Growing Up with Loukoumi Teaches Kids The Power of Big Dreams
New York.- Some of todayʼs most successful celebrities have joined together in a new childrenʼs book/CD, titled Growing Up With Loukoumi by Nick Katsoris, to help children discover that they can choose to be whatever they want in life. This message is increasingly important for children as many struggle to find appropriate role models.
The book includes a narrated CD featuring the voices of singing legend Gloria Gaynor (Grammy Award winner for “I Will Survive,”), Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, national CBS correspondent Alexis Christoforous, American Idol Heartthrob Constantine Maroulis, and Guiding Light actor Frank Dicopoulos.
In Growing Up With Loukoumi, a lamb named Loukoumi struggles with what she wants to be when she grows up. She considers becoming a firefighter, a judge or a doctor. As she walks along, she encounters several friends including Gus the bear, Fistiki the cat, Dean the dog and Marika the monkey. Each friend explains to Loukoumi that she can be whatever her heart desires. If she wants to be a singing star, a policeman or even an Oscar winning actress, then she can do it! The key is that she must always believe in herself, stay positive and work hard because “if you believe in yourself, your dreams will come true!”
Each celebrity voices a character that encourages Loukoumi to reach for her dreams, which is especially meaningful when being heard from such inspirational and successful adults. For example, in the book Marika the monkey voiced by Dukakis says she wants to be a great actor and win an Oscar, an accomplishment Dukakis has achieved in her own career. The character of Dean the dog, voiced by Dicopoulos says he wants to be a police captain, a role that Dicopoulos has played on Guiding Light for over 20 years.
The CD also includes an original song from Gloria Gaynor called, “Believe, ” as well as the original Loukoumi book narrated by Olympia Dukakis and featuring the aforementioned character voices. The premiere of the book and the CD will be at an event at the Childrenʼs Museum of Manhattan on Sunday afternoon November 5th featuring a live celebrity reading and the world premiere of “Believe” as Gloria Gaynor will sing the original song live.
Growing Up with Loukoumi, (November 2006) is the 2nd in the Loukoumi series of books, published by Nick Katsoris. $2 from the sale of each book/CD will benefit a national childrenʼs charity. The first book, Loukoumi, (www.loukoumi.com) told the tale of the lamb trying to make her way to America. Katsoris completed a 15 city book signing tour with Barnes & Noble and the book received strong reviews from many outlets, including The New York Times. The book has also launched a Loukoumi plush toy to complement the book. In March 2006, The Livanis Publishing Organization in Athens, Greece purchased the foreign rights to the book, translated it into Greek and distributed it throughout Europe. Growing Up With Loukoumi will also be translated with a narration by Greek pop superstar Anna Vissi and her daughter Sophia Karvelas.
Having recently become a father, author Nick Katsoris is delighted to venture into the world of children’s literature and plans to design a series of books around Loukoumi and her friends, Dean, Fistiki and Marika. Katsoris is a New York attorney and since 1995 has served as General Counsel of the Red Apple Group. A graduate of Fordham Law School, Nick is Entertainment Editor for the Hellenic Times newspaper, and the author of the legal thriller Crimes of Fire (www.crimesoffire.com). Nick is also an advocate of education and in 1989 founded the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund.
“When I first created the character of Loukoumi the lamb,” said Katsoris, “I wanted to create not only something that children would enjoy, but also that they could learn from. The new book in the series teaches children that they can be anything they want to in life, whether it is a doctor, or a lawyer or a movie star, through hard work and dedication. I am so grateful to all the celebrities who generously donated their time to help convey this message. They have achieved their dreams in their lives and in their careers, showing kids that anything is possible.”
