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My School in the Rain Forest: How Children Attend School Around the World

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At a school that sits on the edge of the Sahara, students are learning to speak English from a teacher who stands in front of a Webcam in North America. These students are learning in a virtual classroom. In another part of the world, kids aren't waiting to ride the bus to school—they are waiting to hop in a boat that will take them to a school that floats on a river. And At a school that sits on the edge of the Sahara, students are learning to speak English from a teacher who stands in front of a Webcam in North America. These students are learning in a virtual classroom. In another part of the world, kids aren't waiting to ride the bus to school—they are waiting to hop in a boat that will take them to a school that floats on a river. And some kids don't mind heights, especially those who attend a school on the slope of a mountain in the Himalayas, in one of the most remote corners of the earth. Margriet Ruurs contacted teachers and volunteers, many of whom took cameras in hand to photograph their schools and students. In this lively photo-essay, readers get to know students—from the arid plains of southern Afghanistan to the rain forests of Guatemala—who are pursuing their dreams of a brighter future.


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At a school that sits on the edge of the Sahara, students are learning to speak English from a teacher who stands in front of a Webcam in North America. These students are learning in a virtual classroom. In another part of the world, kids aren't waiting to ride the bus to school—they are waiting to hop in a boat that will take them to a school that floats on a river. And At a school that sits on the edge of the Sahara, students are learning to speak English from a teacher who stands in front of a Webcam in North America. These students are learning in a virtual classroom. In another part of the world, kids aren't waiting to ride the bus to school—they are waiting to hop in a boat that will take them to a school that floats on a river. And some kids don't mind heights, especially those who attend a school on the slope of a mountain in the Himalayas, in one of the most remote corners of the earth. Margriet Ruurs contacted teachers and volunteers, many of whom took cameras in hand to photograph their schools and students. In this lively photo-essay, readers get to know students—from the arid plains of southern Afghanistan to the rain forests of Guatemala—who are pursuing their dreams of a brighter future.

