Spot the Dog creator Eric Hill has passed away, his publisher Puffin has confirmed. The children's book author, 86, died at his California home after a short illness.
The writer's mischievous yellow puppy first appeared in Where's Spot?, published in 1980 and incorporating innovative flaps for young readers to lift. Topping the UK's bestseller list, the book spawned a series of follow-ups including Spot Goes to School where friends such as Helen the hippo and Tom the crocodile were introduced for the first time. The books have been translated into 60 languages and have sold over 60 million copies worldwide.
The canine character starred in his own BBC television series from 1986 and his creator was awarded an OBE for services to children's literature in 2008.
In a statement released following Hill's death, Puffin described the late author as "a master of simple design. He created one of the world's most loveable children's book characters – Spot, the charming, naughty, playful puppy, loved and appreciated across the world."
Hill's family added, "Although this time of loss is a great hardship for us, we can honestly say that we take some solace in the joy he brought to so many children and families through his work. We know Spot, and therefore Eric, has had a beloved presence in so many homes and bedtime readings. And we know we share our grief with many."
Speaking of his famous creation, Hill said, "I love the character, he's my buddy and I'm at ease with him. Subconsciously I see things from the dog's point of view, so Spot is within me."
You can still vote for Spot the Dog as your favourite BBC children's TV character in the Radio Times poll