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Dear Robin

Dear Robin:

It’s time. Despite your grace and courage in facing the coming reality, I’m not ready, will never be ready. But it’s time to say what needs to be said.

I want to thank you for so many things. For me, personally and professionally, you have been a role model, a compass, and an opener of doors. (I know: you’re younger than I am, but that makes no difference.) You’ve taught me so much, simply by setting an example.

I trust your response to books, people, institutions. To everything. I know I can trust you; you have never steered me wrong. You are compassionate, tough but fair, honest, wise, grounded. And the fact that you are also infectiously vivacious and funny as hell and definitely do not take any nonsense makes you excellent company, whether in person or in print. I’m beyond grateful for having known you and worked closely with you. Nobody could have had a better friend and colleague.

And of course the readers of this blog have been lucky as well. As far as I’m concerned, Calling Caldecott = Robin Smith. Right from the start (six years ago now!) you imprinted this blog with your lively voice, your wit, your passion for and knowledge of books, your abiding common sense, and your deep understanding of children. Thank you for being Calling Caldecott, Robin. We will do our best to take good care of it for you.

With love and gratitude to you, my treasured friend,

xo Martha P.



Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.



  1. Barbara O'Connor says:

    Robin has always been a champion of children’s books and particularly of mine. Thank you, Robin, for your support over the years and for helping to share children’s books with the world. You are much appreciated.

  2. Therese Bigelow says:

    I still remember the first time I met you Robin and I still have the knitted scarf you gave me. I think for me it has always been yournsharp sense of humor and your laser comments about books.

  3. Robin, I think we probably first met at CLNE, but our paths often crossed at NCTE and ALA as well. Always smiling, knitting, talking about books, friends, teaching, family, and more. I have fond memories of a special dinner with Naomi Shihab Nye at the very strange Opryland Hotel one NCTE. An afternoon outing to a restaurant in Middlebury you liked. Your thoughts on children and learning and teaching and reading and books and everything have always been inspirational to me. Thank you so so much. Monica

  4. Elissa Gershowitz Elissa Gershowitz says:

    As Kitty says, “If I could conjure up the perfect teacher for my kids, Robin Smith would fit the bill…”

  5. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    Robin, I have learned so much from you and — like everyone else here — your enthusiasm and true love of children’s books has lifted me up so many times. We only met that one time at BGHB, but working with you on CC has made you feel like a friend and advisor and everything else. You have touched so many more lives than you will ever know. Thank you for everything you have ever written and every word you ever said to a child about a book.

  6. Deborah Taylor says:

    What can I say about someone who has been one of the the best things to happen to me personally and professionally? I once traveled ALA exhibits with Robin as she sought out picture books for Calling Caldecott and learned so much. What a combination of head and heart!

  7. Mary Brigid Barrett says:

    Thank you Martha for stating so simply and beautifully what everyone feels who has ever spent time with the remarkable Robin, and her loving, talented family.

  8. Robin has been an example and a role model to us all — inspiring us to read, eat, live better. The ripples you’ve made, Robin, as teacher, reviewer, friend, are positively endless… xooxo Liz

  9. I love you, Robin. I’ll never forget the time I got to spend with you and Dean (and Jules) on my way through Nashville. My brother and I had a most memorable cross country road trip because of the generous ROAD FOOD book you gave us for our journey West. Thank you so much for your love and kindness over the years <3

  10. Dear Robin,

    Fellow Smithie, Caldecott 20011 committee-member and picture book lover, how I enjoyed every time I got to see you! Your exuberance and joy and sense of fun always enlivened book discussions, and I always, always learned from you. In recent years I’ve loved having students (Emmie and Grace immediately come to mind) who knew you in Tennessee and who spoke of you with a combination of reverence, awe, and above all, great affection. I read Liz’s comment above “The ripples you’ve made, Robin, as teacher, reviewer, friend, are positively endless” and I echo that sentiment and hope you and your family feel every bit of that affection rippling back to you.

  11. Pam Munoz Ryan says:

    Beautiful post, Martha. Robin, I remember visiting your school and class room. I wish all books were introduced to children with such affection and enthusiasm. Those fortunate students! Those fortunate authors whose books you held! Thank you.

  12. KT Horning says:

    Robin has had such an influence on so many people, most especially her second-graders and their families. No one has loved more or been more loved. There will never be another Robin.

  13. Dear Robin,
    Meeting you at the 2010 ALA was the sparkly highlight of a very bright weekend. You’ve kept encouraging me, and I will pass that forward – remembering always to Be Here Now.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.


