why I don’t love dr. seuss: but 3 reasons I should

Confession: I don’t love Dr. Seuss.why i do not love dr seuss

I don’t, and I haven’t, and I won’t. So there. I said it.

Only a few people know my true Dr. Seuss feelings because, as a Reading Specialist and former high school English teacher, I’ve been afraid to admit it.

But now? I’m a bit more confident (maybe crazy?), and I’m a bit older and a bit wiser.  And I’m a bit more accepting, and I’m hoping that others will be the same.

We all have different tastebuds, right? We all have different favorites, and Dr. Seuss just happens to not be one of mine.

However, I have recently been thinking, contemplating, and trying to keep an open mind. I’ve found three reasons I should like Dr. Seuss in all of his Seussness.  Being that it’s Read Across America week very shortly and March is a reading-happy month, I thought I’d share.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Why I Don’t Love Dr. Seuss–But 3 Reasons I Should: First, why I don’t love Dr. Seuss.

All of this is said with full admission of the fact that I am by no means a Dr. Seuss expert, not even a little bit of a Seuss-a-holic, not even close to a Seuss-ologist. There’s a lot I don’t know and a lot I haven’t read.

But here’s why I don’t love Dr. Seuss, in no particular order:

why I don't love dr. seuss don't

1.  The nonsense.  I consider myself a relatively funny gal with a relatively decent sense of humor. But the nonsense of Dr. Seuss books? I can’t take it. Once I hit my sixth page of rhyming tongue-twisters, I just about want to scream. And the kids have lost interest. Or maybe I just think they have.

why I don't love dr. seuss

2.  The storylines (or lack thereof).  Sure, many of the classic Seuss books have storylines, and decent storylines at that. But a lot of them don’t. And I find many of them hard to read.  I find some of the characters a little –or a lot–different. Plus, I cannot be the only mom in the universe who every time she reads the story, reprimands Dick and Sally for letting a huge Cat in the Hat in their house while their mom is away. Right? Stranger safety.

why I don't love dr. seuss grinch

3. The illustrations. Are. Scary. To. Me. Andnotatallcute. And I wonder how many children really love them–I mean really enjoy looking at the pages?  And how many kids are a little bit nervous, a little bit weirded out, and a little bit frightened?  For a good long while, when I had three kids under three years and until each one was sleeping through the night, there was very little I’d put in between my kids and their sweet, sound sleep. Or between me and my interrupted, choppy, desperate attempts at sleep. Goodness knows that the last thing I wanted was for them to wake up screaming from a nightmare based on scary Dr. Seuss characters. Paranoid, I’m sure.


The 3 reasons I should care more for Dr. Seuss:

why I don't love dr. seuss should

1. The nonsense. It’s silly! It’s funny! It makes kids giggle! It’s a riot! Kids learn to read and learn the basics of word building when they play with real and nonsense words–and it’s an absolutely wonderful way to get emerging readers to play with language.  And language is fun, and all of this does help kids to become more word-conscious and word-aware. It’s good. It’s all good.

2.  The storylines (or lack thereof).  I’ve noticed, especially recently when Cora’s been trying her hand at reading some of the Dr. Seuss classics, that the lack of storylines really forces her to pay attention to the words.  There’s no real context to lean on, no synthesizing of ideas, or using the pictures when it comes to decoding words.  She’s stretching, she’s sounding out, she’s using what she knows about letters and sounds.  She’s turning back a few pages to find the word she knows she just read. And she’s not alone.  The lack of storylines should force all kids to do the same–focusing on words, decoding, and improving those phonics skills, right?

why I don't love dr. seuss should

3. The illustrations. I get it. I can’t shelter my kids from everything scary or slightly unpleasant in this big, wild world. I must cease the fast-forwarding of dying Disney mothers and firey Disney villians, just like I must open the pages of Dr. Seuss books and embrace the red eyes of the Grinch or crazy teeth of ‘HE’ biting ME and little JIM biting HIM.  Right?  And they’re not all scary. The Lorax is cute. The Cat is okay.  That poor, little dog in The Grich is . . .um, adorable.

So that’s it. I’m coming clean.

Does it feel good? A bit, especially, with Read Across America Day this week. It does.

Do I believe that Dr. Seuss is a master at his craft? Sure.

