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Keeper

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Overview

Keeper was born in the ocean, and she believes she is part mermaid. So as a ten-year-old she goes out looking for her mother—an unpredictable and uncommonly gorgeous woman who swam away when Keeper was three—and heads right for the ocean, right for the sandbar where mermaids are known to gather. But her boat is too small for the surf—and much too small for the storm that is brewing on the horizon.

Kathi Appelt follows her award-winning and New York Times bestselling novel The ...

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Keeper

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Overview

Keeper was born in the ocean, and she believes she is part mermaid. So as a ten-year-old she goes out looking for her mother—an unpredictable and uncommonly gorgeous woman who swam away when Keeper was three—and heads right for the ocean, right for the sandbar where mermaids are known to gather. But her boat is too small for the surf—and much too small for the storm that is brewing on the horizon.

Kathi Appelt follows her award-winning and New York Times bestselling novel The Underneath with this stunning, mysterious, and breathtaking tale of a girl who outgrows fairy tales just a little too late—and learns in the end that there is nothing more magical and mythical than love itself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When you’re 10 years old and you’ve had a really bad day, you look for your mother. That’s what Keeper is doing—only Keeper believes her mother, who left when she was three, is a mermaid, so her plan involves getting a rowboat out into the sea late that night. And because Keeper has let down Signe, her guardian; Dogie, her best friend/employer; and even Mr. Beauchamp, her surrogate grandfather, she has to carry out that plan alone. Amid scattered pieces of August’s dreamlike spot art, Appelt unfurls Keeper’s magical story slowly, looking back over Keeper’s day and forward to her longed-for reunion with the mother. As in her Newbery Honor-winning The Underneath, the point of view shifts between characters human, animal, and otherwise, but with less of the precocity that sometimes encumbered its predecessor. Texas’s Gulf Coast, alive with Cajun spice and superstition, provides a mysterious haven for them all. A narrative thread based on a tender love story between two teenage boys may draw controversy, but Appelt masterfully balances themes of loss and renewal and demonstrates that magic works in unexpected ways. In so doing, she has written another keeper. Ages 8-12. (May)
From the Publisher
On a day when everything goes wrong, a little girl relies on the magic of the blue moon to turn things around. Since her mother swam away seven years ago, ten-year-old Keeper has lived happily with Signe on a remote slice of Texas coast, convinced that her mother’s a mermaid. Keeper’s waited all summer for the blue moon, when Signe will make blue moon gumbo, their friend Dogie will propose to Signe and their elderly neighbor’s night-blooming cereus will flower. But when she accidentally spoils everything, Keeper sets out under the blue moon in a small boat, determined to row across dangerous Gulf waters to find her mother. While the action occurs in a single day, Appelt relies on flashbacks to flesh out her diverse human, animal and mythical characters. Deftly spinning together mermaid lore, local legend and natural history, this stunning tale proves “every landscape has its magical beings,” and the most unlikely ones can form a perfect family. Hall’s black-and-white illustrations lend perspective and immediacy. Beautiful and evocative—an absolute “keeper.” — KIRKUS, May 1, 2010, STAR

When you’re 10 years old and you’ve had a really bad day, you look for your mother. That’s what Keeper is doing—only Keeper believes her mother, who left when she was three, is a mermaid, so her plan involves getting a rowboat out into the sea late that night. And because Keeper has let down Signe, her guardian; Dogie, her best friend/employer; and even Mr. Beauchamp, her surrogate grandfather, she has to carry out that plan alone. Amid scattered pieces of August’s dreamlike spot art, Appelt unfurls Keeper’s magical story slowly, looking back over Keeper’s day and forward to her longed-for reunion with the mother. As in her Newbery Honor–winning The Underneath, the point of view shifts between characters human, animal, and otherwise, but with less of the precocity that sometimes encumbered its predecessor. Texas’s Gulf Coast, alive with Cajun spice and superstition, provides a mysterious haven for them all. A narrative thread based on a tender love story between two teenage boys may draw controversy, but Appelt masterfully balances themes of loss and renewal and demonstrates that magic works in unexpected ways. In so doing, she has written another keeper. - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, May 3, 2010 STARRED REVIEW