  14. Grace Beckwith says:

    Dear Aunt Robin,
    I figured I’d leave you a note here along side these other wonderful messages left by some people who clearly love you like I do. I’ve never known anyone to be so passionate, smart, witty, caring, understanding and loving all wrapped into one beautiful person. When I think about you I think about how encouraging you are. I look back and think about the times spent with you along with letters you have sent me and every conversation and note revolves around moving forward; pushing myself to do my best. And that’s exactly what you have always done for everyone. You always seem to know that people are capable of much more than they think. I never thought I would enjoy writing, working with kids, teaching or knitting (Even though I’m not good at it). But somehow I’ve picked up on all of those things all while thinking of you. You truly are an inspiration. Thank you for being the most amazing aunt any girl could ask for… I really feel so lucky. Someone said “there will never be another robin” and that couldn’t be more true. I love you ♥️

    XO- Gracie

  15. Sam Bloom says:

    Thanks for these beautiful words, Martha, for a beautiful human being! Robin, thank you thank you THANK YOU for your generosity, your mentorship, and your good humor. The Blooms love you!

  16. Robin, Much of my memory is shot, but I can clearly remember a round table at CLNE at the YMCA by Lake George and you leaning in to learn not only my name but as many stories as could fit into one lunch time. You asked me questions as if you might discover I was a long lost cousin, and in twenty minutes you made me feel like we were related. I know you have thousands of such cousins you’ve touched with your warm heart and quick mind. We’re so grateful for you and your wonderful, quieter perfect match. Love, Jeannine

  17. Kate Pritchard says:

    “…a role model, a compass, and an opener of doors.” You have certainly been all that to me, and a kind and loving friend to Mark and me, and our children, as well. Thank you. We love you, Robin.

  18. Elisa Gall says:

    Robin, Thank you for everything. We love you. – E & P

  19. I would come around the corner in one of those dorms where we hold CLNE and there you would be, Robin, and there would immediately be an extra measure of fun and joy in the air. We are so lucky to know you, Robin.

  20. Jessica Young says:

    Robin, thank you for the immeasurable gifts you share in so many ways: “your lively voice, your wit, your passion for and knowledge of books, your abiding common sense, and your deep understanding of children” — and your humor and grace. We are grateful, and we love you.

  21. Robin, thank you for your strong, clear voice, for your love of children and books, for all you are and do and dream. Martha, thank you for giving us this space.

  22. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Robin, you have been one of the best things to ever happen to the Horn Book. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who better understood the connection of children and books.

  23. Nancy Werlin says:

    Martha, thanks so much for making a place for us to tell Robin what she means to us. Robin, we don’t know each other well, but you and Deb led my very first discussion group at Childrens Literature New England. You sat there with your knitting and your smile and said smart things and I knew instantly you were wonderful. Nothing has changed that initial opinion. LOVE.

  24. Natacha Liuzzi says:

    Thank you, Martha for putting this together. Robin and Dean were some of the first folks I met at CLNE. It was love at first smile. I’ve always been in awe of Robin. Her energy, enthusiasm and pure joy that she shares with the world.
    I’m honored to know you and call you friend. I love you very much Robin. ????

  25. Victoria Stapleton says:

    Learning from Robin in both word and deed has been one of the signal joys of becoming part of this community. When the earth was young and I thought of a life’s work, children’s books did not make the list. Experiencing Robin’s commitment, passion, and creativity up front helped me to see the possibilities being part of this fantastic world. It has been my privilege to know her and frankly for her to know my name. Other words fail me.

  26. Gregory Maguire says:

    Oh dear Robin! When I think about all you give, the first thing that floats up (like a message in the black fluid of a magic eight ball) is this: Integrity is stronger when detached from anything like superiority. Even if a certain competence and energy suggests superior accomplishment. I guess what I’m trying to describe is just your basic humility. However many times I have tried to crown you with that 48-karat gold crown that reads HUMILITY! in diamond letters, you’re always too busy to put it on. You teach so much to CLNE, to the Horn Book, to Dean; to your family, your students, your friends. To me. Love you, dear friend.

  27. Robin, you are one of the most passionate and enthusiastic people I’ve ever known, and I feel fortunate to have sat at that dining room table where so many in the children’s literature world have been gathered together by you and fed by Dean. You are one in a million, Robin. I send my love.

  28. Nicholas Weidemann says:

    When my work brought me to Nashville, you and Dean welcomed me as a horn book spouse, but I very quickly felt like one of your “cousins” as someone previously commented. I even thought, “maybe we should move the family to Nashville”. I often remember the terrific meals you and Dean shared with me and am very glad I know you Robin.