Do I believe that many of Dr. Seuss’s books have super-awesome, meaningful, and life-changing take-aways? Sure. Tons of Dr. Seuss life-lesson quotes. Grab what you’d like and celebrate!

why I don't love dr. seuss


Do I believe he changed the face of literature and reading for his time? Yes! His innovative use of language and humor–in the 1950’s–helped a nation with rapidly growing numbers of illiterate children–learn to read in new ways.  That. Is. Awesome.

Do I believe he deserves one day all for himself? Maybe, maybe not. I love the idea of celebrating Read Across America Day with texts of all shapes and sizes, from authors of all walks of life and illustrators from here, there, and everywhere.

Do I think I’m the Queen of it All and my opinion is the only one that counts? Nah. Not even a little bit.

I recognize the power of sharing a wide variety of rich literature with my children.  Books written by a range of authors and illustrators.  I also know that at this point in time, we have such an incredible pool of texts to choose from.  There’s not the need to pick the same books every year, every month, every day because we have to.  Just because we think we should.

Every single day, great publishers are finding new and upcoming authors and illustrators, and every single day, fantastic books are being put on the shelves of our libraries and bookstores. It’s just a mattwe teach #RAA twitter eventer of taking the time to find them, share them, and celebrate them.

So will I be sporting my big red and white Cat in the Hat hat this week? Absolutely. Because even though I may not totally heart Dr. Seuss, I do totally heart reading, literacy, and language. And to me, that’s what Read Across America Day–and National Reading Month–is all about.

I’ll even be tweeting with some of the big-dogs in the field of education, learning, and literacy tomorrow night in honor of Read Across America–I’m no Grinch!  (Join us–it’ll be worth your while!)

Thoughts? I’d be curious to hear ’em–feel free to share below!  Just remember that we all have different tastebuds, ‘kay?




  1. Cathy says

    I am not a Dr. Seuss lover either. Pretty much the same reasons but never quite noticed the illustrations. A few books are exceptions like his ABC book and Mr. Brown Can Moo. If I never read Green Eggs and Ham again I’ll be happy!

  2. Brandy says

    Oh! I do not love Dr. Seuss books, either, for the exact same reasons. Another one that I truly dislike that everyone else thinks is genius is Love You Forever. That one gives me the creeps. I told my mom if she ever even considers climbing in my window in the middle of the night I will have her committed. And my daughter who was relieved to find out that Santa, the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny weren’t real because then she didn’t have to worry about people sneaking through our house while we slept, also hates this book. But I think she likes Dr. Seuss or at least is willing to read them to her brothers when I am not. I think I could tolerate Dr. Seuss’s silliness and lack of story lines if they weren’t sooooo LONG! Thank you for admitting all of this and making me feel normal for having the same issues.

    • amy says

      TOTALLY and completely agree. I DETEST that book. I have wondered–for years!–the reason for the hype. Scary. Strange. And so . . .weird. I get the premise–sure–but yes, CRAZY with the window part.
      And I didn’t even get into the length of the Seuss books, but good point. Brandy, we’re like soul sisters. I’ve said it for years.

    • says

      I am so glad I have found someone else who does not like “Love you forever” – the first time I read it to someone else’s kids, I almost dropped the book halfway through when I saw the mother climbing through the window. Seriously? That’s the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. But I agree with the sentiment of the book, especially as my little ones get older – I can see the babies they were flash before my eyes more now as they grow, but climb through a window to remind them of it? No thanks :).

      • says

        Jenni. Agree. I can’t even wrap my head around why people are all teary and emotional about that book–I cannot get past the complete and utter creepiness of it.

        I do understand the *general* sentiment, but there are better books that convey that idea. . . Your comment made me laugh a bit though. Thanks SO much for reading, and huge thanks for taking the time to write.

  3. Christie H. says

    I’m so glad to see that I’m not the only one who isn’t a Dr. Seuss fangirl. I have never liked his books and think they are pretty stupid. The reason i don’t like them is all of the made up words that he uses just to rhyme (There’s a Wocket in my Pocket is a prime example)

  4. Reina says

    I also do not like them and my kids also do not like his books mostly because they do not have a clear story line and they get bored.

