Reading Club: Children’s Book (ages 10–12) | Wildcat Under Glass - Εικόνα

In February, the Children’s Reading Club for young booklovers aged 10 to 12 continues its meetings, facilitated by author Angeliki Darlasi. Angeliki Darlasi is a writer of prose and theatrical plays, while she has also engaged with television and cinema. Among her awarded works are: The Boy in the Royal Box, Badboy, When We Hid an Angel, and Dream Guardians.

The book that will be discussed in this month's meeting is The Wildcat Under Glass by Alki Zei.

On Saturday 18/02, our young readers will meet to share impressions, feelings and thoughts, as well as to embark on an imaginary journey, sparked by the book of the month, into the fascinating worlds emerging from its pages. 

The book 

The year is 1936 and Melia and Myrto are spending another summer on their favorite Aegean island, together with their grandfather who speaks to them for hours on end about the “ancient” ones, but also together with their friends who come over from their cribs.  And, of course, they absolutely adore the magical stories about the wildcat recounted by their cousin Nikos, who is a university student in Athens. 

The wildcat — called “kaplani” on the island — is a stuffed tiger locked in a vitrine in the living room. He has one blue and one black eye and uses either the one or the other depending on his mood. 

And depending on their mood, Melia and Myrto communicate in their own secret language: “HA-VE” stands for very happy and “SA-VE” for very sad.

But everything seems to change on a warm August day... What happens that upsets the lives of the girls and the people around them? Is there really someone who wants to harm the wildcat? And why? 

Wildcat Under Glass, Alki Zei’s debut novel, was first published (in Greek) in 1963.  It was a milestone in Greek children’s literature and is now considered a classic of world children’s literature, boasting continuous republications and numerous translations and awards around the world.

If you are one of those people who enjoy a trip back in time, history and stories inspired by real events, strong close friendships, adventures and thrills, we suggest you read this book and join us in discussing it and discovering all of the above through this classic read. 

The author

Alki (Angeliki) Zei (15 December 1923 – 27 February 2020) is considered one of the most important Greek authors and an ambassador of modern Greek literature abroad, given that her oeuvre has been translated into 20 languages and is available in many countries worldwide.

 She spent her early childhood in Samos, her mother’s place of origin. When she started school, her family moved to Maroussi and then to Athens. She studied in the University of Athens School of Philosophy, at the Athens Conservatoire Drama School, and at the Moscow Film School.

Her engagement with writing began during her high school years, when she wrote works for puppet theater, short stories and novellas, which were published in various literary magazines. In addition to writing, she actively fought for freedom, social justice and democracy by participating in the Left movement since the years of the German occupation. 

Between 1952 and 1964, she and her husband, playwright and director George Sevastikoglou, lived as political refugees in the Soviet Union, where both of their children were born. The family returned to Greece in 1964, only to flee again to Paris in 1967 and stay there until the mid-1970s, i.e. for the duration of the junta in Greece.

Most of her books are intended for children and adolescents. Many of her works are inspired by personal experiences, intertwining their plot with historical events. The themes she deals with are the universal concerns of everyday people.

Her teenage novel Tina's Web won the Greek IBBY Best Young Adult Prize in 2003. In 2004, she was nominated for the international awards Hans Christian Andersen and Astrid Lindgren. She received the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for the United States editions of her books Wildcat Under Glass, Petros’ War and Near the Rail Tracks. 

In 2010, she was awarded by the Academy of Athens for her Lifetime Achievement. 

She was awarded honorary doctorates by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Education (FSSE) of the University of Cyprus in 2012, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 2014, and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Patras in 2015.  

In January 2015, she was decorated with the Golden Cross of the Order of Honor, a distinction awarded by the President of the Hellenic Republic to eminent personalities of the arts, sciences and letters. In September 2015, France named her a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres).

The facilitator

A writer of literature for children and young adults, playwright and teacher of creative writing and theater. 

Works and books of hers have been translated into English, Turkish, Korean, Spanish, and French. Her books have been adapted for theater (most recently, The Boy in the Royal Box, by the National Theater of Greece, 2021-2022) and puppetry performances, while some are in the pre-production stage to be adapted into films (on screenplays by the author herself), in Greece and abroad.

She has participated as co-author in productions of the State Theaters of Karlsruhe and Uppsala and the National Theater of Luxembourg (2021 & 2022), and the Union des Théâtres del'Europe (2018). Several plays of hers have been staged in Athens: Lighthouse–SNFCC, Athens Concert Hall, Art Theatre Readers’ Theatre Festival, Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People, Alkmini Theater, Amore Theater–stage B, et al. She has been repeatedly awarded and distinguished for her work (both prose and theatre). 

Since 2006, she has been teaching Creative Writing and/or Theater to adults and children-teenagers, working with both public and private organizations (e.g. The Department of Theatre Studies of the University of Peloponnese, public and private post-secondary vocational schools, Metaichmio Publications, etc.). She is a motivational speaker and facilitator of activities for children and adolescents (creative writing, theater, arts and education, love of reading, etc.).

She holds degrees from the Athens University Department of Theatre Studies and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (MA in Performance Studies).

Activities for children before the Reading Club meeting

A few things that you may want to think and take notes about before our meeting, so we can share and discuss them when we meet:

As Alki Zei is known to have said on several occasions, she wrote her stories inspired by life events that she had experienced. What life events do you think are described in this particular story? These may be both facts relating to the socio-political situation of the time and facts that you may locate in the author’s bio. 

Saturday 18/02
17.30 - 19.00



Up to 22 participants | For children aged 10 to 12
Free admission with online pre-registration

Pre-registration starts on 01/02, at 12.00

To participate in the Reading Club, it is necessary for those who hold a position to have read the book of the month. (It is also useful to have it with them).

Alki Zei’s Wildcat Under Glass is currently available in Greek from Metaichmio Publications. 

Children should always be accompanied by parents or adult attendants who should not be away from the outdoor activity.

As part of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center's collaboration with the National Library of Greece, the book for the Reading Club has been chosen by NLG staff members.

See also

Sunday 23/10, 17:00

Reading Club: Children’s Book (7-9 years old) | The Invisible Tonino


Sunday 20/11, 17:00

Reading Club: Children’s Book (7-9 years old) | Kafka and the Doll


Saturday 29/10, 17:30

Reading Club: Children’s Book (ages 10–12) | Wonder