Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ice Cream Flavors & Family Trees

I'm pleased to report that the Brooklyn Museum Book Fair was a smashing success. This was partly owing to the dynamic craft activities that Sean and I had going on at our booth. Droves of children came by to make self portrait ice cream cones and draw their own family trees. These simple activities coordinated with the themes of our recent books: Ice cream flavors for, I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother (Knopf) and family lineage for, Who Will I Be, Lord? (Random House). Check out these awesome kids making art!

Monday, November 16, 2009

3rd Annual Brooklyn Museum Children's Book Fair

This Saturday, November 21 from 12 - 4 p.m., I will be signing books at the Brooklyn Museum Children's Book Fair. Come by and say hello! This is a great chance to get some nifty signed books for the Holidays! There will be book readings and craft activities too! And while you're there, why not visit the Museum's new Egyptian exhibit? Many of my talented author and illustrator friends are participating, including: R. Gregory Christie, Zetta Elliot, Shana Corey, Melanie Hope Greenberg, Lauren Castillo, Paul Hoppe, Meghan McCarthy, Sean Qualls, Shadra Strickland, Peter Brown and David Ezra Stein.

Brooklyn Museum
Rubin Pavilion
200 Eastern Parkway

Saturday, November 21, 2009
12 - 4 p.m.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Delicious Mixed Media

Being an illustrator and a parent around Halloween is scary pressure for me. Crafty costume makers come out of the closet everywhere and the things people come up with for their children can be pretty darn cool. Last year someone in the neighborhood made a sushi suit for her son. As an artist, it is expected that your children will be THE most original trick-or-treaters in town (in reality, I'm the one who puts these expectations on myself!) This year right off the bat the pressure was off with my eldest, who chose to be none other than Spiderman. Who am I to kill his super-hero dreams? Hey, it makes my life easier... However, since my youngest is still too little to have a say either way, this year she was my creative canvas. I decided my little Ginger would be a gingerbread girl– and her stroller would be a gingerbread house. Pretty yummy, huh? I have to say I had some fun with cardboard boxes (gingerbread), white paint (icing), candy, marshmallows, licorice and, of course, my handy glue gun. After some trial + error (it turns out chocolate doesn't hold well with hot glue!), the house was constructed, and I made cute candy buttons velcroed onto a dress for G to wear. Luckily on Halloween eve, it only drizzled mildly so the stroller wasn't too sticky and Ginger stayed in her dress for the entire night. The funniest thing was witnessing kids completely high on sugar, actually lick the candy right off the gingerbread house. To quote Spiderman, this happened, "for real."

Monday, October 26, 2009

"The Big Talk", X-rated illustrations.

I got a call a few weeks ago from Time Out New York Kids asking if I was interested in illustrating their cover story on "The Big Talk", teaching kids the facts of life. I jumped at the opportunity to illustrate such a racy subject! The myriad of symbols stimulated my imagination, and I was mentally doodling birds and bees before I finished emailing the art director back. My original concept for the main illustration was changed around a lot and they went with a small sketch of a bathtub scene. Time Out NY was very specific about wanting the illustrations to reflect real New York locations, so the bathroom had to be cramped, cluttered and definitely pre-war. It's been a while since I did an editorial assignment and the quick turn-around time gave me a run for my money. But in the end, at least I learned a thing or 2 about what I might say to my little ones when the time is right!

The November issue of the magazine just hit the newsstands.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween, the BBG & Books

This Sunday is the annual Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Ghouls & Gourds Festival. It's a super-fun seasonal outing for the whole family, featuring children's book authors and illustrators, a wacky costume parade, recycled junk instruments, live music, crafts and activities. I will be there signing books– so come on by the book barn to say hello! Kids under 12 are free! It's a good opportunity to see the Garden's gorgeous fall colors and a chance to have your child test run his/her Halloween costume (without the trick-or-treating sugar high and inevitable crash...)! Hooray for Halloween, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and books, of course!

Sunday, October 25th, 2009
noon - 6 PM
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SI Workshop Disclaimer

Ok. So I may have mislead you about this children's book workshop Sean and I are giving. I sort of billed it as a 'make your dream come true by writing your inner children's story'... since, of course, everyone has a children's book they want to write, or at least an idea that is destined to be a Dr. Seuss-style classic. Don't get me wrong, our workshop should provide would-be children's book illustrators with handy tips & info about the biz, as well as (hopefully) plenty 'o inspiration. Please note: Sean and I are primarily illustrators, and this workshop (held at The Society of Illustrators) is mainly geared toward visual artists. Between us, we have published precisely ONE book that was authored by exactly ONE of us, and that single person just happens to be me. In other words, our writing-for-children expertise is minimal. Truth be told, for the past year or so I've been working on developing a few new stories and it hasn't come easy. Finding my own voice and creating a narrative is a whole new world! I'm used to sketching, making book dummies, painting, gluing down collage and doing all things visual. I have ideas, but the words do not come as easy. Despite my single publication, I hesitate to even label myself an author. In any event, together with Sean we have illustrated over 10 books, and with my experience in writing thus far, we hope to offer some useful advise for newbies out there!