  5. says

    I have a confession too, I did not like them as an early reader when I was a kid, I think they just didn’t make sense to me. However watching year after year my struggling beginning readers in Kindergarten have so much fun with his very popular books he can inspired some readers to build confidence. I can’t wait to chat with you more about this on our Google On Air Hangout on Friday afternoon and in our Twitter Chat Wednesday night! Pinned to my reading board, can’t wait to read everyone’s comments.

  6. Vicki says

    I can see where you are coming from, but some also have a great des
    Mod meaning behind it. I mean the lorax teaches us about deforestation and the sheet chefs about racism, you really need to look on both sides of the matter

    • amy says

      Vicki–totally agree. I do believe some have some deeper meaning–for sure!–but the majority? Thanks for taking the time to write, and thank you for helping me keep an open mind!

  7. Shannon says

    Oh I’m so glad I’m not alone. As a former reading teacher and now parent I thought I was the only person who didn’t jump up and down about his books. My reasons are the same but I, too, add the sheer length of them. Did he get paid by the word or something??

  8. Julz says

    You are not the only one! I’ve always felt like there was something wrong with me or that I “missed” something when it comes to Dr. Seuss books. I appreciate the word play and challenge to my eloquence when I read Fox in Socks to kids that actually pay attention, but so many of the books are way too long for me.
    Maybe it’s because I’m more of a non-fiction person.
    The illustrations bugged me as a kid and still do as an ‘adult.’
    Thank you for this post.

    • amy says

      Julz–thank YOU for taking the time to write, my friend. You are the 3rd person to mention the length, which I totally forgot about. Huge thanks for reading–and big thanks for writing.

  9. Emma Hirsch says

    I actually love dr suess, but I totally understand your reasoning. His books are a little odd! I completely get it. The main reason I actually do love him is that “The Sneetches” is actually based on the racial discrimination in America in the 1900’s, so it really gave me a lot more respect for him! A few of his other books are based on other historical things too (: But I completely understand what you are talking about, the tongue twisters are really annoying sometimes!

    • amy says

      Emma–I didn’t realize! Thanks so much for sharing! See? You good people and smart readers are keeping me in check–and that’s why I admitted I’m keeping an open mind! Cool fact! I would *love* to learn more about the historical ties. . . hmmmmm. . .

  10. says

    I completely agree — reading The Cat in the Hat for the first time since childhood really creeped me out! Though I’ve found that some of the Dr. Seuss books I never heard of as a child are far more interesting than the ones I remember with very vague fondness. My son is much more sensitive than I was at this age, and he really doesn’t enjoy most Seuss books, though we did go through a few weeks where he would let me read more of them to him, but only once. We do enjoy some of the episodes of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, and some of the books in the related series. Even if the stereotypical gender roles on the show from time to time irritate me. But those aren’t really Seuss, just Seuss-inspired.

    • amy says

      Jessica–I do have to say that the Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That is much more enjoyable for me–I think the more modern Dr. Seuss illustrations are a lot softer, more easy? Who knows. Thanks for reading-and huge thanks for writing. I’m so appreciative of your insight!!

  11. Dana says

    I love wacky Wednesday–very interactive — and also the first of octember! Try them, try the, you might like them. Try them and you will see!!

    • amy says

      ha! Dana! I totally will–I’m honest when I say I’m always willing to learn and trying to keep an open mind! I promise you, I’m not unkind! (stuck in a rhyming mode. . . hard to break and this I know) gah.

  12. says

    I might be in the minority, but I actually really enjoy Dr. Seuss books. They were some of my very first books I ever read and I am an avid reader today. His books are full of nonsense and the Seuss loved him some nonsense. I think that’s why many kids DO like his books. Did you know that he and his wife had a collection of silly hats and had visitors pick one out to wear when they visited their home? Love it. But even more so than the nonsense, I love remembering the together time I got to spend with my patents when they read me Seuss at bedtime. Those are some of my favorite memories of my childhood. But many of his books, as you point out, do have a deeper meaning and were a commentary on what was going on in the world at the time he wrote them. It really is quite fascinating when you look into the history of his work. If you’d like to know more about the story behind the stories of Seuss, you might enjoy a video made back in 1994 called “In Search of Dr. Seuss.” It gives a fun history of his life, and it’s really interesting, too.

