Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker


AAP Sales: Up 0.3% in August; Trade Up 6.9%

Reflecting another full month when many businesses were closed or working under a range of limitations because of the Covid-19 pandemic, total net book sales in August in the U.S. rose 0.3%, to $1.94 billion, compared to August 2019, representing sales of 1,361 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. It was the first rise in net book sales since February. For the year to date, total net book sales were down 4.6%, to $9.4 billion.

Again, as happened in July, trade sales rose significantly, compared to non-trade areas. Trade sales were up 6.9%, to $703.6 million, compared to August 2019. E-books, downloaded audio and adult hardcovers had the strongest sales. Excluding e-book sales, children's/YA, religious and university press titles slipped compared to August 2019.

Sales by category in August 2020 compared to August 2019:

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NYC's Books of Wonder's Downtown Store on the Move

After 24 years at 18 W. 18th St. in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, Books of Wonder is moving one block south, to 42 W. 17th St. The store's lease had ended at the end of 2019 and was extended in a limited way by the landlord, for which owner Peter Glassman, writing in an e-mail to customers, expressed great appreciation.

A new tenant is moving in soon, so Books of Wonder closed the W. 18th St. store yesterday and is "working as quickly as possible to get the new store up and running," Glassman said. "We hope to welcome you to our new home sometime during the week of October 19th. Stay tuned for updates as we post them!"

Glassman remembered fondly "the space where we have shared so many wonderful experiences together over the years. It's been 40 years since I first opened that tiny store on Hudson Street and, believe it or not, the new store at 42 West 17th Street will be our sixth location in the Chelsea/West Village area."

Books of Wonder's uptown store, at 217 W. 84th St., remains open, and all virtual events and storytimes are continuing as scheduled. In 2017, when Glassman announced plans to open the uptown store, he said, "I wanted to make sure we had another location open and well established before the current store's lease expires, so if we have difficulty finding a new location and have to close for a few months we would have another location to serve our customers, not be out of business for any period of time, and not have to lay off my wonderful staff."

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

Shelf Awareness Pre-Order E-Blast Palooza

Reminder: Today is the last day to register for our virtual webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, October 14, at 11 a.m. Pacific/2 p.m. Eastern, showcasing Shelf Awareness's latest free service for indie bookstores: The Pre-Order E-Blast. It's a highly customizable monthly e-mail that will show your customers you can pre-order with the best of them! We'll demo the new product, have live testimonials from current partner stores, and dive deep to show all we've learned so far.

Register here.

International Update: Queen's Birthday Honors, Australia's LYBD

Novelist Susan Hill and food writer Mary Berry were made dames--for "services to literature" and "services to broadcasting, the culinary arts and charity," respectively--among the Queen's Birthday Honors, the Bookseller reported. 

"I am absolutely overwhelmed to receive this very great honor," said Berry. "For most of my life I have been lucky enough to follow my passion to teach cookery through books and the media. I just wish my parents and brothers were here to share my joy, as my only achievement at school was just one O-level, in cookery of course. However, I am sure they are looking down and smiling."

Hill said she was "very surprised but pleased too.... Lovely for me and for books and readers and writing and writers..... I'm also chuffed to have caught up with my friend Dame Judi Dench!"

Honored with CBEs were National Literacy Trust CEO Jonathan Douglas "for services to education"; librarian Linda Tomos of the National Library of Wales "for services to Welsh culture"; and British type designer Matthew Carter "for services to typography and design." Receiving OBEs were Booker winning author Bernardine Evaristo and writer/translator Daniel Hahn "for services to literature"; Sally Wainwright "for services to writing and television"; and Oneworld publisher Juliet Mabey "for services to publishing." MBEs went to children's laureate Cressida Cowell "for services to children's literature" and to short story writer, poet and publisher Kadija George Sesay for "for services to publishing."


