2019 Festival


More than 9,300 people attended the Mississippi Book Festival’s fifth anniversary celebration at the State Capitol complex on Saturday, while hundreds more enjoyed the festive music, food, social and retail vibe outdoors. This represents record attendance for the festival and is an increase of 22 percent from last year. One of the first things that welcomed visitors was the festival’s logo manifest as a giant, ten-foot cube pitched onto the Capitol Mall, signaling a landmark year and providing a fabulous photo opportunity for fans. More than 245 authors participated in Saturday’s festival, including 170 on 47 official panels and another 75 authors meeting the public in Author’s Alley. Many of the panels were standing room only and ten booksellers sold thousands of books. Some of the authors attending the festival were Richard Ford, Joyce Carol Oates, Sonia Sotomayor, Natasha Trethewey, Dav Pilkey, Ann Patchett, Suzanne Stabile, Angie Thomas, Harrison Scott Key, Karl Marlantes, Kevin Powers, Kiese Laymon, Margaret McMullan, Karen Abbott, Casey Cep, Mary Miller, Candace Bushnell, and Michael Dobbs. Once again the literary lawn party kicked off with a salute to Mississippi authors and the unveiling of two more markers on the Mississippi Writers Trail, recognizing Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford and journalist Ida B. Wells. In the days preceding the festival, Dav Pilkey and Sonia Sotomayor spoke to more than 5,600 metro-Jackson students in multiple sessions at downtown venues. At the conclusion of each session, every student was given a free book from either Pilkey or Sotomayor. Also featured this anniversary year were early kick-offs in Pass Christian and Cleveland, plus more authors visiting schools on the Gulf Coast and in the Delta. All total, the Mississippi Book Festival reached more than 15,200 people in this 72-hour celebration the written word.





Festival Kickoff Celebrating the Mississippi Writers Trail and unveiling of markers

Presented by the State of Mississippi and the Community Foundation for Mississippi

Join us as we set the 2019 Mississippi Book Festival in motion and unveil the first two markers of the Mississippi Writers Trail. Acclaimed and influential writers throughout the state will be honored with historical markers along the Mississippi Writers Trail and we are thrilled to unveil those recognizing the significant work of Richard Ford and Ida B. Wells. Many state leaders, friends and family will be there to help celebrate this milestone.

Partners in this historic achievement include the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Community Foundation for Mississippi, Mississippi Humanities Council, Mississippi Book Festival, Mississippi Development Authority, Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Library Commission.


A Spotlight on Mississippi Civil Rights

Presented by Entergy and Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Little-known stories from the civil rights era shine in the spotlight, deepening understanding of this crucial period.

  • Pamela Junior, MODERATOR
  • Natalie Adams, Just Trying to Have School
  • Jelani M. Favors, Shelter in a Time of Storm: How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism
  • Michelle Purdy, Transforming the Elite Black Students and Desegregation of the Private Schools
  • Hezekiah Watkins, Pushing Forward

Women in Fiction

Presented by The Source by BankPlus

Female protagonists rule in this gathering of authors whose books are funny, haunting, profound, poignant, audacious, and anchored in the strong bonds of family and friends.

  • Lyn Roberts, MODERATOR
  • Mamta Chaudhry, Haunting Paris
  • Lisa Patton, Rush
  • Deb Spera, Call Your Daughter Home
Women in Fiction Women in Fiction Women in Fiction
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Welty and Race

Presented by Pigott Law Firm

Contributors to the new collection of essays discuss Welty’s portrayal of race in the Jim Crow South.

  • Harriet Pollack, New Essays on Welty, Class, & Race, MODERATOR
  • Ebony Lumumba, New Essays on Welty, Class, & Race
  • Rebecca Mark, New Essays on Welty, Class, & Race
  • Donnie McMahand, New Essays on Welty, Class, & Race
  • Kevin Murphy, New Essays on Welty, Class, & Race
  • Christin Marie Taylor, New Essays on Welty, Class, & Race
Welty and Race Welty and Race Welty and Race Welty and Race

Southern Humor

Presented by Butler Snow

Laugh along as wise and witty writers observe life with the gentleness of a knowing chuckle or the sharp edge of a raucous skewer.

  • Todd Doughty, MODERATOR
  • Helen Ellis, Southern Lady Code
  • Harrison Scott Key, Congratulations, Who Are You Again?
  • Mary Laura Philpott, I Miss You When I Blink


Presented by University of Mississippi Department of English and MFA Program

Join these poets on the journey toward mindfulness and the eye-opening revelations such keen focus can bring.