Ten-year-old Keeper believes in wishes and magic, and why shouldn’t she? Her mother, gone for the last seven years, is a mermaid, after all! So on the day of the Blue Moon, when everything she does has a disastrous result, Keeper knows her only option is to row out past the sandbar to the treacherous open water of the Gulf of Mexico, accompanied by BD (Best Dog) and Captain the seagull, and hope her mermaid mama can tell her how to fix things. Keeper is funny, feisty, at times older than her years, and often so stubborn that readers will have to shake their heads. In other words, quite realistic. The adults in the story are beautifully drawn, and absolutely believable, and the Gulf Coast setting is practically a character itself. The tender romance between two teenaged boys years earlier is hinted at, and it is sensitively portrayed, as is the romance between Keeper’s guardian, Signe, and the damaged former soldier, Dogie. Filled with love, wild adventure, family drama, and even a touch of true fantasy, this is a deeply satisfying tale.–Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library

SLJ July 1, 2010 STAR

Children's Literature - Summer Whiting
Keeper has found herself in a sea of trouble, thanks to ten little crabs. After setting them free from becoming the main ingredient in a stewing gumbo, a series of unfortunate events occur that force her to make a choice: she must go out into the sea and search for her mermaid mother, for her magic is the only thing that will be able to get Keeper out of this mess! Instead, Keeper finds herself in a much more dire situation than she ever thought possible, causing alarm and panic along the way in the hearts of those who love her the most. Keeper's journey carries a bigger significance than she ever thought possible. Truths will be revealed and she will learn that sometimes an unconventional family is often the very best kind. Appelt creates a magical tale that will evoke thought and wonder. This should be read with care by mature readers, as some of the material is quite adult, including sensitive references to homosexuality. Reviewer: Summer Whiting
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Ten-year-old Keeper believes in wishes and magic, and why shouldn't she? Her mother, gone for the last seven years, is a mermaid, after all! So on the day of the Blue Moon, when everything she does has a disastrous result, Keeper knows her only option is to row out past the sandbar to the treacherous open water of the Gulf of Mexico, accompanied by BD (Best Dog) and Captain the seagull, and hope her mermaid mama can tell her how to fix things. Keeper is funny, feisty, at times older than her years, and often so stubborn that readers will have to shake their heads. In other words, quite realistic. The adults in the story are beautifully drawn, and absolutely believable, and the Gulf Coast setting is practically a character itself. The tender romance between two teenaged boys years earlier is hinted at, and it is sensitively portrayed, as is the romance between Keeper's guardian, Signe, and the damaged former soldier, Dogie. Filled with love, wild adventure, family drama, and even a touch of true fantasy, this is a deeply satisfying tale.—Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
On a day when everything goes wrong, a little girl relies on the magic of the blue moon to turn things around. Since her mother swam away seven years ago, ten-year-old Keeper has lived happily with Signe on a remote slice of Texas coast, convinced that her mother's a mermaid. Keeper's waited all summer for the blue moon, when Signe will make blue moon gumbo, their friend Dogie will propose to Signe and their elderly neighbor's night-blooming cereus will flower. But when she accidentally spoils everything, Keeper sets out under the blue moon in a small boat, determined to row across dangerous Gulf waters to find her mother. While the action occurs in a single day, Appelt relies on flashbacks to flesh out her diverse human, animal and mythical characters. Deftly spinning together mermaid lore, local legend and natural history, this stunning tale proves "every landscape has its magical beings," and the most unlikely ones can form a perfect family. Hall's black-and-white illustrations lend perspective and immediacy. Beautiful and evocative-an absolute "keeper." (author's note) (Fiction. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416950608
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 5/18/2010
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 760,084
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 770L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award-winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Keeper, and many picture books. She has two grown children and lives in Texas with her husband. Visit her at KathiAppelt.com.

August Hall has brought his creative talent to both Pixar and Dreamworks. He lives in Hollywood, California.

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Read an Excerpt

Keeper


  • Keeper leaned over the edge of the boat. In the darkness of the night, she glared at the black surface of the water.

“You stupid crabs!” She sputtered as she said it. Keeper knew that Signe would be mad if she heard her use that word, “stupid,” but it was the only one that seemed to fit, so she said it again, this time with more force. “Stupid!”

She hoped the not-allowed word would sink down to the bottom of the pond and etch its way into the crabs’ hard shells. She couldn’t see them, but she knew they were down there, scuttling along the bottom of the pond.

In her entire ten years she had never heard crabs speak before. And then, that very morning, all ten of them had called out to her.

Those ten crabs had turned this whole day into a disaster.

Stupid, stupid, stupid crabs!

Keeper checked the rope that held her boat to the pier. It was still too tight to untie it. She needed the moon to rise, which would make the tide rise, then the boat rise, which would make the rope go slack, which would mean she could untie the knot, which would mean she could set her plan into action. Her perfect plan.

