Post is brought to you by…

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Her Body Can – A book about self-acceptance

Her Body Can_cover_front and back

“It’s been a long time coming, but I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will”

Sam Cooke (1963)

Finally! ‘Her Body Can’ – A children’s book that has been long overdue.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been wondering where are the books that beautifully depict stories of diversity and abilities? I know they have slowly been seeping through, and are out there, but you don’t hear much about them. Many remain hidden and do not get a chance to shine.

Well, you’re hearing a lot about this one, thank goodness.

Her Body Can

A children’s book whose aim is to promote a body positive attitude. Full of poetic declarations of body positivity and self-love for all young girls – No matter their size. (And yes, ‘His Body Can’ will also be coming out soon! It will focus on the insecurities and gender roles that boys may struggle with)

Her Body Can, by Ady Meschke & Katie Crenshaw.

By Ady Meschke and Katie Crenshaw. Illustrated by Li Liu

“Your bodies most important job is to carry you…”

Ady Meschke & Katie Crenshaw

Her Body Can is written in an easy digestible flowing rhyme. It takes the reader on a beautifully illustrated journey across 33 pages of pure acceptance and diversity.

Most stories that broadcast a message have the tendency to unwillingly highlight negativity. They tell us of painful happenings, tears are shed and fear is show. Her Body Can is not such a case. It just shows positivity bathed in warm characters depicted in different shapes, colours, abilities and even religions – all getting along together.

Your body is capable of many things. As long as you respect it and feed it the correct nutrition and give it movement, it does not matter which shape it forms around your bones. Your body is there to carry you and work for you, not to be a pretty, stick-thin object solely there to please others. Many girls suffer from unnecessary shame about their bodies. This occurs in many girls over 8 years old. they become body conscious. Others begin body shaming them. Because a child is surrounded by images of pretty princesses, gorgeous photo-shopped models, and girls trying to be a size zero, it’s only normal that they feel the need to fit in to this unfit way of thinking.

That is why I’m soooooo happy to see ‘Her body Can’ doing well and openly being praised by teachers and parents, carers and grandparents alike. This book is receiving fantastic reviews and is selling fast. It is being read to young girls and they are learning to accept themselves in this delightful way. Such is the power of a book when published correctly. It’s more than ok to be plum shaped, pear shaped, have large hips and beautiful sturdy looking legs.

Many large sized girls can do so much more than what they are given credit for. Yes, large sized girls can do yoga. They are flexible and can dance just as good, or even better than smaller sized girls. They can do all kinds of sports. Large sized girls should not have to live in the shadows. They should not have to hide and eat. They should not develop self-hatred.

I cannot wait until more books like this hit the bookshelves, (and land in kindle erm…hands)

Follow up books by the authors Ady and Katie are in the making! – A series is to follow in hot pursuit that will concentrate on certain characters that are already shown in ‘Her Body Can’. It is promised to be very inclusive – I can’t wait!

A little bit more about ‘Her Body Can’

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Buy ‘Her Body Can’ on Amazon USA

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Mum! The Monsters!

Mum, The Monsters

‘Mum! The Monsters!’ is the perfect  book for little ones who are afraid of the dark

A fabulous book written by Liliana Cinetto and wonderfully illustrated by Poly Bernatene

Mum! The Monsters! helps small children realise that they do not have to be afraid at bedtime

Our Review:

Quite a few children are scared of the dark – they think there are monsters lurking in the bedroom, in wardrobes and closets, and under the bed. This is a book that can help them in a fun and adventurous way.

‘Mum! The Monsters’ defiantly gets an excellent review for us – and rightly so!

We purchased the paperback version which is 24cm x 24cm and consists of 29 pages. The words are written in lowercase. They are clear, and easy for confident, early readers to start tackling.

If your child cannot read, or prefers you to read the story to them, they will certainly have a blast observing the illustrations! (Make sure they keep an eye out for the little blue teddy bear on nearly every page!)

‘Mum! The Monsters! is a highly entertaining storybook, and the amazing illustrations help to relieve the tension that many children suffer at bedtime. 

The only thing is as it deals with monsters, the illustrations may scare younger, sensitive children.

Mum, The Monsters!

 But as the story goes on, the illustrations become very comical, and the aim is to get your child laughing at these scary figures and realising that they are silly and harmless.

The hero of the day is ‘Mum’ – Normally mum goes into her little boys bedroom, turns on the light and sings him songs until he falls back to sleep. But one day, she decides to tell him “You’re a big boy now. You shouldn’t be afraid any more”. Then she takes drastic action right before his wide eyes! Mum comes to the rescue armed with her very own special weapons to erase monsters from the home once and for all!

Mum, The Monsters


Mum! – The Monsters! – such a great story written by Liliana Cinetto, fabulous illustrations by Poly Bernatene. (The U.S title is called ‘Mom! The Monsters!)