Australian Booksellers Association CEO Robbie Egan reported in the organization's newsletter that this year's Love Your Bookshop Day, held October 3, "was a fantastic day of engagement across the country. Media exposure built in the lead up to the day, and social media really captured the reciprocated love between bookshops and their communities. It wasn't an easy year to plan for and we understand that not everyone had the time or energy to give it their all, and of course, our Melbourne members could not open. It was still a day for acknowledging our place in the community and celebrating the incredibly positive story that we have to tell." The ABA newsletter also shared LYBD photos from booksellers around the country. 


Dutch bookseller the American Book Center in Amsterdam shared a photo blast from the past: "Look at this old picture from our Amsterdam store. Probably the '80s, when our store was still situated in the Kalverstraat next to Madame Tussaud's. How long have you been a customer at the ABC?"


"The calm before the storm?" Hong Kong bookseller Bleak House Books posted on Facebook. "Angel, our trusty shop manager, reports that THIS was the bookshop as of 6 p.m. today. Last week we had some quiet days which caused some angst and consternation on Angel's part. So I am happy to see that you, Angel, had some more company today. Thank you for all your help and your dedication to our humble little bookshop." --Robert Gray

MBIPA's FallCon Kicks Off with Children's Authors & Illustrators

"2020 has broken my heart in many ways," said Heather Duncan, executive director of the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association, at the opening session of FallCon on Thursday morning, "one of which we can't be together." She introduced Amanda Sutton of Bookworks, Albuquerque, N.Mex., and MPIBA's treasurer, to bring on the authors.

David Levithan

"I'm coming to you from my childhood bedroom where I've been since March when the pandemic hit," said David Levithan. "I think about my 10-year-old self, not believing he would be sharing a book with booksellers." In the chat, booksellers remarked upon the titles in sight (face out) on Levithan's shelves, including The Westing Game, Super Fudge and C.S. Lewis's Narnia Books. Levithan acknowledged that he is known for YA, but this book, The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (Knopf Books for Young Readers, February 2021), is middle-grade. With his first novel, Boy Meets Boy (2003), he said he was "writing into an absence. With middle grade, I'm writing into a presence." Liam wakes up one day and his brother Aidan has disappeared. For days, the townsfolk look for him. Then on the sixth night, Aidan returns with a strange story of where he's been. Levithan says he writes the story to figure out what the story is. "When I knew what Aidan's story would be, where he would be for these six days, did I know whether I believed him or not? No," says the author. "I wrote the story to figure out whether I believed him."

Sophie Blackall

Sophie Blackall was inspired to write If You Come to Earth (Chronicle Books) while visiting classrooms for UNICEF all over the world, including in India, Rwanda and Bhutan. It was at a one-room schoolhouse in Bhutan that the idea came: she and the children drew pictures together on long scrolls about the things that were important to them: families and food, school and home. The book takes the form of a boy writing a letter about what you need to know about our planet. Blackall said, "What I wanted to make was a book about all of us, that would bring us together."

Lev Grossman

"I have three children who fight constantly and hate to go to bed," said Lev Grossman. That's when he got interested in children's books. "My Magician books [for adults] are145,000 words each. Children's books are much shorter. But as it turns out, it takes the same amount of time to write a middle grade novel as it does an adult novel." The Silver Arrow (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) features 11-year-old Kate, who writes to a mysterious wealthy uncle and asks for a present, never dreaming a full-size, functioning steam engine would show up. At the first stop, a group of talking animals waits to board. Grossman pointed out that it's been 70 years since The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was published, where the animals had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the human children who would bring healing to their world. "If a steam train pulled up to a station full of animals today, they might not see a human as someone who'd come to save the day," he said.