30 review for My School in the Rain Forest: How Children Attend School Around the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    UPDATE 2022: I shared this book with my children and I hope it was eye-opening for them. My review stands as below, with the addition that I really wish a school from South America had been included. I don't understand this omission as every other inhabited continent is portrayed. I also still felt very uncomfortable with what, at times, felt like dismissing the traditional ways of education. When I shared this with my children, I made sure to talk about that. I love the concept of this book! Thr UPDATE 2022: I shared this book with my children and I hope it was eye-opening for them. My review stands as below, with the addition that I really wish a school from South America had been included. I don't understand this omission as every other inhabited continent is portrayed. I also still felt very uncomfortable with what, at times, felt like dismissing the traditional ways of education. When I shared this with my children, I made sure to talk about that. I love the concept of this book! Through brief accounts of school children in a variety of countries, we learn about the many types of schools children attend and glimpse their cultures, and the geography and activities surrounding their lives outside the classroom. The little boxes providing a map, the country's flag, capital of the country, population and a bit about the religions and/or languages of the country helps "connect the dots" as to where in the world these schools are located. The photos are also excellent! I really appreciate the variety of schools included, though I feel some are better represented than others: Afghanistan: School Behind a Wall tells of a village school in Shin Kalay that a brave doctor helped create and of the children who brave the war-torn land to attend it Australia: School of the Air tells of a virtual classroom for children in remote farm and ranch lands of Alice Springs Cambodia: A Floating School tells of children who live in boats near the town of Siem Reap Egypt: A Virtual School where children are taught online by American teachers (I loved this one! "The school believes that education should be directed by the student and that learning happens at different times, in different ways, and through life experiences.") Guatemala: Lessons in the Rain Forest tells of students who live in homes on stilts, with green palm leaves for a roof and travel by boat to reach a village school (with awesome murals on the walls, by the way!) built by volunteers of the International Health Emissaries India: School in the Jungle tells of students in the southern state of Kerala, India where students must huddle under umbrellas during the monsoon season as their school has no roof Kenya: School Under a Tree tells of students of Christian and Muslim religions who unite in harmony at the school despite the tribal warfare that makes going life in the area a challenge. Malaysia: An International School tells of one private school where children from many countries (often with parents in embassies, large companies or missionary programs) can come together to receive an education, usually taught in English Myanmar (Burma): School in a Monastery tells of children attending school in a Buddhist monastery where they learn to help others and some even elect to become monks and nuns Nepal: A Community School tells of Himaljoyoti ("light of the Himalayas") Community School which was founded by two people from England, with the help of the Saga Charitable Trust, to serve not only as a school but as a community center and medical clinic Scotland: A Boarding School in a Castle tells of a the boy's boarding school Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh where boys live and learn together and observe traditions such as playing bagpipes and wearing kilts United States of America: A Home School tells of a family in Oregon that homeschools in addition to working the family farm World: School on a Ship tells the (amazing!) story of the MV Anastasis, a hospital ship operated by Mercy Ships, a global charity that provides free health care to people in developing countries. The children of those who work on the ship live and go to school on the ship and travel to many ports of call while they learn compassion for the children who come there as patients--and also learn a lot about their cultures Overall, I think Ruurs has done a great job with this book. A few things were odd, such as including pronunciations for some foreign words and not for others, or for giving precise details of how many miles the children in Guatemala travel to reach school but simply saying the children in India "walk a long way to school." I also know that one of her "facts" on homeschool is incorrect, "Like all homeschoolers, Jessica must take yearly tests to make sure she is academically on track." Testing for homeschoolers is actually mandated on a state-by-state basis. However, I'm just thrilled that homeschool was included so I won't complain too much ;-) Now, I really love the message behind the book and I applaud the author's efforts and think they are well intentioned. However, a few times, I was a bit distressed by how much emphasis is placed on the new methods of education, seemingly "better" methods, and often done by American or European organizations. I wish all due respect to these organizations and agree that it is so important for children to learn to read and write, have clean drinking water and access to opportunities beyond their villages. However, I wish that some mention had been made of the traditional methods of education these children had received. It seemed that the children's education was made more of than the parents' tradition: "Many of the adults don't know how to read or write or even how to hold a pencil. But the children of Maweni (Kenya) are eager to learn. Education may help improve their lives." Their parents are not without wisdom and knowledge simply because they cannot read or write hold a pencil! There is a wealth of cultural and/or religious "education," often passed through generations through oral tradition, that should not be looked at as "less than." Again, I don't think it was the author's intent to demean traditional methods of education but it might have been nice to show how the new education is augmented by the traditional wisdom and ways. Surely many Western students would benefit from some of the traditional wisdom community elders in "less developed nations" could share. Despite my one complaint, this is still a very worthwhile book and I highly recommend it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    I didn’t like this book quite as much as My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World but it was similarly entertaining and informative. Thirteen schools and one or more of their students are featured. They’re in different countries and they’re all different types of schools. They cover a wide spectrum in terms of resources and what’s offered. At the beginning of the book there is a map of the world and it shows the locations of the schools to be covered. Each schoo I didn’t like this book quite as much as My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World but it was similarly entertaining and informative. Thirteen schools and one or more of their students are featured. They’re in different countries and they’re all different types of schools. They cover a wide spectrum in terms of resources and what’s offered. At the beginning of the book there is a map of the world and it shows the locations of the schools to be covered. Each school’s page also has a mini map and some general information about the region and its residents. The title really appealed to me, but I thought the most interesting school covered was the last one, the “World” which was about a school on one of the Mercy ships, and that ship does travel to many places around the world. The United States school in this book is a home school. This is an excellent book for children to learn about the experiences of children elsewhere in the world. It shows that children are the same everywhere in their desire to learn, to make friends, etc. but also shows their diverse experiences. There are many interesting facts and figures provided and this book works well as a geography lesson too. I tend to really enjoy photojournalism books, especially those about and for children. This is an excellent addition to the genre.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    Having already surveyed some of the libraries of the world, in My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World , Margriet Ruurs turns to schools in this informative picture-book, profiling thirteen educational venues from around the world. Here, young readers will learn about the school founded in the small Afghani village of Shin Kalay, how it gave more than a thousand children (both boys and girls) the gift of literacy, before being destroyed by a group of armed Having already surveyed some of the libraries of the world, in My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World , Margriet Ruurs turns to schools in this informative picture-book, profiling thirteen educational venues from around the world. Here, young readers will learn about the school founded in the small Afghani village of Shin Kalay, how it gave more than a thousand children (both boys and girls) the gift of literacy, before being destroyed by a group of armed men. Here is the floating school of Tonlé Sap, the great freshwater lake at the heart of Cambodia, and the rain forest school of Punta Arenas, Guatemala. An online "school of the air" in Australia, a boarding school (in a castle!) in Scotland, a school under a tree in Kenya, a home-school in the United States, these are just some of the diverse school presented here! I was very impressed with My School In the Rain Forest, finding it both educational and fun. Children will enjoy learning about how their international peers go to school, and will gain an insight into the role of both economics and geography, in shaping something as basic as how we go to school: on a boat, in a forest, under a tree. Profusely illustrated with color photographs sent to Margriet Ruurs from schools all over the world, this book is also a visual feast, sure to keep children's attention! I highly recommend this title to young readers with an interest in the world around them (or to those educators attempting to instill such an interest), and can't wait to read Ruurs' book about the world's libraries!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