“Come on, moon,” she implored. Didn’t it know she was in a hurry? As soon as she said the word “moon,” she chewed on her bottom lip. So much had depended upon tonight’s moon, a blue moon, second full moon of the month.

First, Signe’s gumbo.

Then, Dogie’s two-word song.

Finally, Mr. Beauchamp’s night-blooming cyrus.

All three of those things had depended upon the blue moon, and all of them, every one, had been ruined.

Ruined by… CRABS!

Keeper never wanted to see another crab in her entire life! Never, never, never!

And now she needed the moon to turn the tide around and pull her out of the pond, through the channel, and into the breakers until she got to the sandbar.

That was the plan… or at least the first part of the plan.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

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3 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 19, 2011

    Notice: contains a homosexual love story

    As a rule, I always read a book before I pass it along to my 9-year-old son. After reading Kathi Appelt's book, The Underneath, I happily passed it along and encouraged my son to read it. I will not give him the book Keeper. Keeper will be donated with a handwritten warning on the inside cover.
    Why? Because of the teenage homosexual love story that begins more than half-way through the book, in chapter 58, on page 223¿ ¿Henri had never seen anyone like him, never seen a face as beautiful as his. Henri caught his breath. He felt bedazzled. Bedazzled. What a wonderful word. And all around, the night blooming cyrus opened their enormous flowers and filled the air with scent, and aroma so thick, it made the two boys dizzy. Night after night the two of them met at the fountain, late¿ There by the sparkling fountain they talked for hours and hours¿ and one night, after they ran out of talk,¿ Henri reached over and took Jack¿s hand, Jack wrapped his own fingers between Henri¿s¿¿ Then in chapter 75¿ ¿just as he was about to turn away, he felt someone¿s hand on his shoulder. He knew that touch. In that moment Henri felt his whole being lift above the ground, felt the cobblestones beneath his feet fall away. In the presence of love, gravity lost its claim on Henri Beauchamp. It didn¿t matter, did it, what Jack was? It only mattered that he loved him.¿ The boys are later torn apart and the now elderly Mr. Beauchamp sits on his porch every night looking out to sea, waiting for his lover to return. In the end, the now elderly men are reunited.
    Keeper is a book that is written for 8-12 year old, pre-adolescent children. I find it upsetting that Appelt would use this book as a platform to indoctrinate young children on the issue of homosexuality. There is no mention of the controversial topic of homosexuality printed anywhere on the book. In fact, the side story is slipped in very discreetly, with a subtleness that I find disturbing. Of course, an author has agency to write what she pleases. However, I believe that the author should be forthcoming about sensitive issues that are found in a book written for CHILDREN. Parents should be made aware, so that we can make the decision as to what literature we want to provide for our children.
    After reading the Underneath, I was very impressed by the author and expected that I would find all of her books appropriate for my children. Not so. I will continue to read each and every book the whole way through before passing it on.

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2011

    warning to parents who care

    after being completely smitten by the author's unique & lyrical first novel "the underneath" i grabbed "keeper" off the shelf on sight. there is so much to love about appelt's truly splendid writing, especially as a native texan who grew up near the settings of her books. i eagerly began "keeper" with very high hopes for another delicious experience.

    the plot & characters are interesting enough, but i found the story seemed to drag somewhat. in "the underneath" i was compelled to continue reading. with "keeper" i kept with it out of moderate curiosity while feeling slightly impatient. still, i stuck with it. there were good bones under the somewhat slow meat.

    then, more than halfway through the book, a side story is introduced that completely blew me away. i thought, "surely i'm reading more into this than was meant. those two 15 year old boys aren't supposed to be in love are they?" but, yes, they are.

    you would never know from the cover, the book's description, or any other reviews i've read that this story contains a very subtle, well-concealed teenage homosexual love story within it. i fully realize how controversial it is for me to even mention, much less be shocked and disappointed by such political correctness, but i must speak up to warn those who do care. because many of us do. i find it highly inappropriate for such subject matter to be slipped so "innocently" into a book meant for young readers. i wish i had known in time so i could return the book and get my money back. say what you will about me, i'm not the only one who will feel this way.

    these two young men meet and instantly "fall in love" only to be torn apart by terrible forces. one thinks he's abandoned by his lover, the other spends a lifetime looking the world over for his lost love. at the conclusion of the story, the two lovers are reunited as old men, sitting in rocking chairs on a costal front porch, holding hands at long last.

    the other mature issues in the book, mentioned by other reviewers, are well-handled. i have nothing against them. the sly influencing and indoctrinating of children on the homosexual issue i can not ignore or support. the story is written so discretely that many children will not pick up on, which is exactly why i have issue with it. at least be forthright and obvious so people know what they are getting. then informed decisions can be made.

    i am deeply saddened that such a talented writer would use her considerable skill and influence in this way. if not for this issue, i would give the book a B+. "the underneath" still gets my fullest approval and an A+.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2010

    A nice introduction to multicultural mermaid lore for children, and more!

