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Art & Literature

Monday, 22 December 2014 09:03

LEGO Acropolis Presented by Nicholson Museum

Written by

Lego Acropolis: Taking it Piece by Piece

The University of Sydney's Nicholson Museum offers the Acropolis Museum a Lego Acropolis. The model features the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the smaller Erechtheion temple and the site's monumental gateway, the Propylaea. The LEGO model displays the Acropolis both as it was in the fifth century BC and today, as one of Greece's most popular tourist attractions.

Captured in LEGO are some of the Acropolis' more famous visitors including Pericles, Lord Elgin, Dame Agatha Christie, and even Elton John. Michael Turner, senior curator at the Nicholson Museum, says the Acropolis Museum emailed him" asking if it could borrow the model to attract younger visitors. "

After a largely sleepless night, I got back to the museum and said no, they couldn't borrow it … we'd give it Nicholson Museum’s Greek collection contains artefacts representative of the material culture of the Greek mainland, islands and surrounding regions, from the Bronze Age through to the Late Hellenistic period. to them."

The Nicholson Museum is Australia's oldest University museum and home to the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Neos Kosmos: Australia donates a whole Acropolis to Greece! & Acropolis- Virtual Tour

COURTESY: Greek News Agenda
Tuesday, 02 December 2014 06:38

BOOK REVIEW: Sons of Sparta

Written by

Sons of Sparta

By: Jeffrey Siger

Poisoned Pen Press

ISBN: 9781464203145 Hardcover

ISBN: 9781464203169 Trade Paperback


Latest in the Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis Series Could Be Siger’s Best Yet


Jeffrey Siger’s masterful storytelling weaves mystery, Greek history, and current events in Greece, into thought-provoking, page-turning novels. Sons of Sparta is the sixth book in the Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis Series, and it could be his best yet. This work captures the essence of today’s Greece, while reflecting back to the rich history of the Mani region. Here, we are reunited with our old friends and favorite good guys Kaldis; Tassos Stamatos, Chief Homicide Investigator for the Cyclades Islands; and Special Crimes Division Detective Yiannis Kouros.


            Ironically, Yiannis hails from a powerful Maniot family who was previously embroiled in a famed vendetta, and his uncle presided over the Mani’s most powerful criminal enterprise. Yiannis is called to his ancestral home, and he wonders if this summons has anything to do with his family’s past. His instincts kick into high gear when his uncle shares some startling information: the entire family will profit from his latest business endeavor, and by the way, the uncle is receiving death threats. After Yiannis returns to Athens, he receives a phone call – his uncle has died of a heart attack. Yiannis races back to the Mani to investigate. Was it murder? Coincidence?


            With a little help from his friends, Yiannis unfolds a little more than he bargained for. Just when you think they’ve completed the investigation, something else comes into play. Weaving local lure, international powerbrokers, assorted people with scores to settle, and a few other unanticipated plot twists, Siger keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Sons of Sparta has more twists and turns than the mountainous roads of the Mani, and a few surprises along the way.


            Don’t miss this skillfully written story. It’s full of intrigue, history, local lore, and more. As I read the book, the story unfolded like a film. I could see all the action in my mind’s eye. Hello? Hollywood? Here’s a great story!

Jeffrey Siger will read and sign copies of SONS OF SPARTA, on Wednesday, December 3 at 7 pm, at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, 7419 W. Madison, Forest Park, IL. 





Saturday, 08 November 2014 17:18

BOOK REVIEW: My Big Greek Family

Written by



My Big Greek Family

By: Maria Constantine


Amazon Digital Services, Inc.


Diaspora Greek-Cypriot Sisters Challenge Family Expectations in My Big Greek Family


In her novel, My Big Greek Family, author Maria Constantine challenges family expectations for young women, common in Diaspora families. As one of three sisters born to Greek-Cypriot-immigrant parents in London, she knew these all too well.