    I think the subtitle of this book should have been "Various Types of Schools Around the World," because all of the schools depicted were not the norm as experienced here in the U.S., or in many other countries, for that matter. Nevertheless, it was very interesting. The countries included Afghanistan, Australia, Cambodia, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Scotland, and the U.S. (but depicted home schooling). The Australian children were from the outback, and so at I think the subtitle of this book should have been "Various Types of Schools Around the World," because all of the schools depicted were not the norm as experienced here in the U.S., or in many other countries, for that matter. Nevertheless, it was very interesting. The countries included Afghanistan, Australia, Cambodia, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Scotland, and the U.S. (but depicted home schooling). The Australian children were from the outback, and so attended school via the internet and radio. The children in the Tonle Sap lake region of Cambodia go to school in a floating building. Two girls in Egypt are schooled via the internet by teachers in the U.S., and are given individualized instruction. Guatemalan children get to their school in the jungle by boat. School for children in the southern state of Kerala, India, is outdoors on the ground. In Kenya the children are also outdoors, but have benches to sit on. The school featured in Malaysia is an international school for the children whose parents are from other countries and are working and living in Malaysia. What I found most interesting is that in Burma (Myanmar) all students serve at a monastery at some point in their lives, and are educated there. Nice idea. The school in Nepal was built by a charitable organization and then given over to the village. In Scotland a boys' boarding school in Edinburgh was featured. Lastly, a school for the children of parents who work on a hospital ship is shown. The schools in the third world countries (with the exception of Malaysia) all often lacked many of the items we would find essential for school here in the U.S.--pencils, pens, paper, chalkboards and chalk, rulers, desks, books, maps, equipment, art supplies, computers. Yet still they manage to learn, and are proud and eager to do so. This book should be an eye-opener for many kids, and would go well with Penny Smith's A School Like Mine. Recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Barker

    I thought this book was an excellent informational text. I cannot wait to use this in my future classroom. This book is about 13 different schools around the world. The book goes through each of them to tell how a school is like in that country. It talks about air schools (online/ virtual schools), monastery schools, schools with no buildings, schools on a ship, home schools, and etc. It is really cool to see all the different types of schools, children who attend them, and their story. I liked I thought this book was an excellent informational text. I cannot wait to use this in my future classroom. This book is about 13 different schools around the world. The book goes through each of them to tell how a school is like in that country. It talks about air schools (online/ virtual schools), monastery schools, schools with no buildings, schools on a ship, home schools, and etc. It is really cool to see all the different types of schools, children who attend them, and their story. I liked that each school gives you a background on the culture, where the country is, and what the school is like. It is perfect for students who are learning about culture. They get to compare and contrast schools all across the world and hopefully become thankful for all that they have in their classroom. I think that students in upper grades will get the most out of the book but any age can read it. The only thing I did not like about this book is that there are other types of schools in each country than the one mentored. For the United States they talked about homeschooling, which is not even the majority. This is a wow book because it was actually an interesting information text. I enjoyed reading this and learned a lot from the book!! I highly recommend for any teacher to read to their students!!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karol

