It has been a busy fun slightly crazy good few days tinged with a hint of sadness because author Amy Krouse Rosenthal recently died of cancer. I am purposely ignoring the commas that should go between most of those adjectives, because they all kind of blur together in my mind. Amy was all about – make the most of your time here. So simple, yet so hard. She was only 51.
Today is my friend’s 50th birthday. Due to the actual date March 15, in our circle of people, it is playfully called “beware the ides of Mark day.” Wow – he is still with us for another year. For a growing number of years, he has been living well with cancer. Those last few words seem like a contradiction, but the reality is they are not. I have another dear friend who actually works at a place called Life with Cancer here just outside of DC. There is hope and there is much joy on the phone as I talked to him on the phone tonight across the Atlantic – “what the hell are you doing up so late over there – you are an old man now.” Now I can officially think of him as a 50% half full kind of guy.
This morning’s slightly icy streets from the recent snow fall, brought a two-hour delay and a chance to send off my spontaneous houseguest from my previous post, Cate, in a proper fashion and with a proper meal. Today in school I experienced four very different fifth grade classes in the library. They were sandwiched between a fourth grade gaggle and a bedraggled third grade. The fifth graders are presently in the midst of a fantasy genre unit. They are looking at the internal and external “dragons” that characters have to face. I shared with them a three-minute cartoon that gives an overview of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. After talking about all this, I went on to share Imogene’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming. It is sooooo not a fantasy book, but the author is coming to our school in early April, so I make it work. The universe is funny because the book has more elements from the hero’s journey than I originally expected, thanks to my insightful fifth graders.
It is because of Candace, I managed to experience Amy Krouse Rosenthal. This April will be my second time hosting Candace Fleming, the literary extrovert, at a school. At my previous school, she mentioned that she was on the author panel for the yearly School Library Journal’s Day of Dialogue in New York City that May. After spending the night at that same friend Mark’s place, I showed up super early at the Jacob Javits Convention Center without an official ticket. Somehow I managed to talk myself into the sold-out day long event by being very polite. Amy was also on the panel. I remember she was funny. She was there with the illustrator for her book Wumbers, Tom Lichtenheld. She didn’t just talk, she performed and managed to get people to think. She played with words, letters and numbers. She had a special ability to look at the world differently, playfully, heart-fully. In my school library I have twenty-four of her twenty eight books. I just checked. Her book Chopsticks has been my go to book for years when someone is getting married. I like how it balances out the value of being a couple and an individual. I must admit her book Uni the Unicorn, at first glance made me cringe. However, leave it to Amy to give it a twist. Who else would write about a unicorn who thinks little girls are real? Amy was all about making connections in unusual and meaningful real ways.
It is now way late and I need to go to sleep, so I can post this soon after I wake up. It so sad, yet wonderful that her NYT Modern Love article – You May Want to Marry My Husband has exposed her work to an even wider audience. I love her Beckoning the Lovely Gathering at Bean video. It makes me want to embrace life a little more. She lived with a sense of wonder. She lived with cancer. She did more than Beckon the Lovely in her fifty-one years. I am so grateful I managed to experience some of her magic in person. Her life is a hero’s journey that will inspire many.