  • C. Leigh McInnis, MODERATOR
  • Ann Fisher-Wirth, The Bones of Winter Birds
  • January Gill O’Neil, Rewilding
  • Frank LaRue Owen, The School of Soft Attention
  • Danielle Sellers, Minor Territories
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Enneagram: How We See and Why It Matters

Go deep on the personality tool and the insights it offers with an Enneagram master and a leading voice in contemporary spirituality.

  • George Patton, MODERATOR
  • Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration
  • Suzanne Stabile, The Path Between Us

Mississippi: The Delta

Presented by Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area

Find ways the storied region springs to colorful life, from the memories of natives and in the photos and tales of riverboat pilots.

  • Kelle Barfield, MODERATOR
  • Hank Burdine, Dust in the Road
  • Melody Golding, Life Between the Levees: America’s Riverboat Pilots
  • Steven Manheim, Blues Musicians from the Mississippi Delta
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Dav Pilkey: Kidnote

Presented by Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival and the de Grummond Collection at USM

The worldwide bestselling creator of Captain Underpants and Dog Man launches his “Do Good” tour at the Mississippi Book Festival. First 500 kids receive a FREE book!

  • Dav Pilkey, Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls

American History: Renegades

Presented by Mississippi Library Commission

Early East Coast and outlaw Wild West get a nonfiction lens as authors look at the nation’s history in the hands of pirates and gunslingers.

  • Katie Blount, MODERATOR
  • Tom Clavin, Wild Bill: The True Story of the American Frontier’s First Gunfighter
  • Eric Jay Dolin, Black Flags, Blue Waters
  • Peter Houlahan, Norco ‘80


Southern Hospitality

Presented by Mississippi State University

Food never found better friends than this collection of authors who cover the spread with heart, health, humor, and a party spirit.

  • Robert St. John, MODERATOR
  • Elizabeth Heiskell, The Southern Living Party Cookbook
  • Sheree Rose Kelley, Breads & Spreads
  • Timothy Pakron, Mississippi Vegan

For the Love of the Game

Grab a seat for stories on the field of play and the field of life in the midst of a football-loving culture.

  • Mike Frascogna, MODERATOR
  • Margarita Jurcovic, Margarita’s Gridiron Adventure
  • Jeff Roberson, Midnight Train
  • Wright Thompson, The Cost of These Dreams
  • Jim Weatherly, Midnight Train
  • Neil White, 125 Years of Ole Miss Football

Journalism is Dead. Long Live Journalism.

Presented by Jackson State University Graduate School

Hear from acclaimed journalists as they discuss their experiences and new challenges in today’s changing journalistic landscape.

  • Ellen Meacham, MODERATOR
  • Bracey Harris
  • Jesse Holland, Who is the Black Panther?
  • Laura Santhanam
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One-on-One with Casey Cep

Get an in-depth look into Casey Cep’s non-fiction debut on Harper Lee and the story she left untold.

  • Ellen Rodgers Daniels, Mississippi Book Festival Deputy Director, MODERATOR
  • Casey Cep, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and The Last Trial of Harper Lee

Sonia Sotomayor with Margaret McMullan

Presented by Mississippi College School of Law

Follow a journey of inspiration and achievement with a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Margaret McMullan.

  • Margaret McMullan, Where the Angels Lived: One Family’s Story of Exile, Loss, and Return
  • Sonia Sotomayor, Turning Pages: My Life Story
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Best Debut Novels of 2019

Presented by Sarah McCullough

First-time novelists bring fresh insights as their characters navigate the troublesome waters of a horrifying, not-so-distant future, strained family ties, and connections forged through a tragic crime.

  • Katy Simpson Smith, MODERATOR
  • Juliet Grames, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna
  • Julia Phillips, Disappearing Earth
  • Maurice Carlos Ruffin, We Cast a Shadow
Best Debut Novels of 2019 Best Debut Novels of 2019 Best Debut Novels of 2019 Best Debut Novels of 2019
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The Magic of Picture Books

Presented by Sara and Bill Ray

Picture book authors share the powerful punch illustrations add to their fanciful, charming stories of naughty cats, hungry llamas, adventurous owls, and more.

  • Ellen Ruffin, MODERATOR
  • Kathi Appelt, Max Attacks
  • Heather Fox, Llama Destroys the World
  • Jonathan Stutzman, Llama Destroys the World
  • Jonathan D. Voss, Imagine That: A Hoot & Olive Story
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Bill Dunlap Hour

Mississippi artist, author and all-around bon vivant brings special guests to talk all things Mississippi. You never know who will show up when Bill Dunlap throws a party!

