Entries Tagged as 'Uncategorized'

The Colour Thief: A Visually Stunning Story About the Nature of Happiness and the Power of Small Acts of Kindness

June 8, 2016

Every so often, a picturebook comes along that captures the art form perfectly. The Colour Thief, by Gabriel Alborozo, is such a picturebook: with minimal text, simple drawings and an explosion of colours, it takes us on a journey with Zot, an alien creature who lives in a colourless planet and decides to visit the Earth in order to experience its multicolour splendor.


Alborozo’s illustrations are  simple yet engaging, capturing beautifully the wonders of our world and an array of emotional transitions.

Upon coming to Earth, Zot realizes that living in a colourful world is wonderful, and after deciding against moving to Earth due to all of his friends that are waiting for him back home, he chooses to steal all the colour and take it with him.


Zot, mesmerized by the colourful surroundings, kept stealing colours.


“Zot stole all the colours…

calling them to him…

until every last colour…

had disappeared.”


Despite leaving everything grey and colourless, Zot doesn’t realise the consequences of his actions until he sees a boy walking down the hill with an orange balloon. Zot steals that colour too, but right before leaving he looks down and the sight of the sad boy in a grey planet changes his mind.

Zot decides to return the colours and readers are graced with a stunning celebration of colours dancing on page.


Despite the fortunate turn of events for Earth, Zot’s expression tells a different story. Consideration for others outweighs his desire to create a colourful world for him and his friends and of course Zot decides against taking things that aren’t his, yet Alborozo paints an honest emotional state for Zot and a sincere depiction of desire: doing the right thing isn’t always great nor does it make us feel elated, joyful or delighted. It can leave us feeling sad, disappointed, wanting.

As we turn the page, however, a heartwarming sequence of frames renders us witnesses of the power of a small act of kindness.

7 (2)

What emerges is a gentle reminder that happiness is often found in the tiniest, seemingly meaningless things and that even the smallest acts of kindness have transformative power.

The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo (2014) is published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Lions do not eat catfood

July 6, 2015

I am on a mission. And the mission is to make you realise that whatever you need to know in this life, you are going to learn it from a picturebook. The truth is that I read an amazing storybook recently and I wanted to share the story with you. It’s about Clemence who wants a pet, but her parents are very clear, ‘Neither a cat, nor a dog!’ So Clemence, being very obedient, brings a lion. Unapologetically funny scenes follow:

Her mom decides to move out of country at the mere sight of the lion.

lions do not eat catfood 1

Clemence takes good care of the lion, but when lions have to go, they do not settle for small potties.


And, isn’t it apparent? Everyone loves that lion.

lions do not eat catfood 3

 Clemence does not have to worry about buying special food for the feline. And this is what has raised criticism among some parents: that the lion provides itself with the food it needs. And it is definitely not cat food. Or oat biscuits.

lions do not eat catfood 4

Personally, I loved this story because of its humour, the irony between words and pictures and that the writer did not try to domesticate the lion or turn it into something it is not. It let it be itself and wander in Clemence’s universe being exactly what it was.

There are so many avenues one could go with this book, but if I were to focus on the lion’s character, it seems that this storybook is such a great reminder to be unapologetically yourself. Love yourself, take care of yourself, let yourself love what they love.

As Chris Brogan says: Don’t settle: Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you‘re not on the right path, get off it.

A lion won’t eat cat food, why should you?

I read the story in Greek, in translation from the French Les Lions Ne Mangent Pas De Croquettes, by André Bouchard from Ekdoseis Diaplasis

Summer Blues

July 28, 2014

Endings. For me they always happen in the summer. I was born in the summer and although this period brings out my sunny nature, it also awakens my melancholic disposition.

New scenaria are pulling me to different directions and, suddenly, I somehow feel less fearless than I used to. Less animated. I talk less. I listen more. I question all my choices, my innate positivity disappears and under the big round sun, I am afraid I cannot shine anymore. Because I fear of things I can’t even define. And then it hits me: what if the world isn’t really my oyster and there are no shiny pearls but muddy, rainy mess everywhere?

 I am always looking for answers. And I have often looked for them in improbable places: people, books, stars, substances. And right when I need a sign, I look at the time it’s just 11:13, the lights are red and I always catch my favourite song on the radio when it’s about to end.

