Friday, November 30, 2012

Holidays 2012 Events Schedule

Ho Ho Cho Happy Holidays!

December is around the corner and the seasonal festivities are lining up.  

I'm doing book events in New Jersey, Manhattan and Brooklyn for both DADDY CHRISTMAS & HANUKKAH MAMA and B is for BROOKLYN.  Please take note:

Sunday, December 2nd
54 Fairfield Street
Montclair, NJ
2pm StoryTime

Thursday, December 6th
STRAND Bookstore
828 Broadway (between 12th & 13th streets)
Manhattan, NY
3:30 - 4:30pm StoryTime

Saturday, December 8th
513 Henry Street
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
* buy a book and get a free egg cream!  if you missed my book release party in september (or if you had such a good time you want to come back for more!) this is a repeat signing event - especially for the holidays - in the cutest old school soda shoppe in town!

Sunday, December 9th
exclusive book signings of both DADDY CHRISTMAS & HANUKKAH MAMA and B is for BROOKLYN.
12pm Gift Shop

Wednesday, December 12
686 Fulton Street
Brooklyn NY
4pm StoryTime

Saturday, December 15
PS10 School
11am - 5pm
selling all my books and prints with Sean Qualls (& his goods) all day!

Sunday, December 16
242 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, NY
11am Story Time

New York Times reviews Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama

Reviewed in the NY Times this weekend: 

Written and illustrated by Selina Alko.
32 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 4-8)
Doesn't this describe half of Brooklyn? Perhaps not strictly speaking; but the subject of interfaith families is a welcome one. No arguments over Israel or "the war on Christmas" here. In the narrator's wholehearted and seamlessly interwoven celebration, Daddy Christmas gamely cooks latkes, and Hanukkah Mama is happy to hang stockings. Together they "carol to the neighbors about Maccabees and the manger." Alko's charming mixed media illustrations provide lots of bells and holly. Next up, Eastover.

My heart is full.  

Thank you, New York Times!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

African Princess a la Olivia

My 4 year old daughter has a bad case of princess fever.  And it happens to be running especially high this time of year––Halloween being just around the corner and all.

Happily, I discovered Ian Falconer's Olivia and the Fairy Princesses;  A brilliant book about a precocious girl (pig) who, while in the middle of an identity crisis, rejects the popular pink princess phenomena.

Olivia asks these questions: "Why is it always a pink princess?  Why not an Indian princess or a princess from Thailand or an African princess or a princess from China?"

"There are alternatives."  She declares.

I love this.  After all, questioning the princess plague was the subject of my own book, Every-Day Dress-Up.  (Out this time last year.)

Fortunately, my daughter loves Falconer's new book too.

Upon first read, she was especially drawn to the image of Olivia as an African princess.  By her own volition she decided that was the type of princess she wanted to be for Halloween.  Phew.  Dodged that fuchsia bullet.

Now, the fun part.  Helping her make the costume!

We found most of the raw ingredients at the dollar store.  My daughter said we should use aluminum foil to build the neck rings.  Bingo.

Then we looked for African kente cloth, which was no easy task.  We decided to buy a green scarf on the street.  My son suggested using a sharpie to immitate the African-style designs in Ian Falconer's illustration.  It worked well (thanks, Isaiah!)

And voila!  Here's Ginger - as Olivia - as an African princess.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

S is for Selina; A Visual Biography

My last post included beautiful photos by Isabelle Dervaux from my B is for Brooklyn release party.  

Now, Isabelle has made me a lovely video, or as she likes to call it, a "visual biography".  Isabelle started creating "visual biographies" —still image sequences that tell stories of people and families, when she took on the task of sorting out 30 years of her own family photos. Visual biographies contain collages, illustrations and ephemera that complement the stories the photos tell.  

I feel fortunate to have my life as an illustrator - and the making of B is for Brooklyn - told through Isabelle's eyes.  

Take a moment to watch! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

F is for Farmacy

Isabelle Dervaux, a talented colleague and friend, perfectly captured the mood at my launch party for B is for BROOKLYN in these B-eautiful photos.      

Friday, September 14, 2012

B is for Brooklyn; A Fashionable Borough

with my sister, Karen
my sister,  husband Sean Qualls and mom make a toast
with Marcos Chin, who's work is also on exhibit at the BPL
with Taeeun Yoo, Lauren Castillo and Jeanine Henderson
speech time

with friends, family and my agent Rebecca Sherman (aka 'the Sherminator')

with BPL staffers
As I said in my speech on the opening night of my exhibit, B is for Brooklyn; A Fashionable Borough, it is a huge honor for me to be exhibiting work from my children's books at the Brooklyn Public Library.  It's the perfect venue for me to have a retrospective show, not only because of my close relationship with the Library over the years, but also in light of the release of my most recent picture book, B is for Brooklyn (an alphabet book about my beloved borough, including, appropriately, 'L is for Library'!).

The opening was awesome.  I was touched that my mother and sister flew here from my birthplace, Vancouver, Canada, to attend the festivities.  It was wonderful being surrounded by so many of my friends and colleagues, as well as my beloved husband, Sean Qualls, all of whom have helped me in my journey to becoming an author/illustrator.  After a few glasses of wine, in a rare unscripted moment, I referred to my agent, Rebecca Sherman, affectionately as 'The Sherminator'.

