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Remembering Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Master of Wordplay


As soon as you pick up Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, you know the title is a complete misnomer. There’s nothing ordinary about it.

On the cover of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s unconventional 2005 memoir, four sentences are written above the title: “I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell. I have not witnessed the extraordinary. This is my story.” And in tiny text on the bottom: “See also: Friend you thought confided in you; Humbling; Jason; Pie; Sexy; Shortcut through alley; Tears.”

The imaginative language and innovative structure that Rosenthal embraces in this book — which truly is written like an encyclopedia, with short alphabetical entries that still manage to tell a linear story — characterized all of her work. Rosenthal died on Monday at age 51, just 10 days after publishing a haunting “Modern Love” essay in the New York Times that moved millions of readers to tears.

Rosenthal made her creative wordplay accessible to young readers as well, through dozens of silly, wonderful, memorable picture books full of quirky characters and storylines that make adults crack a smile. Below are some of her favorites, plus a link to her 2016 memoir, Textbookand all the rest of her work that’s available to check out.


Little Pea (2005)

The OK Book (2007)

Duck! Rabbit! (2009)

Spoon (2009)

Bedtime for Mommy (2010)

Little Hoot (2010)

Wumbers (2012)

I Scream, Ice Cream: A Book of Wordles (2013)

Friendshape (2015)

That’s Me Loving You (2016)


Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!


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