Before you sign up, here are some basics:

- most children's picture books are 32 - 40 pages
- children's book text alone is about 2 pages
- the Publisher likes to match up illustrator with author (unless you do both!)
- SCBWI.org (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) - if you're just starting out this site is a great resource.

Please don't let my disclaimer stop you from coming to our workshop! It's on October 28th, and coincides with the Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators. It should be chock full of inspiration... at the very least!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dime Bag Paintings

I'll be in a group show with 200 artists this July at Giant Robot NY , curated by Jordin Isip and Rodger Stevens.  Each piece of art fits into a 3" x 3" clear dime bag, and will be hung in a grid-like fashion side by side.  This is the third show of this sort (Dime Bag 3), and the first that I'll be participating in.  With the theme totally open-ended, I had some fun creating on a small scale and was inspired by some key things close to my heart: New York, my family and ice-cream.  

I think these work as a series, but I had to chose just one for the show (it has already been submitted).  Do you have a favorite? 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Caramel Chocolate Licorice Lollipop Family

I did a school visit this week at EXPLORE, a charter school in Brooklyn.  Here are some amazing pictures that some kids drew of their families after I read, I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother.  My favorite is one girl's drawing, which she called 'My Caramel Chocolate Licorice Lollipop Family'.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

PEANUT BUTTER is Terrific for Toddlers!

MAY 2009 Parents Magazine picks I'M YOUR PEANUT BUTTER BIG BROTHER (Knopf) as a book to help teach kids about the world.  Yahoo!

The article, 'Around the World One Story at a Time', highlights several books to achieve this goal.  "We all want to raise kids who respect people of different races, cultures, and religions.  But what if your child doesn't live or go to school in an environment where she can learn firsthand about other ethnicities?  That's where stories that celebrate the world's diversity come in... There are so many wonderful children's books that open a window into diverse experiences.  We've picked out a few of our favorites." (Page 40)

I love that I am listed along with some of MY absolute fave author/illustrators, such as Karen Katz and Marjorie Priceman.  Way way back when I had just graduated from Art School, I was given a copy of Priceman's, "How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World" by an editor at Knopf .  She told me to study it, as she said (to the best of my recollection, it was a LONG time ago!) that it was an example of spectacular story-telling.  I fell in love with the naive, playful illustrations and the whimsical story of a girl who travels around the world gathering ingredients to make her pie.   I have constantly referred to the book over the years for inspiration, and the well worn copy is still on my (and sometimes my children's) book shelves today.  You can only imagine how thrilled, and honored, I was when I picked up a copy of Parents Magazine and saw that MY debut book as author/illustrator was included in this awesome book's company!  

Just one more quick note before I sign off.  I recently read a funny comment from a reader of a blog which reviewed Peanut Butter Big Brother.  Maureen wrote: "Oh, I just read this last week! It was a wonderful book. Is it awful to say it made me hungry?"


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sean + Selina at the Hootenanny

Hootenanny Art House  is featuring original art work and prints from our books.  Sunday was the opening party and overall it was a blast!   At times overwhelming, but mostly just a thrill for Sean and I to share our work and sip wine (+ juice boxes) with the neighborhood community.  This is the first joint show we have ever done, and I must say it was pretty cool to put the whole thing together.  The Hoot is a local Art House in Park Slope where kid's music, movement and art classes, birthday parties and other events take place.  It's a cozy neighborhood space with owners Kira + Pete (dancer/musician team) behind the scenes.  The work stays up through July.  Prints, original art and children's books are for sale.

Hootenanny Art House
15th Street, 8th Avenue 
Park Slope, Brooklyn

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

7 Kicks in March

  •  I will be featured on 7 KICKS; 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast's Blog this Sunday, March 15!     

  • I'M YOUR PEANUT BUTTER BIG BROTHER (Knopf, $17, ages 4-8) debuts!  

  •  The Absolutely Mindy Show interview on Sirius Radio aired on March 10, and I didn't freeze-up!

  • The terrific write-up in TimeOut NY Kids (a tasty read, p 44) is on magazine stands!

  • PB Big Brother's BOOK RELEASE PARTY (March 13, 7 PM) and a kid-friendly reading (March 15, 11 AM) are both at Book Court!

  • My new + vastly improved WEBSITE (www.selinaalko.com) is LIVE!  

  • Sean & I are doing our first joint show EVER at the Hootenanny Art House (15 St, 8 Ave.  S. Slope, Brooklyn)!  Opening reception: Sunday, March 29  4- 6 PM.

Monday, February 23, 2009

TimeOut NY Kids; a tasty read!

Here's my interview in TONY Kids!  I will post a link when it appears online in March.  For now this scan will have to do (click on image to enlarge).  I have to say, I am pretty thrilled with this bit of press and hope that it inspires people's interest in my latest book I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother (Knopf, $17; ages 4-8)

While I have your attention, please save the date Friday, March 13th for I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother's book release party at Book Court!  Beginning at 7 PM, rub shoulders with - and get books signed by - the author/illustrator (ahem), and kick-off the week-end with some fine wine & cheese.  FYI, we were going to have some fancy peanut butter hors d'oervres, but decided not to take the chance of accidentally poisoning anyone who might show up!