I cannot blame the universe for not giving me the answers I need in a fortune cookie. I know that. I also know that the best books do not give you answers; they invite you to ask more questions. Better questions. And I slowly realise that I have responsibility for the questions I am asking.

Sometimes asking the right questions is the answer.

Summer blues. Illustration by Lauren Child for the book The Princess and the Pea, 2006

Blue. Illustration by Lauren Child for the book The Princess and the Pea, 2006


Would you Type on a Socialholic Typewriter?

May 30, 2014

Have you ever collaborated with someone to tell a story?

A few months ago, I had embarked on the most creative collaboration I have had in writing. My multi-talented friend, Constantinos Xenofontos, started creating sketches of semi-fictional characters and shared them online. He had only been posting them for a few days, when I had expressed my love for what he was doing, and we then spontaneously decided to collaborate: he would send me a character every day and I would write a short, accompanying story, as inspired by that particular character. The rule was that he would not tell me anything about them, so that I would not influenced. I would just create based on how I perceived what I saw. We called this The Semi-fictional Character of the Day Project and we decided that it would run for one month. This project was quite successful and we had a loyal group of readers who followed it with great interest. Personally, I was fascinated by the way Constantinos would create new characters every day, partly as inspired by his daily life, and partly as guided by his resourcefulness.

Week 2 semi-fictional characters by Constantinos Xenofontos

Week 2 semi-fictional characters by Constantinos Xenofontos

The dual form of storytelling had always fascinated me (as my doctoral research was on texts which combined words and pictures), but it was the first time that, as a co-creator I began to realise, how a collaboration between different people with diverse media could spark creativity and enable two individuals, thousand miles apart, to have a creative dialogue.

This realisation was partly the inspiration for the creation of an online tool which enables people to collaboratively tell stories, connect with their readers, and overcome creative writing blocks. The tool is called The Socialholic Typewriter and it is one of the finalists in the mahallae challenge common vision for the future in Cyprus. Read more about it here.

I do believe that our idea has the potential to innovate the way we tell, share and consume stories, supporting young people from different communities in Cyprus and the Euro-Mediterranean area to connect through creativity and collaboratively craft unique narratives.

If you believe in this idea too, would like to see it implemented, or would like to get involved, please:

1. go here in order to create a profile

2. click on the confirmation email (if you can’t see it, it has gone to spam)

3. vote for us by clicking endorse on our page right here

4. leave us a comment

Although we have gathered amazing people in our group and the idea has been embraced by important representatives of the literary world in Cyprus, our idea still needs your support to continue regardless of the voting outcome!

socialholic typewriter heart

I love you for supporting

 Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions about the way The Socialholic Typewriter will work? What has been your experience with collaborative writing? What other forms of storytelling (apart from words and pictures) have you used?



The Book Hangover

April 29, 2014

You might have heard about it.

I had always felt that it was an exaggeration, as each time I finish a book, I happily move on to the next one. A few weeks ago, however, when I finished reading a 900-pages book, I experienced profound sadness. And I almost felt ashamed of it. As if the world isn’t plagued with enough issues, there is me bemoaning the fact that there were not enough pages in my book. It is not as if the book was a masterpiece or the best thing I had ever read, but I found glimpses of truth in it and, quickly after finishing it, I found myself thinking about it while getting coffee or carrying my groceries. I even animatedly talked to friends about one of the characters. Regularly.

Right?! Illustration by Nicola O'Byrne for the book Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite (Author Nick Bromley)

Right?! Illustration by Nicola O’Byrne for the book Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite, 2013 (Author Nick Bromley)

Although at first I felt uncomfortable about my discomfort, my initial feelings of guilt are gone. Because 900 pages are sort of a big commitment. And I showed up for each of those pages. I became attached, involved, invested. And so much life has happened as I turned those leafs.

So I decided to address the issue and, as every responsible person would do, I sought professional help for my book hangover situation. That means that I googled it. And I actually got some really good suggestions:

‘Start a new book’  I did, but I found myself wondering about the fate of the characters of the old book during the first pages of the new book, so that did not work out very well. And then I was really judgmental and unfair with the new book: ‘That book’s character would never do this and that writer would never use such weak metaphors.’ And that was not true. But I did abandon it after the first pages.

‘Re-read the book’ This advice I did not even bother to follow because everyone knows that nothing is as good the second time around.