                “I’m a second generation woman who grew up with two cultures. It’s enriching to experience and be part of two cultures, but at the same time, it raises certain challenges too,” Constantine explained.


                This theme resonates with not only Diaspora Greeks and Greek-Cypriots, but people around the world who are also children of immigrants. We know firsthand that we are expected to behave a certain way, to live a certain kind of life, to uphold the traditions of the mother country. We also know that in many cases, our parents or grandparents left the “old country” many, many years ago, but they still hold firmly to the traditions, customs, mores, and even the slang words of their country at that time. They may or may not realize that their mother country has likely evolved, and those mores, slangs, and expectations no longer hold true. I know I have seen this with my own parents, and also observing my family in Greece; my cousins there didn’t have the same expectations placed on them. When these older generations return to the motherland, it’s sometimes shocking to see how much society has advanced, and that things are changing. But still, they hold tightly to what they know, what they grew up with, and that remains the expectation for their children. They want the best for their children, and hold firm to it, because it helps to keep their heritage alive in a melting pot society. You may have lived this too.


                Though not an autobiographical story, Constantine builds on her experiences, weaving a compelling story about three sisters, children of Greek-Cypriot parents, growing up in London. These young women are adults – educated professionals – trying to make their way in the world, and of course, to find love. The celebration of Georgina’s 30th birthday sets off a whirlwind of self-examination and reflection for these women.


                The sisters go on holiday to Greece, where they realize they didn’t know each other all that well. They learn each other’s secrets, dreams and desires. The oldest sister’s revelation sets everything on edge.


               They begin to face their family’s expectations head on and challenge them: What if you find love, but he isn’t Greek? What if you don’t pursue the career your parents had in mind? What if you don’t want to be married off? What if you want to live a different lifestyle? What if in all your parent/family-pleasing, you become very unhappy? Why can’t you chase the dream you want and not the one your parents want for you? How do you reconcile all that?


              These are questions we’ve asked ourselves. Many have compromised their happiness and lived their life according to family expectations, while others have had the courage to live the life that they desire. What’s right? What’s wrong? What will these sisters do? And how will their parents react? We are reminded that holding tightly to your heritage, your culture, your ancestral history and language are important, but Old World expectations do not always apply in the 21st century. Maintaining your cultural identity is a good thing, but we still have to evolve, we still have to live the life that is best for us. And no two of us are alike. My Big Greek Family also reminds us that straddling two cultures is both a bewildering and magnificent experience.

Twitter: @constantinmari

Song of My Life

By: Harry Mark Petrakis

ISBN-13: 9781611175028

University of South Carolina Press

Release date: November 13, 2014


The Celebrated Author’s Ode is His Most Personal

The latest memoir and 25th published book by author Harry Mark Petrakis, Song of My Life, will be released on November 13. This ode is perhaps his most personal and most reflective. Longtime followers as well as those just discovering him will appreciate this work.

            Readers of his past memoirs may recall some of these stories, but in Song of My Life, Petrakis digs deep, divulging more details than ever before, and even confessing about some of the darker times in his life. He becomes like a character in his own story, and we learn how all these experiences shaped him into the glorious storyteller we have grown to love. In classic Petrakis style, his stories of joy and lament will have you cheering one minute and crying the next.

            Petrakis speaks of the childhood illness that led to his love of stories and storytelling. He tells of his life as an aspiring writer—all the jobs he held (and some ever-so-briefly) and all of his misadventures along the way. Getting published was arduous work; it took 10 years of honing his craft and pitching his stories before anyone gave him a chance. He paid his dues, and became one of the greatest storytellers of our time.

            Reflecting on his nine-plus decades, he shares some not-so-proud moments, including how he felt he continually let his family down as he pursued his dream. He reveals details of a gambling addiction, and even a planned suicide attempt. He tells about the trials and tribulations of caring for and living with an elderly parent –how he often resented his mother’s presence, how he ultimately had to lie to her, and the subsequent guilt he carries.

