The first thing you learn about Amy Krouse Rosenthal when you visit her website is that she “is a person who likes to make things.” And make things, she did: picture books, essays, films, lectures. Lucky for us, the things she made, she also shared, and with them an inspirational and inspired dose of life advice and creativity. These things made her an established best-seller, and more importantly, beloved.
Rosenthal passed away yesterday from cancer, an untimely end that she announced in her moving (and viral) New York Times article, “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” earlier this month. As with all of her work, this heartbreaking piece was marked by love, wit, and sincerity—all things the world can use more of. We can consider ourselves fortunate that she left us 28 (28!) picture books that revel in wordplay, silliness, and bite-sized words of wisdom that can be shared with new generations of humans.
For adult readers, she bequeathed two creatively formatted memoirs, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life (2005) and Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal (2016). “Rosenthal is a marvel,” said our reviewer of Textbook, “a publisher’s dream.” Clearly, her readers won’t be the only ones who’ll miss her.
Rosenthal’s frequent collaborator Tom Lichtenheld will be chatting (and drawing) live on Facebook this Friday with the New York Times at 3 p. m. EST. Here is but a small sampling of her work for young readers—but all readers are sure to be charmed by at least one.
This twist on the abecedary literally presents the ABCs. Just the ABCs. Pastel illustrations support three-word groupings that playfully riff on this gimmick: “Apples, Bananas, Cataloupe,” “Airy Billowy Clouds,” “Abracadabra! Bunny! Carrot!” You get the picture.
Offstage narrators see something interesting in this book’s pages: “Hey, look! A duck!” “That’s not a duck. That’s a rabbit!” The comedic debate finds support for both sides through the optical illusions comprising its illustrations
Cookies provide the framework for this dictionary-like book that offers youngsters life advice. Children and charmingly humanized animals mingle as they learn about everything from being open-minded to having regrets (too many cookies!).
Initially perturbed that he stands out from the crowd (of punctuation marks), ! manages to find his unique voice and gain self-confidence.
Publishing in May comes this clever picture book that “you don’t just read, you play.” Using a sort of Madlibs formula, kids get to fill in empty spots in the story with objects from their house. Spaghetti with (spot), anyone? The possibilities are endless.
In endearing, minimalist fashion, Rosenthal imagines a literal interpretation of the trope, planting a kiss, spinning it out to a whimsical yet weighty conclusion.
In this witty introduction to mathematical equations, Rosenthal creatively uses the symbols of math as a succinct way of stating conceptual rather than numeric relationships. Consider:
“1 + 1 = us”
“barefoot + screen door + popsicles = summer”
“cozy + smell of pancakes – alarm clock = weekend”
Here, a dazzling unicorn dreams of meeting a thing of myths: a little girl. Meanwhile, a little girl hopes to encounter a magical unicorn. The result is rainbow-filled and triumphant, as it should be.
Kids will be delighted by this cheeky mashup of numbers and words, cre8ed by the s2pendous duo, Rosenfeld and Lichtenheld.