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Literature

Gino Cafarelli’s Athena Visits the Marina Inspired by His Daughter

NEW YORK – Athena Visits the Marina is the first children’s book written by Gino Cafarelli, a multitalented Italian-American actor and filmmaker from Queens. He was inspired to write the book by his daughter Athena, who was born with a hearing loss and now shares her name with the book’s title character and protagonist.

The book tells the story of Athena, a little girl who was born with a hearing loss and has a daily routine that she follows every day, including putting in her hearing aids.

Her routine changes slightly, however, when she takes a trip with her parents to the marina. Athena’s amplified hearing introduces her to a few fun friends by the water, turning the trip into a magical sound adventure. 

Athena Visits the Marina offers readers the opportunity to discover, alongside Athena, the amazing things that can happen in unexpected places. The book is geared towards readers in grades 1-2 and includes a section on key vocabulary words young readers can “look out for.”

Charming illustrations by Tristan Tait highlight the book which Cafarelli “dedicated to all children born deaf or with a hearing loss. And to Athena’s Yaya and Pappou (grandparents), Libby and Mike Angeliades. Efcharisto!”

“My daughter Athena was born with hearing loss. She’s seven now and she’s adapted so beautifully, but I just wanted to do something in the hearing loss and deaf community,” Cafarelli said on the book’s website. “Some may see it as a disability, but it’s also become kind of like a superpower.”

Of the idea for the book, Cafarelli said that “we were either driving to or from the airport in Greece, I can’t remember, but we passed by the marina and I just thought oh Athena, Marina that’s cool, and it just stuck.”

As his daughter Athena grew, Cafarelli noted the lack of content available for children with hearing loss. One day, during a weekly visit to the book store, the two ideas came together. “Suddenly I was like BINGO! I’ll walk before I run and do a children’s book about a girl who has a hearing loss.”

Cafarelli researched extensively and eventually found a publisher who was as excited about the project as he was. He has high hopes for the book and is looking forward to the role it will play in his legacy for Athena. “It’s a beautiful story and if you do something from the heart and with authenticity it’s always going to catch on because you put the time, passion, and love into it,” he said.

A proud Italian-American, Cafarelli’s parents came to New York from the small town of Pietrapertosa, province of Potenza, in the Basilicata region of Italy in the 1960’s. His first language was Italian which he still speaks fluently and learned English in school like many children of immigrants. He attended Holy Cross High School and graduated from St. John's University with a degree in management. In his 30-year film career, Cafarelli has worked with Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Tom Hardy, Hugh Jackman, Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, Matt Damon, and Martin Scorsese.

Among his credits, Cafarelli appeared in the award-winning Scorsese film, The Irishman, and his latest movie, Capone, is available on all video on demand platforms.

Athena Visits the Marina by Gino Cafarelli is available online: https://athenavisitsthemarina.com.

Follow on Instagram @ginocafarelli.

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