Pinellas News

Tarpon business owner publishes first children’s book

— After spending nearly a decade on the drawing board, Demetra Tsavaris-Lecourezos can finally grasp a tangible version of her creative vision.

“Young World Travelers and the Magical Crystal Globe” debuted as a published children’s book this spring, allowing Lecourezos to accomplish a goal that first began near the time of her daughter Katerina’s birth nine years ago.

A story that offers a healthy variety of educational information in a world of boundless imagination, “Young World Travelers” is best described as historic fiction, Lecourezos said.

“There’s a lot of history and research that went into it, but it is fiction because of the Magical Crystal Globe,” said Lecourezos, owner of Given With Love, on Athens Street in the Sponge Docks. “The globe travels with the kids in every story. It’s how they get around.”

The Magical Crystal Globe is the nearly omnipotent device that opens up the book’s potential for imagination and adventure. Anyone in possession of the it can travel anywhere they want and be whoever they want, back and forth throughout time. The crystal globe will even translate languages and act as a currency exchange when traveling to different countries.

“It’s leaving the imagination wide open for future stories,” Lecourezos said, adding the first book in the series introduces the globe’s capabilities while whisking a group of children from Tarpon Springs to Queens.

“They start off in Tarpon Springs — in front of my store, actually — and they magically travel to Queens, New York. There they go to the Civil War fort, the Queens County Farm and then to the World’s Fair.”

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In a strangely fortunate coincidence, that latter destination — written into the story years ago — presented itself to Lecourezos earlier this year while she worked on promoting the just-published first book. During a call with Barnes and Noble in Queens regarding book-reading possibilities, the representative mentioned the 75th and 50th anniversaries of two New York City World’s Fairs (1939 and 1964) were being celebrated around town at events throughout the year.

Given the direct connection with her story, Lecourezos contacted World’s Fair Anniversary Festival organizers. By May 18 she was in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, reading about the Magical Crystal Globe to two different sets of crowds.

“I was so nervous,” she said, recounting the moment. “I thought either they weren’t going to come, or they were going to be walking away bored.

“I didn’t know what to expect, and then I was out there and people were coming and staying and the kids were in awe. It was unbelievable. I was very proud.”

As many first-time authors discover, the gap between a completed work and a product on the shelves can prove to be the most challenging to span.

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Lecourezos envisioned her “Young World Travelers” concept in movie form, going as far as writing a screenplay and pitching it to large producers like Disney, Lions Gate and National Geographic.

Still living in New York and trying to find a suitable publisher, Lecourezos’ search moved to the back burner when tragedy struck her family. Within a six-month span, Lecourezos’ husband, Constantinos, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, which was followed by her mother’s death from leukemia.

“When he was still alive we had made plans that we were going to move to Tarpon and we were going to open up my shop,” Lecourezos said. “We never made it here together as a family, though.

“They both passed, we buried both of them here in Tarpon, and then my daughter and I moved here.”

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After settling into the community and opening up Given With Love (named by her husband) the “Young World Travelers” series caught its first big break last year.

Lecourezos was advised to contact a publisher in Georgia, Janet Green, a Tarpon Springs High School graduate. Green, owner of The Word Verve Inc., quickly got on board and had Lecourezos reach out to one of her company’s designers. That illustrator ended up being Rick Sanders, also a Tarpon High alum.

“I really wanted local people with me to be able to say ‘local artists team together,’ ” Lecourezos said. “I really like that concept.”

Writer, illustrator and publisher all found each other by mid-January of this year and Lecourezos’ 43-page debut was in hard copy form just months later.

“It really looks amazing, I love how it came out,” she said. “The illustrations are bright and bold and colorful and fun. The little ones like that.”

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Following the successful launch of “Magical Crystal Ball,” Lecourezos said she’s targeting early January, Epiphany time, for the release of the series’ next installment when the children travel to Greece.

Lecourezos said she already has the first four books written and will probably wait about six months between each release. The two after Greece explore Egypt and England, and Lecourezos’ daughter will then select where the series goes next.

“I was asking her for her opinion throughout the whole process,” Lecourezos said of 9-year-old Katerina. “She’s my audience, really. I always listen to what she and the other children have to say.”

To buy “Young World Travelers and the Magical Crystal Globe,” go to store, or go to Given With Love, at 526 Athens St.

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