    • amy says

      Jo-NO! You’re not in the minority–I am! And really? It’s ALL good–different strokes for different folks! And I LOVE that you’re sharing some of these cool facts about the big man–I love learning, and I love sharing–so I’ll definitely share that hat fact with my kids this week. I will DEFINITELY check out the video too–thank you, friend!

  13. says

    Ha Ha. This is great Amy! Even being obSEUSSed there are still things I don’t like about his style sometimes. I’ll admit to skipping pages of long books and changing the words if I want my kids to understand it. We don’t only read Dr. Seuss (gasp). I am inspired by his books, his process and his desire to create a love of reading for all children. I love how you explain how your dislikes are also your likes. Very creative.

    • amy says

      omg Victoria, I was secretly worried about your reaction! My obSEUSSed friend understands–and admits to reading other books! I love it! I feel freeeeeee!

  14. Sandra says

    OMG! I am NOT alone. On one level, I love Dr. Seuss, but on many other levels, I am not his greatest fan. I also don’t think that “Read Across America Day” should focus sooooooo much of its focus on Dr. Seuss. At many of our schools, “Read Across America Day” has become a great big advertisement for Dr. Seuss books and now all Dr. Seuss related materials. Year after year, I see more “Read Across America” activities centered on Dr. Seuss characters and books rather than on reading and the love of reading. Many of the kids and some of the adults think of “Read Across America” as Dr. Seuss day. Seriously, shouldn’t this day be about the love of reading? This year, I decided to change it up. I have asked my students to make a poster of a book they have read this year and come prepared on Friday to persuade students in their group to read their book. Students will be given a book wish list so that as they listen to various books being “hawked,” they can write down books that they wish to read at a later date. Students will then be given time to read, read, and read.

  15. says

    I love Dr Seuss – but I have started reading his books when I was an adult already. And I haven’t read it to my little ones – we have a deal that for bedtime we always read Polish literature. I don’t want them to forget my language!
    And of course everyone has the right to like or dislike something. I just hate when someone says “I don’t like it” and when asked why would reply “because I do”. Well, here we go back to the kindergarten! :)

  16. says

    This piece cracked me up — I love your candid voice. All three of my kids have responded to the rhythm and meter of the books as they are learning language, first, and then later when they are learning to read. There’s just something about them! Alice is loving these books, and the P.D. Eastman ones too. Although we have hundreds of books which may be funnier or better illustrated, there’s just something about these that has my toddler ambling over to the bookcase for them every single day. And I do love the nostalgia factor, since I grew up on them.

    • amy says

      ha! The very cool thing is that this is what makes the world go ’round, right? Little Alice runs to her Seuss books and they have helped Evie and Charlie learn to read and love language, and it wasn’t so for the Mascott crew! I’m sure my lackluster intros to the books didn’t help–which is a bummer but which is why I firmly believe it takes a village–and perhaps their Seuss-loving teachers can help them see things in a different light! THanks for reading, my sweet friend! Miss your face!

  17. Rhonda says

    LOVE Dr. Seuss books! The first book I ever read totally on my own was Green Eggs and Ham. My very first of millions of library books was One Fish, Two Fish. I can honestly say that the excitement of reading my first book launched me in to a lifetime of reading that has kept building for the last 40 plus years. I never found the pictures scary in any way, just interesting and different. As you said, different strokes…

  18. Pam says

    I am to not a big fan of the Dr. Sueuss books. I really did not like reading them to my son when he was smaller. He is not 11. He never did have an interest. All the thoughts you had on the reasons why you do not like Dr. Sueuss is pretty much what I have always thought but didn’t say anything becuase “those are suspose to be the great reads”. I am glad that those were read to him in school and I didn’t have to do it.

  19. says

    I adore Dr. Seuss – but definitely respect your feelings not to! My favorite might be “My Many Colored Days”. Just a few days ago, my family had huge laughs over the alphabet book “Big A Little A What Begins With A”…because even though neither my husband nor I have read that book for years, we can still both recite it nearly perfectly. I went running to the basement to find it (where I have saved only a precious few of the toddler books) because my son (age 7) was laughing so hard that this used to be his favorite book. Great column!

    • says

      And another favorite – his book on the Arms Race – The Better Butter Battle Book! That thing is often classified as an adult book in public libraries because of the content. When it was written, it was considered very radical.

