Karen Blumenthal: Award-Winning Author, Journalist, Library Advocate and More

Karen Blumenthal: Award-Winning Author and Journalist

by Charity Harbeck, former Maryland School Librarian and MASL member now residing in North Carolina

The world lost an award-winning narrative nonfiction author and truly wonderful person last week.  Karen Blumenthal died Monday, May 18th, 2020 after a heart attack.  She was not only an amazing writer of young people’s literature, but had many other talents as well.  

She was a writer, editor, columnist and bureau chief at Wall Street Journal, and a staff writer and business editor for Dallas Morning News.  Her love of journalism began while she was an undergraduate at Duke University where she was elected editor-in-chief of The Chronicle newspaper for her junior year.

Some of her other talents include:  library advocate, fundraiser (FirstBook.org and others), mentor, volunteer, baker, hostess, kind neighbor, devoted mother and supportive friend. To see opinions from those who knew her, take a look at the comments on Adam McGough, Dallas City Council, District 10 Facebook post about Karen, and the heartfelt obituary about her in the Dallas newspaper she had once worked for. 

According to her website, Karen wrote for young people, “...with the belief that nonfiction brings context to a complicated world.”  If ever there was an occasion for understanding a complicated world the year 2020 is that time.  Her most recent book, Jane Against the World:  Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights, released February 25, 2020 is on my “to be read” (TBR) list. I am confident she will bring a unique perspective to the topic.  Over the years, I have made certain her books have been part of the school library collection.  

A few years ago, I found out that Karen Blumenthal was a friend of my sister.  Of course when I found that out I had hoped to meet her on one of my visits to my sister. Unfortunately, that opportunity never came to pass.  I had to be content with behind-the-scenes book club stories about how delicious her cookies were.

You can see a complete list of her books and their honors and awards on her website, https://www.karenblumenthal.com/

Some of my favorite titles include: 

Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend 

Tommy: The Gun That Changed America

Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America

She was also known for her biographies on Steve Jobs, Hillary Clinton, and Sam Walton.

Karen Blumenthal was not only a talented author and journalist.  She was also a dedicated advocate for libraries. If you would like to see just what a formidable advocate this former Wall Street Journal Bureau chief was for Dallas Public Libraries, view the video of her and a friend presenting to the Dallas City Council in 2014 as Dr. Seuss characters Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Or you could read this Lake Highlands article about her plea for the Dallas Library.

Our heart goes out to her many friends and family.  Thank you for sharing Karen with the world of libraries and children's books.  She will be missed.


About Charity Harbeck

Charity Harbeck is a School Library Media Coordinator in a fringe-rural high school Northeast of  Raleigh, North Carolina.  A few ago she was a Media Specialist in an elementary school and then a high school in Maryland and a MASL member. Before that she was an elementary teacher in Maryland and in California.  That’s 25 years in education, 18 years as a school librarian.  In short, Charity is a librarian, an edtech enthusiast, a teenager-whisperer, a dog lover, a slow-runner, and a fierce chronic learner. Follow her on twitter @harbeckc.



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