Archive for November, 2014

Author Talk: Inspirations of the heart and home. Sita Brahmachari – Children’s Author

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

People often ask me about my writing routine.  I can’t truthfully say that every day it’s exactly the same but there are three constants.

The first is that I walk or jog with my dog, often in the woods where ‘Red Leaves’ is set. I find that being outside in nature, whatever the weather puts me in the right frame of mind to write. Ideas come to me as I’m walking or watching Billie our dog chasing squirrels! I try to get to my desk for around nine-thirty, turning my back on whatever domestic debris is still to clear. I check emails to see if anything needs dealing with straight away then I get down to … doodling!

Wearing the artichoke heart Charm….as well as some ‘Red Leaves’ at the Launch of ‘Red Leaves’ at Children’s Bookshop Muswell Hill, October 20014 (Photograph by Tanya Nash)

Many writers will tell you that they have little rituals that help them to begin writing. Mira in ‘Artichoke Hearts’ and ‘Jasmine Skies’ is an incorrigible doodler and day-dreamer and I too often begin by doodling a few random words or an image (I keep my doodle pads for reference). After the doodling, when I feel myself ready to write, it’s time for the third and what has become a rather superstitious ritual….touching my artichoke heart charm for luck…some writing days are more productive than others but I wouldn’t begin to write a word without the charm.

The artichoke heart charm began as a fictional piece of jewellery that Nana Josie gave to Mira her beloved granddaughter in ‘Artichoke Hearts’… for me as well as Mira it holds magical powers…it has made something as fluid and intangible as a dream or the imagination… real.

In 2011 my first novel ‘Artichoke Hearts’ was published by Macmillan Children’s Books. Just having my story published was a dream come true but when the story won The Waterstones Award I could not believe it.  On the evening of the ceremony my husband Leo presented me with a beautiful silver charm in the shape of an artichoke. He had sent the description of the charm from my novel off to a silversmith and commissioned the piece of jewellery.

So the beginning of my life as an author did feel completely magical….charmed even. I have placed this charm, which travels with Mira to India in ‘Jasmine Skies,’ into the hands of many young readers when I talk about my books and what inspires me to write. I have a ‘Notsurewhat’ sort of feeling that it might bring them luck too!

These days I can’t even think about sitting down and writing unless I am wearing my artichoke heart charm! Like all symbols the potent power I have come to feel that it holds for my writing requires unravelling and is not as superstitious as it might seem. The process of writing all my books has been to try to discover for myself first what’s at the heart of each story. I usually begin with an instinct to write that comes from feeling passionate about something, or a wish to better understand characters or situations.

The charm is a reminder that for every character I write I need to unravel the layers from the tough outer shell of protection that we all learn to wear, to the more tender vulnerable layers at the centre of the heart. Some people call this ‘back story’ – what has happened to a character In their lives to make them behave in a certain way… but I prefer to think of the artichoke layers because I see that in myself, and everyone I know and research, the back story is not something that is or can be confined to the past, but lives with you in every present moment of your life…it’s integral to the identity of each individual heart.

For me the charm that I wear whenever I write symbolises a gift of love from the heart of my family. So my husband, children, brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, great grandparents, friends and wider family are all layers of my heart that inspire. Without these particular layers the stories that I write could not have come into existence.

Part of my back story is of being of mixed heritage; my father from India, my mother from The Lake-District. It’s formed from all my work with young people in community theatre and in schools on creative projects, and from the experience of being a mother. I am drawn to research a wide range of stories like Jide Jackson (the Rwandan Refugee in Artichoke Hearts’ or Dawn (the girl who tragically takes her own life in ‘Kite Spirit’) or Janu (The orphan boy who runs a Children’s refuge in Kolkata in ‘Jasmine Skies) or Aisha (The Somali refugee) or Iona (The Scottish homeless girl in ‘Red Leaves’). All these characters and many others I have written about allows me and then readers to step into shoes of strangers and to take them to their hearts. The charm is a reminder to me that part of my work in writing a story is to peel away the layers of my own heart to understand why these characters and their stories are ones that need to be told. I know if something’s working when I find that a character moves me to tears or laughter.

