February 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Amy Krouse Rosenthal Dies at 51

amykrouserosenthalOn March 13, days after the New York Times published her essay entitled “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” Amy Krouse Rosenthal succumbed to ovarian cancer. The author of 28 books for children, including Uni the Unicorn (Random House, 2014) and Duck! Rabbit! (Chronicle, 2009), was diagnosed in September 2015. She was 51.

The essay created a mock dating profile for her husband, Jason Brian Rosenthal, that appeared in the newspaper’s Modern Love column. The piece went viral after it posted on March 3, appearing in the print edition on March 5. Following her death, tributes from the library and publishing world began surfacing on social media, many with personal recollections of the author.

“You made the world a more creative and connected place,” posted Lara Morris Starr of Chronicle Books, publisher of her first book Little Pea (2005). “I will treasure my memories of our time together (stuff like when you texted me pix of two dresses and asked, “Which one?” before heading out to an event).”

Author and editor David Leviathan posted on Facebook about how he was inspired by Rosenthal’s 2009 BEA Children’s Breakfast speech. “We have a short time on this planet,” Rosenthal told the audience. “We have the responsibility to focus on the things that fit us. I feel most like myself when I have a pen in my hand. It fits me.” Leviathan paid tribute to Rosenthal by saying, “The world was a much more [an exclamation point] place because of her and her books. I consider myself lucky to have gotten to meet someone who fit so well into the world.”

Ashley Albert, vocalist for the children’s band The Jimmies, recalled the last time she saw her friend. “I met up with her to help cover an entire Chicago subway station in wrapping paper to remind passersby that ‘Every day was a gift…that’s why it’s called the present.’”

Rosenthal spoke at School Library Journal’s 2012 Day of Dialog, along with illustrator Tom Lichtenheld, about their book Wumbers (Chronicle, 2012). She told the audience that her love for “tinkering with language” and wordplay was the inspiration behind their joint work. She and Lichtenheld collaborated again on Exclamation Mark (Scholastic, 2013), which was named a 2013 SLJ Best Book. More recently, her That’s Me Loving You (Random House, 2016) was listed in a SLJ Valentine’s Day roundup, in which librarian and SLJ reviewer Joy Fleishhacker commented “This sweetly reassuring tale eases separation anxiety and nurtures emotional independence.”


Librarian Paulette Brooks, in blue, and Rosenthal shared matching tattoos.

Librarians were intertwined with her life. She encouraged readers of her memoir Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Dutton, 2016) to suggest ideas for a tattoo that she could get, along with her fans, as a way to bond with them. It was Paulette Brooks, a librarian at the Elm Grove Library in Wisconsin, who came up with Rosenthal’s final pick: simply the word “More.” This past September, Brooks drove to Chicago to meet the author—and to get her first tattoo.

Now with More on her wrist, Brooks says “I am thankful to have met her, and for how she has inspired me to look for more.”

Amy Renee Krouse was born on April 29, 1965 in Chicago. She is survived by her husband, her children Justin, Miles, and Paris, and her parents, Paul and Ann Wolk Krouse.

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Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.

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