Daniel Nayeri

Born in Iran, Daniel Nayeri spent his childhood in Oklahoma as a refugee and worked as a page in the Edmond Public Library. A librarian there realized that Nayeri had checked out The Lord of the Rings and "kept it far too long, so she gifted it to me. I couldn't be more grateful to her for that." That was the first book he'd ever owned. His autobiographical novel Everything Sad Is Untrue (Levine Querido) draws on Nayeri's Iranian roots. His mother converted to Christianity and her life was threatened, so she took Nayeri and his sister and fled the country. He said that to understand Persian history, one needs to know the history of the Shiite and Sunni divide. Nayeri's tale is set in Ardestan, Farsi for the land of stories, and his character, Khosrou, tells 1001 stories in order to save his life, a nod to Scheherazade.

Renée Watson took the title of her new YA novel Love Is a Revolution (Bloomsbury, February 2021) from an Audre Lorde

Renée Watson

quote, "Love is a revolution that happens inside of us." Nala tells Tye Brown, a boy she likes, that she's an activist and vegetarian--because he is both. But that's not really who she is. "To truly love a person you can't just cherish them and love the best parts; you also have to talk about what needs fixing," said Watson. "It's just like how you can love a country and talk about the things that need fixing. You can love a neighborhood and talk about the things that need fixing. So Nala begins to grapple with that work and what it means to actually love someone." Nala's grandmother, in talking to Nala and her cousin Imami, tells them to first be radical about how they love themselves, before they become activists for their neighbors and communities. Watson said, "It's important to have books where Blackness is not a burden." Nala and Imami are leading community projects about recycling and taking care of the land. "They can start their own revolutions; they don't have to wait until they're adults," said Watson.

Tami Charles

Author Tami Charles and artist Bryan Collier talked about why it's important for both children and adults to be reminded that they matter. That's what they set out to do with All Because You Matter (Scholastic). "When my son Christopher was born, I wanted to protect him," said Charles. "He experienced some things at school and came home with questions. I remember not wanting to have the conversation with him about racial injustice. I took all the words I had bottled up for years and put them into this book. It's a love letter to my son, to children from Black and brown and marginalized communities."

Bryan Collier

Collier, the youngest of six children, lived next door to his grandmother, a quiltmaker. "I didn’t pay much attention to that until I became an artist," he said. "All of a sudden, I was making collages. When you look at my art, you'll see the effect of quilting." Collier held up a handful of petals. "I have the portrait of a child's face on each petal. They're never alone." --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor

CALIBA: California Voices

Wednesday morning's programming for CALIBA kicked off with "California Voices," six West Coast authors introduced by Katerina Argyres of San Francisco's Bookshop West Portal.

First up was Carribean Fragoza with Eat the Mouth that Feeds You (City Lights Books, March 23, 2021), a collection of short stories about women of all ages. "From a 10-year-old to grandmother age, the stories focus on the voices of these women as they experience the challenges of being poor and working class in a world of men who don't treat them kindly," said Fragoza.

Carribean Fragoza

The tales take place on both sides of the border. "Think of it as a transnational collection," she said. Some of the stories get a little surreal; some stories take a dark turn. Fellow author and her dear friend Myriam Gurba describes it as "Chicanx gothic." In the title story: a mother describes how her daughter is slowly eating her, literally eating her body in life. "That has to do with matrilineal knowledge and the immigrant experience," Fragoza said, the daughter of Mexican immigrants who grew up in South El Monte, Calif.

Vendela Vida

Vendela Vida said her book We Run the Tides (Ecco, February 9, 2021), while not autobiographical, features a protagonist growing up in the 1980s in San Francisco. "I always heard about everything that happened at Haight Ashbury--but that was before our time," Vida said. She did, however, hang out at City Lights Bookstore. Protagonist Eulabee and her best friend, Maria Fabiola, witness a crime--or was it? The friends disagree about what they saw, and it causes a rift between them; soon after, Maria Fabiola disappears. "I'm intrigued by the drama of girlhood, the rigid rules of an all-girl school," Vida said. "Here I am decades later, writing a book about childhood friendships."