I dedicated the exhibit to my late father, Henri Alko, who was responsible for teaching me how to paint and exposing me to beautiful things at an early age.  I think I actually felt his spirit at the opening night beaming with pride.  

Hope you get a chance to see the exhibition.  It is in the Youth Wing of the Grand Army Plaza branch of the Brooklyn Public Library through December 1, 2012.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

B is for Brooklyn & More!

I'm thrilled to announce B IS FOR BROOKLYN's release!  It's off to an exciting start with some great reviews... A STAR from Publisher's Weekly, a fabulous write-up from Kirkus and a glowing review in The New York Times.  All of this praise has been a wonderful boost for my beloved book as we head into the fall season of promotional events.

Fall Calendar:

September 6 through December 1, 2012
SOLO show in the Youth Wing at The Brooklyn Public Library
Opening reception: September 6, from 6-8pm in the Dweck auditorium
Central Branch, Grand Army Plaza

September 8 & 9  GO open studio weekend
Sean and I will open our studios for the community to visit and decide who will be featured in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum*
399A Prospect Avenue, Saturday and Sunday 11am - 7pm.

September 15  B IS FOR BROOKLYN Book Release Party!
Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain
11am - 1pm
513 Henry Street, Carroll Gardens
Buy a book and get a FREE egg cream!

September 16
Books of Wonder panel
18 West 18th street, NYC

September 23  Brooklyn Book Festival

September 29  Greenlight Books
11am story time
686 Fulton Street

October 3 Mini Max
10am story time
152 Atlantic Avenue

*I am so excited to announce my participation in GO - a new project at the Brooklyn Museum, taking place in neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn. During GO, Brooklyn-based artists will open their studios to the community on September 8–9, 2012. Community members registered as voters will visit studios and nominate artists for inclusion in a group exhibition to open at the Museum on Target First Saturday, December 1, 2012.  Visit the GO website to learn about how you can take part in this borough-wide project.

My artist profile and studio information can be found here: 

I would appreciate your help in spreading the word, and would love to see you participate in the fun and free GO weekend:

  • Register to vote & add my studio to your itinerary
  • Gather your friends, neighbors, families and colleagues and come visit my studio over the GO open studio weekend
Many thanks!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Three Wise Men

I've experienced much too much loss lately.

On April 1, 2012 my father died.

I wouldn't be an artist if it weren't for my father.  I might not have so many stories to tell.  He taught me how to paint.  He exposed me to the wonderful world of Art - and beautiful things - at an early age.  He encouraged me to follow my dreams and listen to my heart.  He was my #1 fan.  He loved that I live in New York.  He connected with people of all walks of life.  He was larger-than-life.  And now, he is gone.

I think his spirit lives on.  I believe his philosophy that art makes the world a bit more humane - and much more beautiful - remains in me.  Still, I feel sad.  It will take time.  I am determined to honor his spirit by continuing to make art and continuing to tell my stories.  How can I not?

A few weeks after my father passed away, Maurice Sendak followed suit.

It was an almost erie aftershock.  Sendak was The Father of Children's Books.  He was one of my earliest influences.  When I was little, I often got lost in the imagery from Where the Wild Things Are.  Max's journey was the perfect metaphor for my active imagination.  In his later interviews, I often likened Sendak to my father.  They were around the same age–– 80-something.  Their wisdom, life views and dark humor were remarkably similar. 

Then only last week came news of illustrator Leo Dillon's passing.

My husband, Sean Qualls, and I just spent a lovely afternoon with Leo & Diane Dillon.  Sean and I recently begun the process of collaborating on 2 books together.  The first book features the Lovings; A pioneering interracial couple in the late 1950's who fought for their right to be married.  We got together with the Dillons to ask for their guidance and advice upon embarking on this new picture book adventure.  They shared many stories with us.  It was profoundly helpful.  Leo & Diane, themselves a pioneering interracial couple, are our role-models for all of the obvious reasons (race, books, art, etc.,), yet we should only aspire to be so talented and so humble.

These three men have helped shape and influence me as an artist and storyteller.  I feel like I must nurture strength from all of this sadness, somehow.  Art is continuous, and great artists live on through their art, as cliche as it might sound.  I owe it to my children, my children's children, and all of the children out there to continue to do my part.

Three cheers (and maybe just a few tears) to Three Wise Men. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Celebrate Women's History Month!

Ella Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sonya Sotomayer, Julia Child, Maria Tallchief, Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keefe.

These are just some of the heroines that appear in my book, Every-Day Dress-Up (which came out in October). The little girl in the book ditches her princess duds to dress-up as real women from history every day of the week.

Kirkus Reviews declared it, "a happy antidote to the princess plague".

And the book was put on the Amelia Bloomer List of appealing children's books with feminist content. Very nice indeed!

To celebrate Women's History Month, I have written a special guest post on KidLit Celebrates Women's History Blog, appearing on March 3rd.

Plus, There will be an exciting event at powerHouse Books on March 25th, where I will read from Every-Day Dress-Up along with my husband, illustrator Sean Qualls, who will read from his swinging Ella Fitzgerald book, Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat.

Please come join us!

Sunday, March 25th
powerHouse Arena
37 Main Street, DUMBO