Author/Illustrator Bernard Waber, Lyle the Crocodile Creator, Dies at 91
Waber was born in Philadelphia in 1921. He briefly studied finance at the University of Pennsylvania before leaving to serve in the Army during WWII. Later, he enrolled at the Philadelphia College of Art. “It was a decision I never regretted,” Waber once said in an autobiographical essay.
After graduation, he moved with his wife Ethel to New York City, where he landed a job in the promotion department of Condé Nast. On the suggestion of several art directors, he began to submit stories and ideas for children’s books to publishers, and landed a contract with the Houghton Mifflin for Lorenzo (1961), a picture book tale of a very curious fish. He continued in the magazine field for decades while pursuing his love for writing and illustrating children’s books.
Waber collaborated on his final book, Lyle Walks the Dog (2010), with his daughter Paulis.
“In one way or another, I seem to find myself thinking of children’s books most of the time,” Waber once said. “I even enjoy the period when I am between books, for it is then that I am (I hope) susceptible to all manner of adventurous thought….I seem to write best when in motion. Trains, subways, even elevators seem to shake ideas loose from my head. Although I write and illustrate, I believe if forced to choose between the two, I would choose writing. There is a freedom about writing that appeals to me. You can do it almost anywhere—and I have.”