    Mini Synopsys: This is a children's and pre-teen book where the main character is Keeper. She is an almost ten year old girl who lives on the beach by the gulf of Mexico in Texas. There are a menagerie of animals in her life - two dogs, a cat, and a seagull, but what is special is that she can hear them talk.

    She is well loved and cared for by Signe, her mom by default, their friend Dogie (a healing war veteran turned local surf board rental guy), and an old Russian sailor named Mr. Beauchamp. Keeper is like many young girls of that age, still believing in the magical, which includes ghosts and "merfolk".

    One particularly bad day she gets herself into very hot water, or should I say ocean water, in an attempt to find her "real mother" whom she believes to be a mermaid. We can only imagine what can happen here, as myth and folklore are combined and fantasy seamlessly blends into reality in this sweet and heart wrenching tale.

    My Thoughts: I loved this little book because it is a wonderful introduction to multicultural mermaid lore for a youngster (and in my case, adult). The author includes "merfolk" from different cultures within the story including characters whom are multicultural as well; their ethnicity is not completely defined. Because of these elements and more I believe Keeper will be an excellent teaching tool. It can be used as a spin-off for lessons on water safety, myth/fairytales/folklore and their definitions and differences, some science based lessons on geology and marine biology, as well as the defining of reality and make believe. All are important concepts in a growing mind, and if I remember correctly are included in many state curriculums.

    Examining things further with the theme of adult "joint or supervised read", the book has a number of time shifts where the author goes back and forth between the present and the past giving the story a complexity which some younger readers may struggle with, if not explained by or discussed with an adult. The story also includes issues around abandonment, as well as the importance of creating family ritual, which a younger reader may not completely understand unless they are discussed. These all can be very good things if the book is moderated.

    In addition the book contains illustrations which are simple that will interest a younger reader transitioning into more wordy books. The author also has a way of creating simple yet very deep and meaningful language which cuts to one's heart and which is lovely for both children and adults. I think that the most special aspect of the story is that it contains several wonderful and key GLBT characters. Lastly, the ending is the type which I prefer, not completely that of a fairytale but with a slight tweak making one think, feel, and remember.

    Highly recommended reading for adults who like myth and folklore mixed with realism, and for those who read to and teach children. As for children I would say all but a few will love it. I am rating this a 4 stars. I imagine that this story will be nominated for a variety or children's book award.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2010

    A Great Book!

    The fictional novel Keeper by Kathi Appelt, was a great story set on Oyster Ridge Road, in present day Texas. The story began when little baby Keeper was literally born in the Gulf of Mexico to an unloving teenage mother, Meggie Marie. Time then skips all the way to present day when Keeper is ten years old and living with Signe, not Meggie, on the morning of the grand Blue Moon. As life goes on the way it always does on Blue Moon Mornings, Keeper realized she could hear the feisty crabs in the tank on the kitchen table, pleading for help. Life for Keeper went downhill from there. Keeper felt as if her life was now ruined and there was only one thing to do: visit the totally unknown Meggie for her motherly advice. She prepared the perfect plan to find her mother but this plan led to waiting and then trouble. Will Keeper's life ever move on? Keeper contained many positives and negatives. One positive was that the story had a great plot. For example, on page 172, Keeper was going to get stuck and it was crushing your hopes of Keeper hearing from her mother, when the author kept the plot interesting and at the last minute something else happened to Keeper that saved her. One negative about this book was that it could be rather confusing because the author switched narrators every chapter. For instance, at Chapter 44 the narrator changed from Keeper to Captain, a big character to a little character, which was confusing because they had two completely different points of view and they change so fast it makes your head spin. Another positive about the book Keeper was that it had great illustrations that help the reader visualize what was going on. This positive was used on page 178 where it showed Keeper doing part of her plan in more detail than the writing. The second negative was that there was a lot of repetition since there were so many different narrators. For example, in Chapters 9, 10, and 11 you heard Signe and Keeper's views of the same event causing a lot of things to be repeated in only slightly different views. The last positive was that the story itself could be funny at times. For instance, during Chapter 2 Keeper says that her muscles are what made her believe and I found that funny. Finally, the third negative was that some parts of Keeper were boring. For example, Chapters 107, 108, and 109 were just one word each, which is extremely boring. Over all, the positives and negatives even out and Keeper was actually a good book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a good imagination. I would do this because of the fact that Keeper was an imaginative, easy to read book. It had a lot to do with childhood fantasies, like on page 91 when we heard all of Keeper's stories. I would also recommend this book because it was not scary. For example, the worst thing was when BD went overboard on page 324. Some similar novels that I would also recommend include The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler, Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister by Liz Kessler, and The Bronze Pen by Zilpha Keatly Snyder.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A more mature children's book.

