Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who died on Monday, and editor Maria Modugno worked together on 14 books. Their first book, in 2006, was Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons; their last one, Don’t Blink!, will be published in 2018. Here Modugno offers a tribute to her friend and author.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal was magic. In every conversation, email, and manuscript there was a current of electric Amy that sparked with her particular brand of humor and energy. She ran at life full speed and heart first. Her work was generous; she shared her wisdom and her vulnerability and her joy. And because she shared all of this, her readers loved her well. Because we loved her well, it hurts to say goodbye.
My publishing career has been intertwined with Amy’s for a long time. I was fortunate to read Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons on submission in 2004. I loved it, and so I went to hear her speak at a bookstore to get a better sense of who this writer was. We exchanged numbers and shortly after had a long, long phone conversation about everything, including picture books (of course). We got along beautifully, but when we discovered that our all-time favorite book was A Hole Is to Dig, something special clicked into place and our relationship began in earnest.
My first taste of Amy-kismet came a few months later. Her adult memoir, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, had just been published, and Amy and her friends decided to embark on a small grassroots campaign: they would stow single copies of the book in odd places around the country, and include a note that requested that the finder of the book email Amy and tell her about themselves. One day, my sister mentioned to me that she had found an intriguing little book behind a loaf of bread while she was grocery shopping. “Have you ever heard of Amy Krouse Rosenthal?” she asked me.
We later learned that Amy’s sister had placed that particular book that my own sister had found. Amy sent me a string of four paper dolls, labeled with our four names, and above was the word “connected.”
We remained connected through many years and many picture books.
When I joined Random House Children’s Books in 2012, Amy sent me a note on my first day. The note, which I still have, says “Happy first page of your next chapter.” At a time that was new and a little scary, she had given me the perfect assurance: she would follow me to my new home. I was so grateful.
Soon after, she sent me the manuscript for Uni the Unicorn and we fell back into our publishing rhythm. We have done five books together at Random House, several of which are forthcoming. Her work on them is finished, but I wish now that we could argue over the angle of the banana in On the Spot or the line breaks in Uni the Unicorn and the Dream Come True for a little longer.
Amy was exacting, sometimes demanding, smart, and a true expert at what she did. She made me a better editor, and was my dear friend. I will miss her so much.