In Joe Ide's fifth book in the IQ series, Smoke (Mulholland Books, February 23, 2021), private investigator Isaiah Quintabe has PTSD. Ide is a born storyteller who spools out the plot: "IQ leaves [L.A.] and lands in a town called Coronado Springs, rents a guest house near the woods. He comes home one day and this kid Billy has broken into his house. The sheriff is looking for the kid, too." Billy has a history of telling whoppers. But slowly Isaiah becomes convinced Billy is telling the truth, and decides to get involved. Ide read from his novel, brimming with humor and incisive observations.

Chang-rae Lee

"This novel is unlike anything I've written before," said Chang-rae Lee of his latest, My Year Abroad (Riverhead Books, February 2, 2021). He's now living in California, having left Princeton, N.J. "A part-Asian college kid becomes assistant to a Chinese entrepreneur," the author said, and the book describes their exploits as they travel through Asia. The next part of the story describes the aftermath of those travels, when he becomes involved with a widow and her son. "The book is concerned with themes and issues that have preoccupied me over the years, cultural identity and immersion, the fraught engagements between East and West, brotherhood and mentorship," Lee said. "And, finally, with personal agony, loving someone who maybe doesn't love life themselves anymore. It's a voice that's different from my other novels--sardonic and at times bewildered." He added that in some ways, it's his most personal work. It's long, he said (nearly 500 pages), "but as always I promise to write a shorter book next time."

Julia Fierro
Caeli Widger

Santa Monica (Harper Perennial) by Cassidy Lucas is actually written by two authors, Julia Fierro and Caeli Widger, who met when Widger was a student in Fierro's fiction workshop in Brooklyn. Now they are both transplants, "in a perpetual state of incredulousness over this perennially lovely city on the western side of Los Angeles," according to Fierro. The novel is set primarily in a gym and fitness community, and revolves around a fitness coach who works with women of Santa Monica, Zach--found dead on the floor of his gym. The novel then jumps back in time as readers learn about the people who trained with him, possible suspects. Fierro and Widger are now at work on a new novel, The Canyon, due out in 2021. --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor

Obituary Note: David Gale

David Gale

David Gale, longtime children's books editor, died last Friday, October 9. He was 65. Gale began his career in publishing editing books for HarperCollins and Dell/Delacorte, then became a book review editor at School Library Journal, then joined Simon & Schuster, where he was named v-p, editorial director of the S&S Books for Young Readers imprint and worked for 25 years.

Justin Chanda, senior v-p & publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, said, "David was a terrific colleague and a dear friend. His passion for children's literature and inclusivity on the page allowed him to help foster a legacy of books that not only helped change lives, but will continue to change lives with every new generation of readers."

Quoted in a tribute by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, art director, author, and friend Laurent Linn said of Gale, "For decades he was such a nurturer of authors, illustrators, and books, changing the landscape of middle grade and YA, and loudly and proudly championing LGBTQ children's literature in profound ways. He had deep respect for authors and illustrators and their creations."

Authors and illustrators with whom he worked included Gary Paulsen, Katherine Rundell, Alex Sanchez, Emily Gravett, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Ellen Wittlinger, Andrew Smith, Tim Federle, Sonya Sones, Jonathan Maberry, Pete Hautman, Todd Strasser, Chris Lynch, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Neal Shusterman, John Lithgow, Tony DiTerlizzi and many more.

S&S added, "Some of the most important children's books of the last decade would not have come into being without David's guiding hand. The same is true of some of the brightest editorial stars whom he helped mentor. Books that he edited were named National Book Award finalists and received Printz honors and awards, Lambda awards, Stonewall honors and awards, Pura Belpré honors and awards, and countless other accolades."

Donations in his name can be made to the MS Society, The New York Public Library, and Live Out Loud, or the favorite charity of your choice.


