CULTURE

Coincidences and the secret of friendship

Ilias Makris, the young hero of «To tetradio me tis symptoseis» («The Notebook of Coincidences») by Maria Angelidou, is writing his autobiography. A studious lad with a systematic approach to everything – his room is so tidy he messes it up when his friends come to see him for fear of being thought peculiar – Ilias keeps a series of notebooks. In them he lists all kinds of things, from his favorite games, excursions and friends to big questions about life. Classifying and defining is his way of dealing with the world, whether he is trying not to cry when in pain, facing the fact that he is short for his age (even though his surname means «tall»), or accepting that his mother is the most disorganized woman in the world. His habit stands him in good stead when he starts at a new school where he has to make friends. Ilias has devoted one of his notebooks to consequences, subdivided into what he calls Zero Coincidences, which he says are extraordinary but innumerable, and Coincidences with a Number, which he defines as fewer and more striking. This story, subtitled «A Chapter from the Autobiography of Ilias Makris,» centers around some extraordinary coincidences that start when he sits at the same desk as a tall pupil called Ilias Kontos, whose name means «short.» The Other Ilias, as the hero names him, is a quiet lad. In fact it takes the hero a while to realize that his schoolmate never speaks. But this is no impediment to the growing friendship between the two – one talks and the other writes an occasional note. The Other Ilias is a talented soccer player who shares his skills with his namesake and it is a game of football that brings out the surprising best in both of them. Angelidou uses gentle humor in this engaging tale of everyday events that will resonate with any child learning to make sense of life’s obstacles and challenges. The book is from Papadopoulos publishers’ Reading Flights series, which aims to appeal to children of primary school age by covering a wide range of interests.