  • Bill Dunlap, Pappy Kitchens and the Saga of Red Eye the Rooster
  • Martha Hall Foose
  • Diane C. McPhail, The Abolitionist’s Daughter
  • Robert St. John

One-on-One with Michael Dobbs

Presented by Mississippi Humanities Council

Michael Dobbs, historian and author of The Unwanted, published in conjunction with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum initiative “Americans and the Holocaust,” takes a closer look at WWII with Mississippi Humanities Council Executive Director Stuart Rockoff.

  • Stuart Rockoff, MODERATOR
  • Michael Dobbs, The Unwanted
One-on-One with Michael Dobbs One-on-One with Michael Dobbs One-on-One with Michael Dobbs
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All About Mississippi

A conversation about all the things Mississippi led by one of our state’s most beloved cartoonists.

  • Marshall Ramsey, MODERATOR
  • Josh Foreman, Hidden History of the Mississippi Sound
  • Luke Lampton, Images in Mississippi Medicine
  • Kate Stewart, Parchman Farm: Mississippi’s State Penitenitiary in the 1930s
  • Janice Branch Tracy, Mississippi Moonshine Politics: How Bootleggers & the Law Kept a Dry State Soaked

Marlantes and Powers

Presented by University of Mississippi Friends of the Library

Get swept up in the expansive fiction of these widely acclaimed authors and the insights their novels offer on the legacy of violence, the courage of pioneering immigrants, and the shaping of the American identity.

  • Tom Franklin, MODERATOR
  • Karl Marlantes, Deep River
  • Kevin Powers, A Shout in the Ruins
Marlantes and Powers Marlantes and Powers Marlantes and Powers
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In Brief

Presented by The Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi

Find out more about packing big thoughts into smaller packages with humor, candor, and soul from a trio who’ve found success doing just that.

  • Olivia Clare, MODERATOR
  • Polly Rosenwaike, Look How Happy I Am Making You
  • Kimberly King Parsons, Black Light
  • George Singleton, Staff Picks
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Welty Photographs: 21st Century Edition

Presented by The Eudora Welty Foundation

Discover Eudora Welty’s groundbreaking photography from the people who have brought this newly re-issued collection to life.

  • Suzanne Marrs, MODERATOR
  • W. Ralph Eubanks
  • Forrest Galey
  • Todd Lape
  • Mary Alice White
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Civil War

Presented by Mississippi Humanities Council and Mississippi State University

Gain insights from battlegrounds of war and the home front in the South, with authors’ studies of Ulysses S. Grant, family problems and women soldiers.

  • Jim Woodrick, MODERATOR
  • Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Sisters & Rebels
  • Shelby Harriel, Behind the Rifle: Women Soldiers in Civil War Mississippi
  • John F. Marszalek, Hold On with a Bulldog Grip: A Short Study of Ulysses S. Grant
  • Ben Wynne, The Man Who Punched Jefferson Davis
Civil War Civil War Civil War Civil War

Well-Read Black Girl

Presented by Entergy and Visit Jackson

Examine how the Well-Read Black Girl movement weaves together readers, groups, and the online community through the love of books.

  • Ebony Lumumba, MODERATOR
  • Glory Edim, The Well-Read Black Girl
  • Dhonielle Clayton, The Everlasting Rose
  • Nic Stone, Odd One Out
  • Angie Thomas, On the Come Up
Well-Read Black Girl Well-Read Black Girl Well-Read Black Girl Well-Read Black Girl
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Presented by Pass Christian Books and Mississippi Humanities Council

Delve deep with authors whose memoirs — heartrending, uplifting, quirky, provocative and surprising — share key revelations on the human condition.

  • Alan Huffman, MODERATOR
  • Beth Ann Fennelly, Heating & Cooling
  • Kiese Laymon, Heavy
  • Margaret McMullan, Where the Angels Lived: One Family’s Story of Exile, Loss, and Return
Vimeo PICS

Ann Patchett: A Life Explored

Presented by Nautilus Publishing

International best-selling author Ann Patchett will discuss her innovative work and literary career.

  • Ann Patchett, The Dutch House: A Novel
Ann Patchett: A Life Explored Ann Patchett: A Life Explored Ann Patchett: A Life Explored Ann Patchett: A Life Explored
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The Thrill of Mystery

Presented by Bean and Floyd Sulser

Revel in suspense with the authors who can craft it into fine storytelling with more than a few surprises.

