Else Holmelund Minarik, 91, a writer for children whose "Little Bear" picture-book series -- which simply, gently and evocatively tells the story of a cub's forays into the wider world -- has been a mainstay of childhood for more than half a century, died on July 12 at her home in Sunset Beach, N.C.
The death was announced by HarperCollins Publishers.
The first of many books by Minarik (pronounced MIN-uh-rick), "Little Bear" appeared in 1957 as the inaugural title in the I Can Read! series.
In 1997, the New York Times Book Review named "Little Bear" one of the best children's books of the previous half-century. That title and its sequels -- "Father Bear Comes Home" (1959), "Little Bear's Friend" (1960), "Little Bear's Visit" (1961) and "A Kiss for Little Bear" (1968) -- have sold millions of copies and were the basis for an animated TV series.
Critics praised the Little Bear books not only for Minarik's prose, but also for their tender Victorian-inflected illustrations by a young artist named Maurice Sendak. Sendak died in May at 83.
NEW YORK TIMES