‘Discuss the book with friends’ The book was not exactly a new title, and it was 900 pages long so, practically speaking, I could not get a friend to read it overnight. But I found that speaking about books in general with people who love reading and treat fictional characters as real individuals lifts me up.

So I did not find a quick fix for my book hangover and, although I am an unrepentant runaway, addicted to the dope of literary escapism, it took a while until I embarked on a new reading journey. I just paused to experience the temporary nature of things. Of happiness, of safety. Of fictional universes you can no longer inhabit. And I am an advocate for a lot of causes around difficult issues which impact my country, but when a book you really connected with ends-that’s hard too. Because it involves loss.

And that’s life for you. Losing something in order not to feel lost ourselves.




Semi-Fictional Character of the Day #day15

March 3, 2014

‘The Semi-Fictional Character of the Day’ is a joint, one-month project by Louiza Mallouri and Constantinos Xenofontos. Constantinos will be sketching a semi-fictional figure every day, and Louiza will be writing an accompanying storyline, as inspired by that character. The aim of this project is to explore the way two semiotic systems, the visual and the linguistic, interact and complement each other to tell a story.

semi-fictional character day15 (2)

I am working night shift. A party of 4 has a reservation on my section. They are seated by the hostess and I wait by to get their order.
-Good evening guys. How are you today?
-Can I get a steak with green vegetables and mushed peas?
-And can I get the same but with asparagus and green salad?
-Of course.
-I will have the pepperoni pizza.
-Is that the 8 or the 11 inches one?
-What’s bigger.
-Why can’t I find the curry chicken option?
-Oh that’s because it’s on the lunch menu.
-Well, can’t you do it now?
-I am afraid not, madame, but why don’t you try the spice chicken, that’s a similar option I think you will enjoy!
-Can you ask the chef whether he can make the curry chicken now?
-I can definitely ask that for you. Any drinks?
-A bottle of water.
-Thank you, I will be with you in a few moments.
Curry chicken is not an option tonight, so the lady half-heartedly settles for the spice chicken.
By the time I put the order in, they cancel the pepperoni pizza, they want to share the steak and asparagus should be replaced with broccoli. I bring the food out and check back after a while and they all seem to be enjoying the dishes.Towards the end of the evening I carry a slice of cheesecake to the table and sing, as instructed, happy birthday. They all join in. One of these days I will set this restaurant on fire.

‘I never did drugs, I did love’

February 9, 2014

The title is from Jeanette Winterson’s beautiful memoir ‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?’ which I consider the best book I have read in 2013. Jeanette Winterson beautifully explores her difficult childhood, the relationship with her abusive mother and her journey into adulthood. I will certainly return to discuss this book again, because it is so rich and powerful, but for this week I wanted to share some thoughts on love, as inspired by the insights offered in this important book.

jeanette winterson

A number of studies attests to this: love can be like a drug. Do you remember experiencing this? Intense, passionate, vibrant love. The one you get as a teenager, as a young adult, when your body is programmed to feel everything in its utmost degree. The one that fills you up and dries you out. The colourful love: walks in the rain, drinking bad coffee, capturing the moments in film, slow kissing under the moonlight, promises under influence, swimming in deserted waters, driving into the unknown, stopping for a distressed hedgehog on a busy high way.

The perfect love: the future seems big and bright, nothing is out of reach and that’s your only friend. You stayed up together doing absolutely nothing and you could have sworn that this was the most exciting thing you have done in a long time. Truth is that you were already full, but you just had that extra slice of cake just to spend a few more moments together. And, by the way, do you know how long a day is? It is excruciatingly long. And you only know that because, when you had quarreled with your friend, you could not talk to them for a whole day. Do you remember how long that felt?

Illustration by Louiza Kaimaki

Illustration by Louiza Kaimaki for the book I Aria Allazei Kosmous

The urgent love: the love that can’t wait. Because you didn’t know you could love someone this much, and you worry that you might stop wanting them that much, and you fear that you might not always wait for them with such eager, childlike anticipation. And when you kiss at a rock concert, don’t even blink, because when you open our eyes, you might stop being a kid.

The impossible love: fighting, resisting, disappearing.

The persistent love: love notes forgotten in books, a pair of vintage earrings, dried out flowers, daily bittersweet reminders.