            He talks about his time in Hollywood, and ponders how his life would have been so much different, had he chosen certain other paths. Throughout the book, we see and feel the abiding love he has for his wife of 69 years, Diana.

            In this tome, it is reaffirmed that Petrakis is a part of every character he has created. And this is what makes them all so real, so relatable, and so memorable.

            I must confess, as I read Song of My Life, I felt like I couldn’t finish it, only due to the irrational thought that when the book ended, so would the life of Petrakis. On the contrary, at 91 and going strong, the author, who was recently presented with the coveted Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, marches on. He continues to write. His son John, a professor and former film critic said at the award presentation that when he sees his dad in his study, typing away, “all is right in the world.” Indeed. May he continue to share the genius of his imagination, for many more years to come.

Thursday, 30 October 2014 12:23

BOOK REVIEW: Santorini

Written by

Santorini: Inspired by a True Story

By: Alex M. Smith

Kindle Edition



Santorini Reminds Us Not to Let the Past Hinder the Future

The romantic island of Santorini is the setting of a novel by Alex M. Smith of the same name. His fourth novel is based on true events. 

The author, of Greek and Phoenician descent, traces his roots to the city of Antioch, back when it was part of the Byzantine Empire. Wishing to stay close to his roots, Smith lives in a “mountainous village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.”

“Just like my seafaring ancestors, my life has been one long journey. In it, I discovered different places and experienced sights and sounds that later influenced my writing,” he shared.

Smith began writing at a young age, but like many others, felt timid about sharing his work. Thanks to family encouragement and “a push” from his editor, he took a chance.

“I think I got my passion for storytelling from my grandfather, who I used to sit with for hours while he told me stories about the old days.”

When the author first saw the island of Santorini in 2004, he exclaimed, “Who would ever want to leave this place?” He said he chose the storied island because it “is purely symbolic, but where better than one of the most beautiful islands on earth?”

In Santorini, the protagonist, an American novelist named Jack, has exiled himself to the island to escape his tragic past. He has more female suitors than a man could want, but none capture his heart or his mind, until the lovely Katherine literally fell into his life.

Katherine, from San Francisco, and Jack are attracted to each other, though wary of a possible entanglement. But the island has worked its magic. The two spend time together, and they develop feelings for each other, but can’t seem to commit. A misunderstanding drives a wedge between them and they split. Neither realized the extent of their attraction, and how their time together, their feelings, had left their mark on their spirits. Both are forced to confront their own respective demons to determine if they can really make the leap. Will they be able to overcome their fears? Will more miscommunications sabotage their future together? Will love conquer all?

The novel shows us that love is worth fighting for, even if the battle is within ourselves. Set against the picturesque romantic island of Santorini, we find ourselves wishing for our own romantic island adventure.

Santorini has been very well-received. Also, in the spirit of giving back, the author donates 10% of all proceeds of this book’s sales to ALS research.

Smith is will soon publish the next two books in his “Grapes of Desire” series, and is developing a new romantic suspense series.


Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexMSmithAutho

On October 4, The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame conferred upon literary icon, Harry Mark Petrakis, 91, its coveted Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement. At a reception at the National Hellenic Museum, friends and colleagues shared anecdotes and read excerpts of his work. The award was presented by longtime friend, Judge Charles P. Kocoras. The legendary author wrote compelling stories that resonated with Greeks and non-Greeks alike. Though his characters are Greek, they could have been from anywhere else in the world. They're human; they're identifiable and relatable. Petrakis is uniquely Greek, yet uniquely Chicago. His work has inspired generations of writers. His 25th book, Song of My Life, is expected later this year.


The OPA! Way: Finding Joy & Meaning in Everyday Life & Work

By: Alex Pattakos and Elaine Dundon

Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.

