KIRKUS - I WANNA GO HOME A child’s skepticism takes a header when a vacation with Grandma and Grandpa proves more wild than mild. After getting his iguana (I Wanna Iguana, 2004) and failing to successfully petition for his own space (I Wanna New Room, 2010) Alex returns for a third time, and now the situation’s truly dire. His parents are taking off for Bora Bora, which means he and his siblings are slated to stay with their grandparents for the duration. Broccoli lasagna and the absence of both video games and computers are bound to lead to a terrible time. In his initial, desperate letters and emails written to his vacationing parents, Alex pleads with them to return ASAP. Yet soon, Alexis is singing a different tune, as he discovers square dancing, bingo, stickball and other wonderful aspects of old-folk living. Turns out that two weeks just isn’t enough time. The epistolary picture book is hardly a new genre, but it can prove a difficult one. Orloff handles the format as well as the subject with grace and aplomb. Alex’s gradual acceptance of his doting ancestors plays out believably, pairing beautifully with Catrow’s controlled craziness. The pencils, watercolors and inks find the funny in almost every single spread. A clever conceit ably rendered; this is bound to prove popular with loving grandparents and caustic kids alike. (Picture book. 4-7)
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL – for I Wanna Go Home –ORLOFF, Karen Kaufman. I Wanna Go Home. illus. by David Catrow. 32p.Putnam. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399254079.K-Gr 2–From the author and illustrator of I Wanna Iguana (Putnam, 2004) comes another terrific combination of words and pictures, told exclusively through email exchanges. This adventure has Alex, his brother, his sister,and his pet iguana staying with their grandparents at Happy Hills Retirement Community while their parents take a vacation. Bored, unhappy, frustrated by the amount of attention his younger siblings are getting, and freaked out after seeing Grandpa’s false teeth soaking in a glass, Alex pleads to go home. Soon, boredom gives way to enjoyment as Alex goes to square-dancing class with grandma, teaches his grandpa to play soccer (in the house!) and gets to eat just what he wants—even corn dogs and ice cream. He learns to appreciate the older generation and the time he spends reading and playing bingo and stickball with them. “Sometimes old people really surprise me.” So much so that Alex asks his mom if he can extend his visit. The exuberant, full-color illustrations are done in pencil, watercolor, and ink. They enhance the text and provide additional, humorous details in every situation. While the book works well as a fun romp, it could also be put to good use in language arts lessons about letter writing and hyperbole.–Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. JohnsonMemorial Library, Endicott, NY
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY -- Previously seen in I Wanna Iguana and I Wanna New Room, Alex is still exchanging plaintive missives with his parents in his third picture book, though he has upgraded to email, out of necessity—Alex and his siblings are staying in Florida with their grandparents while their parents are in Bora Bora. Alex is miserable: it’s raining, it’s boring, and he’s unnerved by seeing Grandpa’s false teeth on his bedside table (a scene that Catrow, no surprise, delights in making as icky as possible). But a square dancing class, Grandma and Grandpa’s laissez-faire attitude toward mealtime (at a diner, Alex turns nine corn dogs into an impressive statue of a poodle), and a (very) old-fashioned game of stickball soon have the boy singing another tune. Orloff skillfully expresses Alex’s gradually shifting attitude, while Catrow’s comically exaggerated art provides a hyperbolic sense of fun. Ages 5–8. (Sept.)
KIRKUS: Alex has his iguana (I Wanna Iguana, 2004), but now thanks to Baby Annie,he has to share his room with his little brother Ethan. That’s just not going to work out, so he begins a new letter-writing campaign. Mom’s reply: Talk to your father. Alex’s straight forward request nets this response: “…Mom says
girls need privacy to do girl stuff.” Alex can’t think what girl stuff a baby would need to do, so he switches tactics, complaining that Ethan bothers his stuff. The heart-to-heart talk Dad suggests ends up with Alex cordoning off HIS part of the room (which unfortunately includes the door). Alex begs for an addition to the house,but Dad has a better idea. The two build Alex his own tree house…but it’s boring in the tree house alone! Orloff’s second epistolary tale is just as inventive and enjoyable as the first. Catrow’s distinctive pencil-and-watercolor illustrations elevate the (mostly) realistic exchange in the letters to deliriously preposterous heights. The nearly wordless conclusion is as satisfying as it is unexpected. A sneaky lesson wrapped up in a flaky bundle of fun. (Picture book. 5-8)
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: I Wanna New Room. by Karen Kaufman Orloff. illus. by David Catrow. Putnam.2010. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399254055; ebook $10.99. ISBN9781101550168. K-Gr 3—Recently relocated to his little brother’s room because of a new baby sister, the letter-writing maven from I Wanna Iguana (Putnam, 2004) once again picks up his pencil, this time to request a more preferable living arrangement. The resulting correspondence between Alex and his father is chockfull of heartfelt pleas, half-baked ideas, and evenhanded advice from Dad. Catrow’s madcap illustrations gleefully interpret the laugh-out-loud details (and Alex’s overzealous imaginings).
