B Is for Brooklyn

B Is for Brooklyn

by Selina Alko
     
 

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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.

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Alko (My Subway Ride), among the most visually eloquent promoters of junior-sized urbanism, turns her talents to the multicultural New York City borough of Brooklyn. It’s a love letter through and through—there isn’t even a scintilla of Portlandia-style spoofery—with Alko’s outpouring of affection limited only by the physical capacity of the pages. “C,” for example, includes Carroll Gardens, Court Street, Cherry Esplanade, and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank’s clock tower, along with Coney Island and its subsidiary “C” words (clam bar, cotton candy, Cyclone). Each letter’s visual mélange, rendered in thick, saturated gouache and collaged elements (Alko is particularly fond of maps and the New York Times), exudes an appropriately artisanal vibe as it mashes together Brooklynites of every stripe (a Hasidic family, laptop-gazing “Intellectuals,” transplants from around the world) just as the borough itself does. The visual shout-outs are fun as well, heralding the contributions of chocolatier Jacques Torres, Junior’s Cheesecake, and even Walt Whitman. It’s a loving tribute that successfully captures Brooklyn’s diversity and character. Ages 2–6. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

“Alko's cheery mixed-media collages feature everything from ticket stubs to subway tiles to tearings from the New York Times best-seller list, accompanied by broad-brush paintings of the city's multicultural inhabitants. In this spirited rendition of Brooklyn, a baby-toting mother celebrates the local outdoor pleasures alongside an interracial couple, a mustachioed gentleman in his 50s and a blond girl in a wheelchair. A particularly gorgeous Mermaid Parade struts by for the letter M. With hoopla like this, wavering Manhattanites may wind up in Fort Greene rather than Larchmont.” —The New York Times

“The most colorful, populous borough of New York City comes alive in this eye-popping alphabet book.” —School Library Journal

“...a loving tribute that successfully captures Brooklyn's diversity and character.” —Publishers Weekly, starred

“...a welcome celebration of its rich ethnic, culinary, racial and religious diversity.” —Kirkus

“The artwork is bright, clear, and just a little surreal as subway maps and grids are incorporated into most of the paintings.” —School Library Journal on My Subway Ride

“Funky, fun gouache and mixed-media illustrations . . . refreshingly nondidactic story.” —Booklist on I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother

“[The book] will certainly be appreciated by biracial families, and the loving and anticipatory atmosphere may connect with any expectant family wondering who the new baby will take after.” —School Library Journal on I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother

Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
Alphabet books are a genre of their own; however in recent years, a subgenre has developed which uses the ABC approach to extoll the glories of a particular region, state, or city. In this case, hip-hop artist Sean Qualls' wife has produced a busy tribute to their home turf in Brooklyn. Each page throws together quintessentially Brooklyn places, foods and other referents with pictures of each. The page for L, for example, has a Lox & Bagels as large as a Library building and Lefferts Garden, along with a little bit of lemon ice. This is essentially a visual catalog. Brooklynites of all ages are likely to enjoy talking about their own favorite places or even coming up with entries they would have included. Outsiders may enjoy the lively colors and graphics, even though the particulars may seem to be a random assortment. The book might inspire some classrooms to come up with their own local alphabet book. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—The most colorful, populous borough of New York City comes alive in this eye-popping alphabet book. Beginning with a neighborhood map, each page is an exuberant celebration of the myriad places and people within. There are antique shops along Atlantic Avenue, the aquarium, the Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island, the public library and museums, bridges, playgrounds, a petting zoo at Prospect Park, stoop sales, street fairs. … Hungry? Locals have a hot dog at Nathan's or some cheesecake at Junior's. There's also pizza, egg creams, Italian ices, borscht, sausage, and falafel. Arabic shop signs, the Russian Baths, and the West Indian Parade are more evidence of this borough of immigrants. People of diverse skin tones and dress populate the pages. A dreadlocked dad pushes a baby stroller, a tattooed tough chick hangs out under the Brooklyn Bridge, and a Hasidic man appears with his family in Williamsburg. Writers and intellectuals sitting with laptops at neighborhood cafes, a street musician playing the xylophone on Avenue X, shoppers with turbans or hijabs, children running to the ice-cream truck-all call Brooklyn "home." Subtle elements including bits of street maps, postage stamps, fabric swatches, tickets, and crossword puzzles are incorporated into the vibrant, gouache-and-collage illustrations. A must-have for local libraries.—Barbara Auerbach, P.S. 217, Brooklyn, New York
Kirkus Reviews
An engaging and hip alphabetical trip through the largest and most populous of New York City's five boroughs--Kings County--better known as Brooklyn. The Canadian-born Alko embraces her adopted borough. She's a curious and avid collector of human experience and visual delights. The book is organized alphabetically but eccentrically. For example, "ornaments," "Ocean Parkway," "organic foods" and the "Old Stone House" (George Washington's headquarters during the Battle of Brooklyn) all appear on the same letter "O" page. Despite these and other Brooklyn "insider" choices, readers will be attracted by the book's kid-centric style and hold on for the Cyclonelike roller-coaster ride ("C"--"Coney Island") because of the book's celebratory look and feel. Kaleidoscopic mixed-media pages (gouache and collage) are chockablock with vibrant images that fairly burst from the pages. A pleasantly informative author's note and a rudimentary map attempt to orient and situate the reader. Though families who seek a simple and straightforward "A is for apple"–style alphabet book will be disappointed, the more venturesome will want to pay a visit to Brooklyn and return to sample the book's (and borough's) vitality over and over again. It is said that one in every seven Americans has Brooklyn roots; this lively love song to Brooklyn's 2.5 million people and nearly 82 square miles is a welcome celebration of its rich ethnic, culinary, racial and religious diversity. (Picture book. 3-7)
The New York Times
…a charming alphabet book extolling the neighborhood's virtues…Alko's cheery mixed-media collages feature everything from ticket stubs to subway tiles to tearings from the New York Times best-seller list, accompanied by broad-brush paintings of the city's multicultural inhabitants.
—Pamela Paul

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805092134
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
08/21/2012
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
358,766
Product dimensions:
10.30(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
2 - 6 Years

Meet the Author

Selina Alko has illustrated several picture books and is the creator of I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother. She lives in Brooklyn with her family. The paintings for B is for Brooklyn are currently on display at the Brooklyn Public Library.

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