ISBN: 978-1-940363-25-7


Just Say OPA! The Wisdom of the Ancients Still Holds True


The wisdom of the ancients is still incredibly meaningful today. Alex Pattakos and Elaine Dundon have harvested these profound words and principles into a new paradigm for finding meaning in our lives. These tenets are nothing new, but looking back to their words is actually quite eye-opening. The philosophers’ thoughts on living, and how to get the most out of life, still hold true. This husband and wife duo reminds us of these age-old truths, and prompt us to discover our own path to meaningful and joyful living. This road compels us to look at all areas of our life, to identify what’s truly important, to simplify, to even begin anew, and be the best we can be.


They examine the quintessential Greek village life. Many of us Westerners have always been told that the villagers were “backwards” or “didn’t know better.” On the contrary; we see that they are sage individuals, and actually knew better all along. We revisit these concepts that are at the very core of our Hellenism: filoxenia, filotimo, arete, evdemonia, and more. These are the virtues we strive for, and have often lost sight of, ironically, in our pursuit of a better life. The villagers embrace a true concept of community, and live these virtues every single day. This has led them to become very resilient in the face of adversity, especially with the financial crisis. They have a different attitude to toward life. They value the simple pleasures, and continually find joy in their lives. They actively embrace life, and are sure to take the time to engage with each other and develop relationships. They know they are intertwined; they are connected and each have a place in the world. They truly understand what community is and why it’s essential. While we’ve been in the fast lane chasing material wealth and prestige, we’ve lost sight of what life is about. The result? We’re tired, stressed, unhappy, unhealthy, feeling like we have no purpose, and like our lives are without meaning.


The philosophers told us that our mind, body and spirit are interconnected. When one gets out of whack, nothing else seems to go right. When we get stressed, it affects our physical health. When we don’t feed our spirit, we suffer in many areas. When we work, work, work and don’t make time for family and friends, for life, we lose meaning. We start to feel like we are on the hamster wheel and can’t get off. We have things, but we aren’t happy.


Learn or re-learn what the philosophers had to say. Read the OPA! Affirmations. There’s a wealth of information here. The OPA! Way becomes a road map for living, for embracing life, for reconnecting, and helping us find our place in the world. We all have much to give, we all have much to learn. It’s time to re-discover it and perhaps, finally, we will lead lives (and find work) that is meaningful and brings us joy.


OPA! truly is more than a word. It’s a way of life. Pattakos and Dundon have created a guidebook for our lives. The wisdom of the ancients indeed holds true, and in today’s world, is more essential than ever. The OPA! Way is a volume you’ll refer to again and again. It’s time to be the best you, to embrace life, and find joy. Everybody say OPA!


Alex and Elaine will appear at the National Hellenic Museum on December 4.

Check out my Q&A with the authors.


A new exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections, presents more than 60 superb artworks of the Byzantine era, from the 4th to the 15th centuries. Organized by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports of Athens, Greece, with the collaboration of the Benaki Museum, Athens, and originally exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the exhibition includes major artistic holdings from Greece consisting of mosaics, sculptures, manuscripts, luxury glass, silver, personal adornments, liturgical textiles, icons, and wall paintings. About one third of the original exhibition will be presented in the Art Institute’s Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art from September 27, 2014, through February 15, 2015.

For more than 1,000 years, Greece was part of the vast Byzantine Empire, established in 330 A.D. by the emperor Constantine the Great, who moved the capital of the Roman Empire east to a small town named Byzantium in modern-day Turkey. Renamed for him and transformed into Constantinople, Byzantium would come to represent an empire of splendor and power that endured for more than a millennium. Greek replaced Latin as the official language, and Greece itself was home to important centers of theology, scholarship, and artistic production—as evidenced by the luxurious manuscripts displayed in the exhibition. “When we opened the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, we were given the opportunity to host great exhibitions alongside our collection of ancient and Byzantine art,” said Douglas Druick, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute. The first exhibition in the Jaharis Galleries was Late Roman and Early Byzantine Treasures from the British Museum in 2012 that featured artworks from the 4th-7th centuries. “Through our collaborations with the organizing institutions of Heaven and Earth, we are fortunate to explore the next chapter of Byzantine art history as we welcome singular and beautiful artworks—many of which have never been shown outside of Greece—that span the history of this powerful empire.”