This is a great story not only for Halloween, but also any time of the year. It is especially aimed at children who are afraid of going to bed at night. This book teaches them that there’s no need to be scared of hairy monsters with sharp teeth that smell of dirty socks. Ghosts that float around trailing dust and cobwebs. Witches with messy hair and yellow eyes. And huge ogres with mouths full of green drool. It’s these monsters who need to be very afraid, because tonight they have met their match, and this hero doesn’t need a cape! 

Always support your child, never ridicule their fears – help them to overcome their fears in a gentle way

Mum, The Monsters

See the video of our storyteller Sherry reading ‘Mum, The Monsters!’

Sherry has included a bonus feature that has questions to get your child talking and thinking about ‘being afraid of monsters’

Please drop a comment and let us know how your child reacted to the story!

Mum! The Monsters

NOTE: If you are experiencing trouble with this website, click the padlock icon in the address bar to see if  your browser/Firefox has blocked parts of this page such as images appearing as ‘broken’ 

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Tinga Tinga Tales

Tinga Tinga Tales

Tinga Tinga Tales – Folklore at it’s best

What is Tinga Tinga?

Tinga Tinga Tales…

‘Tinga Tinga Tales’ was a very popular animated children’s series that was born in 2010 and ran for 2 seasons. By 2011 it was in full effect on T.V screens and being watched by children in Africa, America and the U.K

The colourful stories were based on traditional folklore tales, mostly about animals that live in East Africa.

But before we delve any further into the tale side of ‘Tinga Tinga’, we have to go back a bit.

Lets go back to the very beginning…



The bare origins of ‘Tinga Tinga’:

1968 was the year that Edward Saidi Tingatinga picked up a brush and started to creatively paint the animals and people from his corner of the earth.

Before ‘Tinga Tinga Tales’ became an animated children’s series, it was the name of a talented painter in Tanzania. Edward Saidi Tingatinga started to paint the animals and people of Tanzania in the late 1960’s. His bright colours and style were a huge hit among the tourists who came to visit the big city of ‘Dar es Salaam’ where he lived. His vibrant art reflected the animals, people, and sounds of East Africa. Edward’s paining style quickly spread throughout the lands.

Edward Saidi Tingatinga painting


Sadly, Edward Saidi Tingatinga’s life as a new talented artist was cut short. He was shot by the police in a case of mistaken identity in 1972. His son Daudi Tingatinga carries on his wonderful legacy, along with other artists who have all been inspired by Edward Tingatinga’s art style.

Tinga Tinga Tales.

This animated British-Kenyan series was produced in Nairobi, Kenya. The animation was strongly influenced by the artwork of Mr. Tingatinga. 

‘Tinga Tinga Tales’ was aired by the BBC for their CBeebies channel, and also by the Disney Channel in 2010.

‘Tinga Tinga Tales’ mainly features strong, African animal characters. The central characters being Red Monkey, Zebra, Hippo, Lion, Tortoise, and Elephant.

Tinga Tinga Tales characters

Each episode tells the story of why the featured animal became the animal we know it as today, it’s origins and it’s behaviour – such as in the very first Tinga Tinga Tale – ‘Why Elephant Has A Trunk’. Or the very last episode, ‘Why Cheetah has Tears’.

Red Monkey is always the narrator. Monkey’s voice is voiced by Eugene Muchiri for the UK episodes, and by Geoffrey Curtin for the American episodes.

‘Tinga Tinga Tales’ are aimed at children as young as three years old and up to about 6 – 7 years of age. But older children still enjoy this series that features so much diversity among it’s English dialects and characters.

If you are from the UK, you will surely know Sir Lenny Henry – he is the distinctive voice behind Elephant and Buffalo!

Lenny Henry reading Tinga Tinga Tales

The opening theme song, sung by the animals of ‘Tinga Tinga Tales’ sets you in a very cheerful and positive mood right from the start

There are a total of 52 episodes that were made for the BBC and the Disney Channel. ‘The Tinga Tinga Tales’ episodes are under 12 mins long and so good to watch! Your children will totally enjoy every minute of them and get to know and enjoy the fun characters.

Many episodes were turned into book form and published. Sticker books, such as the ‘Why Tortoise Has A Broken Shell’ sticker book, and Tinga Tinga  puzzles were available too. But it seems as though they are being snapped up fast and not being published any more, so hurry and grab them as they are becoming scarce on the internet!

Tinga Tinga books are becoming scarce on the internet! See if you are lucky enough to grab some on Amazon!…

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Tinga Tinga Tales – US

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Tinga Tinga Tales – UK

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Tinga Tinga Tales – ES


Tinga Tinga Tales 4 in 1 puzzle

Look out for the ‘Read it Yourself’ versions published by ‘Ladybird’, for reading levels 1 and 2. 

