On Jan. 31, the Kirkus firmament lost one of its most enduring lights. Erika Rohrbach had reviewed for the magazine since at least 2004, when I started here, and she was one of the first eager reviewers of the wave of books that poured in when a colleague and I developed the Kirkus Discoveries program (predecessor to Kirkus Indie). I was also fortunate to have her as a judge for the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. Always energetic and refreshingly capacious in her reading and literary analysis, Erika was an absolute joy to work with; the phrase “consummate professional” may be a cliché, but it certainly applied to Erika. She was always evenhanded and trustworthy in her criticism, and her catholic tastes and rock-solid reliability made my job easier.—Eric Liebetrau
Erika was one of my go-to reviewers for poetry, and she welcomed everything I sent her. Much as I loved working with her reviews, I loved reading the notes that accompanied them even more. “This one’s a STAR! Kids will totally eat this up.” “OMG, Vicky, a ***STAR*** if ever there was: for me, this is what a picture book should be.” “Loved it! It’s funny and smart. Check out [the poem] on p. 7: really clever stuff.” Even when she didn’t love a book, she loved the opportunity. Almost every note closed the same way: “Thanks so much for sending:) e.” I will miss her terribly. Already do.—Vicky Smith
One of the great delights of knowing Erika was the sheer range of her passions which informed and enriched her reviewing (not to mention her enthusiasm for good food—I ate better at conferences thanks to her recommendations). She was a tireless advocate for the international students she supported and was knowledgeable about global events affecting them. This awareness, combined with her broad curiosity, meant I could assign her a wide variety of books, knowing she would approach each with genuine interest. Kirkus Reviews and its readers benefited greatly from Erika’s discerning mind and equally generous spirit.—Laura Simeon
Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor. Vicky Smith and Laura Simeon are young readers’ editors.