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A first-grade author


Six-year-old Selina Banerjee loves to swim, practice karate, and sing in her Indian classical voice class.

Add writing a book to that list.

In the grown-up world of publishing, Selina is one of its younger authors, having sold her first book, "My Preschool Graduation," a behind-the-scenes look at an event that took place a year ago at the Longwood Medical Area Child Care Center . Tate Publishing bought the 22-page manuscript last month and will publish it this summer as an illustrated children's book.

So what does little Miss Banerjee think of all this?

"Excited!" she says, sitting all poised in a pretty lime-green dress in the living room of her Roslindale home.

"It was such a surprise," says her mother, Sucharita SenBanerjee , a research instructor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

"She's busier than us," adds her father, Pallab Banerjee , an instructor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

OK, so the younger Banerjee, who was born in Calcutta, India, and moved to Boston with her parents when she was 6 months old, didn't actually put pen to paper for the book. Mom was her stenographer, taking dictation from her.

"It's all her words," her mother said. "I didn't do anything. Her idea was for me to type it out."

After the little girl's preschool graduation last June, she told her mother the details of how she and her fellow classmates secretly prepared for the ceremony at the school without their parents' knowledge.

Selina -- who, like her parents, speaks English and Bengali -- described how they practiced performing their own version of the "Three Little Pigs" with pink, yellow, and green scarves, and how they learned songs about Valentine's Day and Thanksgiving. The children also made T-shirts with their names and one of the letters in the alphabet on them to spell out each month of the year. Selina's letter was "E."

"We planned to stand in a line next to each other so that the alphabets on our T-shirts would spell the name of the months," she writes in the book.

Her mother typed up her notes last fall and stapled them into a booklet, the same way she does for Selina's coloring assignments. But after reading it over, she thought it could be a children's book. She sent the manuscript to Tate, a Christian-based family-owned publishing house in Oklahoma, thinking it was a long shot.

"I've never seen a book on this subject before," says Terry Cordingley , a Tate spokesman. A buyer there described the manuscript as "a delightful story" and made an offer in December.

The book will detail how Selina had her hair done with ribbons and ate breakfast to prepare for the big day. What the book won't show is what happened after the ceremony. She graduated and is now a student at St. Mary of the Assumption School in Brookline.

Selina has an idea for another book, about each of her birthdays, but she's not planning anything right away. She's too busy being a first-grader.