Lots Of Knock-Knock Jokes For Kids by Whee Winn {Children's Book Review}



Whee Winn
Juvenile Fiction (ages 6-12)

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Woo.
Woo who?
Don't get so excited,
it's just a joke.

Knock, knock. 
Who's there?
Anita.
Anita who?
Anita borrow a pencil.

Fun for everyone, this collection of knock-knock jokes is sure to have you and your friends and family rolling on the floor in snickers and giggles (and maybe a few groans too)!

Here’s a collection of knock-knock jokes that is both hilarious and wholesome. It’s sure to send every kid you know to his knees in a breath-stealing, side-splitting, uncontrollable fit of giggles. With more than 350 jokes, the laughs are sure to never quit. It’s fun for the whole family and includes bonus Q& A jokes and riddles too!

My Thoughts

No matter how corny or groan worthy a knock-knock joke is, I will always have a soft spot for it. Many years ago my youngest son was a struggling reader. This is devastating to a momma that thinks of reading like breathing. No matter what I did it just didn't seem to help.

And then along came our first knock-knock joke book.

It was as if a light had come on. That little boy would follow all of us around reading us joke after joke. They never got old to him. He'd read the silly lines and then fall to the floor in fits of laughter. His siblings would try hiding the book to no avail. He could sniff that thing out like chocolate.

Lots Of Knock-Knock Jokes For Kids reminds me so much of that original book. The jokes are corny and eye-rolling but your kids will love them. Whether your kiddo is a struggling reader or not this book is sure to delight them. In my opinion no car trip would be complete without it.

As a grandparent I say if it is driving you nuts just send them to granny's house. I can pretty much guarantee that she'll play along. And who knows the book may get left over there. Either way it is a great investment for the wonderful memories that you all will have years from now.  





Always Watching (Elite Guardians #1) by Lynette Eason {Romantic Suspense Review}



Elite Guardians #1
Romantic Suspense

INTENSITY. SKILL. TENACITY. 
THE BODYGUARDS OF ELITE GUARDIANS AGENCY HAVE IT ALL.

When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians to protect his son. But when Wade's bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap.

Olivia's skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade's stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him--including Olivia. But in her mind, even more dangerous than the threats to her life is the hold her handsome client has on her heart.

READ AN EXCERPT

My Thoughts

Lynette Eason has a new series! If you're looking for a fast-paced, thrill-seeking, spine-tingling, heart-pumping story just pick up one of her books. The exciting part about the new Elite Guardians series is that the main characters are women.

Olivia Edwards has put together a team of strong women to make up her private security company. In this first installment we get a peek at each of the members but the story focuses on Olivia herself. The client in this book is radio personality Wade Savage. How's that for a fun new twist . . . a woman guarding a man?

About halfway through the book I kind of had an inkling about what was going on but there were still details that I hadn't quite put together. I really liked how Ms. Eason wove in some back story about Olivia to add depth. It not only made this particular book interesting but it also made me anticipate the rest of the series.

Speaking of the rest of the series . . . there's a chapter preview for Without Warning, the next book in the series, at the back of the book. If that little snippet is any indication this whole series is going to be a winner. I can't wait to share it with my group of fellow book lovers. 

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End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi by Michael Youssef {Book Review}



Nonfiction / Biblical Studies

As our world seems to be spinning
out of control, where should we turn
for insight into the end times?


End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi is an action plan for living confidently in these turbulent and uncertain times. In this exciting new book, Dr. Michael Youssef examines current events in light of end times prophecies, revealing:
  • Striking parallels between the Antichrist of Revelation and the Mahdi of Islam
  • The rise of ISIS and other events leading to the end times
  • The movement toward a one-world government
  • Insights into the events of the Great Tribulation
Though most of Revelation deals with future events, this book is not primarily about the future. It's about the present--your present.