Heaven and Earth explores the rich legacy of the Byzantine Empire through five main themes: the transition from the Classical to the Byzantine world, spiritual life, intellectual life, the pleasures of life, and cultural exchange in the waning years of the empire in the 15th century. The exhibition opens with the Head of Aphrodite, a Roman marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Aphrodite that had later been altered with a cross carved on her forehead, presumably to Christianize it or reuse it as an image of a saint. From its beginning in the 4th century the Byzantine Empire would embrace its Classical origins while forging a new spiritual aesthetic to outfit the ceremonies and interior of the Christian church. Icons of holy persons, saints, important theologians, and sacred events were painted to be channels for the devoted to the heavenly realm while mosaics and silks embroidered with gold and silver reflected the glimmering candle light of the church. Jewelry, resplendent with precious and semi-precious gems—including a personalized engagement ring—perfume flasks, and silver and ceramic dinnerware that reveal the spectacle of the banquet, all allow visitors a glimpse into the individual lives of the Byzantines.

“Heaven and Earth represents a truly international effort,” said Karen Manchester, Chair and Curator of Ancient Art in the Art Institute's Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art. “This is our first collaboration with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Benaki Museum and it has allowed the Art Institute the remarkable opportunity to display priceless treasures from Greece.”

Additionally, the Art Institute will be the sole U.S. venue for the 14th-century Icon of Saint Prokopios. Painted in the last century of the Byzantine Empire during the Ottoman invasions of northern Greece, this icon represents the youthful saint, suited in armor draped with a vivid red mantle, who was martyred over a millennia before in the 4th century during the beginning years of the Byzantine era. The exhibition catalogue, available in the museum gift shop, features this artwork on the cover.

Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections was organized by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Athens, with the collaboration of the Benaki Museum, Athens, and in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Major funding for Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections has been provided by the Jaharis Family Foundation, Inc. Additional support has been provided by the Stratis family, Charlotte Vern Olson, and Karen and Walter Alexander.
The exhibition’s US tour is made possible through OPAP S.A.’s major funding. Financial support is also provided by the A. G. Leventis Foundation.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Images: Icon of Christ Pantokrator, late 14th century. Byzantine; Thessaloniki. Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki.
Head of Aphrodite, 1st century A.D. Byzantine; Greece, probably Athens. National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
Pendant with Christ Pantokrator, rock crystal: 11th century, mount: 16th century. Byzantine, probably Constantinople. Benaki Museum, Athens.
Icon of St. Prokopios, 14th century. Byzantine; Greece, Veroia. Church of Saint Prokopios, Veroia.

Special Events:

Lectures: To celebrate the opening of Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections, Jenny Albani, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Greece, and Anastasia Drandaki, Benaki Museum, Athens, provide overviews of Byzantine culture and the exhibition.
Reservations recommended. To register, please call 312-443-3680.
September 27, 2014
Fullerton Hall
Free with museum admission; Reservations recommended

Gallery Talk: Exhibition Overview
Explore the array of Byzantine icons, silks, mosaics, and other stupendous loans in the exhibition Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections,
October 10, 2014
Meet in Griffin Court
Free with museum admission

Lecture: Maniera Greca in the West, Maniera Latina in the Byzantine East – Piety, Politics, and Painting in the Thirteenth to Fifteenth Centuries
In this lecture featuring artworks from Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections, Anastasia Drandaki, Curator of the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection, Benaki Museum, Athens and co-curator of the exhibition will focus on unexplored aspects of the dialogue between Byzantine and western European art, particularly Italian painting of the period.
Sponsored by the Classical Art Society
October 23, 2014
Fullerton Hall
Free with museum admission

Performance: “Fall of Constantinople” Cappella Romana.
Join the renowned early music ensemble Cappella Romana and explore the musical legacy of the Byzantine empire with ‘The Fall of Constantinople.” Majestic ceremonies for the cathedral of Hagia Sophia, triumphant assertions of superiority by Westerners, and fervent prayers for the healing of political and religious divisions are followed by two poignant laments for the Fall of Constantinople.
November 16, 2014
Fullerton Hall
This will be a ticketed event.