  29. Emmie Stuart says:

    Dearest Robin, There is no one who has influenced my love of picture books and my teaching more than you! Class read-alouds, mock Caldecott, teaching students to knit, writing notes back and forth with them…all of my best practices are directly from you. Most importantly, you have shown me how to love children with the most genuine and sincere love. The type of love you shower on me and (as evidenced above) so many others. You have the unique ability to make each person who comes into your presence feel as if we are the most important person in the world and that there is nothing you’d rather be doing than taking to us. You make us feel seen, understood, and loved. I will never forget the hours spent on your couch across from you. They are golden hours and I’ll forever treasure them. Thank-you dear Robin for making my life and “the world a more beautiful place”.

  30. Deborah hopkinson says:

    I love you, Robin.

  31. Jenna Friebel says:

    Love you, Robin! Thanks for all your support and always being an inspiration. <3

  32. Susan Marston says:

    Well, every other commenter has a wonderful step up on me because they have met you, Robin, and I have not had that pleasure. I have only enjoyed your words and work in the physical or virtual pages of The Horn Book, but that enjoyment has been great. Thank you a million, for all your wonderful insights. I can only imagine the gratitude of your students and their parents. They are very lucky indeed to have been the recipients of your passion and knowledge–as are all of your readers.

  33. Terrie Dorio says:

    Robin, the annual CLNE gatherings were always enlivened by your love of children’s and YA books, your inspiring book discussions & presentations, and your smile.

  34. Katya Schapiro says:

    Dear Robin, we have been so lucky to have you in this community, and you have shared yourself and your gifts so widely that we will never be the same. Thank you. Love. Courage.

  35. Rachel Payne says:

    Robin, when we served on ALSC Nominating together, I was impressed by how many people you knew! And this page is a testament your gift for making connections between people, children, and books. I have learned so much from being in your presence and reading your words. You are an amazing teacher to us all.

  36. Amanda Foulk says:

    Dear Robin, we are so fortunate to have spent time in your company – you always made us feel welcome. We value your passion and enthusiasm for students and books, and the sincerity that so many have mentioned. With love and affection, Amanda & Erin

  37. Brenda Dales says:

    How fortunate I was, Robin, to share books and ideas with you on the USBBY Outstanding International Books committee. Your depth of knowledge, graceful articulation, and perpetual smile added to everyone’s experience. I wish our paths had crossed prior to that time.

  38. Allison Grover Khoury says:

    Oh WOW! I stopped in to check on the blog after a very coupe of weeks with school ending. I was hoping for a good juicy review from Robin. Instead I find that Robin’s retirement has included Calling Caldecott.
    I wish you every good thing, and lots of time to read books at your leisure now, just for joy.
    Thank you for Calling Caldecott. I didn’t read every other comment, and who knows if you’ll see mine given how late this is. But I’m sure they are filled with gratitude and appreciation and much more. That is how I feel. Even though we haven’t met, and you may not even know I’m out here, just as others said, I have felt, just a little, as if I know you. I dreamed of meeting you some day at a conference. Maybe that will still happen. But in the mean time, your voice and vision will be missed here.
    I really loved every word you wrote, and every thought you shared, and every perspective and offer of balance you brought to children’s literature, to teaching, to the Caldecott, to this blog!!!!
    Thank you, thank you.

  39. Sam Juliano says:

    A beautiful personal testament and tribute to an exceedingly special human being, role model and passionate adherent of grace, talent and positive energy. I can clearly see she had such an impact on all who were fortunate enough to cross her path, and I know well she will be irreplaceable. My deepest condolences to you Martha, Lolly, Roger and all those at the Horn Book and her loving family and many fans at this unconscionable time. I will treasure my previous communications with her.

  40. I just heard the news, and then happened to see this. Your words are so beautiful, Martha. Robin was very special, and will be terribly missed – she’s touched so many lives. Sending love… ❤️

  41. Naomi Shihab Nye says:

    Thank you so much, Martha. We are all with you – we love you forever, Robin! You changed and uplifted countless lives — including all of ours. Two weeks ago you said, in your usual frank fashion, you weren’t scared of dying, you just hated to leave Dean and your children and all your family and friends. Don’t worry. You won’t. You won’t leave any of us. Ever ever ever.

  42. Sally Derby says:

    Oh Robin, I knew you were ill, but I was hoping and hoping for a remission, for a cure, for more time for you and for us; You had the gift of making the person you were with feel that he or she was one of the most important people in your life, that you enjoyed every minute you spent together. And I believe you did–your love for others, for books, for life was limitless. I know I am not the only one who thinks of you whenever they think of CLNE–thank you for helping to make CLNE conferences so warm and welcoming. I will miss you, Robin, as will Karl. We already do.

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