Eric Hill, the creator of bestselling children’s character Spot the Dog, has died aged 86.
Recognised with an OBE in 2008 for his services to children’s literature, his Spot the Dog books have sold over 60 million copies Worldwide, and have been translated into 60 languages. The books, which led to a cartoon series amongst other properties, were designed to help children develop reading and recognition skills – the most famous of the books, ‘Where’s Spot’, was based around a game of hide and seek which the reader was invited to take part in.
On each page, the question would be asked of where the bouncy yellow Labrador was hiding, with a new hiding place offered on each turn of the page. Readers would have to lift a flap to see whether Spot was, indeed, hiding behind various objects in his house. It was only at the end that his true location was revealed.
Spot was a bright, energetic, happy character, which Hill created as a gift for his son. The enthusiastic nature of the character quickly caught on, and Hill started working on a series of books with the character which built up a whole world of characters and places for children to learn about.
This was one of the first books I ever read, and the slightly battered original version is still on my bookcase. Hill’s creation helped me learn to read myself, and I’m forever indebted to him and his work. He never wrote down for younger readers, instead offering them unexpected visual images to learn from, and helped several generations of readers develop their own cognitive ability.
A pioneer for children’s publishing, his legacy will be a lasting one.