COURTESY: Art Institute of Chicago


Wednesday, 03 September 2014 13:00

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Island

Written by

The Last Island

By: David Hogan

ISBN: 978-0-9926552-1-1

Publisher: Betimes Books


Novel Explores Themes of Redemption, Escape, Love, Our Flawed Nature


Playwright David Hogan offers an intriguing novel, “The Last Island,” based on a fictional Greek island in the Sporades. The Bostonian who lived in Athens for many years and has spent much time on the island of Skopelos, examines the human condition, our flawed nature and more.


                There, he witnessed the island change from a traditional fishing society into a modern, tourist-based economy.


               “I wanted to capture something of that transition, what was lost, what was gained and the effect it had on the people, the animals, the island itself.”

                “During that time, I was alternately mystified, amused, excited, frustrated, and delighted, as I would have been anywhere else, but in Greece I think those emotions were heightened.  I can remember moments when I was swimming in the Aegean at sunset or standing on a mountaintop at dawn where the history and urgency and majesty of the place would course through me. At times, I can still feel it.”


                Hogan’s protagonist – unnamed throughout the story – is any of us, an everyman struggling with regrets, searching for meaning, asking himself, ‘now what?’


                “He’s as flawed as any of us. Perhaps the one thing that sets him apart is the level of his self-awareness when he recognizes who he is and what he’s capable of.  This understanding comes to him abruptly and confrontationally. Most of us will never experience such a defining moment, but that’s one of many reasons to read novels.”


                The protagonist flees his everyday life as a Boston fireman and heads to a Greek island. His grandmother was Greek, and he learned some of the language as a child. He seeks refuge there, where no one knows him, no one knows he can understand some language; he’s just another person. It’s the perfect place to get lost – to lose his former self and begin anew. But redemption is not so easy.


                He finds work at a taverna. Immersed in island culture, he meets a mysterious stranger, named Kerryn, who teaches him much about life, getting back to basics, and also about protecting the environment.


                Kerryn, like Hogan, is an environmentalist. She’s shedding all her possessions in an attempt to get back to a simple, more natural life, where man and nature live in complete harmony.


                “She hasn’t found an answer yet, hasn’t quite found a new way of being, but she’s searching. I’d like to believe we all are.”


                 She befriends a dolphin, and risks her life to make sure the waters remain wildlife-friendly. Their growing friendship pulls him into her quest to save the island from losing its old ways, and ultimately, helping the dolphins.


                Two unlikely beings, shedding their own pasts teach each other about life, love, and human nature. One has previously crossed ethical lines, while another does it currently. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? What if the end justifies the means? Is man more important than nature? Are the new ways better than the old? Have we made life too complicated, and if yes, can we return to simpler ways and times? Do we know what we are really capable of? Hogan’s adept storytelling makes us ponder our spiritual essence, and to reflect on who we are, where we have been and where we are going – and how things so different can really be so much alike.


                “The Last Island” is a contemporary fiction bestseller at Amazon UK, reached Number 1 at Amazon Australia, and was a finalist for the San Diego Book Award. Hogan has recently completed a stage play and is currently working on a new novel.

 Young World Travelers and the Magical Crystal Globe

By: Demetra Tsavaris-Lecourezos

Illustrations by Rick Sanders

Publisher:  The Word Verve

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-941251-10-2

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-941251-11-9

Published: May 2014


First Book in Series Takes Kids on Fun, Educational Travel Adventures

 CHICAGO--Many parents have watched Disney’s “Little Einsteins” with their kids, immersing them in travel adventures around the world. Author Demetra Tsavaris-Lecourezos loved to watch the show with her daughter, Katerina.  As Katerina grew older, however, it was time for something more advanced.

