Celebrated children’s author and illustrator Eric Hill has died at his home in California at the age of 86, following a short illness.
With bold colours and a flap to lift on every page (irresistible to little fingers!), Hill’s deceptively simple tales of Spot the Dog star a cheerful puppy whose mischievous antics are the kind every toddler can identify with.
The very first Spot tale, Where’s Spot?, was published in 1980 and since then Hill’s books have sold over 60 million copies worldwide, and have been translated into 60 languages.
Following Hill’s death, his family have released the following statement, “Although this time of loss is a great hardship for us, we can honestly say that we take some solace in the joy he brought to so many children and families through his work. We know Spot, and therefore Eric, has had a beloved presence in so many homes and bedtime readings.”
Hill, who playfully dubbed himself ‘the Father of Spot the Dog’, was born in North London in 1927. He joined an art studio as a messenger at the age of 16 where he was encouraged to draw cartoons in his spare time. After a spell with the RAF, he embarked on a career in advertising, before going freelance as an art director, graphic designer and illustrator.
It was the arrival of his son Christopher in 1976 that led him to dream up the mischievous puppy whose capers are now known the world over.
The ingenious idea to include all those lovely, liftable flaps came to Hill from an advertising flyer which used the device.
Spot’s signature spot markings and the brown tip to his tail, meanwhile, have intriguing origins in Hill’s boyhood passion for planes.
In an interview for the official Spot website, Hill commented, “It must have been subconscious but I realised that when I came to draw the spot on his body and the tip of his tail I was copying the markings on an aircraft. I grew up drawing aircraft – that is how I learned to draw.”
A firm believer in the power of reading, Hill said, “There is so much to be learned and enjoyed from reading and it is all out there just waiting for you. Think of opening a book as opening your mind.”
And, as far as your toddler is concerned, if there are flaps to open too, then all the better!