Image of the Day: 'Selling Political & Social Justice Books'

Shelf Awareness editor-in-chief John Mutter moderated a Frankfurt Book Fair panel yesterday on "Selling Political and Social Justice Books in the U.S.," sponsored by Books Across Borders (the former Bookselling Without Borders) and featuring a group of U.S. publishers and booksellers. Topics included the publishing and selling of books in the current political climate and amid Covid-19; the need for bookstores as community spaces; and demand for political books for adults and children.

Participants (top row, l.-r.): John Mutter; Jeff Deutsch, director, Seminary Co-op and 57th Street Bookstores, Chicago, Ill.; John McDonald of Haymarket Press; (bottom row) Ramunda Young, co-founder, MahoganyBooks, Washington, D.C.; Anne Rumberger, marketing manager, Verso Books; and Cristina Rodriguez, manager/buyer, Deep Vellum Books, Dallas, Texas.

Personnel Changes at Atria; Scribner

Milena Brown has been promoted to associate director of marketing at Atria Books. She had worked in the publicity department for several years and moved to marketing in early 2019.


At Scribner:

Abigail Novak has been promoted to publicity manager.

Zoey Cole has been promoted to marketing manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Fareed Zakaria on Fresh Air

Today Show: Hoda Kotb, author of This Just Speaks to Me: Words to Live By Every Day (Putnam, $24, 9780593191088). She will also appear on Watch What Happens Live and CBS's Entertainment Tonight.

Good Morning America: Yotam Ottolenghi, co-author of Ottolenghi Flavor: A Cookbook (Ten Speed, $35, 9780399581755).

Rachael Ray: Kathie Lee Gifford, author of It's Never Too Late: Make the Next Act of Your Life the Best Act of Your Life (Thomas Nelson, $26.99, 9780785236641).

Fresh Air: Fareed Zakaria, author of Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World (Norton, $26.95, 9780393542134).

Tamron Hall Show: Ally Brooke, author of Finding Your Harmony: Dream Big, Have Faith, and Achieve More Than You Can Imagine (Dey Street, $24.99, 9780062895776).

Watch What Happens Live: Lenny Kravitz, co-author of Let Love Rule (Holt, $29.99, 9781250113085).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: John Dickerson, author of The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency (Random House, $30, 9781984854513).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed (Dial Press, $28, 9781984801258).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Colin Quinn, author of Overstated: A Coast-to-Coast Roast of the 50 States (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250268440).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: John Lithgow, author of Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown: Verses for a Despotic Age (Chronicle, $22.95, 9781797209463).

Alan Moore Talks About The Show

Comics legend Alan Moore (Watchmen, V For Vendetta and many more) "is attempting to break into the film business on his own terms with original project The Show," starring Tom Burke and directed by Mitch Jenkins, Deadline reported, adding that "the fantastical adventure, set in Moore's hometown of Northampton, follows a man's search for a stolen artefact, a journey that leads him into a surreal world of crime and mystery." Moore granted a rare interview to Deadline to discuss what "has been something of a passion project for the writer." Among the highlights from the q&a:

You retired from comics after finishing The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2018, any thoughts on getting back in the saddle?
I'm not so interested in comics anymore, I don't want anything to do with them. I had been doing comics for 40-something years when I finally retired. When I entered the comics industry, the big attraction was that this was a medium that was vulgar, it had been created to entertain working class people, particularly children. The way that the industry has changed, it's 'graphic novels' now, it's entirely priced for an audience of middle class people. I have nothing against middle class people but it wasn't meant to be a medium for middle aged hobbyists. It was meant to be a medium for people who haven't got much money...."

You said you feel responsible for how comics have changed, why?
It was largely my work that attracted an adult audience, it was the way that was commercialized by the comics industry, there were tons of headlines saying that comics had 'grown up.' But other than a couple of particular individual comics they really hadn't. This thing happened with graphic novels in the 1980s. People wanted to carry on reading comics as they always had, and they could now do it in public and still feel sophisticated because they weren't reading a children's comic, it wasn't seen as subnormal. You didn't get the huge advances in adult comic books that I was thinking we might have. As witnessed by the endless superhero films..."

