Ian Woodward Falconer, who is perhaps most well-known for producing the popular children’s book series Olivia, was reported to have passed away on Tuesday, March 7th at the age of 63. The cause of death has been revealed by his lawyers to be kidney failure.
An accomplished theater designer for several prestigious operas around the world through the 1980s and 1990s, Falconer would also have a hand in drawing magazine covers for The New Yorker before his breakthrough in 2000 with his first published book.
With a legacy spanning nearly four decades, Falconer’s work in designing, illustrating, and writing stories will continue to inspire curious children with the adventures of an energetic piglet who managed to capture the world’s heart.
The Christmas Gift of 1996
Ian Falconer originally conjured the idea of the rambunctious piglet as a Christmas gift for his 3-year-old niece, Olivia. In his biography, Falconer revealed that he had been “entranced” by Olivia and wished to produce a story that was directly inspired by her.
The result was the first entry in a series of children’s stories featuring Olivia the pig. However, she was by no means an ordinary piglet. She could excel in any task she set before herself whether it was trying on new garments, painting, or building sandcastles; Olivia could do it all.
When presented alongside a myriad of charmingly illustrated pictures, Olivia would go on to receive the Caldecott Honor Book Title, as well as a spot on The New York Times Best-Seller List for children’s picture books for 107 weeks.
Following the warm reception of Olivia, Falconer would go on to produce seven sequels. The series would see over ten million sold copies and was the recipient of several awards, solidifying Olivia’s place in the hearts of children around the world.
During a 2012 interview with The New York Times, Falconer was questioned on his thoughts regarding what makes a children’s story successful.
If I had to say one thing, it would be to not underestimate your audience, children will figure things out; it’s what they do best — sorting out the world.Ian Falconer, 2012
As the world remembers the author of the beloved series, let Olivia the pig’s adventures continue to serve as an inspiration for children to connect with her and discover the world for themselves.
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