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Raise A Glass For Literacy 

Huntington’s James Perez releases his book, “Maia and Icarus,” on Friday.

A local author will debut his first book for young readers Friday and use the happy occasion to promote literacy in developing countries.

Huntington resident James Perez will discuss and sign his first book, “Maia and Icarus,” a mythological tome aimed at pre-teen readers, at 7 p.m. Friday at Book Revue in Huntington. The event and a subsequent after-party at XO Restaurant will raise money for global literacy organization Room to Read.

Perez, who works in the North Shore School District as an elementary school psychologist and recently opened a private practice, can directly pinpoint when he caught the writing bug: It was the summer of 2007, when the final installment of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series came out.

“I was kinda bummed out when the last one came out, and I said, ‘Maybe I can write the next Harry Potter series’,” he said with a laugh.

What followed was the story of Maia Peterson, a Long Island seventh-grader who, after a fire over summer break damaged her home, discovered a secret that landed her in Greece and discovered a hidden world where the gods of Olympus continue to reign.

Perez said the storyline reflects a lifelong love of Greek mythology.

“When I was a kid, I was fascinated with the story of Icarus,” he said. “I had this idea that when he fell he didn’t die, and it kind of went from there.”

The name Maia was drawn from that of his niece, as well as from Greek mythology.

“When I was looking up about who Maia was in Greek mythology, that kind of gave me the idea to make that connection,” he said. “It kind of all just jelled together.”

All of Perez’ proceeds from Friday’s book signing will benefit Room to Read, which works to promote literacy and gender equality in education throughout Asia and Africa. They hope to reach 10 million children by 2015.

The XO Restaurant after-party will support the foundation’s Beers for Books program, in which $1 from every drink sold is donated to Room to Read. Each $1 donation is enough to produce a high-quality local language book. Since starting in February 2009, Beers for Books has funded over 180,000 books, and more are on the way.

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