  • Matthew Guinn, MODERATOR
  • Chanelle Benz, Gone Dead
  • Saul A. Lelchuk, Save Me from Dangerous Men
  • S. J. Rozan, Paper Son
  • Philip Shirley, The Graceland Conspiracy
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Echoes of the Past

Presented by Carroll, Warren & Parker

Step back in time with novelists whose evocative stories tap the settings of history — racial injustice in the 1940s, the Romanov family execution, pre-Roe vs. Wade America — for more nuanced perspectives on the present.

  • Tracy Carr, MODERATOR
  • Melanie Benjamin, The Mistress of the Ritz
  • Minrose Gwin, The Accidentals
  • Ariel Lawhon, I Was Anastasia
  • Elizabeth H. Winthrop, The Mercy Seat
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Photography, an Image of History

Presented by Carolyn and Chris Ray and Fischer Galleries

Explore how photography is a medium to archive the legacy of the South.

  • Ryan Steed, MODERATOR
  • James T. Campbell, Mississippi Witness: The Photographs of Florence Mars
  • Maude Schuyler Clay, The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston
  • Timothy Duffy, Blue Muse
  • Andrew Moore, Blue Alabama
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YA Fantasy

Presented by Cornerstone Consulting Group, Inc.

Successful young adult (YA) fantasy authors take your imagination for a ride into bold, enchanted landscapes with magical characters that still resonate with earthbound mortals.

  • Sarah Frances Hardy, MODERATOR
  • Kathi Appelt, Angel Thieves
  • Jimmy Cajoleas, The Good Demon
  • Roshani Chokshi, The Gilded Wolves
  • Margaret Owen, The Merciful Crow
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Southern Art

Bill Dunlap and Richard Gruber share their insight into the lives of Mississippi artists Dusti Bonge and Pappy Kitchens.

  • Bill Dunlap, Pappy Kitchens & the Saga of Red Eye the Rooster, MODERATOR
  • J. Richard Gruber, Dusti Bongé: Art and Life: Biloxi, New Orleans, New York

Civil Rights: An American Issue

Presented by Mississippi Humanities Council and Gregg Harper

An illuminating look at figures both on the stage and in the wings in the national struggle toward civil rights for all.

  • W. Ralph Eubanks, MODERATOR
  • Rebecca Tuuri, Strategic Sisterhood: The National Council of Negro Women in the Black Freedom Struggle
  • Shennette Garrett-Scott, Banking on Freedom: Black Women in US Finance Before the New Deal
  • Ted Ownby, Hurtin’ Words
  • William Sturkey, Hattiesburg: An American City in Black & White
  • Dave Tell, Remembering Emmett Till

True Crime Across America

Presented by Nancy and Cecil Brown

Gangster-era Chicago, serial murder in 1970s Alabama, and a bootlegger king — a deep dive into true crime and tales of greed on the national front.

  • Curtis Wilkie, MODERATOR
  • Karen Abbott, Ghosts of Eden Park
  • Casey Cep, Furious Hours: Harper Lee and an Unfinished Story of Race, Religion and Murder
  • A. Brad Schwartz, Scarface and the Untouchable
True Crime Across America True Crime Across America True Crime Across America

All About Soho Press

Get a primer on the small literary presses and their niche focus from the team at Soho.

  • Valerie Walley, MODERATOR
  • Bronwen Hruska, Publisher, Soho Press
  • Juliet Grames, Associate Publisher, Soho Press
  • Paul Oliver, Director of Marketing and Publicity, Soho Press
All About Soho Press All About Soho Press All About Soho Press
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Photography and Culture

Presented by the University of Southern Mississippi Center for the Study of the Gulf South

Explore the power of photography with photographers who have captured the culture of the South.

  • Malcolm White, MODERATOR
  • Michael Ford, North Mississippi Homeplace
  • Ken Murphy, Local Color
  • Marc Perrusquia, A Spy In Canaan: How the FBI Used a Famous Photographer to Infiltrate the Civil Rights Movement
Photography and Culture Photography and Culture Photography and Culture Photography and Culture
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Southern Literary Review

Learn the ins and outs of publishing as a modern Southern writer.

  • Allen Mendenhall, Writers on Writing, MODERATOR
  • Johnnie Bernhard, Writers on Writing
  • Bren McClain, Writers on Writing

Southern Fiction

Presented by Butler Snow and University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Southern Culture

Hear the distinct voices behind compelling and poignant tales about the human condition and a place we thought we already knew.

