Eric Hill, the children's author behind the Spot the Dog series, has died at the age of 86 in his California home. His death follows a short illness.
A statement was issued by his family this afternoon:
"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. And we know we share our grief with many."
Born in September 1927, Hill created the character Spot - a mischievous puppy - for his then young son, Christopher. His books incorporated the first ever lift-the-flap concept, in which young readers would find Spot on his many adventures.
His publisher, Puffin, described him as "a master of simple design. He created one of the world's most loveable children's book characters - Spot, the charming, naughty, playful puppy, loved and appreciated across the world".
He launched his first book in 1980, before going onto introduce many more in the Spot series including Spot's Birthday Party, Spot Goes to the Farm and Spot Loves His Friends. Book sales currently top 60 million around the world and his illustrated canine hero is also the subject of an animated series.
In 2008, Hill received an OBE for services to children's literature. He was keen never to patronise the minds of children, believing that they "have far more intelligence and style than many adults credit them with".
He wanted them "to experience, through my drawings, ideas which were just outside their experience yet were basic enough to be understood".
"I believe children all have a basic creativity which needs to be encouraged and nurtured and the Spot books seem to provide that encouragement."