Why Giraffe Has a Long Neck. Why Elephant has a Trunk

We have listed the names of all 52 books below.


Tinga Tinga Tales – Why Elephant Has A Trunk

What has happened to Tinga Tinga Tales now?

Tinga Tinga Tales still remain very popular. They have now gone a step further than the animated series. Claudia Lloyd is the creator, writer and producer. Claudia has teamed-up with the world famous singer-songwriter Eric Wainaina and Sheba Hirst. Together they have brought ‘Tinga Rain Productions’ into existence! It’s the Tinga Tinga Tales Musical! This musical of stories, songs and art has been so successful that it’s always being extended. The only problem is that you will have to live in Nairobi to see it! But we have a preview for you below…


Tinga Tinga Musical

(Produced by Tinga Rain Productions)

If you happen to be planning on going to Nairobi, or live there, then checkout the Tinga Tinga Tales Musical website to see if there will be a current performance! (The show officially ended on 30/09/18 but may be extended again due to popular demand)

Sing-a-long to the opening Tinga Tinga Tales song!

Tinga Tinga Tales theme lyrics

Animals of Tinga Tinga:
Tinga Tinga, Tinga Tinga.
Tinga Tinga, Tinga Tinga.
Tinga Tinga is a land
Full of stories and surprise.

Tortoise: Tell me about it.

Red Monkey:
If you like to wonder why,
Tinga Tinga is a land of whys.

Giraffe: You won’t believe your eyes…

Red Monkey: Why I swing from tree to tree.

Elephant: Why my trunk is long. (Breeee!)

Tortoise: Why I’m so slow.

Tickbird: Why I tick.

Hippo: Why my skin is smooth and slick.

All: You ask why, why, why, why, why?

Red Monkey: Why?

All: You ask why, why, why, why, why?

Hippo: There’s a story.

Red Monkey: Lots of stories.

Beneath the Tinga sky.
Tinga, Tinga, Tinga Tinga.

Elephant: Tales from Africa.

All: Tinga Tinga, Tinga Tinga.

Tortoise: Tales from Africa.

All: Tinga Tinga, Tinga Tinga.

Red Monkey:
Look at all my friends!
I’ll tell you why.

Jambo Everyone - Tinga Tinga Tales

The titles of all 52 Tinga Tinga Tale episodes in order:

  1. Why Elephant Has A Trunk
  2. Why make Has No Legs
  3. Why Hippo Has No Hair
  4. Why Tortoise Has A Broken Shell
  5. Why Hen Pecks At The Ground
  6. Why Bat Hangs Upside down
  7. Why Warthog Is So Ugly
  8. Why Owl’s Head Turns All The Way Round
  9. Why Monkeys Swing In The Trees
  10. Why Tickbird Sits on Hippo’s Back
  11. Why Frog Croaks
  12. Why Spider Has A Tiny Waist
  13. Why Vulture Is Bald
  14. Why Giraffe Has A Long Neck
  15. Why Porcupine Has Quills
  16. Why Lizard Always Hides Under Rocks
  17. Why Crocodile Has A Bumpy Back
  18. Why Jackal Howls At The Moon
  19. Why Hare Hops
  20. Why Mosquito Buzzes
  21. Why Rhino Charges
  22. Why Caterpillar Is Never In A Hurry
  23. Why Lion Roars
  24. Why Zebra Has Stripes
  25. Why Flamingo Stands On One Leg
  26. Why Woodpecker Pecks
  27. Why Ostrich Sticks Her Head In The Ground
  28. Why Camel Has A Hump
  29. Why Wildebeest Stampede
  30. Why Chameleon Changes Colour
  31. Why Leopard Has Spots
  32. Why Hyena Has Short Back Legs
  33. Why Ants Work Together
  34. Why Flea Jumps
  35. Why Hummingbird Hums
  36. Why Baboon Has A Bare Bottom
  37. Why Bees Sting
  38. Why Peacock Struts
  39. Why Aardvark Has A Sticky Tongue
  40. Why Whale Spouts
  41. Why Parrot Can’t Keep A Secret
  42. Why Bushbaby Has Big Eyes
  43. Why Guinea Fowl Has Dots
  44. Why Buffalo Has Horns
  45. Why Puffadder Sheds His Skin
  46. Why Eagle Rules The Skies
  47. Why Skunk Smells
  48. Why Cricket Chirrups
  49. Why Mole Lives Underground
  50. Why Squirrel Gathers Nuts
  51. Why Meerkat Is Always On The Lookout
  52. Why Cheetah Has Tears

Tinga Tinga Episodes on Daily Motion

Starting with ‘Why Baboon Has A Bare Bottom (one of my fav episodes!) Click on the video image below to watch


Want to discover even more about Tinga Tinga Tales?

Meet Claudia Lloyd and learn about the origins of Tinga Tinga!…

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Tinga Tinga Tales – US

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Tinga Tinga Tales – UK

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Tinga Tinga Tales – ES

This ‘TINGA TINGA TALES’ Blog Post  is brought to you by…

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A Hovercraft Elephant goes to Mars


I met Carrie Mortleman – and suddenly became acquainted with a flying pink elephant!

Well, it was actually a hover-crafting elephant…

I met Carrie Mortleman at her storytelling event in the centre of Barcelona.

It was a lovely December morning in 2017. I arrived early so that I could get a chance to speak to her.

She was preparing to read a Christmassy storybook to a group of young children who would be arriving for her storytelling event in ‘Come In’ book shop in Barcelona, Spain. (It’s a lovely book shop that stocks a wide range of English books and games, mainly for children – such a thing is hard to find in Barcelona)


Carrie Mortleman reading Hellie Queek
Carrie Mortleman at a storytelling event in Barcelona

Australian’s tend to have such a big, warming personality, and Carrie definitely lives up to this friendly stereotype. She now lives in Barcelona and seems to be heavily involved in writing children’s books and storytelling.

We had a lovely chat. Carrie generously donated her time to me even though her audience were now due to arrive at any moment.

She kindly gave me a copy of her new glow-in-the-dark book – it’s an amazing book that is full of blank pages! – and then you use a special pen that has a torch built into it that you point at the book, and the words appear like magic on the pages as the torch brings the invisible ink to life! It’s a book that will definitely get children engaged in reading for hours on end. But more about Carrie’s glow-in-the-dark book in a later post!

‘Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant’ and ‘Queek’s Race in Outer Space’…

…were the books that Carrie also presented to me as a gift – Not only did the highly interesting titles catch my eye, but also the literally ‘out of this world’ illustrations – when I curiously leafed through the pages I got totally engrossed in these colourful ‘spacey’ pictures. It’s definitely something different – and being different is a often a good thing – it sets you apart from the rest.


Carrie Mortleman Hellie and Queek


‘Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant’ and ‘Queek’s Race in Outer Space’ have an appealing quirky look to them that kids will love…

Your children will turn into adults and look back on these books with a smile as the quirky imagery revokes fond childhood memories and sensations – like when you suddenly see an episode of ‘Chorlton and the Wheelies’* on Youtube and it instantly sucks you in to another time from yesterday-year.

Let your children be introduced to Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant’!

so they can be given fond memories of yesterday-year filled with this cute, fluffy, pink hovercraft elephant.

In the first book, Hellie makes friend’s with a little grey mouse called Queek.

Hellie is a pink, furry elephant who can fly/hover. Queek is a sugar mouse and nearly gets flattened by Hellie when she has a sneezing fit.

It’s a book about gaining confidence and making friends. The sentences rhyme, and although there are a few words that small children might not understand, it creates room for learning and expanding on their vocabulary.

Be warned that some of the illustrations look very yummy indeed!


Carrie Mortleman Hellie and Queek


In the second book, the two friends go on an adventure to Mars!

Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant and Queek the Sugar Mouse meet some green aliens from Mars.

Straightaway you are given a fun language lesson on the alien’s vocab! – The first page consists of a 10 sentence glossary so that you can understand the little lime green Martians – with words like…

  • Ig blawPlease come in
  • Bok blawLook here
  • Bok yoOK
  • Og, Boonk, Pooowwwww!Ready, set, go!

…your child will get a bonus novelty from this book as they learn these alien words that are highlighted in green.

Carrie Mortleman Hellie and Queek


On page 4 there is a witty knock knock joke that has been placed in the story, guaranteed to get kids off to an enjoyable start.

The Milky Way is made up of yummy looking multi-coloured chocolate stars, while Mars is depicted as a gooey, chocolatey planet.

Hellie and Queek meet friendly green aliens and are invited to a feast of green food. Afterwards they decide to have a race – will Hellie’s trunk power be enough to make her win the green treasure snacks!?

A lovely story about hospitality and getting along with fellow beings.

Both these books have rhyming verses on each page, and if you read it too quick, you may have some difficulty with the rhyme flow, but once you read it a few times, you realise that this actually aids your storytelling style, adding more creativity to your reading and delivery of the sentences.

If you’re looking for storybooks that are not filled with your typical mainstream characters, try introducing your children to Hellie and Queek!

‘Unique, interesting, wonderful children – that’s who we want to raise, not generic robots’ Carrie Mortleman

Give  your children something different to read!- The author Carrie Mortleman has just the thing for them!…

‘Hellie The Hovercraft Elephant’ & ‘Queek’s Race in Outer Space’ – Enjoy!

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The best kid’s programme theme tune in history is below!…

*’Chorlton and the Wheelies’ on Youtube.


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