Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Children’s Author and Filmmaker, Dies at 51

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a prolific children’s book author, memoirist and public speaker who, dying of cancer, found an extraordinarily large readership this month with a column in The New York Times titled “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” died on Monday at her home in Chicago. She was 51.

The cause was ovarian cancer, which she learned she had in September 2015, her agent, Amy Rennert, said.

Ms. Rosenthal’s bittersweet paean to her spouse of 26 years appeared as a Modern Love column in the online Style section of The Times on March 3 and in the Sunday newspaper section on March 5.

The column has drawn almost four and a half million readers online.

“I want more time with Jason,” she wrote. “I want more time with my children. I want more time sipping martinis at the Green Mill Jazz Club on Thursday nights. But that is not going to happen. I probably have only a few days left being a person on this planet. So why I am doing this?

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“I am wrapping this up on Valentine’s Day,” she continued, “and the most genuine, non-vase-oriented gift I can hope for is that the right person reads this, finds Jason, and another love story begins.”

Her husband said in a statement afterward, “When I read her words for the first time, I was shocked at the beauty, slightly surprised at the incredible prose given her condition and, of course, emotionally ripped apart.”

Since 2005, Ms. Rosenthal has written 28 spirited children’s picture books, two quirky, poignant memoirs (“Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal,” in 2016, and an alphabetized “Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life,” in 2005); delivered TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Talks and NPR commentaries; and produced short films and YouTube videos of what she called social experiments, with titles like “ATM: Always Trust Magic,” “The Money Tree” and “The Beckoning of Lovely.”

“I tend to believe whatever you decide to look for you will find, whatever you beckon will eventually beckon you,” she told one audience.

She beckoned her readers and viewers. In a video called “17 Things I Made” — among them were her books and even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — she welcomed fans to join her at Millennium Park in Chicago, on Aug. 8, 2008, at 8:08 p.m., to make an 18th thing. Hundreds showed up.

“Amy ran at life full speed and heart first,” Maria Modugno, her editor at Random House, said in a phone interview. “Her writing was who she was.”

She started writing ad copy after graduating from Tufts University in 1987. After nine years at Foote, Cone & Belding (now FCB), Ms. Rosenthal was on maternity leave with her two toddler sons and infant daughter at McDonald’s when she experienced what she called a “McEpiphany,” deciding to become an author.

What she described as her plastic fork in the road led to countless dead ends, however, until she published “Little Pea,” about a pod denied his favorite dessert (spinach) until he finished all his candy (which he detested). The book received favorable reviews, and her course was set. Her other books included “Spoon,” “Duck! Rabbit!” and “Little Oink.” Ms. Rennert said Ms. Rosenthal had completed seven more picture books before her death, including a collaboration with her daughter, “Dear Girl.”

In The New York Times Book Review in 2009 Bruce Handy said of her work: “For all I know, she may suffer torment upon torment in front of a blank screen, but the results read as if they were a pleasure to write.” He added, “Her books radiate fun the way tulips radiate spring: they are elegant and spirit-lifting.”

Amy Renee Krouse was born on April 29, 1965, in Chicago to Paul Krouse and the former Ann Wolk, both publishers. Both survive her.

Besides her husband and parents, she is survived by her sons, Justin and Miles; her daughter, Paris; her sisters, Katie Froelich and Beth Kaufmann; and her brother, Joe Krouse.

“I was simply born with a fondness for letters and language and predisposed to enjoy playing around with them and it,” Ms. Rosenthal wrote in a memoir.

But even before her diagnosis, she suggested that her energy and imagination were not boundless. Her favorite line from literature, she once said, was in Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town,” as spoken by the character Emily as she bids the world goodbye: “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?”

When she reached 40, Ms. Rosenthal began calculating how many days she had left until she turned 80.

“How many more times, then, do I get to look at a tree?” she asked. “Let’s just say it’s 12,395. Absolutely, that’s a lot, but it’s not infinite, and I’m thinking anything less than infinite is too small a number and not satisfactory. At the very least, I want to look at trees a million more times. Is that too much to ask?”

Amy Krouse Rosenthal in August. Credit Kevin Nance/Chicago Tribune, via Associated Press


Author, Modern Love Essayist Amy Krouse Rosenthal Dies At 51

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the best-selling author who recently announced her illness by penning a personals ad for her beloved husband, has died at 51.

Rosenthal had ovarian cancer. Her longtime literary agent confirmed her death to The Associated Press.

As an author, Rosenthal won hearts with her children's books and her memoirs — and broke them with her "Modern Love" column called "You May Want To Marry My Husband." It ran in the New York Times earlier this month.

In the piece, Rosenthal announced her illness, celebrated her family and sought a new partner for her husband Jason. She finished the essay — difficult to write through a haze of drugs and illness — on Valentine's Day, she said, "and the most genuine, non-vase-oriented gift I can hope for is that the right person reads this, finds Jason, and another love story begins."

Rosenthal was a prolific writer, with more than 30 books to her name, the AP reports — including children's books Uni the Unicorn and Duck! Rabbit! The wire service continues:

"She made short films and YouTube videos, gave TED talks and provided radio commentary for NPR, among others.
"She also raised three children and had a flair for random acts of kindness, whether hanging dollar bills from a tree or leaving notes on ATM machines. ...