    This is a wonderful nonfiction book about how children around the world get an education. I think it would help children who tend to take school for granted (or, who think they hate school) to see the value placed on getting an education by those who have to go to great lengths to get one! My son really enjoyed seeing how children in some other parts of the world go to school.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kayli

    Wow-I was so impressed with this book! I normally don't like to read non-fiction to my kids (I know, I know) and when I opened this one up and saw how many words were on each page, I was sure I wasn't going to like it or even end up reading the whole thing. However, it's put together really well, with very interesting facts and places and people, and my kids and I really loved reading it. Wow-I was so impressed with this book! I normally don't like to read non-fiction to my kids (I know, I know) and when I opened this one up and saw how many words were on each page, I was sure I wasn't going to like it or even end up reading the whole thing. However, it's put together really well, with very interesting facts and places and people, and my kids and I really loved reading it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jo Oehrlein

    Cool book for an elementary geography class or a discussion of different cultures. Each 2 page spread shows a school in a different country. The schools are not necessarily representative of that country, but give you a flavor of something there. Too detailed for a group read-aloud unless you just read one country a day.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    My School in the Rain Forest is a informational book that features students and their schools they attend, from places across the globe. I think this could be a great way to explore as a class and potentially reach out for penpals across seas. I always loved that idea. We did it a few times but I wish we could have continued into the older years.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kami

    Did not hold my kids' interest. I thought it was interesting though. Did not hold my kids' interest. I thought it was interesting though.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Rose