As you read these pages, you will be encouraged to stand for truth without compromise as God moves human events toward a dramatic and triumphant conclusion. And even when it appears that evil is winning, you will be assured by God's promises and filled with eager expectation for our Lord's return.




My Thoughts

If you listen closely you can almost hear hear the earth groaning. The wars in the Middle-East, the terrorists in Europe, all of these awful things make us think of the end times spoken about in the book of Revelation. In Dr. Michael Youssef's new book End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi these things are looked at and explored.
I've read many books on the book of Revelation and the subject of the Antichrist so I was expecting something similar. I was pleasantly surprised at Dr. Youssef's fresh perspective. Rather than taking it verse by verse through the book of Revelation he chose instead to look at it in the major themes of the book. He also related it to our current situation and how things are lining up for this ultimate battle and triumph of Christ.
I really liked this approach. It allowed me to concentrate on a particular portion such as the new heaven and earth. Dr. Youssef used Scripture to show what has been foretold and what is to come. Another thing that I appreciated was how clear he was when he was giving his own opinion. He made certain that the reader understood that while his opinion is based on his understanding of Scripture it was just that, his opinion.
If the rise of ISIS and all the terrorism around the world has you scared and wondering what is going to happen pick up Dr. Youssef's book. You'll be reminded not only about the course of events to come but more importantly that Christ will triumph and we that are His followers will be united with Him.
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The Berenstain Bears' Easter Blessings by Mike Berenstain {Children's Book Review}



Juvenile Fiction (ages 2-5)

An engaging lesson from the iconic Bear family about the true blessing of Easter—the Resurrection of Jesus.

In The Berenstain Bears' Easter Blessings, the cubs learn about the many blessings in their lives, and especially the greatest blessing of all—the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter. The short, simple story and well-loved characters provide toddlers with a perfect introduction to this very important Christian holiday.

My Thoughts

What Easter basket would be complete without a new Berenstain Bears book? Mike Berenstain continues his parents tradition of putting out an adorable book that gently lets us explore the Easter holiday with out little ones.

In The Berenstain Bears' Easter Blessings we meet up with our favorite Bear family on Easter morning. We start out with family breakfast and then the grandparents arrive with Easter baskets. After a little reminder that the baskets are for after church the whole family ventures out to partake in the Easter celebration at Chapel in the Woods.

Throughout the book little ones are reminded to give thanks for the blessings all around them. While the story of Christ's crucifixion isn't discussed it is pointed out that Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This is a book intended for 2 to 5 year-olds so it is intended as a conversation starter for parents to introduce all that went on during Christ's last days as it becomes appropriate for the child's development stage.

As with all of the Berenstain Bears' books this one is adorable and sure to be read over and over. I recommend it for all the little ones at your Easter celebrations.



New Wooden Toys For Easter from BRIO



Easter is upon us and with it the need to put together those lovely Easter baskets. I love a good chocolate Easter bunny but I also like a balance when it comes to too many sweets. So the decision is to limit the Easter basket chocolates or the Easter brunch desserts. I vote for limiting the chocolates!

In order to make up for the deficit we try to put a cool new toy in each of the baskets. This year we've chosen some new wooden toys from Brio.


This year our baby is one and he's walking. We found this cute Brio Pull Along Horse that will be perfect for him as he practices his newly acquired skill. The little horse makes him squeal with laughter as it bobs and rolls along behind him. My favorite part is that it doesn't have batteries!


For our middle boy we found this Brio Countryside Horse Set. What I appreciate about Brio train sets is not only are they durable but they are detailed and very interactive. The boys love all the little doors and lights and whistles that are included with this set. 



Here's a cute little video that will show you all the fun accessories that are included with this set. Just a heads up, this set takes 2 AA batteries.


Our oldest son already has several Brio train sets and accessories so we decided to get him the Brio RC Travel Train. The remote control lets the little engineer make the train go forward with two different speeds. It also will travel in reverse and has buttons for lights and a whistle. The best part of this is that it has two different channels so we can always add another remote control train so both of our big boys can play together. The only drawback is that this set takes 4 AA batteries but it's totally worth it when you watch your little ones playing and using their imagination!