BOOKLIST: As in I Wanna Iguana (2004), this story about a child tired of sharing a room with his pesky little brother is told through letters and illustrated in energetic, cartoon-style illustrations. Alex pleads for his own room and complains about his little brother Ethan—“He sticks crayons up his nose and barks like a walrus”—while a fantastical double-page image shows Ethan as a walrus in action. Finally, Dad builds Alex a tree house, but once he is alone in his new space, Alex misses all the family chaos. The slapstick, sibling anger, and crowding issues are all spot-on. Preschool-Grade 2. --Hazel Rochman
THE HORN BOOK: Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring Alex, forced to share a room with his younger brother since his sister was born, engages in a letter-writing volley with his father, with whom he pleads for his own space. The trademark grotesquerie of Catrow's illustrations (the kids look like sunburned old men) is offset by the book's humor and the affection undergirding even the most histrionic of the father-son exchanges. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
LINWORTH PUBLISHING COMPANY REVIEWS: Library Media Connection Reviews 2011 March/April:
A hilarious new book by the author/illustrator team who created I Wanna Iguana (G.P.Putnam's Sons, 2004), this title covers all the traditional arguments concerning bedroom issues of the eldest child, who wants his own room. However, no one has covered these issues with such creativity and humor! Using his letter writing and vocabulary skills Alex pleads his case to his very tired mother first and then to his more communicative father. Several letters are exchanged without much resolution until the problem is solved with a father and son outdoor project which produces a special room for Alex. The artwork is very clever and works along with the imaginative and easy to follow text. The fun storyline, accented with the ever creative Catrow talents, results in an engaging read-aloud and a chuckle out loud silent read, especially on the second reading. Highly Recommended. RoxanneWelch Mills, Educational Reviewer, Smithfield, Virginia - 2011 LinworthPublishing, Inc.
THE SAGINAW NEWS: “I Wanna New Room” by Karen Kaufman Orloff. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010, 32 pages, $16.99 Recommended for ages 4-8 Alex is back with a new strategy and a series of short letters to his parents trying to persuade them to let him have his own room. There is a new baby sister in the house and Alex has to share a bedroom with little brother Ethan, who breaks everything, sticks crayons up his nose and sounds like a cat coughing up fur balls when he sleeps. Alex is desperate and would like his father to build an addition onto the house, but Dad has something else in mind. Dad offers to build Alex a special place of his own, a tree house, and he won’t have to share it with his brother unless he absolutely wants to. David Catrow’s zany illustrations along with a peaceful ending make this book a fun read.
— Reviewed by Amy Knickerbocker,Butman-Fish Children’s Department.
CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB: November, 2010 - Alex has been forced to share a room with his destructive little brother so their baby sister can have her own room. Life’s so unfair! Get ready tolaugh out loud as the drama unfolds through a series of letters between Alex and his folks. Will he be able to convince them that he needs his privacy? Three cheers for Karen Kaufman Orloff and illustrator-like-no-other David Catrow for creating another totally unique, totally hilarious picture book. Many of us here at the Club predict that I Wanna New Room, which is the follow-up to I Wanna Iguana,will rocket to the top of our own Top 100 Bestseller list, right alongside Mike Reiss’ The Boy Who Wouldn’t Share, which Catrow also so brilliantly illustrated. (Ages 4-6)
TEACHERS REVIEWS for I Wanna New Room:
Anna T. on June 26, 2014 - My Kindergarten students and I loved this book. I used it for Emergent Reading and as a mentor text for persuasive writing. I really like the characters and illustrations.
Annabell B. Buchanan on March 11, 2014 - This is a great book to teach opinions and even persuasive writing. My kids loved it! It came quickly and in great condition!
Roger Mayeron February 17, 2013 - I use this book as a starter resource for 1st graders in writing persuasive argument paragraphs. Great topic for the kids.
A second grade teacher on December 27, 2012 - David Catrow is my favorite illustrator and this book didn't let me down.I use this and "I Wanna Iguana" as read alouds to introduce and review letter writing as part of Writer's Workshop.
Texas librarian on December 24, 2012 - I was looking for a fun example of persuasive writing and ran across this Orloff book...excellent. Also recommend her I Wanna Iguana for the same reason.
K. Miller on December 16, 2012 - Cute book with hilarious illustrations! Great for teaching persuasive writing. My kids love this book and want to read it all the time.
Children’s Book Reviews – Missosuri State Council of the International Reading Association. I Wanna New Room By Karen Kaufman Orfoff; Illustrated by David Catrow When the Common Core Standards are tested in 2013, one new topic on the test will be argumentative literacy. The expectation will be that students beginning in kindergarten will be taught this form of literacy. While we may know it now as persuasive writing, it is never too soon to begin to expose our students to argumentative literacy and teach it as early as kindergarten.Well, this book is just what you need to do that! I Wanna New Room will pull your students in and keep them engaged from the first to the very last page of the book. What child cannot understand wanting a new room so that you do not have to share it with a sibling, especially when that sibling is a four year old doing very childish things to you and your belongings. In this book, Alex (main character) writes letters to his mom and then his dad to convince them that he should get his own room. He gives many reasons and states his case very well. All children will love his reasoning! In the end, Alex receives a special place that is all his own. It isn't a new room, but it is a place that is all his own. It is a treehouse, and he decides to invite his little brother in to play with him. A sweet story and a great example to teach argumentative literacy.By the way, this is the author's second book. It was just published in 2010 by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group. The author's first book was I Wanna Iguana. If you look closely, you will even see that iguana in this book.You and your students will love this book!