Love & loss.

My fairytales were full of ‘happily ever afters’ and never said anything about the moment you grow out of love. Where do you go then?

Falling out of love is the greatest defeat.

Illustration by Louiza Kaimaki

Illustration by Louiza Kaimaki for the book I Aria Allazei Kosmous

Have you read any books on love in the past or recently that have resonated with you? What insights have they offered you? Give your reading suggestions and share your words of wisdom below!



A healing potion of words

January 27, 2014

Have you ever read until you felt better? I certainly have. Many times.

Sometimes my sadness is too big that spoken words don’t help me get it all out right. But words in books abandon the page and slip cunningly into the precise areas I’ve denied all access, slowly starting to mend the broken pieces and putting things into place.

And friends are the best, but a piece of literature will never tell you ‘I know how you feel’. Because nobody knows how you feel. Instead, a book becomes a diary where you project all of what you are going through onto its pages. It becomes uniquely personal in a way that nothing else, so publicly available, will. A book is neither condescending, nor invasive; a book doesn’t abandon you: it’s there, patiently witnessing your trauma and heartbreak. And that’s good, because a corny self-help quote is the last thing you need. And that’s great, because what didn’t kill me didn’t make me stronger. At all.

If you have ever been touched by a book, you often go back to the shelf, picking that particular book up, and read parts of it over and over again to yourself, as its words speak to you in a way everyday language can’t. While everyday words, such as sad, helpless or broken seem to subtract from the feeling and strip down the experience, the symbolic significance of stories and their imagery help us deal with difficult emotions at a time where everything is experienced in top volume. Good literature speaks respectfully to us about a thing we know deeply, but are at a loss for words to utter.

Sounds familiar?  The Sad Book is a picturebook which chronicles Michael Rosen's grief at the death of his son Eddie from meningitis at the age of 19. Illustrated by Quentin Blake, this beautiful book does not pretend that pain is easy to bear.

The Sad Book is a picturebook which chronicles Michael Rosen’s grief at the death of his son, Eddie, from meningitis at the age of 19. Illustrated by Quentin Blake, this beautiful book does not pretend that pain is easy to bear. The Sad Book, 2004

Through these poignant images, Oliver Jeffers explores the themes of love and loss

Through these poignant images, Oliver Jeffers explores the themes of love and loss. Heart and the Bottle, 2009

Books allow you to stay with your sadness. ‘Pain demands to be felt’, John Green writes. And in this ‘gotta be happy, gotta have it all figured out’ society, it is relieving to be granted moments when it’s okay to be unhappy, and feel that others have been there too. Life is hard sometimes, you know? Because you lose people you didn’t want to lose, and you often dream and work and try your best and you don’t succeed, and then there are those times when you just want to love and be loved and it is not easy. What you need in these moments is not a magic wand to make it all okay. You need to experience it, you need literature, which will offer you powerful coping tools: effective metaphors, poignant stories, honest images which will support you to deal with your feelings, learn from it and grow… It helps.

Does any of these seem familiar to you? Do you believe in the healing power of words? What books have helped you deal with a difficult period in your life? Share your experience in the comments below. I’d love to know.



On loving things too much

January 17, 2014

I have a flaw. I love things too much. And loving things too much is not always a good thing, because it can  inhibit you from creating your own things. Because when you love the words of others, your own words die silently in your throat. How can I write about love, for example, when Sophocles, to name one artist,  already did it in Antigone in such beauty, so eloquently, so perfectly centuries ago:

Love, all-conquering love, you fall on house,
and furrow innocence in girls asleep:
you ride the oceans to the meanest farm.
No god escapes you, no, not one, and man
succumbs to madness with his brief day spent.

What more can one say? That won’t feel superficial, inadequate and amateurish? What can be said that won’t be squashed under the burden of comparison with everything that has been written so far?

I did realise from an early age that I was not obsessing about movie stars or singers the way my peers did. I did not care about celebrities’ autographs and no such posters adorned my room. But I deeply admired writers and I took great pleasure in having my books signed by them. I was not fangirling over actors but I was, I am fangirling in a way about ideas, words, stories, books. And it so happens sometimes that the work of the people we admire paralyses our own creative endeavours. It often feels like everything has already been said in the most skillful and exquisite way, that it seems overwhelming and terrifying to share your own creations publicly.