I can't say enough good things about the Brio train sets and accessories. They are well made and last for years and years. 

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A Sweet Misfortune (Virtues and Vices of the Old West #2) by Maggie Brendan {Historical Romance Review}



Virtues and Vices of the Old West
Historical Romance

Rachel Matthews isn't one to rely on others to take care of her. Homeless and alone, she still wants to make her own way and her own money to buy back the family ranch--even if she's forced into the life of a dance hall girl. Horrified by her circumstances, Rachel's brother, who is away mining for gold, sends a friend to rescue her.

Cattle baron John McIntyre is focused on acquiring as much land as possible in Montana and has little time to deal with a dance hall gal. Rachel isn't sure she can take one more day in John's home--especially once she discovers that he's the one who holds ransom the key to her family's future.

Sparks fly between this spunky, independent heroine and the ruggedly handsome hero as they navigate the snarled terrain of pride, greed, faith, and love in Maggie Brendan's delightful series set in the Old West.

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My Thoughts

When most people think of cowboys they think of Texas. Not me! I think of Montana. Maggie Brendan's Virtues and Vices of the Old West series has been a true delight so far because it has great characters and interesting storylines but more importantly it is set in the Montana Territory.

A Sweet Misfortune is the second book in the series and in it we meet Rachel Matthews who finds herself dancing in a saloon just to survive. Her parents are deceased and her only brother has headed west to seek fortune to buy back their family's ranch. Unbeknownst to Rachel her brother has written his friend and current owner of the Matthews family ranch, John McIntyre, and asked him to rescue his sister from the saloon and watch out for her until he returns.

John's idea of rescuing leaves Rachel crazy mad. Not only does this bully now own her family's land but he also thinks he can tell Rachel what to do. The sparks are flying and someone is bound to get burned. The redeeming factor and calming force is John's beloved grandmother. Rachel can't help but fall in love with her.

The theme of virtues and vices is a clever one. Ms. Brendan explores how we look at people from the outside while discounting how they came to be in the situation. She also allows us to contemplate our own greed by pondering how much is enough. 

I enjoyed this novel on many levels. It is a light read so you can enjoy it on a lazy afternoon or even during times of multiple interruptions. I found it refreshing to have only the main storyline to concentrate on and a limited number of characters to get to know. Even though it is part of a multi-book series it is a stand-alone story and can be read without needing to read the other books. If you are looking for a fun light romance set in the Old West then I recommend taking a chance on this one.

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Little One, God Loves You by Amy Warren Hilliker {Children's Book Review}



Amy Warren Hilliker
Illustrated by Polona Lovsin
Juvenile Fiction (ages 4 and under)

Little One, God Loves You, written by Amy Warren Hilliker and inspired by the New York Times #1bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life, is a cute and cuddly board book that let’s children know God made them solely for the purpose of loving them.

This charming board book expresses the five purposes of the bestselling The Purpose-Driven Life for little ones ages 4 and under. Includes a note to parents from Rick Warren!




My Thoughts

If you invite me to a baby shower I can guarantee you that I will not be bringing a bag of diapers. My go to baby gift is a bag of books. I have several that I keep on hand just for these occasions. I now have one more to add to the mix.

Little One, God Loves You is beyond adorable! It contains the message that is more important than any other . . . God Loves You. The author is Amy Warren Hilliker, daughter of Rick Warren. Amy has taken the five purposes from her father's book The Purpose Driven Life and turned them into a delightful set of verses that will speak truth into your little one's life. 

All the mommas know that board books will be read to their little ones over and over and over. So I say if you're going to be doing that why not read something to them that will instill the fundamentals of what they are here for. This little book will let them know that they are loved by God and made to be a special part of His family. It will also remind them that they have a responsibility to be a helper and share God's love with others.