  • Jamie Kornegay, MODERATOR
  • Lisa Howorth, Summerlings
  • Michael Knight, At Briarwood School for Girls
  • Mary Miller, Biloxi
  • Snowden Wright, American Pop
Southern Fiction Southern Fiction Southern Fiction Southern Fiction
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Hear four young adult (YA) authors hot on the heels of new releases that span the genre from best friends grappling with an uncertain future to coming-of-age in the modern world.

  • Taylor Kitchings, MODERATOR
  • Mason Deaver, I Wish You All the Best
  • Shalanda Stanley, Nick & June Were Here
  • Nic Stone, Odd One Out
  • Jeff Zentner, Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee
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LGBTQ+: Southern Perspectives

Presented by Beard+Riser Architects

Journey toward understanding, acceptance and justice with authors whose characters, candor, and community work break down barriers.

  • Jaime Harker, MODERATOR
  • Robert W. Fieseler, Tinderbox
  • Mesha Maren, Sugar Run
  • Nick White, Sweet & Low
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Richard Ford with Joyce Carol Oates

Presented by University of Mississippi College of Liberal Arts and Margaret and Bob Montgomery

Literary giants and personal friends Richard Ford and Joyce Carol Oates discuss their lives and works.

  • Richard Ford, Between Them: Remembering My Parents
  • Joyce Carol Oates, My Life as a Rat
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Poet Laureates: Natasha Trethewey with Beth Ann Fennelly

Presented by Mississippi Arts Commission and Mississippi Humanities Council

Words are like jewels in the hands of eminent poets, so expect the conversation to sparkle as the Poet Laureate of Mississippi and the former U.S. and Mississippi Poet Laureate sit down and visit.

  • Beth Ann Fennelly, Heating & Cooling
  • Natasha Trethewey, Monument
Poet Laureates: Natasha Trethewey with Beth Ann Fennelly Poet Laureates: Natasha Trethewey with Beth Ann Fennelly Poet Laureates: Natasha Trethewey with Beth Ann Fennelly
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Candace Bushnell with Judy Hottensen

Presented by Holly and Alan Lange

Best-selling author of Sex and the City and Is There Still Sex in the City? Candace Bushnell will join her original editor and Grove Atlantic Associate Publisher Judy Hottensen in conversation about life and love in New York City.

  • Candace Bushnell, Is There Still Sex in the City?
  • Judy Hottensen, Associate Publisher, Grove Atlantic
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World War II

Presented by First Commercial Bank

Find contemporary resonance in the powerful story of German Jews and the brave individuals who risked it all under the threat of Nazi Germany.

  • James A. Peden, Jr., MODERATOR
  • Michael Dobbs, The Unwanted: America, Auschwitz and the Village Caught In Between
  • Alex Kershaw, The First Wave
  • Sam Kleiner, Flying Tigers
World War II World War II

Crime and the Law

Presented by Wise, Carter, Child & Caraway

Crime meets the law in these true stories anchored in the region and ranging far and wide.

  • Charlie Spillers, MODERATOR
  • Lovejoy Boteler, Crooked Snake
  • John Hailman, Foreign Missions of an American Prosector: From Moscow to Morocco and Paris to the Persian Gulf
  • Patrick O’Daniel, Crusaders, Gangsters, and Whiskey: Prohibition in Memphis
  • James L. Robertson, Heroes, Rascals, & the Law
Vimeo PICS

McMullan Young Writers Workshop

Presented by Millsaps College

Writing teachers and alumni of the McMullan Young Writers Workshop share insights about what it means to teach, write, and grow in an immersive creative environment.

  • Liz Egan, MODERATOR
  • Jamie Dickson
  • Kiese Laymon
  • Margaret McMullan
  • Areial Thomas


Mississippi Blues

Presented by Capitol Resources

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of historic Malaco Records and delve into the best of the Mississippi blues.

  • Jim Beaugez, MODERATOR
  • Robert M. Marovich, The Gospel According to Malaco
  • Roger Stolle, Mississippi Juke Joint Confidential
  • Tammy L. Turner, Dick Waterman: A Life in Blues
Mississippi Blues Mississippi Blues Mississippi Blues Mississippi Blues
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Stuck in the Middle

Good impressions for an impressionable age.

  • Sami Thomason, MODERATOR
  • Jimmy Cajoleas, The Rambling
  • Roshani Chokshi, Aru Shah and the Song of Death
  • Shannon Greenland, Scouts
  • Kimberly Willis Holt, The Lost Boy’s Gift
  • Jodi Kendall, Dog Days in the City
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