BSCkids recently got the opportunity to interview children’s book author and artist, Selina Alko about her latest release, “B is for Brooklyn.” She spoke about how she came up with the idea for the storybook, as well as her favorite letter in the book.
“What do Prospect Park, Coney Island, and Atlantic Avenue have in common? They are all located in Brooklyn, New York, a magical place where you can listen to jazz music, eat bagels and lox, and sit on the stoop of a brownstone and daydream. Children will recognize aspects of their own neighborhoods in this celebration of urban culture and community.”
BSCkids: Selina Alko
How did you come up with the idea for B is for Brooklyn? And with so many things for each letter how did you decide on what would make the cut?
I wanted to do a book about Brooklyn and an alphabet book seemed like a great opportunity to make all about the visuals and include as many details as possible. As far as deciding what would make the cut, I brainstormed and researched and tried to include the most important, visually exciting – or my favorite – places and things. My editor also offered suggestions, she wanted to make sure it was kid-friendly enough (ie/ H is for Hot Dog, K is for Kick Ball, etc.,)
What is your favorite letter in the book and why?
I have to say C is for Coney Island. For some reason I settled on a pink palette for the spread and with all the mixed media and collage elements it feels really rich & delicious to me. C is also one of the words with many, many possibilities so I tried to sneak as many secondary words in as possible (ie/ Clam Bar, Cones, Cotton Candy, Cold Drinks, Cheesecake, Cyclone, etc.,)
What letter took you the longest to think of and to draw?
The 2 most challenging letters were Q and X. My editor helped me come up with Q is for bQe, since heavy traffic and driving around Brooklyn is a part of the borough’s culture, and X is for X’ing bridges, for the 3 bridges that link Brooklyn to Manhattan. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge in particular, is a popular activity for many New Yorkers and tourists. Perhaps the X is a bit of a cheat, but with my quirky art somehow I think it works.
For a child reading the book what would you like them to take away after reading it?
A joyful appreciation of Brooklyn’s diversity–– and perhaps some new discoveries too.
How do you feel about the Nets coming to Brooklyn?
I’m not big into sports, but if I do a sequel I’ll bet you can guess what N will be for . . .