This book was originally written in 2004 and it was cute but this new addition is so much nicer. The illustrations by Potona Lovsin are reminiscent of ones found in Beatrix Potter books. The little bunny family is beautiful. Not only would this make a great baby shower gift but it would also be a wonderful addition to a toddler's Easter basket.


The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell {Book Review}



Contemporary Fiction

“Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They’re soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth-grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.

Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks into depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.

Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.

Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

My Thoughts

The Feathered Bone is about every wife and mother's worst nightmares come true. And just when you think that things can't possibly get worse they do.

This is a story of struggling to survive. Of learning to just do the next thing even when you can't imagine going on. This is a story of having faith and losing faith and in the end realizing that the Father was holding you in His hands through all of it.

While I would agree with many of the other reviewers that this is a novel filled with heavy and dark subject matter it is also a story of hope and promise. Julie Cantrell takes on the topic of human trafficking with sensitivity while still allowing the reader to experience the true horror of the situation.

As is usual in most stressful situations the disappearance of Sarah seems to be the catalyst to the downward spiral of many other situations in Amanda's life. The effect on her marriage and her own daughter is gut wrenching and all too real. But again the overriding message of God's ultimate plan in our lives is what resonated with me. The fact that He is with us in not only the good times but also the unimaginable nightmares is what will stick with me.

This book will obviously be on my top reads of the year list. If you like fiction that mimics life and leaves you grateful to a merciful God then this book should be on your reading list. Cantrell continues to write stories that break your heart while pointing to the Healer. I personally can't wait for her next novel.

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The Legend of the Easter Robin by Dandi Daley Mackall {Children's Book Review}



An Easter Story of Compassion and Faith
Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey
Juvenile Fiction (ages 4-8)

In the center of the nest lay one perfect egg, the color of a spring sky. The father robin sat on a branch nearby, guarding his family. Tressa spotted raccoon tracks below and a blue jay eyeing the nest.

"Gran, how are we going to keep the egg safe?"

"We'll have to leave that one to the Creator." Gran said.

Robins have built a nest on the window ledge at Grandmother's house! Tressa is thrilled--and concerned. What will happen to the sky-blue egg laid by the mother robin? As more eggs appear, Tressa witnesses the daily drama of the robins' nest and learns how God cares for all creatures.

Besides watching the birds, there are Easter eggs to color. And there is a very special story to hear--a tale of long ago about one small bird with a very big heart. How did the robin get its red breast? Tressa is about to find out as Gran tells her the story of the Easter robin.

Brought to life with colorful, tender illustrations. The Legend of the Easter Robin will captivate and teach your child about compassion and faith.




My Thoughts

I love this time of year! Spring is in the air and new life is all around. One of the first signs in this area is the appearance of robins. It's fun to watch them begin to build their nests and prepare for their new little ones.

Dandi Daley Mackall captures that beautiful event in her book The Legend of the Easter Robin. The story revolves around a little girl, Tressa, and her grandmother. The grandmother shares with Tressa some very interesting traditions and a legend handed down from the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The two of them watch from the window as the momma bird builds her nest and eventually lays four eggs in the nest. Tressa is worried about how to protect them but grandma reminds her that the Creator will protect them.

Some of the interesting activities that the two do together are blowing and coloring eggs. They then turn them into birds by adding some paper decorations and then hang them from the tree out front. Cute ideas to incorporate into your Easter celebrations. The legend itself has no basis in Scripture but it is a lovely way to begin a conversation about the crucifixion of Christ. 

I plan on tucking this book into one of my grands Easter baskets. The story is well written with lots of great ideas and conversation starters. The illustrations are beautiful and make the story come alive. If you've got a little one that you will be celebrating Easter with this year you should add this book to their basket.



