- Vagelis IliopoulosAuthor–Greece
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Vagelis Iliopoulos is one of the most popular Greek authors, both in Greece and abroad, as well as one of the most important representatives of children's literature in Greece in the 1990s. His first book was published in 1995. Being the son of Greek emigrants from Egypt, the Mediterranean Sea culture runs in Iliopoulos' blood and has influenced all of his literary work. He lives and works in Athens and dedicates his time to children, sharing their thoughts and fears and writing books always inspired by children's concerns and worries. He works hard both as an author and as a promoter of children's literature, believing that "children and books can make this world a better and fairer place to live in."
The pioneering character of the themes he touches on, as well as his style of writing, has become obvious since he started writing books. Writing children's books is like Iliopoulos initiating a "dialogue" with children on issues that the Greek society finds difficult to bring up. He strongly believes that "children can be told everything as long as someone finds the proper way to do so"; his own unique way is the stories and fairy tales he writes. Today—twenty-two years after his first book and having already written eighty-eight books—Iliopoulos has become the main representative of cross-over picturebooks and short stories, mastering the multiple levels of understanding and being successful in addressing different ages of readers.
Iliopoulos, being an excellent narrator and always experimenting with the form and meaning of words, does not hesitate to apply pioneering narration techniques. He often writes open-ended stories—allowing the readers to "try" different versions of endings, interpreting the story in their own way; thus, in their own way, Iliopoulos' books assume both a psychological and a pedagogical role as children identify themselves with the book characters and project their unconscious on them. The language he uses is particularly rich, full of neologisms, helping the expression of meaning at multiple levels of understanding.
Universal values that have no nationality or color govern Iliopoulos' literary work, and this is the main reason why he is one of the Greek authors whose books have been widely translated. Indeed, Iliopoulos' books are beyond time and place. In 1997, Iliopoulos created the most popular Greek literary hero in a series of picturebooks: The Little Triangle Fish. This yellow triangle fish established itself as one of the most popular children's literature heroes, making Vagelis Iliopoulos one of the most popular Greek authors. Since 1997, this feisty, optimistic, and imaginative little fish that effectively exists in a miniature underwater version of human society has been schooling children on socially-relevant issues—such as exclusion, war, threats to the environment, equal rights, and tolerance. [End Page 22]