In my most recent book ‘Red Leaves’ the characters who hide out together in a city wood may seem to have very little in common. Each of them begins with a tightly protected heart, each of them has their reasons to reject each other but the process of the story is one of unravelling the layers of each of their hearts until they’re open enough to meet each other. I can’t ever imagine sitting down at my desk without wearing my artichoke heart charm because it’s a constant reminder of all the landscapes, people and experiences that have so far contributed to the layers of my heart and fed my imagination. In ‘Jasmine Skies’ many readers are horrified when Mira, in an impulsive act of compassion, gives her charm away to a poverty stricken girl, but that reaching out to others – imagining what it’ like to face real poverty, the loss of your beloved grandmother, to be a refugee, an orphan or a homeless child, or a young person who feels the overwhelming pressures of life weighing them down –  entering these worlds is the process of telling stories for me and It can be heart-breaking. Sometimes, if I’m in the thick of it when one of my children comes back from school or college they’ll ask me ‘What’s the matter.’ I’ll often explain that I’m feeling sad for a character because I have just written the moment when she…. Then I’ll be reminded ‘Mum! They’re not real…. What’s for tea?’ and I snap out of it…. But actually the truth is if, after much coaxing, a character comes to life they really do become flesh, blood and heart-beat.

My youngest daughter is performing ‘Pinnochio’ for a Christmas show at school and I’m helping her with her lines…To the carpenter Gepetto the little wooden puppet he creates becomes real as soon as he takes him to his heart… It’s why in reality I’ll always wear the artichoke charm for every book that I write… to remind me where my stories come from and that no matter whatever the style, tone or subject, never to forget the heart. Will Mira’s artichoke charm ever return to her? I do know the answer and one day I might write it…

Lovereading4kids Christmas update

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Today (19 Nov) is the 323nd day of 2014. If your kids are good at Maths, ask them how many days that leaves until Christmas … … … The answer’s 36. Sounds a lot, but your maths-savvy kids will tell you that’s only just over 5 weeks! Hardly any time at all so why not, while you check out our lovingly worked out Christmas Bookshelf, buy yourself some time … and them a gift they’ll love forever.

Christmassy Gift Ideas

It is this time of year when it’s fun to enjoy some books to get everyone well and truly into a festive mood. You will find a selection of our favourite festive titles on the shelf below…. irresistible.

Win, Win … November Free Prize Draws

This month’s smash ‘n’ grabs include a complete set of Winnie the Pooh adventures (worth a whopping £100) and 1 of 3 glorious, Groobie packed goody bags to celebrate the attest Q Pootle 5 adventure Groobie’s Spacewash by Nick Butterworth. Click here to lie your truck. We mean “try your luck”. And don’t forget all the amazing, desirable, valuable and rare signed 1st Editions on offer in our special Christmas Prize Draws…

Having a Classic Christmas?

macmillan-classics_250With Christmas gift ideas hovering in your subconscious, we want to remind you of our special section dedicated to Classic Books for Children. The Macmillan Classics are beautifully produced hardback editions of some of the best-loved stories from the past. But there’s also Classic Greek Myths (8+ by Sally Pomme Clayton), Tales from Grimm (5+ by Antonia Barber), or the wonderful re-working of Wind in The Willows, The Adventures of Mr Toad (5+ by Tom Moorhouse), to mention just three. Whatever you choose, these books make long-loved and lasting gifts.

Storytime – a magazine for budding bookworms and story lovers

Storytime is a new, illustrated, monthly story magazine for kids, filled with classic stories, poems, fairy tales, myths, and much more. Exclusively for Lovereading4kids members, we have negotiated a half price introductory offer, giving 4 issues of Storytime for just £8 – Click here for more details as well as the chance to win a set of 3 classic children’s books.

One World, Many Voices – Culturally Diverse Children’s Books

Books should fully reflect the diverse society we live in and to this end Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, has given its support to the Diverse Voices List which features 50 books published since the 1950s for kids of all ages that best represent cultural diversity. It’s a diverse collection for a diverse universe! and they are on website now.

When you Wishaw ‘pon a Star – Watch out for Paddington

It’s all change in the run up to the release of the epic Paddington movie on 28 Nov. The brilliant Ben Wishaw stepped in to voice the marmalade-loving bear from Peru after Colin Firth dropped out. Our special Paddington Section has no drop-outs and pure star quality, as we celebrate everything about the World’s favourite lost bear.

Something worth Tolkien About

With the final instalment of the film epic of Tolkien’s diminutive hero adventure tales due on 17 December, take a look at the 2015 Hobbit Annual together with the Movie Story books. Fascinating for any kids who love the films and great gift ideas… and of course, what could be better than the original books? Click here for more…

A very special book with an incredibly important message

It’s a 2 in 1 picture book called Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan. Published to coincide with the Nobel Peace Prize 2014, which has been awarded jointly to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” We all know the story of Malala, whose bravery transcended her youth, but this picture book is perfect for sharing with children who may well not yet know her story and that of Iqbal. The stories of both children are brought vividly to life and cleverly interconnected in a centre spread in this inspirational picture book by acclaimed author/illustrator Jeanette Winter.

So that’s what November looks like at Lovereading4kids. Keep your ears peeled for the sound of sleigh bells and browse Lovereading4kids for the best book recommendations.. Happy Reading!

P.S. What was your favourite Children’s book of 2014?? Well we have asked our 500 strong kids reader review panel to let us know theirs and now you all have the chance to vote. Look out for the poll on the right hand side of pages on the website especially the Home Page.

P.P.S. Just announced The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2014 chaired by our very own expert reviewer, Julia Eccleshare who is also the Children’s Books Editor of the Guardian. The award went to The Dark Wild by Piers Torday – an adventure boldly imagined and brilliantly executed: full of suspense without ever sacrificing warmth and wit. Read it today.

Lovereading4kids. Top 3 books, age range, 9 – 16 November 2014

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Books for Babies and Toddlers

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The Lion Book of Nursery Rhymes The Lion Book of Nursery Rhymes
Julia Stone
November 2014 Book of the Month  Every child needs a collection of nursery rhymes and this collection of favourites with their clear and unfussy illustrations makes an excellent starting point for parents and children alike. Helpfully, the rhymes have been …
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Mr Wuffles! Mr Wuffles!
David Wiesner
A cat story with a difference! When Mr Wuffles finds a toy space ship he can’t resist playing with it but, as he tips and tosses it, the results for the aliens inside it are very scary! Feeling motion sick …
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The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark
Jill Tomlinson
This is one of the all time classics of young children’s fiction and this beautiful gift box set includes the picture book and an adorable true-to-character plush toy of Plop. A lovely, calming bedtime read with a wonderful uplifting finish. Perfect …
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Featured Books for 3+ readers

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Once Upon an Alphabet Once Upon an Alphabet
Oliver Jeffers
November 2014 Book of the Month  Award-winning illustrator Oliver Jeffers has created an outstanding alphabet book which goes far beyond the traditional expectations of such a book. In additional to each letter having its own, beautiful Oliver Jeffers illustration, every …
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The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf and Grandma's Wardrobe The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf and Grandma’s Wardrobe
Christyan Fox, Diane Fox
November 2014 Book of the Month  A deliciously funny version of the familiar story of Little Red Riding Hood. Cat tries to read Little Red Riding Hood, one of his most-favourite stories, to his friend Dog. But Dog is a …
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Rita's Rhino Rita’s Rhino
Tony Ross
November 2014 Book of the Month  A funny tale all about the joys and perils of keeping a pet in a flat when animals aren’t allowed.  How Rita manages to do this is brilliant and it makes for an hilarious …
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Featured Books for 5+ readers

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Where The Poppies Now Grow Where The Poppies Now Grow
Hilary Robinson
This moving poetic text matched with warm-hearted illustrations captures the lives of two friends and the parts they played in the enormous military campaign of the First World War. From their early days playing together through to their old age …
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Horrid Henry's Tricky Tricks Horrid Henry’s Tricky Tricks
Francesca Simon
This gift book of 10 stories is the culmination of celebrations for the 20th anniversary year for Horrid Henry, the nation’s favourite naughty little boy. Horrid Henry is a character loved by boys and girls in equal measure and this …
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Twit Twit
Stephen Cole
Poor little Twit is always having mean tricks played on him by his big brothers, Boggle, Bumf and Baffle.  One trick too far and Twit is left stuck in a hole where Norma the vole comes to is rescue.  The …
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Featured Books for 7+ readers

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Atticus Claw Learns to Draw Atticus Claw Learns to Draw
Jennifer Gray
November 2014 Book of the Month  A cat with a difference! Atticus Claw may look like any other tabby cat but, when some famous works of art go missing, Atticus Claw – once a cat burglar but now a police …
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The Matchbox Mysteries The Matchbox Mysteries
Sally Gardner
November 2014 Book of the Month  Jam-packed tales full of hilarity, excitement and fun but this latest in the Wings and Co. series from Sally Gardner, winner of the Costa Book Award 2013, and acclaimed artist, David Roberts is even …
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The Christmas Truce The Place Where Peace Was Found The Christmas Truce The Place Where Peace Was Found
Hilary Robinson
Amid the horror of the fighting in the First World War, there was one moment of unexpected and surprising harmony. On Christmas Eve 1914 the soldiers from opposing sides of No Man’s Land joined together in the singing of a …
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Featured Books for 9+ readers

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Haunters Haunters
Thomas Taylor
The dead and the living exist side by side in this thrilling time-travelling adventure. In David’s recurrent dream, Eddie seems real and it seems like he’s got something to tell David. That’s scary enough but then David gets picked up …
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The Book of Storms The Book of Storms
Ruth Hatfield
November 2014 Book of the Month  Creatively chilling, this debut novel takes the whimsically charming idea of talking to animals and turns it on its head. Eleven year old Danny, with his new found link to an ancient and dangerous …
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The Imaginary The Imaginary
A. F. Harrold
November 2014 Book of the Month   A richly visualised story which explores imaginary friends and the very special role they play in children’s lives. Amanda and her imaginary friend Rudger have the best of times playing together. While Amanda’s mother …
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Featured Books for 11+ readers

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Awful Auntie Awful Auntie
David Walliams
Best-selling David Walliams is back on top form with Awful Auntie. Stella Saxby is the unfortunate owner of the awful auntie! Throughout her life, the dreadful aunt Alberta has squandered the family fortunes. Following the death of Stella’s parents, Alberta …
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War Horse War Horse
Michael Morpurgo
This special edition of War Horse commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, and features a brand new introduction by Michael Morpurgo and cover artwork by Rae Smith, designer of the National Theatre’s production of …
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The Bomber Dog The Bomber Dog
Megan Rix
August 2013 Book of the Month – Shortlisted for the Red House Children’s Book Awards 2014, younger readers category.  The Bomber Dog is a gripping and heartwarming story for 9+ readers about a brave puppy who joins the paratroopers during …
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Featured Books for 14+ readers

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The Manifesto on How to be Interesting The Manifesto on How to be Interesting
Holly Bourne
November 2014 Book of the Month   Bree hides away behind her blog that few people read.  So, if she writes about things people do want to read will it change her life to one of excitement and popularity? That’s when …
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Atlantia Atlantia
Ally Condie
A beautifully tense dystopian read where deception and intrigue lurk at every corner. The author builds her story slowly but surely, settling you in to this very different world of an underwater city and allowing you to understand the processes …
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The Bane Chronicles The Bane Chronicles
Cassandra Clare
November 2014 Book of the Month Ever wanted to know why Magnus Bane is banned from Peru? Or what he got up to during the French Revolution? Or what he bought Alec Lightwood as a birthday present? This title features …
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Storytime – a perfect magazine for budding bookworms and story lovers of all ages.

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Half Price Introductory Offer exclusive to Lovereading4kids members

Storytime is a new high-quality monthly story magazine for parents and children, filled with beautifully illustrated classic tales to read, love, and share. The small independent publishing company Luma Works, has created a new type of children’s magazine, one that doesn’t rely on plastic toys and adverts, but instead concentrates on brilliant stories, and helps kids to fall in love with reading in the process.

Each issue of Storytime is packed with a great selection of stories. There’s something for everyone, including fairy tales, myths, poems, fables, and stories from around the world. Plus there’s an extract from a much-loved children’s book, which children are then encouraged to go on and read for themselves, top tips from a storytelling expert to bring the tales to life.

It’s a perfect magazine for budding bookworms and story lovers of all ages.

We’re delighted to be teaming up with Storytime magazine to put together a half price introductory offer, giving Lovereading 4 Kids members 4 issues of Storytime for just £8 – just £2 an issue.

To take advantage of this offer simply visit www.storytimemagazine.com/L4K001, or call up 0844 322 1247, quoting ‘L4K001’.

After the introductory period your subscription will continue at a reduced rate of at least 25% off the shop price, which is still a great deal, and you are free to cancel at any time. So take advantage of our special offer today & help your kids to fall in love with reading, all for just £2 an issue.

There is also the opportunity to enter an exclusive Lovereading4kids competition in association with Storytime Magazine to win a set of hardback classics – Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Wind in the Willows – this will close on 10 December and the winner will be announced soon after.

Early November email update

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

November. A month that shares its first four letters with the word ‘novel’… ever noticed that? It’s all we could come up with after trying for ages to come up with a ‘novel’ way of introducing November’s fun-filled, far-reaching, fact and fiction recommendations for your young family and friends at Lovereading4kids. ‘Novel’ is itself just one little letter away from ‘Noël’ and, as we’re all a mere hop skip and jumps throw from Christmas (we do love Christmas!), this email could be a serious little helper for your Christmas shopping. Read on for more…

Fear, Fairies, Failure and Finding Yourself – November’s Books of the Month

November’s fireworks may have fizzled out but our bookshelf this month is still bursting with colour. Here are the sparklers:

Timmy Failure We Meet Again by Stephen Pastis (9+) MEGA Book of the Month!! Super sleuthing, global domination and lots and lots of laugh-out-loud fun. And Feel the Fear by Lauren Childs (9+). More code-cracking conspiracy coolness for prodigy and heroine, Ruby Redfort. The 4th in the series.

Wimpy Kid The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney (9+). The latest and the author feels “best” in the hugely popular and hilarious series (we have 3 SIGNED 1ST EDITIONS to give away of this). And Matchbox Mysteries by Sally Gardner (7+) – Magical mischief on a microscopic level. 4th in a fabulously ‘fairydust-fun’ series called Wings & Co. and our kids reader reviewers jut love them. Also The Manifesto on How to be Interesting by Holly Bourne (14+). A Brilliant novel from the author of Soulmates highlighting the peer pressure on teenagers to conform to be ‘cool’. No one quite understands teens quite like Holly.

 

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Who’s First? – November Debuts of the Month

It’s hard to achieve a “first”. In a world where we’ve put a man on the moon, Everest has been climbed and the Higgs Boson found, fewer firsts are available! So, we love bringing you great first-time writing from potential stars.

This month we highly recommend The Parent Agency by David Baddiel (9+). Madcap, imaginative, hilariously funny cautionary adventure about being careful what you wish for … and the first in a a new magical series called The Legacy of the Claw that Harry Potter fans will love.

 

In the Picture – Illustrator of the Month

Picture books are our first experiences in reading and pictures paint a thousand worlds – so here we celebrate the brilliant brush-smiths that we’ve grown to love.

This month, Lee Wildish is our muse. Winner of the Red House Award on 2013, Lee’s comic, colourful canvasses bring well-loved stories to vibrant life. Such as Doughnuts for a Dragon, Time travelling, mediaeval, mayhem with dastardly dragons, dopey denizens and delicious doughnuts, Marshmallows for Martians and Spaghetti with a Yeti, each one perfect for sharing with toddlers from 3+.

Tuck in! – Bedtime Reads

The bedtime story, the ‘happy place’ for every child and grown up over centuries of civilisation. Our lovely category brimming with bedtime brilliance for you to help your little ones slip peacefully into the land of nod has had a refresh this month. Find your next night time adventure here, or check out Moonlight Bear by Rosie Wellesley – A wonderful and beautifully drawn fantasy adventure about imagination and the power of dreams.

The Chronicles of Tempus

Tempus Fugit they say. In K.A.S Quinn’s time-travelling historical series for 9-12 year olds, it certainly does! Political and supernatural forces, a time-leaping heroine, and the importance of things we take for granted.

The Chronicles of Tempus trilogy is a cracking read from start to finish from an author who’s published the Spectator, written for The Telegraph, Independent and Wall Street Journal and generally knows what she’s talking about! The 3rd and final instalment, The Queen Alone, is out now and you can find the whole lot here.

Top Gun for the Harry Potter Generation

S.J. Kincaid always wanted to be an astronaut, but she stayed on earth and let her imagination fly instead. And we’re jolly glad she did! The Insignia trilogy is a kind of Alex Rider meets Hogwarts futuristic action series that will have you and your kids chatting excitedly at the dinner table. The 3rd and final instalment, Catalyst, is out now and our Teen Reader Reviewers loved it. If you haven’t come across these books yet, they’re well worth a look.

From vlogger to Debut Author

As always, there’s a great opportunity to download extracts from new titles before they’re published, so your kids can take a sneak peek before the masses, and check out what’s out there before committing your hard earned cash.

This month you absolutely mustn’t miss Girl Online by Zoe Sugg (11+) – AKA Zoealla 5 million subscribers on YouTube and girlfriend of Alfie Dyes AKA Pointless Blog (but your 11 year old will already know all that). Anyway she has penned a stunningly original debut and she really is the big sister no teen should be without! Click here to find out more and impress your children.


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