    • amy says

      Elaine! Amazing! I love those books we commit to memory–for you it was Seuss and for us it was Sandra Boynton’s board books–can STILL bust out with a ‘Barnyard Dance’ if I need to! I will definitely check out those that you mentioned, though–because they’re new to me!

  20. says

    I love your honest perspective. I am a big Dr. Seuss fan but I will have to admit that The Cat in the Hat strikes me as a possible pedophile! He’s creepy enough too!

    My son loves his tongue twister books, mostly to see how fast I can read them so I get your tongue twisting non-love of his books!

    Pinning and tweeting!

  21. says

    Great article! Thank you for your perspective. Like you say, we all have our different tastes. I remember reading “There’s a Wocket in my Pocket” to one of my nieces, and she was so scared afterwards–afraid that strange little creatures could be hiding anywhere in the house. However, I am a big Dr. Seuss fan and my boys absolutely love the silliness in those books–when we read the books they laugh so much and the books really ignite their imaginations. But, I can totally see how the same nonsense we like could be a turn-off to other readers.

  22. says

    haha – this is great! I admit to getting bored too – the books are loooooooooong! Some feel endless really. We rarely read them in one sitting when my girls are doing the reading.

    What I love – it really gets kids reading and working those phonics skills with those nonsense words.

    The illustrations – 1 word = creepy. The grinch, those made up animals (my girls swear they are aliens!) – stuff of nightmares and also…….just a little bit genius. Makes me wonder where his head was when he sat down to pen those books! Hmmmmmmm…….

  23. Lisa says

    Dr. Seuss books are like music to me. I love the rhythm, the beat, the rhyme. I love the inanity, too. I also love “One Hungry Monster Underneath My Bed” for the same reason.

    It’s the reason I detest books like, “Guess how much I love you?” and other books that plod along with the clunkiest of words.

    To each her own.

  24. Jill says

    I agree, I am also not a huge fan of Suess for all of your reasons plus the characters are heavily male. That is representational of the time they were written but it still helped put me off as a young girl.
    My exception is the Lorax. He was way ahead of his time on that and the message still isn’t getting through!

  25. Andrea says

    I really enjoyed reading this post. :) I happen to love Dr. Seuss, but my mom is NOT a fan for the exact reasons you are not…mostly the illustrations. Your post made me smile. Thanks for sharing! Happy reading!

  26. Jennifer says

    I do not care for Dr. Suess too much either. I just bought some for my 3 year old son since they are $5 at Kohls right now but they are pretty long. But also because of the words used such as “dumb” and “fool”. Maybe its just me but I dont want my 3 year old learning those words just yet!!

  27. Caitlin says

    I like Dr. Seuss but respect your view. I came across an article while teaching ESL that Dr. Seuss books are a good resource for teaching English. The rhyming words even as nonsense help reinforce pronunciation and sound recognition. I used a few pages in my teaching, and it definitely helped my adult students. The drawback was that they wanted to know WHAT they were reading, and it can be very difficult to explain.

  28. cam says

    Totally agree with you on all points, and with the others who mention the excessive length of most of his books. I was never a fan as a child, and neither of my boys have been fans in particular. I find Mr. Brown Can Moo to be an exception, but the rest of them make me want to pull out my hair by the first few pages. And I’m a gal who has a bizarre, dark, and well-developed sense of humor! 😉

  29. Chiska says

    I’m so grateful to read your post! I thought I was the only one in the world who didn’t like Dr. Seuss that much and still loves books. I really really dislike The Cat in the Hat. It terrified me as a child. My children’s first introduction to Dr. Seuss was at a preschool lesson when my son was 5 years old. So thanks! My wish each year is that even if we can’t let go of Dr. Seuss we could expand our reading to include more than Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat. I confess to avoiding the library on Seuss Day too. :)

    • says

      Ha! Chiska! Thanks for writing–and it does feel great to get it out there, doesn’t it? The awesome thing is that we can still appreciate Dr. Seuss and not have to love him, right? Thanks for reading–and huge thanks for taking the time to write!