OLYMPIA DUKAKIS – “Marika”
Olympia Dukakis serves as narrator of the original Loukoumi book and also as the character voice of Marika the monkey on both recordings. Ms. Dukakisʼ brilliant career spans over 40 years in films, stage and television. In 1988, Ms. Dukakis received an Academy Award in The Best Supporting Actress Category, The New York Film Critics Award, The Los Angeles Film Critics Award and The Golden Globe Award for her role in The Norman Jewison Film Moonstruck. Ms. Dukakis has also starred in Steel Magnolias, Mr. Hollandʼs Opus with Richard Dreyfuss, Woody Allenʼs Mighty Aphrodite, The Cemetery Club, Picture Perfect with Jennifer Aniston, and The Look Whoʼs Talking movies.
“I think it’s very important for children to hear and know that there are grown-ups who believe that if you work hard and strive for something, it’s possible to have your dreams come true. There is no question that children will confront a lot of obstacles, however, it is important for them to understand that there are possibilities for them. They need to know that adults believe in their potential. Itʼs a message I clearly received from my parents and I’ve tried to give it to my children and to my grandchildren. Growing Up with Loukoumi is the sweetest book and my grandchildren responded to it very strongly. The messages of the book are worth saying.”
GLORIA GAYNOR – “Fistiki”
In Growing Up With Loukoumi, Gloria Gaynor serves as narrator for the book, the voice of Fistiki the Cat and she has graciously lent her singing talents with the original song “Believe.” Like Gloria, Fistiki wants to be a singer and “one day maybe even win a Grammy Award.” In 1980, Gloria Gaynor’s anthem I Will Survive earned her a Grammy Award. She has also appeared on Broadway in Smokey Joeʼs Café, published a bestselling memoir and has received The Legend Award at The World Music Awards.
“The world’s most important discoveries, inventions and things we need to make our lives more comfortable and convenient are made by dreamers,” said Gaynor. “I feel wonderful about the opportunity to do something that I know is going to help young people and children realize their dreams.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS – “Loukoumi”
The character of Loukoumi is voiced by CBS News Anchor and National Correspondent Alexis Christoforous. Alexis has also been News Anchor for the nationally syndicated program “Marketwatch Weekend”, and is a contributing correspondent for The Early Show, CBS Evening News weekend edition and the CBS Radio Network.
“I am thrilled to be the voice of Loukoumi, itʼs quite an honor!” she said. “I read the Loukoumi books to my own two little boys so to be able to come into the recording studio and bring Loukoumi to life has really been a thrill and an honor. I wonder if my sons will realize that the voice of Loukoumi is their Mommy.”
FRANK DICOPOULOS – “Dean”
The character of Dean the dog, who in Growing Up With Loukoumi wants to be a police chief, is voiced by Frank Dicopoulos, who has been playing police chief Frank Cooper on Guiding Light since September 1987. Dicopoulos also recently won A Silver Telly Award for his latest television project “On the Set,” which is a behind-the-scenes making of Guiding Light.
“The most important thing a child can have is dreams,” said Dicopoulos. “Without dreams I don’t think there is any future. I think children are so creative and always live in a fantasy world, so to encourage them at a young age to have these dreams is probably the biggest gift you could ever give them.”
CONSTANTINE MAROULIS – “Gus”
The character of Gus the bear is voiced by American Idol’s Constantine Maroulis, who was a finalist on the hugely popular FOX television show “American Idol” in 2005. He is currently developing a sitcom for ABC, and he plans to release a solo album next year. This Fall Constantine starred on MTV’s Little Talent Show: Triple Threat and can currently be seen on Broadway in The Wedding Singer.
“Itʼs so important for parents to get behind their kids dreams and to offer them the opportunities, the education and the tools that they need. Following your dreams is so vital. I think more and more young parents are really being even more supportive of their kids taking risks and going after their dreams. Iʼm so excited about this awesome project!”
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How are you? I hope all is going well. I wanted to send you the attached information on my new Loukoumi children’s book titled Growing Up With Loukoumi. It will be released November 6th including a narrated CD by Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis, Grammy winner Gloria Gaynor, American Idol’s Constantine Maroulis, Guiding Light star Frank Dicopoulos and CBS MarketWatch anchor Alexis Christoforous. The book teaches children that they can do whatever they want in life if they believe in themselves. Please see attached press release and other materials. The CD will also be benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation.