I grew up in the New York metro area and visit family and friends there many times each year. When my new niece was born in November 2013, I google searched "New York baby board book," expecting to get something with the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty, but instead, I came across this gem.
Baby Book for the Boroughs (NYC & Long Island Too!) celebrates the distinctive New York accent. Unlike traditional sound button board books, these books pronounce words the New York way saying "kaw-fee" for coffee and "waw-duh" for water. It was a huge hit at our Christmas celebration, and my relatives of all ages couldn't get enough of pressing the buttons. This book is a must for every little New Yorker in your life!
Learn more about the book, and check out my exclusive interview with its author, Bridget Bendo below:
1) Why were you inspired to write "Baby Book for the Boroughs?"
As a first-time Mom obsessed with kid books, I noticed that my daughter loved books in which she would have to match pictures to sound buttons to hear different sounds. However, the sounds elicited from those books’ buttons in no way resembled the sounds that came out of the mouths of family around her. I tried endlessly to find a kid book that ‘spoke’ in a quintessential New York accent, to no avail. So, I created one myself.
It was an enjoyable and educational process. The most fun part of the process was recording the sounds of the accent at a recording studio. A group of my pals from our Bronx neighborhood got together, just started reading the words and the studio manager quickly said, “That’s a rap. Perfect. Nice going with those accents.” It was as if he thought we were putting them on, but we weren’t! It’s legitimately the Bronx accent, and it deserves to be in a book. So, now it is.
2) What is some of the feedback you've received about the book?
Brooklyn and Staten Island grandfathers in particular have shown a lot of love for the book. Ya know, the ones worried about the embarrassment of the accents of their misplaced grandkids growing up in the South? “Baby Book for the Boroughs” will keep those kids on a course of remembering their roots and keeping the accent alive, and the grandparents appreciate it and get a kick out of it.
Here’s a review which also echoes common feedback, and that is that adults have just as much fun with the book as the kids do:
“This book is FREAKIN’ hysterical!!! What a great idea; every New Yorker should have one. From my experience, the adults love it just as much as the kids do!”
3) I read that you hope to create more books for other regions. Can you share some that are in the works?
I have many other accent books in mind for the future – including of the Cockney and Singaporean flavor. Having lived in London and Singapore myself, I cherish and miss the nuances and charm of those accents. I know that the locals are proud of their distinct accents and would love a book to capture them – for their own kids to imitate, for the local adults to laugh at themselves about, and for tourists to take as a souvenir. Come on, who doesn’t want to bring a bit of the accent back home with them as a souvenir? But, for now, I am focusing on this NYC book, which is recently for sale in some select gift shops, bookstores and entertaining tourist traps in Manhattan.
4) What is your favorite word in the NY accent?
Great question, Micaela. I’ll go with a phrase that my brothers & I love to say mid-conversation, apropos of nothing: This phrase will weed out anyone faking a New York accent: “Only Faux Fur, For Her.”
(Note to Bridget: despite 10.5 years in VA, I still say it the NY way!)
5) Since we celebrate getting out and having fun with kids on "Kid Trips," what are some of the best places for kids to have fun in NY?
In Manhattan, on a sunny day in any season, my family loves to slowly stroll the High Line and just observe. Of course, any stroll on any block in Manhattan is eye-opening and stimulating for the kiddies. I may be in a small group who even appreciates the pedestrian plaza in Times Square; it’s a unique vantage point.
There are gems in every borough. In the Bronx, my hometown, I’ll go with Wave Hill, a stunning garden sanctuary. And, my family finishes any Bronx day out with a pit stop at my favorite family pizzeria - Louie’s & Ernie’s in Pelham Bay.
About the book's author:
Bridget Bendo is a Mom of two girls, ages 4 & 2, and a writer who is out to preserve the New York accent and keep kids and adults interested in fun books of all sorts. Don’t miss the opportunity to own this true conversation-starter, whether you use it as a coffee-table book or children’s book or souvenir.
Baby Book for the Boroughs (NYC & Long Island, Too) is available for sale in select stores in Manhattan as well as on this website: www.BabyBookForTheBoroughs.com
Still want more? Check out this HILARIOUS You Tube Commercial for Baby Book for the Boroughs below. (I can't even watch it without choking on my own laughter. It's brilliant.)
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