Lovers of animal stories will be saddened to hear that a master of the genre has passed: Dick King-Smith died Jan. 4 at the age of 88. King-Smith’s career spanned multiple generations, and American children who discovered him with his first U.S. books in the late 1970s and early ’80s might well have read his last published book, Clever Duck, illustrated by Nick Bruel, aloud to their own grandchildren in 2008.

Prolific but never formulaic, the British author brought a keen understanding of animals (of both the four- and two-legged sort) and a gentle humor to almost all his tales, as well as a fierce love for everything living. A farmer by upbringing and vocation, he turned his hand to teaching in midlife before finding his niche as an author for children, for whom he penned tale after tale.

He is possibly best known for the films The Water Horse (2007; click here for the book review), Babe (1995) and its sequel Babe: Pig in the City (1998) based on his works, but he leaves behind a legacy of funny, collegial and, above all, humane books that should keep children thinking and laughing for years to come. We have reviewed a good many of them. Please take some time to discover or reacquaint yourselves with an author who carried the standard set by E.B. White forward with honor and dedication.

 

To enjoy a list of titles by Dick King-Smith, please click here