Robbins Library welcomes Dorow's true tale of hero granddad

Alexandra (Lexi) Dorow, 10, with her grandfather, Elias G. KatsosAlexandra (Lexi) Dorow with Elias G. Katsos, her grandfather.

Robbins Library staff has welcomed a new author to the Local Author Shelf -- 10-year-old Alexandra (Lexi) Dorow and her book, Papou is My Hero: A Story About World War II, have been included in library’s catalogue and available for checkout.

The book tells the story of Dorow’s grandfather, Elias G. Katsos, and his experiences as a young soldier during WWII. Born in Somerville, Katsos was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, when he was 18. Katsos has lived in Arlington since he married Constantina Speros, more than 50 years ago.

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Dorow entered her work in a statewide PTA Reflections contest for young writers in New Hampshire, and it took the top honor, gaining her an entry into the national level of the writing competition.

Dorow says that she was inspired to write about her grandfather’s service after reading the popular Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne.

Spark for military history

Learning about George Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware in Revolutionary War on Wednesday sparked Dorow’s interest in military history. Dorow learned that her grandfather had also served in a war and wanted to learn more about his experiences.

Dorow and Katsos have always been close, but until Dorow began her research, she did not know much about Katsos’s wartime experiences. Dorow’s research included learning more about WWII history, as well as conducting interviews with her grandfather.

Dorow said her favorite part of the project was learning more about WWII, including living conditions for young men like her grandfather. Learning about field life, including the small front- line tents and the the famed “D Ration” high-calorie survival chocolate bars brought the war experience to life for Dorow.

Katsos’s unit served in the WWII invasion of Normandy. Katsos moved through France and Holland with his unit until he was seriously injured in a bombing. He spent two days at a field hospital before he was evacuated to Belgium, finally landing at a hospital in Sudbury, England.

Purple Heart recipient

After four months of recovery, Katsos went back to serve on the front lines in Holland, moving into Germany. He returned home in December, 1945. Katsos was awarded a Purple Heart, an honor given to service people wounded in action.

Katsos, happily surprised that Dorow chose to take on the project, said he enjoyed sharing stories with Dorow and that the experience “brought back many memories.”

He added: “It was sad, I was really missing my buddies. I'm telling the story for all of those who can't.” He is proud of his granddaughter bringing the story to life.

After writing nonfiction, Dorow has moved to fiction with a work titled Emma’s Magic Healing. This story is also inspired by a real-life event: an injured chicken that magically heals after gaining a positive mind-set.

Library visitors can find Papou is My Hero: A Story About World War II at the Local Author Shelf in the Robbins Library Reading Room, or through the library’s catalogue.

This news feature was published Tuesday, March 5, 2019.