Bernard Waber, author of 'Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,' dies at 91

Bernard Waber enjoyed a long career in children's books. His works included 'The House on East 88th Street' and 'Courage.'

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/AP
Bernard Waber was the author of titles such as 'Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.'

Bernard Waber, the author and illustrator of many children’s titles, died May 16 on Long Island.

Waber was behind children’s books such as “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” “The House on East 88th Street,” and “Ira Sleeps Over.” Some of his best known books featured a crocodile named Lyle, who surprises a family named Primm when they discover him in the bathtub of their house on the Upper East Side of New York.

“[His] warmth, energy, artfulness, elegance, and abiding respect for children were epitomized in his books,” Betsy Groban, Houghton's senior vice president and publisher of books for young readers, said in a statement about Weber.

Waber served in World War II and originally was set to study finance but decided to pursue art. His first book was “The House on East 88th Street,” which was released in 1962. The author wrote of how he got into children’s books in an essay for the Houghton Mifflin website, which included memories of how he was entranced by children’s literature.

“Perhaps it was moving about, meeting people of various backgrounds and experience — I don't recall a precise moment — but somehow during those army days my interest shifted to drawing and painting,” he wrote of serving in World War II. “Returning to civilian life, I discarded high finance for enrollment at the Philadelphia College of Art. It was a decision I never regretted…. Several art directors suggested that my drawings seemed suited for children's books. At the same time, I was also having read-aloud sessions with my own three children. I am afraid enthusiasm for 'their' books began, in fact, to cause them occasional discomfort. ‘Daddy, why don't you look at the grownups' books?’ they once chided as I trailed after them into the children's room of our local library.”

The author’s last release was “Lyle Walks the Dog,” a 2010 book which he worked on with one of his daughters.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.