REVIEW: Yiayia Visits Amalia by Maria G. Mackavey

Maria G. Mackavey’s colorful children’s book, Yiayia Meets Amalia, follows a grandmother’s trip to visit her granddaughter.


Meet Author Maria Georgiopoulos Mackavey

Born in Athens, at the age of two, Maria G. Mackavey and her family moved to Northern Rhodesia – now known as Zambia. Due to political and social turmoil in Africa and surrounding areas, at age 14, Maria, along with her mother and sister, returned to Greece. Her father stayed.


“My father tried to salvage his business under the new government. Sadly, he lost everything and returned to Greece with no prospects or anything from his business efforts while in Africa,” Maria explained.


After several difficult years, he eventually found work, as the General Manager of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce in Athens.  


My father worked closely with the American Embassy and the Greek government, and turned it into a true Chamber of Commerce that encouraged and assisted American businesses seeking to do business in Greece. He represented the American Embassy at the annual Thessaloniki International Economic Fair until he retired in 1979 from cancer.”


Maria’s father was an officer in the Greek Royal Air Force.During the German Occupation, he was smuggled out of Greece and joined the British Royal Air Force in Cairo in their fight against the Germans in North Africa.


“He lost a brother in the Greek Civil War and left for Africa seeking a better and more peaceful life for his family. Sadly, his new life was destroyed. Returning to Greece, they once again reconstructed their lives. Throughout their lives, my parents lived with dignity and courage and provided love, stability and encouragement to my sister and me.”


Maria attended the American Community School in Athens. After, she received a Fulbright Travel Grant and a full scholarship from the State University of New York at Albany. There she earned a BA and MA in English Literature. She taught college English for several years, and then returned to school to complete a doctorate in Educational Administration and Leadership at Boston University.


A career in academia

For 15 years, Maria taught in the graduate program at the School of Management at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, and then for seven years, she taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at Hellenic College/Holy Cross in Brookline, MA. She also taught and served as a consultant for the US Office of Personnel Management in supervision, communication, writing, at all levels of federal and state employees, for 20 years.

During this time, Maria began to publish and present widely on work and family, human resources management issues, and curriculum development at the graduate level using competence based models. She also developed and taught leadership curriculum for parish priests at Holy Cross School of Theology.

Maria co-authored a book with Richard Levin on work and family entitled, Shared Purpose: Working Together to Build Strong Families and High-Performance Companies (AMACOM 1998).


A new career as a children’s book author

In 2013, as she was preparing to leave the world of academia, she wrote and illustrated her first children’s book, The Artist and the Lava Beast (AuthorHouse).

Her second children’s book, Yiayia Visits Amalia, was inspired by her three year-old granddaughter, Amalia.


“Two years ago, at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) winter conference, I was perusing books in the bookstore. I wanted to buy a book for my granddaughter, who was obsessed with cars and trucks. I couldn’t find any featuring cars or other modes of transportation, so I decided to write one myself.”


About Yiayia Visits Amalia

The main character, Yiayia, like Maria, lives in a different city than her granddaughter, and has to use various forms of transportation when she visits Amalia. After writing the story, through a mutual contact, she met illustrator Bee Johnson, whose colorful illustrations bring the story to life.



Yiayia Visits Amalia is a story that even the smallest of children can enjoy. With colorful, fun illustrations, we follow Yiayia as she travels to visit her granddaughter, Amalia. Kids learn about multiple modes of transportation, and even also that grandchildren are so loved and so important, that they are worth all that effort to travel for a visit. Both boys and girls will enjoy this book.


What’s Next

Maria is currently working on two children’s books, one of which is another YiaYia and Amalia adventure.


Follow Maria on Facebook.


Get a copy of Yiayia Visits Amalia on Amazon.


Yiayia Visits Amalia

By: Maria G. Mackavey; Illustrated by Bee Johnson

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publication Date: October 7, 2015



Other Books by Maria G. Mackavey:

The Artist and the Lava Beast

Shared Purpose: Working Together to Build Strong Families and High-Performance Companies

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