“Manny the Meatball” is the main character in a series of children’s books created by Greek Australian teacher and author, Melissa Georgiou.
Ms Georgiou moved to Finland from Australia seven years ago and through her books, she aspires to help both children and parents to deal with emotional challenges by means of mindfulness techniques that are presented in a fun and simple way.
Managing strong and painful feelings such as anger and sadness is no easy task, especially if the one experiencing them is a young child. Parents often find themselves at a loss when they are faced with their offspring’s terrible tantrums or when they try to help their young ones develop a more positive mindset.
Melissa told Neos Kosmos that she got her inspiration from her son, Milo. Sparing young Milo the lecture, she wanted to find a gentle and fun way to talk about his outbursts of anger and present him with a more constructive way of addressing his discomfort. Speaking on behalf of most parents, the author explained that big emotions such as anger and sadness as well as striving for perfection can be overwhelming for developing brains, and sometimes parents also need help with the emotional stuff.
While most parents recognize meatballs as a staple of Greek cuisine, young readers are most likely to identify with Manny, the Meatball, who is a lovely little fellow going through emotional ups and downs and often has to rise over common inhibitive thinking patterns. He achieves all that with the help of his companions, including Benjamin Broccoli and Crispy Carrot, while Sage the wise aunty is there for him when he needs support to mindfully sail through more “challenging times.”
The books aim to be not only entertaining but also educational contributing to the development of a stronger bond between parents and children in today’s busy world. Apart from a sweet and enjoyable story, the books also contain research-based notes for parents enabling them to have a meaningful conversation with their children.
The book series was published in Finland in September and is available in Finnish and in English. The whole project has been infused with an international element of creativity as Shirley Harvey from Canada drew the illustrations, a Finnish national living in a remote forest cabin made the series design and an Australian created the promotional video.