Q is for Queens

X is for Xi'An Famous Foods copyBy Tammy Scileppi
Illustrations by Renee Bentley

When a tech entrepreneur creates a children’s book about his favorite borough, you just know it has to be innovative.

Long Island City dad Amol Sarva’s work in progress – “Q is for Queens” – was inspired by his lovely daughters Pascale, 7, and Lila, 3. The lifelong New Yorker had an epiphany one day while riding the No. 7 train, and then solidified his idea for an A to Z hardcover book about New York City’s biggest borough during a visit to a children’s book exhibit at the New York Public Library earlier this year.

“There was this huge collection of classic children’s books, and it was surprising that not a single one was about Queens,” he recalled. It got him thinking. “There’s really a lot of highlights in Queens that maybe I didn’t even know about, the kind of things you’d want your kids to know about.”

So he got to work. Since January, Sarva has been busy assembling Queens icons and has teamed up with artist friend, Renee Bentley, whose beautiful illustrations bring to life world-famous local landmarks (100 will be mentioned), colorful sights and notable residents.

Ideas, ideas….“A” is for Arthur Ashe, “B” is for Bayside, ”C” is for Cyndi Lauper, who grew up in Ozone Park (Did you know her hair dye is made here)?

“Queens needs a sweet collection of iconic images, posters and memorabilia, all wrapped together in a little volume for the next generation,” says Sarva, who was born in the neighborhood of Jamaica.

His parents were immigrants, like 70 percent of people who live in Queens. “My brothers and I were halfway grown when we moved to Little Neck-Douglaston, then Bayside. I went to high school in the city, and when I went off to college, I swear I thought I’d never live in Queens again, but it was a very short time before I was back, this time, in the starting-to-be-hip part, Long Island City,” says Sarva, whose family members still live in Forest Hills, Little Neck and thereabouts.

Sarva’s Kickstarter campaign was a huge success and exceeded his initial goal of $8,000, but his stretch goal to cover additional printing costs is $35,000, so he can get his book into “every school, library, museum, and art institution in Queens. I think we’ll be able to ship by June,” he said.

“Since posting ‘Q is for Queens,’ the project caught fire,” says Sarva. “I’ve heard from a litany of influential Queens elected officials and cultural institutions with their support.”

“I am so excited to support such an imaginative and educational project,” said Assemblyman Ron Kim. “‘Q is for Queens’ is an exciting way for kids of all ages to learn a little bit more about our very special borough. We have so many stories here to tell and this is a very fun way to tell them.”

In Q is for Queens, “F” is for Flushing Town Hall. “’Q is for Queens’ is a unique way for children to learn about the cultural and historic treasures in Queens,” said Town Hall executive director Ellen Kodadek. “Parents and children can discover the borough together, visiting the letters of the alphabet – a fun way to learn! We can’t wait to carry the book in our gift shop, so families can explore Queens from A to Z.”

Continuing on down the alphabet, “R” is for the Ramones (from Forest Hills) or for Rockaway or for Run–D.M.C. (Hollis natives).
“Any borough that was home to Mae West, John Gotti, Jack Kerouac, and Dr. Jay pretty much has to have a book like this,” said Sarva.  And then there’s Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate, who lived in Forest Hills and once taught in Astoria schools.

S is for Saris v3 copyRemember where Spider-Man came from?  High school student Peter Parker was a science-whiz orphan living with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May in Forest Hills.
“And when Barnum & Bailey Circus comes to New York City, they walk from Long Island City to Madison Square Garden,” said Sarva, who has been “part of a ton of Queens stuff.”

He started the oldest LIC blog (www.licnyc.com) and helped a bunch of Queens organizations, like the Coalition for Queens, which tries to bring more tech opportunities to Queens, and the Queens Paideia School, an experimental school in Long Island City. He even helped to build East of East, a building in LIC.

The author has been working from The Oracle Club, a writer’s room in Long Island City, and said he has “assembled some friends – writers, illustrators, filmmakers – plain old, regular, awesome people”  to work with him. He says he’s also expecting lots of help from designers and editors from all over Queens.

“I’ve roamed the streets of Forest Hills, Jackson Heights, Flushing, Astoria, and Rockaway,” says Sarva. “Had lemon ice in Corona, made giant bubbles at the Hall of Science, seen the Mets lose and win, fell asleep on the 7 round trip, and bought my first computer on Northern Boulevard.”

“I am Queens Boulevard,” he says. “So, maybe you think like I do that our borough needs a little more love and respect to go with its New York City siblings. I’ve met too many New Yorkers who are like, ‘I’ve never been to Queens.’ And now that I have two cute kids, I want them to know what they should talk about. Queens rules!”

Short URL: http://itsqueens.com/?p=705

Posted by on Jun 27 2014. Filed under Entertainment, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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