Samantha Sanderson On The Scene by Robin Caroll {Juvenile Fiction Review}



Samantha Sander, Book 2
Juvenile Fiction (ages 8-12)

SAMATHA SANDERSON

is an independent, resourceful, high-tech cheerleader. She dreams of becoming an award-winning journalist like her mother, so she's always looking for articles she can publish in her middle-school paper (where she secretly hopes to become editor). And with a police officer for a father, Sam is in no short supply of writing material.

WHAT IF GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF A MYSTERY
MEANS LEARNING HOW TO LOVE YOUR ENEMY?

As Samantha and the rest of the middle schoolers prepare for the upcoming Spring Fest, "mean girl" Nikki faces the reality that her parents are getting divorced. Samantha has a hard time sympathinzing--Nikki has never been very nice to anyone, let alone Samantha.

But when Nikki becomes victim of a string of attacks, Sam uses her super-sleuth abilities to get to the bottom of the bullying. After all, articles on bullying are just what the school paper needs, instead of all that silly fluff like popularity tips. Samantha enlists the help of her tech-savvy BFF, Makayla, but while the two track down clues, they leave a trail of trouble behind-and may even be responsible for the break-in of their very own school's computer lab!

My Thoughts

There is so much to like about this book and this series. Samantha is an overly curious seventh grader that just has a knack for stumbling onto mysteries. This time the mystery revolves around who is bullying her frenemy, Nikki. 

The bullying isn't lightweight. It is seriously mean and very realistic. Nikki receives notes saying that she's fat. She receives a package in the mail containing diet pills. The saddest part is that Nikki's parents have split up and are headed for a divorce. Samantha inadvertently finds out about the nasty notes and makes it her mission to find out who's behind them.

As the story goes along other themes are introduced. Loving your enemy. Honesty and sticking to your word. Making decisions that impact others. The book is just full of great life lessons. One of the side stories that I really liked was Samantha's mother's career decision. I enjoyed seeing it from both Samantha and her parents point of view. 

In all honesty there was only one point that just rubbed me the wrong way. Samantha's best friend Makayla is repeatedly threatened with being pulled out of public school and being homeschooled. It is presented as if it is a punishment. It didn't add to the story and as a homeschooling family I felt like it was derogatory to the home educating community. 

Even with the above issue I would recommend this to anyone with a spunky tween girl in their life. Samantha is a good role model and the story lines in this series are ones that reflect a belief in God and a strong sense of doing what is right because it is expected. As a parent I appreciate the way Samantha's parents are portrayed. They are completely different people but they love each other and are very involved in their daughter's life.   

At the very back of the book are discussion questions. They are thought provoking and would make great conversation starters to discuss the book with your daughter. This is also a book that would be wonderful for a tween book club.

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The Prophetess: Deborah's Story (Daughters of the Promised Land, #2) by Jill Eileen Smith {Book Review}



Daughters of the Promised Land, #2
Historical Fiction/Biblical Fiction

Canaan has ravaged Israel. 
The people are in hiding. All that stands between 
surrender and hope is one untested woman. 

Deborah will never forget the day her father and brothers left to worship at the Lord's tabernacle--or the wails of her mother after finding their bodies at the city gates. The memories of Canaan's cruelty haunt her and all of Israel. Now in this dark time, the Lord calls on Deborah to lead His people away from the idols of other nations and back to Him.

Deborah never asked to be a prophetess or a judge over God's people. Still, she cannot deny His voice or the visions that accompany it. Can her family ever understand? Will her people believe God's calling on her life? And can the Canaanite menace be stopped?

With her trademark impeccable research and imaginative storytelling, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the story of Israel's most powerful woman in this intriguing and inspiring novel.

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My Thoughts

I remember way back in my early Sunday School days learning about Deborah. I was so fascinated by her story. Up until this point most of the women in the Bible were ordinary but suddenly there was Deborah, chosen by God to be a judge for her people Israel. That's exciting type stuff for a young bossy flossy type girl like me.

