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Page 3 Profile: Eric Hill, children’s author

As in the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar?

No, that’s Eric Carle. Eric Hill, is the children’s book author and illustrator who created Spot, the irrepressible yellow dog. Yesterday it was announced he died aged 86. Mr Hill passed away in his California home after a short illness, his publisher Puffin confirmed. Describing him “a master of simple design”, the publisher said: “Eric’s ingenious lift-the-flap device turned the reading of a Spot book into a glorious game of hide and seek, enjoyed by children and adults alike.”

Oh, Spot’s creator! That’s what he looked like. Who knew?

Not many, as it happens. Mr Hill, who received an OBE for services to children’s literature in the 2008 honours list, preferred to shun the limelight.  He was born in Holloway, north London, in 1927, and lived in the area until moving to California with his family in 1983.

How did he come up with Spot, anyway?

Hill worked as a messenger in an art studio where he was often encouraged to draw. When his son was born in 1976, he began to write stories about a puppy to read to him at bedtime, and so Spot was born. The author was so attached to his canine creation he often referred to himself as “Spot’s dad”. Since the first Spot book was published in 1980, Mr Hill’s tales of the playful puppy have sold 60 million copies.

Were the man and his dog closely connected?

Yes, the author once said part of the appeal of Spot was his “sense of fun”. He said: “I love the character, he’s my buddy and I’m at ease with him.”

Gone but not forgotten?

Mr Hill’s family said he would be missed “immensely”, but that while his loss is a “great hardship” for them, they are able to take “some solace in the joy he brought to so many children and families through his work”. They added: “We know Spot, and therefore Eric, has had a beloved presence in so many homes and bedtime readings. And we know we share our grief with many.”

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