From children's Book Author Lola Schaefer, Teaching persuasive writing can be a bit frustrating. Even though kids are the best "convincers" on the planet, sometimes they're not sure how to do that on paper. Teachers are always looking for mentor text that will help their students see purpose and intent for this kind of writing. Many elementary classroom teachers have relied on I WANNA IGUANA by Karen Kaufman Orloff and David Catrow to launch mini-lessons. Now, there's a new book by this dynamic duo - I WANNA NEW ROOM. Alex is a few years older and his persuasive notes, this time to his dad, are a tad more sophisticated and thorough. Not only is this a great mentor text for persuasive writing, but students would have fun comparing the two sets of notes on"style" and "content."Lola Schaefer, author of “Frankie Stein” and many other books for children on her website, www.lolaschaefer.com
KIRKUS: In epistolary dialogue with his mom, a lad yearning for an iguana tries various approaches, from logic and sweet talk to emotional blackmail. His mother puts up a valiant defense—“Dear Mom: Did you know that iguanas are really quiet and they’re cute too. I think they are much cuter than hamsters. Love,
your adorable son, Alex.” “Dear Alex: Tarantulas are quiet too”—before ultimately capitulating. Catrow’s scribbly, lurid,purple-and-green illustrations bring the diverse visions of parent and child to hilarious life, as a lizard of decidedly indeterminate ancestry grows in stages to the size of a horse, all the while exhibiting a doglike affection toward its balloon-headed prospective keeper—who is last seen posed by a new terrarium, pumping a fist in victory. A familiar domestic interchange, played out with broad comedy—and mutual respect, too.(Picture book. 7-9)
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: PreSchool-Grade 3–This funny story is told through an amusing exchange of notes, as Alex tries to convince his seemingly unshakable mother that he should be allowed to adopt a friend's baby iguana ("If I don't take it, he goes to Stinky and Stinky's dog, Lurch, will eat it. You don't want that to happen, do you?"). The boy pulls out all the stops in his arguments: iguanas are quiet (so are tarantulas, Mom counters); the reptile could be kept on the dresser (they grow to over six feet, Mom replies); the iguana could be the brother he's always wanted (you already have a brother, Mom reminds him). Featuring his signature cartoon characters, Catrow's illustrations provide a hilarious extension of the text. Alex, with his unruly red cowlicks and kewpie-doll shape, is totally disarming, as is the iguana, which makes imaginative appearances strumming a guitar on a bike, sporting tiny swim trunks, and reading in bed. The tale is perfect for reader's-theater presentations and could also be used effectively as a writing prompt for older children. It will make even the most serious youngsters giggle.–Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WICopyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.All rights reserved.
TEACHER REVIEWS ON AMAZON
S.Michels on February 25, 2006 - I read this book aloud to my third graders. They loved it, and I would recommend this book. The text is a great model for mini lessons on persuasive writing, voice, and/or point of view. My students wrote wonderful persuasive letters to their parents following the use of this book. This book would work well in first and second grade too.
Jennifer Lynn on March 28, 2008 --Are you trying to teach persuasive text? Then this is the book for you! I have used this to teach persuasive text to 6th graders as well as 10th and11th graders. The illustrations are priceless and the book is very entertaining. It does an excellent job of showing argument/counter argument. I highly recommend this book!!!
Mrs. Brown's 2nd Grade Class. By Amy Allenon March 24, 2014- We really liked how the author wrote the letters and the language that she used. We recommmend this book to other 2nd grade classes that are learning about letter writing and persuasion. The illustrator, David Catrow, draws funny pictures that keeps the reader wanting to read more and gives more details that match the words. This book is guaranteed to make your kids want to read!!!
Teacher Review on February 26, 2014 - Another excellent book to illustrate persuasive writing to my 3rd grade students. Their laughter throughout this book carried them right into a better understanding of what to include in their own beginning attempts at persuasive writing!
Susan M. Swift on February 22, 2014 - Adorable story, written as a series of notes between a boy and his mother,as he tries to persuade her to buy him a pet iguana. As a teacher, I also love this book as a model of persuasive writing and functional text (notewriting).
Denise Baroneon February 3, 2014- We are learning persuasive writing through literature. My class enjoyed reading the letters between Alex and his mom with him trying to persuade her to get an iguana. This book is also helpful in teaching children to learn how to support their reasons for something they want. The illustrations and text were engaging and funny!
Joanne Dyeron April 9, 2014 -This book introduces the steps for building an argument. It is a great tool for teaching anyone, adults also on the art of persuasion.
I Wanna New Room
I Wanna Go Home
I Wanna Iguana