In retirement, are you still creating, do you still write?
I've only retired from comics. I'm finishing off a book of magic now. It's been stalled for a while but I'm also working on an opera about John Dee with [musician] Howard Gray. I've got some short stories coming out. And I've also been thinking a lot about what we want to do after The Show feature film. We hope that it's enjoyable as a thing in itself, but to some degree it could be seen as an incredibly elaborate pilot episode, we think there's quite an interesting story that we could develop out of it as a TV series, which would imaginatively be called The Show.

Books & Authors

Awards: Writers' Trust Fiction Finalists

Finalists have been announced for the C$50,000 (about US$37,385) Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, which recognizes "Canadian writers of exceptional talent for the year's best novel or short story collection." Each finalist receives C$5,000 (US$3,740). The winner will be named November 18 at a digital event on the Writers' Trust of Canada's website. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson
The Beguiling by Zsuzsi Gartner
Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
Indians on Vacation by Thomas King
Good Citizens Need Not Fear by Maria Reva

Book Review

Review: The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories that Carried Them Through a War

The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War by Delphine Minoui, trans. by Lara Vergnaud (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25 hardcover, 208p., 9780374115166, November 3, 2020)

Throughout the Syrian civil war, the town of Daraya, just south of Damascus, has seen heavy fighting. From 2012 to 2016, the suburb--an early center for peaceful protests against Bashar al-Assad's regime--endured constant siege. Government forces dropped barrel bombs filled with scrap metal on the city, and a blockade deprived residents of access to food, medicine and other necessities. But in the face of bombardment and privation, several young men created a thriving underground library. Delphine Minoui, a French Iranian journalist living in Istanbul, heard about the library via social media and tracked down several of its founders. The Book Collectors, her sixth book and the third translated into English (I'm Writing You from Tehran and co-author of I Am Nujood), tells the story of Ahmad, Omar, Hussam, Shadi and their compatriots, fighting a desperate battle against death, disinformation and hopelessness.

Minoui begins by giving her readers some background on the Syrian conflict, and Assad's iron determination to wipe out opposition in his own country. She tells of how Daraya's citizens handed roses and water bottles to the occupying soldiers, then recounts how Ahmad and his compatriots gathered books from bombed-out houses, collecting them in the library's underground space. They numbered each book and wrote in the owners' names, hoping to return the books after the war. Soon the library became a community center for lectures, debates and fellowship, as men from across Daraya came seeking books for themselves and their families. (Women, who do not often appear in public in Daraya, rarely visited the library, but many borrowed books from their husbands, brothers and friends.)

As the months dragged on, Minoui's contacts periodically disappeared: heavy bombardment and spotty wi-fi connections meant she could go weeks without a library update. But when she could, she talked with the young men for hours about their favorite books (Paolo Coelho's The Alchemist was highly popular, as was Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Though she saw the library itself only through grainy smartphone photos, Minoui paints a rich, vivid portrait of both the space and the people fighting to preserve their town's literacy and intellectual riches. The ideas nurtured there helped support the town through months of siege and starvation.

While the physical library did not survive the fighting, many of its patrons did, and Minoui ends the book by giving their stories in brief, while urging her readers not to look away from tragedies such as Daraya. Knowledge and the freedom to exchange it provide true power, even--or especially--in places where both are threatened. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: French Iranian journalist Delphine Minoui spins a compelling account of an underground library in a besieged Syrian town.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Dirty Daddies by Various
2. The Harbinger II: The Return by Jonathan Cahn
3. No Love Lost by Lexi Blake
4. The Billionaire's Wake-Up-Call Girl by Annika Martin
5. Imagine With Me by Kristen Proby
6. Rough by Renee Rose and Vanessa Vale
7. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
8. Jingle Balls by Various
9. Whiskey Lullaby by Liliana Hart
10. Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel

[Many thanks to!]

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