Saying goodbye to Amy Krouse Rosenthal….

—Shanna Bernier
“Her books radiate fun the way tulips radiate spring: they are elegant and spirit-lifting. Among her gifts is an ability to take what in other hands could have been a thin premise — a piglet who hates being messy, in the case of Little Oink; a young spoon who wishes he were a fork, or a knife, or chopsticks, in Spoon — and wring all kinds of sly, nifty variations out of it. … Better yet, her jokes sing with specificity and an understanding of children. (from Bruce Handy, New York Times)
On March 13th, the world lost a brilliant, creative person and children’s book author, Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She died of ovarian cancer at the age of 52. Her death touched me more deeply than the average celebrity death, or the death of others whose work I have admired. Perhaps it was because she was a mom, and a daughter and she left behind both children and parents. Perhaps it was because of her age, which was the age at which my own Grandma died of cancer in 1982, similarly leaving behind two young adult sons and a daughter (my mum Lois). I think I feel connected to Rosenthal’s writing because she wrote so much from the heart. Her books are sweet, and poignant, and filled with positive messages. On her death bed she penned a beautiful essay, which was published in the New York Times and read by millions of people, entitled “You May Want to Marry My Husband”. Even when she was very sick, and sleeping more than 20 hours a day, she was able to write beautiful prose, encouraging someone to marry her lovely husband after she died. It is gut-wrenching to read.
Amy lived in Chicago, and started writing children’s books when she was home with her young children. She, like many authors, faced rejection and challenge before ultimately becoming a successful and prolific author. She penned 28 children’s picture books, wrote a memoir, and was also a film maker.
My first introduction to Amy Krouse Rosenthal came about because of my growing love for another “young-adult” author, John Green, who happens to be a big fan of her work. He was sharing her massive interactive art project “The Beckoning of Lovely,” which I found fascinating and compelling. When I became a parent, and suddenly had the floodgates open to purchasing and borrowing endless children’s books, I finally read one of her more recent creations, “I Wish You More.” This is a simple story about wishing for a world and a life with more good in it. I cherish that book, which my husband gave to our family after coming home from a long trip. Later that year, while I was pregnant with my first child Meredith, a family member gave us “Little Miss, Big Sis” which is a sweet and delightful book exploring the transition of a little girl into the role of Big Sister. It brings tears to my eyes every time I read it, as it captures so accurately the sacred and intense nature of siblings. Coincidentally, on the day she passed away, I acquired a third book by Rosenthal, “Uni the Unicorn,” which is one of her most famous works. It tells the story of a Unicorn who believes with all her heart that little girls are real, and one is waiting for her to be her best friend. The story is one of believing in your dreams and in the magic of the world, despite the negativity and cynicism of other people. It is a book about faith.
It is sad that we may not get to hear more of the wonderful creative ideas that Amy Krouse Rosenthal had in her heart, but her obituary referred to other works that she had written in the last year of her life. These may yet be released as posthumous gifts to her beloved readers. It is a beautiful thing to leave behind a legacy of delightful stories that generations of children will enjoy. The Lennoxville Library has a number of Rosenthal’s books, so be sure to check them out on your next visit.
The Lennoxville Library at 101 Queen Street in the Borough of Lennoxville offers free memberships to all residents of Sherbrooke. We have internet access with computer stations, a great selection of regular books (adults’, young adults’, children’s) in French and English, as well as books on CD, large print titles, and graphic novels too! We now offer a wide range of films on DVD, including new releases. If you would like to keep in touch, visit our website at
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