                 “There was nothing out there,” Demetra revealed. “My creative juices began to flow, and the idea sprang from there.”

                 She spoke to an attorney at Disney, and was quickly advised that anything that she shared with them could be used.

                 “Immediately, I hung up. I knew I could do something with this idea.”

                 The concept, co-created by her late husband, Constantine “Gus”, began as a movie script, designed to teach kids about travel, language, means of transportation, currency conversion,  and other life lessons.

                 Demetra, who had written poetry in high school and college had not published anything, remained undaunted. She flew to Los Angeles to meet with National Geographic, Lions Gate and others. The complete package—which included films, toys, activity books and other related materials, was well-received; however, she was continuously told that producing the series would cost millions; none wanted to take that risk. They all recommended that she adapt the scripts into children’s books.

                 Disappointed, she returned home, and began to write. With four scripts written, it was time to query publishers. Then a series of events put the project on hold: within the next year, she experienced a miscarriage; then Gus, and her mother, became ill and passed away—her husband from pancreatic cancer, and her mother, leukemia. Demetra and her husband were planning to relocate from New York to Tarpon Springs, and had set in motion plans to open a gift shop, called, Given With Love.   

               "We signed the corporate papers for the store, but he never got to see it open.”

                 In the wake of these life-altering events, and everything poured into the business, it never seemed the right time.  Then last winter, a friend suggested she pitch the idea to a well-respected publisher.

                 “I took a chance, and reached out to Janet Fix of The Word Verve, via Facebook.  Coincidentally, she was planning a trip to Tarpon. Janet came to my shop, and we hit it off. She asked to take the book manuscripts with her; all I had was the movie script. I trusted her with it. A week later, she called and said let’s do the series, and send her the first book ASAP.  That was in January.” 

                Published in May, the story is about several kids hanging out in front of a shop, who are bored and can’t decide what to do. Mrs. Eva, the shop owner, hears the kids and engages them in an amazing adventure. With her Magical Crystal Globe, she takes them on a journey to actual places in Queens, NY. The kids visit Fort Totten, the Queens County Farm, and as fairgoers they attend the World’s Fair.

                 Things started happening quickly. Eager to begin promoting the new book, she immediately set out to schedule book readings.  While calling local book stores, she learned that this year is the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the World’s Fairs, and celebrations will take place throughout the year. She soon found herself invited to the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, for two book readings. 

                 “The book wasn’t even printed yet! I had to go to a local print shop to have one printed and bound, to show. The audience loved the illustrations. Selecting the artist was another set of coincidences. Turns out the Tampa-based illustrator I selected, Rick Sanders, was also a native New Yorker, and we were born in the same hospital in Jackson Heights!”

                Demetra will return to NY for more events this fall. Back in Tarpon, she’s been reading the book to local classrooms, where the response from children has been overwhelming.

“They love the drawings, and are eager to know where the kids go with each turn of the page!”

                Full of colorful illustrations and engaging history that children can get excited about, “Young World Travelers” teaches children the value of imagination, how much the world has to offer, and creates awareness for the greater world. It whets their appetite for travel, and makes history fun and accessible. Next year, look for the next adventure, to Greece.


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The Greek Star has a policy of publishing diverse views from its readers without necessarily espousing the writer’s opinion. Since 1904, The Greek Star has reported on all types of news stories and we welcome all opinions—those who are pro and those who are con. As with all newspapers, The Greek Star must use its judgment, not opinion in publishing a letter.Some questions that are often asked: Do you edit letters? All letters must include name, address and phone number. Letters can be sent via email to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The Greek Star reserves the right to edit letters to fit our space.

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About The Greek Star

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The Greek Star newspaper is the longest continually published weekly Greek-American newspaper in the United States.

We are the voice of America's Hellenic Community.