"Rosenthal loved experimenting with different media, and blending the virtual and physical worlds. One of her favorite projects began with a YouTube video, '17 Things I Made,' featuring everything from books she had written to her three children to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. At the end of the video, she welcomed fans to join her at Chicago's Millennium Park, on August 8, 2008, at 8:08 p.m. The goal was to make a 'cool' 18th thing.

"Hundreds turned out to 'make' things - a grand entrance, a new friend, a splash, something pretty."
Rosenthal was famously upbeat — an NPR book critic once called her "preternaturally cheerful."

Even her essay announcing her terminal disease was forward-looking and, in its own way, profoundly joyful. But the popular essay left many a reader in tears, as Rosenthal celebrated her husband and the life she was about to leave behind:

"If you're looking for a dreamy, let's-go-for-it travel companion, Jason is your man. He also has an affinity for tiny things: taster spoons, little jars, a mini-sculpture of a couple sitting on a bench, which he presented to me as a reminder of how our family began.

"Here is the kind of man Jason is: He showed up at our first pregnancy ultrasound with flowers. This is a man who, because he is always up early, surprises me every Sunday morning by making some kind of oddball smiley face out of items near the coffeepot: a spoon, a mug, a banana. ...

"If he sounds like a prince and our relationship seems like a fairy tale, it's not too far off, except for all of the regular stuff that comes from two and a half decades of playing house together. And the part about me getting cancer. Blech."

Rosenthal contributed to NPR several times, including a Thanksgiving-themed commentary from 1997 about what she was grateful for. "I'm thankful for hot soup on cold Sundays," she said. "I'm thankful every time I pull up to a parking meter with free time remaining. I'm thankful for pockets."


Amy Krouse Rosenthal: Author who wrote dating profile tribute to husband dies

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a popular author, filmmaker and speaker, has died at the age of 51, just over a week after she wrote an emotional essay about wanting to find someone to marry her husband Jason after her death.

Rosenthal had been diagnosed in 2015 with ovarian cancer. Her death was confirmed by her longtime literary agent, Amy Rennert, who said Rosenthal "was the most life-affirming person, and love-affirming person".

A Chicago native and longtime resident, Rosenthal completed more than 30 books, including journals, memoirs and the best-selling picture stories, Uni the Unicorn and Duck! Rabbit! She made short films and YouTube videos, gave TED talks and provided radio commentary.

While her books were noted for their exuberant tone, she started a very different conversation early this month with a widely-read column Modern Love she wrote for The New York Times.

Rosenthal told of learning about her fatal diagnosis, and, in the form of a dating profile, offered tribute to Jason Brian Rosenthal. The essay was titled, You May Want to Marry My Husband.

"If you're looking for a dreamy, let's-go-for-it travel companion, Jason is your man. He also has an affinity for tiny things: taster spoons, little jars, a mini-sculpture of a couple sitting on a bench, which he presented to me as a reminder of how our family began," she wrote.

"Here is the kind of man Jason is: He showed up at our first pregnancy ultrasound with flowers. This is a man who, because he is always up early, surprises me every Sunday morning by making some kind of oddball smiley face out of items near the coffeepot: a spoon, a mug, a banana.

"I am wrapping this up on Valentine's Day, and the most genuine, non-vase-oriented gift I can hope for is that the right person reads this, finds Jason, and another love story begins."

Rosenthal was a Tufts University graduate who worked in advertising for several years before she had what she called a "McEpiphany".

She was with her three children at McDonald's when she promised herself that she would leave advertising and become a writer.

Rosenthal more than kept her word and starting in the late 1990s, she regularly published at least a book a year, and sometimes three or four.

Ms Rennert said Rosenthal had completed seven more picture books before her death, including a collaboration with her daughter, Paris, called Dear Girl.

Rosenthal loved experimenting with different media, and blending the virtual and physical worlds.

One of her favorite projects began with a YouTube video, 17 Things I Made, featuring everything from books she had written to her three children to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. At the end of the video, she welcomed fans to join her at Chicago's Millennium Park, on August 8, 2008. The goal was to make a "cool" 18th thing.

Hundreds turned out to "make" things — whether it be a grand entrance, a new friend, a splash, something pretty.

"I tend to believe whatever you decide to look for you will find, whatever you beckon will eventually beckon you," she said during a 2012 TED talk.
Her books were equally untraditional. Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, published in 2016, is divided into chapters named for school subjects, from Geography to Language Arts. Subtitled Not Exactly a Memoir, the book features lists, illustrations, charts, emails and text messages. In a section called Midterm Essay, Rosenthal reflected on middle age and her youthful passion for life.

"If it is wonderful, splendid, remarkable — a view outside a window, a lit-up fountain at night, that fig-chorizo appetizer — I am compelled to seek some sort of saturation point, to listen/stare/savor on a loop, to greedily keep at it until I've absorbed, absconded with, and drained it of all its magic," she wrote.

"Invariably, I will have to move on before I have had enough. My first word was 'more.' It may very well be my last."

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