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submitted by Kytherian Cultural Exchange on 16.02.2016

Building cultural identity through reading

The Weekend Neos Kosmos, (Melbourne)

Saturday 13th February 2016, Page 16

Author Melina Mallos has a winning formula for bringing children in touch with their cultural heritage that Cat while on holiday to her parents' birthplace

ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS


Building cultural identity through reading - Weekend Neos Kosmos Sat 13th Feb 2016

One can't think of the beautiful cobbled streets of the Greek islands without the meow of a cat springing to mind.
Whch is why the feline is the perfect protagonist for Melina Mallos' children's book Catch that Cat, which seeks to put children in touch with their Greek cultural heritage.

"A lot (of children] haven't travelled to Greece before. And now,as the generations are progressing, a lot of their grandparents aren't even talking to them in Greek," Melina explains. "So tile book was really about providing opportunities for kids to connect to their Greek heritage, as well as the language,and instil in them a desire to visit Greece and know more about their culture."

The Brisbane-based author was inspired to write Catch that Cat while on holiday to her parents birthplace of Kythera in 2007.

"My aunty lived in Athens and they had a cat in their apartment. They decided to take it to Kythera and leave it on the island; so this cat went from an urban city landscape to rural country. "The cat's still alive and lives on the island.and it survives by the neighbours feeding it," she says.

Keeping the book connected to its roots on the Greek island, the picture book is also being stocked by local booksellers and stores in Kythera. "I noticed there wasn't a souvenir book for kids on the island.So that's another reason I wrote the book, because I thought it was a missed opportunity for so many visitors who come; it's a good little gift that people could take back and share with their kids and grandkids", Melina explains.

Since the book's launch at Brisbane's Greek Festival in May last year,it has been well received both Down Under and in Greece. But for the author, her debut into the world of children's literature was very significant, in that she finally found a way to marry her background in early childhood education and passion for art.

Working with publishers at the Kytherian World Heritage Fund, administered under the auspices of the Kytherian Association of Australia, gave Melina the opportunity to collaborate with AthensĀ­ based illustrator and translator Tety Solou.

With the book available in two editions - bilingual - both Greek and English - and in English alone - it has made it possible for people outside the Greek community to connect with the book's content. "I've been surprised there's been a broader appeal to people who don't have a Greek background. I get a lot of feedback about the
catchy rhyme in it," she says.

Aside from writing, Melina is a leading developer of collaborative community projects and culturally enriching programs for children. Committed to sharing her knowledge on teaching cultural sensitivities with Australia's parents,she manages to do so through regular guest blogging, article writing, public speaking and training. "I help children create bonds with their community and culture in order to build a strong sense of self, strengthen their relationships, increase their self-confidence, and experience meaningful connections," says Melina.

But don't worry, that's not the last we'll see of that cat.The author is currently working on her second children's book, a collaborative project through tile Cat Welfare Association of Kythera.

English only versions of Catch that Cat are available for purchase through www.catchthatcat.com (the website also includes free downloadoble kids' activities related to the Australian curriculum for promoting intercultural understanding).

For the bilingual edition, email secretary@kytherianassociation.com.au or phone (02) 9599 6998.

Melina is also available to deliver book readings and workshops for your community, school or cultural festival and can be contacted via her website.

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