How a local author breaks traditional storytelling with her new kid’s book
Eleni Fuiaxis, a professional model, actress, elementary school teacher, and mother of two from Astoria, can now add published Children’s author to her already expansive resume. Best known for her role as Debbie in the hit HBO series Sex and the City, she hopes to reignite reading and storytelling in schools with a brand new book series designed to help parents and teachers engage and connect with kids.
The first book in the series, “Picky Patrick,” was something she started writing eight years ago as a labor of love. Fuiaxis said that she always enjoyed reading to her kids at night, but would always return home from work exhausted.
“I was so tired by the end of the night,” Fuiaxis said, “I made up these stories for them.”
Her children loved the stories so much that she began to write them down. In fact, her son Zen was so inspired by one of the stories that he asked her if he could make copies of the book to sell to his friends. It was at that moment she became determined to publish them.
But as soon as she found a publisher, everything suddenly came undone. “My marriage fell apart,” she said. “I had no idea what I was doing with myself and my life.”
Fuiaxis said this was when she embarked on a journey of self-discovery. It was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic that she decided to become certified to teach.
“The modeling and acting industry were completely annihilated,” she said. “And so many teachers were getting sick, retiring, and walking off the job.”
Feeling compelled to help serve in any way that she can, she quickly found herself thrown into the classroom. “It was intense,” she said. “But I have no regrets. It’s one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever done.”
Since the children connected organically with the characters in her book, she decided to add 14 different prompts at the end, to serve as a springboard for deep and meaningful conversations.
“Picky Patrick,” tells the story of an 8-year-old boy who seemingly has it all, but spends all of his time nitpicking and choosing to focus on the negative things.
One day, after reading the book to her class, she said that a student approached her with a dilemma–they accidentally colored outside of the lines. That was when a fellow classmate stood up and said, “remember Picky Patrick… it doesn’t have to be perfect.”
“Kids are literally teaching each other how to self-soothe and problem solve,” she said. “It really connected with them… now, coming out of COVID, they need time to connect more than ever.”
Fuiaxis also said that she has finished three more manuscripts for the collection–“Smelly Nelly,” “Scared Steven,” and “Negative Nathan”–which she plans to release at a future date. Her first book in “The Kids We Love” series, “Picky Patrick,” will be released by Mascot Kids and available at major booksellers on July 12.