    Keeper is a ten-year old girl living on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. Keeper's mother, Meggie Marie, left her when she was a child so she lives with a young woman named Signe, and her dog named BD (short for Best Dog). Signe tells Keeper that her mother was a mermaid and went back to the sea after Keeper was born. So Keeper grows up believing in mermaids and fairytales and that she's a special girl with special mermaid abilities.

    Next to Keeper and Signe lives Mr. Beauchamp, an old man with a one-eyed cat named Sinbad. Mr. Beauchamp is waiting and wishing and hoping that someday he'll be reunited with the boy with blue eyes. The boy he met when he was so many years younger. The boy he ran from and could never find again.

    Down the road from Mr. Beauchamp is Dogie. Dogie runs a surf-board rental shop and Keeper likes to work with him. Dogie is in love with Signe and on the day the book begins, he's practiced a two-word song that he's going to sing for Signe that night. Keeper can't wait for Dogie's two-word song.

    Everything is supposed to go perfectly that night, the night of a blue moon. Signe will make her blue moon gumbo, Mr. Beauchamp's night flowers will bloom and he'll be done waiting, and Dogie will sing his two-word song. But Keeper messes it all up. Wracked with guilt Keeper turns to the only person who can help her, her mother, Meggie Marie the mermaid. Desperate to find her mother so she can fix everything, Keeper embarks on an ocean-bound journey and gets swept away into danger and desperation.

    Keeper reads as a children's book should read, simple language, pictures to enhance the imagination, a fun story with adventure and a little girl who doesn't know better. But underneath the fairytale of talking crabs and seagulls who eat watermelon are adult topics. Unwed mothers who abandon their children, a scary birth scene in the middle of the ocean, age and death, a veteran traumatized from his experience in the war, and love that doesn't necessarily meet everyone elses expectations. These are real-world scenarios placed in a children's book and I can't imagine an eight year old, no matter how mature, understanding some of the more difficult themes.

    Another detail that makes Keeper more than a children's book is the narrative. The storytelling isn't linear; it doesn't follow a set arc. We are with Keeper on her journey, and then we flashback to what happened to Signe when she ran away from home, and where Mr. Beauchamp lived when he was younger, and what happened to Dogie to make him stutter the way he does. Beautiful literary themes all of them, but I do caution anyone who wants to get this book for their child that they should expect some question-and-answer sessions to follow.

    I loved Keeper for containing the topics it did, for being mature and expecting more from a child reader. For containing hints of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky (Oh frabjous day, calloo callay!). And like Lewis Carroll's works, I loved it for being a tad dark and ominous. It doesn't patronize to the younger audience, it exposes the fact that the world we live in is not a fairytale and that's okay. Through the childlike language is a story about a group of people who care for each other, individually unique humans, tragically brought together, but living happily in the "world unto itself."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2010

    Great middle grade fantasy

    KEEPER, by Kathi Appelt, was a creative and intriguing journey of a ten-year old in search of her past. Keeper was convinced that her mother was a mermaid and that she could help Keeper salvage what was left of the special "Blue Moon" night.

    I thought this was a fun and amusing book. All of the characters were delightful, especially being seen from a ten-year old's eyes. Keeper was such a great character with an amazing heart and passion for the fantasy world she desperately holds onto. Even the animal characters had their special qualities about them. BD was one of my favorite non-human characters, he was so loyal to Keeper and her imagination. I think any reader will fall in love with these characters from the get-go.

    I liked the progression that Keeper went through in regard to understanding the truth from fantasy. She desperately wanted something out of reach, she did not see that everything she needed and could ever want was right in front of her.

    I really liked the cover of this book. It was very artistic and beautiful. And the illustrations (by August Hall) were stunning. Both the cover and pictures really added to the uniqueness of this book.

    There were some parts of the book that dragged on, but overall was a fun and light read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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