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Austinite creates alphabet book of all things uniquely Austin

Nicole Villalpando
nvillalpando@statesman.com

“A is for Austin, our local home base. It’s the beautiful setting where this story takes place.”

So begins Lori Otto Samocha’s love letter to her hometown. In “W Is for Weird: An Austin Alphabet,” Otto Samocha writes of the things that make Austin unique. “I always felt, as all Austinites do, that there’s something special and unique about the city,” she says. “There’s a sense of charm, a sense of honesty.”

While she doesn’t have children, some of her friends do. She wanted the book to be a primer for the next generation of Austinites, living here or living elsewhere, but with Austin roots. “There’s a lot of Texas books out there, but Austin isn’t Texas,” she says.

Sometimes she had to get creative: X became for Crossroads at SXSW. Y is for Y’all.

It took her about a month to figure out what each letter was, but three years to turn the ideas into a self-published book. “We both have day jobs,” she says of herself and Johnston. “This was our passion project.”

She hopes families will use it as a guidebook to go explore the city. She also hopes schools will use it as well for the basis of a fieldtrip curriculum, maybe even develop a passport to the city to check off all the things they see that are also in the book.

She would love to do a second version of the book with all the words she couldn’t get in — especially Mount Bonnell. M for Music and B for bats were already taken.

But first, she’s reading the book on Saturday at BookPeople during story time and Johnston is leading an art activity for kids to create their own Austin letter.

“W Is for Weird: An Austin Alphabet”

By Lori Otto Samocha

$21.65, Honest Acron Press

Lori Otto Samocha reads “W Is for Weird,” 10:30 a.m. Saturday story time. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.  bookpeople.com