    Ruurs, Margriet. My School in the Rain Forest. (Illus.). Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2009. 32 pp. $17.95. ISBN 9781590786017. Photos; maps. 4 stars Gr 2-4 The rain forest is just one of the many places in the world in which children can be found attending school; Ruurs highlights thirteen global locales in this encouraging work done in collaboration with the actual children highlighted throughout the book. The book opens with the story of the “school behind the wall” in Afghanistan: a docto Ruurs, Margriet. My School in the Rain Forest. (Illus.). Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2009. 32 pp. $17.95. ISBN 9781590786017. Photos; maps. 4 stars Gr 2-4 The rain forest is just one of the many places in the world in which children can be found attending school; Ruurs highlights thirteen global locales in this encouraging work done in collaboration with the actual children highlighted throughout the book. The book opens with the story of the “school behind the wall” in Afghanistan: a doctor, originally from Afghanistan, returned to his village to build a school, which began with 24 children and expanded to more than 1000 children before becoming a casualty of the conflict in Afghanistan. This particular story is surrounded by bright pictures of the school, the students, and of a young lady named Noornama, who first attended school at the age of twenty. Each child’s story is highlighted with pictures of their life and school, as well as a map of the particular country’s location and a brief description of population, capital city, and language. This is a very basic overview of how schooling is conducted in different parts of the world, with the common goal of pursuing a basic education as the unifying factor. To achieve this goal, these children use computers and radios to communicate with their teacher, sticks and stones to practice counting, and take field trips to The Hague. The true to life photographs make this book relatable to its intended audience, and Ruurs representation of a wide spectrum of countries gives the audience a range of information. Ruurs incorporates each child’s story with her own knowledge of education to make for a very readable and well-presented book. This book is a worthwhile addition to library collections.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    The concept of this book works well for teaching about diversity in the daily life of children around the world. The 13 schools are each given a two-page spread with color photos and a text box showing a map of the region with the particular country shown in a box, a picture of the country's flag, and about five sentences about the country itself. Readers learns about students who live far from a population center using computers to connect with teachers, students who are home-schooled, students The concept of this book works well for teaching about diversity in the daily life of children around the world. The 13 schools are each given a two-page spread with color photos and a text box showing a map of the region with the particular country shown in a box, a picture of the country's flag, and about five sentences about the country itself. Readers learns about students who live far from a population center using computers to connect with teachers, students who are home-schooled, students who paddle small boats from home to a larger boat that serves as their school, and students whose schools are monasteries and castles. A couple issues with the book struck me immediately: the title, "My School in the Rain Forest," seems to indicate that the book is solely about one school in the rain forest, which it is not. The subtitle, "How Children Attend School Around the World," is a better representation of the book's contents. Also, there are two mistakes relating to country maps. The world map at the beginning of the book correctly shows the countries that include the schools being discussed, but on the two-page spreads, Afghanistan and Myanmar are incorrectly labelled in the box. This lack of editing brings my original rating of 4 stars to 3.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Great nonfiction title... has photos and describes a variety of schools around the world... from kids homeschooled in the US to a young girl in Myanmar who goes to school in a monastery to kids who ride a boat to reach their school in the rainforests of Guatemala. I liked that it contained photographs and while giving facts about the school, it also included the story of a student that attends that school. The book did make me wonder... were these schools typical of that area or atypical? For ins Great nonfiction title... has photos and describes a variety of schools around the world... from kids homeschooled in the US to a young girl in Myanmar who goes to school in a monastery to kids who ride a boat to reach their school in the rainforests of Guatemala. I liked that it contained photographs and while giving facts about the school, it also included the story of a student that attends that school. The book did make me wonder... were these schools typical of that area or atypical? For instance, homeschooling while common in the US is not the predominant type of schooling. So were these schools chosen just because they were interesting or also were they somewhat indicative of the predominant type of educational setting in that country? My guess was that a few are probably pretty typical schools but many are not, but I'd love more information about that. But very interesting book and could stimulate some great discussion.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Since I'm interested in global education, this book caught my eye when I was at the library. In it, the author describes a variety of school all over the world - an international school in Malaysia, a school in Egypt where most of the classes are online, a girls' school in a village in Afghanistan and many others. The text and the photos are informative and interesting, but the repetitive layout does not encourage reading the book from cover to cover. What is really unfortunate are the mistakes Since I'm interested in global education, this book caught my eye when I was at the library. In it, the author describes a variety of school all over the world - an international school in Malaysia, a school in Egypt where most of the classes are online, a girls' school in a village in Afghanistan and many others. The text and the photos are informative and interesting, but the repetitive layout does not encourage reading the book from cover to cover. What is really unfortunate are the mistakes in the maps. Afghanistan is identified correctly at the beginning of the book, but on the pages devoted to that country, the map identifies Kyrgystan as Afghanistan. When it talks about the school in Myanmar, also shown correctly on the map in the beginning, the country highlighted is Thailand. In a book that will probably be used most often in schools, this is unacceptable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Rendon

    This book describes how children attend schools all around the world. The images in this book are real life pictures of children attending schools which makes it interesting for children to read. This book is really descriptive about each country and it even gives small facts such as the countries population. I think it is important for children to know about how different cultures attend schools because not everyone has the advantage of school buses or receiving free books. Some children have to This book describes how children attend schools all around the world. The images in this book are real life pictures of children attending schools which makes it interesting for children to read. This book is really descriptive about each country and it even gives small facts such as the countries population. I think it is important for children to know about how different cultures attend schools because not everyone has the advantage of school buses or receiving free books. Some children have to walk miles to get to school or sit under a tree to learn. This would be a great book for children who are in 4th grade or excel at reading because there is a lot of big vocabulary. #Cultures #Schools #Children