Sure, there is an issue of fear of failure and resistance here I need to explore to surpass my creative barriers, and it may be advisable to kill my idols, humanize them and see myself as a person who can deservedly be considered one of them… The only problem is that I like my idols where I can see them. On their pedestal, thank you very much.

I have no interest in deconstructing them. On the contrary, I want to preserve the feeling you get when you love something so much, it overwhelms you. I  observe the way my pre-adolescent female pupils obsess over teen idols: the mere suspicion that I don’t who Harry Styles is, would  provoke such terror and puzzle that would break your heart. And that is priceless. Don’t we all look back nostalgically at a period when we unashamedly loved and had absolute and uncompromising faith in things and people? As we get older, we lose that ability, we grow out of a lot of things, we become disenchanted with everything and not a lot of things captivate us.

So I choose to embrace my excessive love about things, my fangirling, if you wish. Because it allows me to remain open and appreciative of other people’s art. And I think when you are open and honest about what you love and admire in an artistic level, you allow the creative energy to flow in. And as for my creative barriers, I am working on it. And books help. There is a lovely quote in Patti  Digh’s book Creative Is a Verb: If you are Alive, You Are Creative  which gives me perspective:

The only real way to be creative is to create. Without attachment to outcome. Without attachment to sales figures or blog hits. Without caring about the ways in which your work is dissected, criticized or loved. But with a keen, overwhelming, burning, passionate focus on what it is you long to say more than anything in the world. That’s the thing. That’s the only thing.

And another quote from Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work, which I just finished reading:

You are not allowed to judge yourself.
Suspending self-judgment doesn’t just mean blowing off the “You suck” voice in our heads. It also means liberating ourselves from conventional expectations—from what we think our work “ought” to be or “should” look like.
Stay stupid. Follow your unconventional, crazy heart.

How about you? Do you often feel overwhelmed in your own creative journey? Are you afraid that your work will fall short compared to your idols? How do you deal with it? Any inspiring quotes? Let me know in the comments!



Where do book junkies hang out?

January 9, 2014

I will start with a confession.

I am a book junkie. A reading addict, fascinated by combinations of words, captivated by literary characters and made up universes. I scribble book quotes on my notebooks and many of those become my life mantras. Some days, I even pick my outfit based on what I am reading. And, yes, I have been that girl who was alone in the cafe with a book. I wasn’t crying. I was sobbing at its beauty.

On my busiest days, I will carry a book in my bag, hoping that I will get a moment while waiting for a meeting, or the bus or the train to fleetingly go back to that fictional world. Words do things to me. Words do things for me.  Whenever I struggle, I read.  Whenever I feel like I want to be a better teacher, I read. Whenever I am heartbroken, I seek solace to a book: I let the words amuse, move, shock, educate, inform me. I let the words soothe me. The written word is my drug.

Looking for more books in Bath, at a vintage bookshop

Looking for more books in Bath, at a vintage bookshop

And I am not alone. Through the blog, its projects and its Facebook page I’ve discovered like minded people, who equally love literature and have actually created or want to create their own worlds of fiction: fellow book junkies and word lovers. I wanted Reading the Lines to be a space for us: where we geek out about books and writers, share experiences on reading and writing and explore the transformative and healing power of words. A space where we read something and go, ‘Hey, I felt that.’ So that others can feel it too. Because that’s important to me. Because I strongly believe that literature is here to give us access to the depths of a fellow human’s truth, to instances of authenticity, emotion, humanness. Literature connects us.

Reading the Lines is a space where we can connect by informing, educating, inspiring and empowering each other in our creative reading and writing journey.

As a true book junkie, I got wonderful books to start 2014 with. I have selected some and present them below:


Wuthering Heights is my childhood’s favourite book. So I was beyond words pleased when I got this beautiful edition by my boyfriend over Christmas.

The Book Thief

I wanted to read this for ages!  The Book Thief! Enough said!

Emotional literacy reading

This new year, I wanted to nurture emotional literacy in my classes. So at the moment I am reading some really fascinating books on therapeutic creative writing!

What books are you starting 2014 with? Tell me in the comments below. And if you are a book junkie, be sure to join our community by subscribing or say hi at info@readingthelines.com



Theme by Blogmilk   Coded by Brandi Bernoskie