Interview With Karen Kaufman Orloff

Fans, please enjoy this interview with children’s book author Karen Kaufman Orloff. I’m thrilled that she was willing to take time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions about her writing career! Keep an eye out for her new books.


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Interview With Author Karen Kaufman Orloff  (1/5/2010)

Q. When did you begin your career as a children’s picture book author?

KKO. I began to toy with the idea of writing for kids when I left my career as a
magazine editor to raise my children. When I would read books to them, I
thought, I’d love to do this! I had no idea at the time, however, that I
could write picture books without illustrating the pictures! Once I found
that out, I started to write stories and send them out to publishers. It
took about ten years for me to finally get an acceptance. And that book
was “I Wanna Iguana”, published by G.P. Putnam. I met my editor, Susan
Kochan, at a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
conference, when she did a manuscript critique of the story. She happened
to like it and that was the beginning for me.

Q. Why do you like to write for children?

KKO. I think I’ve always loved children’s books, even as an adult, so it seemed natural to want to write for children. Plus, I absolutely love going to schools and libraries to read my books to them. Kids aged about 5 – 8 are the greatest audience!
They are really attentive and so happy to have a story-time. They ask the cutest questions and always seem to want more!

Q. How did you come up with the idea for your picture book I Wanna Iguana?

KKO. That one came about because my own children wanted a pet and we had
allergy issues for a dog or cat (we actually have a Labradoodle now). We
thought we’d get two cute little iguanas, not realizing that they’d grow
to be almost five feet long! I was the one family member who wasn’t crazy
about the idea of reptiles in the house — I had to warm up to it. So, I
started thinking of a story about a boy who wanted an iguana and a mom who
didn’t. How would he convince her to get one? I thought of the title
first, and it stuck in my head for weeks. The idea of letters between the
two came later.

Q. What other books have you written?

KKO. I have a rhyming picture book called “If Mom Had Three Arms,” published by Sterling in 2006. Sterling will be publishing another one of my rhyming stories, “Talk Oscar, Please!” in 2011. And this fall, the sequel to the iguana book will be out. It’s called “I Wanna New Room” and features Alex, who has to share a room with his annoying brother, Ethan, because there’s a new baby girl in the house. He’s fed up and starts writing notes to his father begging for his own space. It will have the same illustrator, David Catrow.

Q. Who are the picture book authors that you most admire?

KKO. I love the rhymes of Dr. Seuss and the more contemporary Mike Reiss (“Santa Claustrophobia”) and Alan Katz (“Take Me Out Of The Bathtub”). I also like all of Kevin Henkes’ books, Ian Falconer’s “Olivia”, and think the “Fancy Nancy” books are adorable! I also must mention two writer friends of mine who have very cute books out: Della Ross Ferreri (“How Will I Ever Sleep In This Bed?” and “Star Of The Show”) and Lyn Rossiter McFarland (“Widget” and “The Pirate’s Parrot”).

Q. Where can fans go to learn more about you and your books?

KKO. I have a website:

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to tell picture book fans?

KKO. To adults: picture books are so important in a child’s life. A fun and colorful book is a wonderful way to get a kid interested in reading! And to kids: Thank you for reading my books. I hope I will have many more to offer. Don’t ever lose your love for reading!

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