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    While I enjoyed this trip around the world, and I think children will also enjoy it there are some drawbacks. One it does mis-identify countries on the maps of the specific pages, but I also found its economic perspective to be a little disturbing. The book does profile different types of schools, but only identifies the economic status of the poorest and those funded by charities. It seems wrong not to point out that the private school in a castle in Scotland and the international schools are V While I enjoyed this trip around the world, and I think children will also enjoy it there are some drawbacks. One it does mis-identify countries on the maps of the specific pages, but I also found its economic perspective to be a little disturbing. The book does profile different types of schools, but only identifies the economic status of the poorest and those funded by charities. It seems wrong not to point out that the private school in a castle in Scotland and the international schools are VERY expensive and elite. I found there to be a heavy emphasis on the poorest and then no acknowledgment of the economic status of other schools.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Beth Kakuma-Depew

    Okay this is a lovely book, but the someone made a geography mistake and no one caught it until a patron told us about it. On the world map on page 4 the country of Afghanistan is pointed out. On the next spread, the school in Afghanistan is featured, and a inset box tells more about the country. The circled country in the inset box is NOT Afghanistan. I think it's Uzbekistan. The country colors are the same as on the previous map. As a map lover, I found this to be a fatal error. Okay this is a lovely book, but the someone made a geography mistake and no one caught it until a patron told us about it. On the world map on page 4 the country of Afghanistan is pointed out. On the next spread, the school in Afghanistan is featured, and a inset box tells more about the country. The circled country in the inset box is NOT Afghanistan. I think it's Uzbekistan. The country colors are the same as on the previous map. As a map lover, I found this to be a fatal error.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    This book provides a nice introduction to the variety of different ways that students go to school. It was fascinating to read about schools on boats, over the radio, in a monastery, etc. The book focuses on the schools themselves rather than on the children. I would have liked more information about the students, but overall it provides a glimpse into the variety of ways the world has found to educate her children.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    Other reviews claim there are errors in the maps ... don't know if this is true but it's something to verify. I do think they they chose an interesting variety of schools. Kids will be naturally curious and enjoy learning about schools online, or over the radio, in a castle, or on floating school boats or cruise ships. Makes me want to find some schools to Skype with ... at least the ones we could work around the time delay with. Other reviews claim there are errors in the maps ... don't know if this is true but it's something to verify. I do think they they chose an interesting variety of schools. Kids will be naturally curious and enjoy learning about schools online, or over the radio, in a castle, or on floating school boats or cruise ships. Makes me want to find some schools to Skype with ... at least the ones we could work around the time delay with.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carol Baldwin

    My School in the Rain Forest by Margriet Ruurs (Boyds Mills Press, 2009) is a wonderful addition to her other book, My Librarian is a Camel. Through beautiful photographs and interesting text, Ruurs shows how children attend classes in such varied places as an outdoor school under a tree in Kenya, onboard the MV Anastasis hospital ship, and in a floating school on a lake in Cambodia. Children from kindergarten through middle school will learn from this eye-captivating book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dolly

    This book was featured as one of the selections for the September 2010: Back-to-School reads at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books group here at Goodreads. This book was featured as one of the selections for the September 2010: Back-to-School reads at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books group here at Goodreads.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kate Hastings

    Grades K-5. A collection of schools from around the world features how students go to school. Where students live can affect what school is like-- do people live far apart? Do students live at school? What resources are available? Who is allowed to go? Great maps and photos make this accessible to children.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Hoach

    Has brief accounts of what school is like in different countries and how students get there. While not the best quality of book it is an interesting concept for kids to read. And the kid on the front cover cracks me up

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Brilliant book, perfect for breaking into close reading snippets. I can't wait to use this book to launch our literacy and social studies units. Mad mad props to Margaret Ruurs. Brilliant book, perfect for breaking into close reading snippets. I can't wait to use this book to launch our literacy and social studies units. Mad mad props to Margaret Ruurs.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Holly

  26. 5 out of 5

    Claire

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Margriet

  29. 4 out of 5

    Madi Kramer

  30. 5 out of 5

    The Styling Librarian

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