  30. Daniel Kennedy says

    While I understand your feelings about some of his books, and honestly, I avoided some of his books for bedtime reading to my girls because of the length and sheer goofiness(Zizzer-zazzer-zuzz!). When the good doctor was at his best, no one comes close. His wonderful books of insight is voluminous-Horton Hatches the Egg, The Lorax, Yertle the Turtle, The Sneeches, The Butter Battle Book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, all outweigh the more mundane tongue twisters by a mile. Thank you, thank you, thank you for saving us, Ted Geisel from truly awful childrens’ books.

  31. Annie says

    Wow, I had no idea so many people shared this response of being a bit weirded out by Dr. Seuss. I discovered recently that I am a highly sensitive person, and I notice some of the other commenters have mentioned this. I wonder that as a child, Dr. Seuss is perhaps too hyper for sensitive kids? The really bright colours and rhymes might perhaps be too much stimulation for little kids to cope with. I might also mention that I felt the same way about Alice in Wonderland, especially the original illustrations (not the disney ones). They were grotesque and unnerving, and a little frightening. Seuss’s stuff seems very tame in comparison, but I think there are similarities. Perhaps it is because there is an element of surrealism in both of these books. I have always found surrealist paintings to have the same effect on me.

  32. Lilly says

    I don’t like Dr. Seuss either with a few exceptions. We have tons of the book series only because my father in-law started my kids on a book club but I had to stop it because there are way too many books for my kids book shelves. But I think they’re too long. I get bored reading them to my kids. I like to read book characters with different voices but you can’t keep up with it in his books. So I cringe at reading them but when they ask I do so but really, very fast and they get a kick out of it. And there’s the one about ooblek…it was really quite weird and I ended up getting rid of it. But like you….to eaches own right?

  33. says

    I love Dr. Seuss books. There is more to his books than just tongue twisters. Especially the books that are not for beginners. Dr. Seuss books gave me a love for reading and helped me to learn and speak English since it was not my first language. As a child I loved the world of fantasy and the wacky characters. I feel that his use of nonsense words and creatures allows kids to feel they too can use their imagination while learning about language. Things don’t have to be perfect or always make sense to a child. Their mind wanders and jumps around. And the more we allow our children to use their imagination the more their mind is stimulated and the more they learn. We don’t have to like but like you said in your article we do have to see the positive uses of Dr. Seuss books in all parts of the English language.
    As an adult and an english major I have found that many of his books have deeper meanings. I have been able to analyze his books for content, depth, meaning, language structure, word usage, and grammar. I suggest trying to do a literary analysis on one of his books such as the Sneetches, The Butter Battle Book, The Lorax, and many others. Even Green Eggs and Ham has new meaning when you analyze to show possibly good sales techniques or to teach prepositional phrases to students. The possiblilities are endless.

    • says

      thanks so much for sharing your ideas and opinions, Ana! I have most certainly been ‘schooled’ in Seuss since writing this post, and though he will never rank among my most favorites, I can absolutely say that I appreciate and understand the depth and range of his work more than I did before. Many, many thanks for taking the time to read and write!

  34. Monica says

    I hate Dr. Seuss! And I knew I wasn’t alone. Although, I am educated in Science and Literature is not my forte, when somebody like Dr. Seuss is an acclaimed author makes me boil. The lack of intelligence of this wacko is obvious by the absurdity of his writings. I believe a person is intelligent, when he or she is able to communicate ideas clearly, completely, and evoke a response in the recipients of the message. Dr. Seuss’ writings do not communicate anything. He is very irresponsibly teaching children made up words and incorrect grammar and usage of the language. Extremely boring, not creativity. This man was either stupid or writing under the influence of mind-altering drugs. I am not from the US. In European countries nobody knows of these idiotic books. There is not market.

  35. says

    I absolutely LOVE Dr. Seuss! I love reading the books, I love writing in that style, I love the way the words roll of my tongue like a rollercoaster of awesomeness.

    Unfortunately I’m the only one in my house who likes them, the boys find them boring and switch off after about two lines, and OH just thinks they’re stupid! So I now have my very own collection that I can read to myself! Lol.

    I do agree about the illustrations though, some are creepy, but in general the style is just scratchy and messy and really unpleasing on the eye!

    • says

      Charlotte! Thanks so much for reading and HUGE thanks for sharing–I’m thrilled that even though you are the minority in your house, that you still collect the books and celebrate them solo!

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