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.