When I received Jill Eileen Smith's new book The Prophetess: Deborah's Story I couldn't wait to dive in. I knew it would be good but I wondered how she was going to expound on the little we know about Deborah from Scripture. Deborah's story is riveting but it is told in two chapters, Judges 4:1-5:31.

Jill begins Deborah's story by introducing us to Deborah and her eventual husband Lappidoth when they are young teenagers. I appreciated how she set the stage by letting us imagine with her how their personalities were. Eventually we meet Barak and others that are also mentioned in Scripture. 

As I said earlier I am familiar with Deborah's story but it has been a while since I have read through the book of Judges so some of the details were a bit foggy. After I finished the book I grabbed my Bible and reread the story of Deborah. Jill nailed it. Every detail mentioned is told in her story exactly. Yes she added new characters and dialogue but the basics of the story are the same. She masterfully took the skeleton of Deborah's story in Judges and added muscle and flesh and in essence breathed life into the characters. 

I have a high standard for Biblical fiction. I have no use for a book that deviates from the original story just for the sake of heightening the story line. In my opinion it must be accurate above all else. As with all of her other stories The Prophetess meets and exceeds my expectations. 

If you are looking for an accurate account of Deborah's story this is it. Through the telling of this period of Israel's history we're reminded of the cost of turning away from God. But the best part is that we also see the joy of repentance and restoration. There is much to be learned from the life of Deborah.

If you happen to be in a book club I would highly recommend this book to your group. You can find a Reading Group Guide on the Baker Publishing Group's website.  

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A Royal Easter Story (The Princess Parables) by Jeanna Young & Jacqueline Johnson {Children's Book Review}



Jeanna Young & Jacqueline Johnson
Illustrated by Omar Aranda
Juvenile Nonfiction (ages 4-8)

"This must be what Daddy meant when he said
to use use our lives to help and care for others."

It is the most spectacular spring in history. Princesses Joy, Grace, Faith, Charity, and Hope are busy preparing for the annual Easter celebration. The castle is alive with activity when a challenge is presented by five young knights who ride into the kingdom. Will a scary storm and stopping to rescue a new friend cause the princesses to lose the race against the boys and miss the annual Easter celebration?

My Thoughts

My grand girls have come to love The Princess Parables. It is a series of books for young girls (ages 4-8) that focuses on Biblical parables that involve the King and his five daughters Joy, Grace, Faith, Charity, and Hope.

A Royal Easter Story is based on Luke 11:7-13. It is almost Easter and the King and his daughters are preparing for the annual Easter Jubilee. It will be a large party for all the kingdom to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord. 

One day during this season of celebration one of the newly instated knights of the King's round table drops by for a visit. With him are his five sons, Timothy, Andrew, Jonathan, Christian, and Alexander. Is this perhaps a peek into some future stories featuring these new characters? One can hope! 

During the preparations Princess Grace ASKS a question about why they make the journey to celebrate the resurrection. Her father the King reminds her that it is for them to remember all that Jesus has done for them. 

The day arrives and all the royal palace prepares to leave for the celebration but before they can depart a calamity happens. The Princesses and the knight's sons stay behind to fix it before joining the rest of the group. After the crisis is averted the group decides to take two different routes to race to see who can arrive first.

The princesses then find themselves SEEKING for answers to a brand new dilemma. They have found a lost little girl and must find a way to return her to her family. The girls must battle the weather as they make their way to their father the King. Once they arrive there they KNOCK on the door and are let in. Eventually the little girl is reunited with her family and everyone can go on with the celebration.

This is another great installment in this parable series. The message of putting the needs of others first comes through loud and clear. We also learn that God sees and hears His children and is eager to reach out and help them, they only need to ask. 

If you are looking for a fun way to share some Biblical principles with your little girls then this is a great resource. The overall story is exciting and fun and the illustrations are quite engaging. But the best part is that you can use the story to strike up some very important conversations with your girls. 

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