If you can't get a babysitter or you chose to leave the kids behind for the book's Friday night shin dig, bring them instead on Sunday, March 15th,  for a special child-friendly reading @ 11 AM, also at Book Court.

Book Court 
163 Court Street, Brooklyn NY

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chapter Books; a whole new world!

Last week, at Books of Wonder, I was on a panel with a bunch of cool folks who write chapter books.  Until last week, I knew next to nothing about chapter books.  That evening I discovered, much to my delight, it's quite a different beast!  Like an older, more sophisticated, distant relative to children's books.  Still, like picture books, chapter books tell stories for a young audience.  I was completely captivated as my colleagues revealed tales about their characters and how they came to be.  I sat with Jackie Longstead (of the Sister's 8 series), Bruce Hale (his latest, From Russia with Lunch) and Charise Mericle Harper (Just Grace books fame).  The second coolest part of the evening for me, next to hearing all of their back-stories, was discovering that Charise Mericle Harper not only writes and illustrates books (like me!), lives in the NY area w/ her 2 kids (like me!), but is from Vancouver, B.C., (like me!), AND went to Prince of Wales high school (like me!! - only we missed each other by a year).  What are the odds of that?  I discovered I absolutely adore Charise's work.  Her main character, Grace, has the super power of empathy!  How cool is that?  I love the fact that even though I was probably misplaced on the panel to begin with (ie/ Greetings from the 50 States is not exactly a chapter book!), it was totally worth the effort to make that random connection and to learn just a bit more about the world of chapter books!  Rebecca Sherman (my agent), my daughter Ginger and I are featured above at the Cupcake Cafe in Books of Wonder

Monday, January 26, 2009

Peanut Butter Promotion

My debut as AUTHOR begins this spring with the publication of, I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother (which I also illustrated), but getting the word out for the book has already begun!  My wonderful publicist at Knopf has been busy setting a few things up, helping me get into the spirit of self-promotion.  

The first thing came to me a few weeks ago while my family was vacationing on the Big Island of Hawaii.  I received an email asking if I was available to do an interview for Sirius Radio for an All About Kids segment with Sesame Workshop.  It was a LIVE interview set for 9 AM est, which is (yikes!) 4 AM Hawaii time.  But who I am to pass up an interview?  After all, it's my very first book that I have both written and illustrated, I need all the press and buzz I can get!  Who cares about relaxation!  Who needs sleep?  Forget the fact that I'm not really sleeping anyway, since my 11 month old has been in our bed most nights anyway!  So I said, bring on the interview!  When the dark and ungodly hour arrived, fresh brewed Kona coffee in hand, notes from my talking points in front of me, I waited for 'the phone call'.  Apparently, it was the-call-that-could-not-get-through, since no-one was at the condo's reception area to receive it AND they had misplaced my cell #!  In retrospect I guess I can say it was good practice... the live interview is rescheduled for February 27th!  Now I have plenty of time to let people know about it, plus it's closer to the release of the book.

The second blog-worthy promotional event for, I'm Your Peanut Butter big Brother is a PRINT interview, which will be in this March's: Time Out New York Kids.  Last week, fresh off the Aloha Jet I met with Maureen Shelly from TONY Kids at the Cupcake Cafe midtown.  Always welcoming an opportunity to get out of my studio and head into the city, I chatted with Maureen about the makings of Peanut Butter.  It was a really enlightening conversation covering everything from the original inspiration for my story to the current political culture.  We talked about how completely thrilling Obama's Inauguration Day was (since it was the same week!) and for me, especially, the significance an African America President has on my biracial children.  I am looking forward to seeing the interview in print and will, of course, post it when it comes out in this March's issue of Time Out New York Kids.

And finally, there will be a BOOK RELEASE PARTY for I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother at Book Court in Carroll Gardens, on Friday, March 13th.   Should be the event of the season!  Come alone or bring a date, your kids, nieces, nephews, mother-in-law, etc., for an evening of wine, cheese and schmoozing.  Would love to see each and everyone of you for my big debut!  By the way, there is also supposed to be a day time reading at Book Court on Sunday, March 15th especially for kiddos, so the book release party might be a nice opportunity for a night out -- sans the little ones.     

Friday, January 23, 2009

50 States Chapter Book Fun!

I'm kicking off 2009 with an event next week at Books of Wonder.  Join me and a few other distinguished authors on Thursday, January 29th for an evening of CHAPTER BOOK FUN!  I will be presenting Greetings from the 50 States, fielding questions and signing copies.  This time I promise not to put the audience to sleep by reading from the book! (unfortunately it does not read well out loud, so I learned from the Brooklyn Museum Children's Book Fair... yet it IS a great companion for kids learning their states, and also makes for a fairly handsome adult coffee table book!)  

5-7 pm 

(ie/happy hour; when cupcakes should be half price.  But since they're not, if you make the monumental effort to show up, I will happily treat you to one!)

Books of Wonder 
18 West 18th
between 5th and 6th Avenues