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Bernard Waber
Lyle Crocodile
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Bernard Waber

Bernard Waber (September 27, 1921-May 16, 2013) was the author/illustrator of numerous children’s books. He is best known for the Lyle the Crocodile series, which began in 1962 with The House on East 88th Street. The popular series, based on Lyle and the Primm family’s adventures, has been adapted into both an HBO movie and a nationally touring children’s play. He is also known for Ira Sleeps Over, Ira Says Goodbye and Courage. Many of Waber’s books such as Do You See a Mouse?, Evie and Margie, An Anteater named Arthur, and A Lion Named Shirley Williamson, focus on animals. The Ira books are an exception, as is Courage. Published after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Courage uses familiar scenarios to depict the meaning of bravery in terms children can see within themselves.


Biography


Bernard Waber grew up during the Depression in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He began a degree in finance at the University of Pennsylvania, but left school to enroll in the army during World War II. After the war, he used the GI bill to study art, earning his degree at the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) in 1951.

In 1952 Waber married Ethel Bernstein, and the couple moved to New York. After several design jobs, including work at Conde Nast, he settled into a long career in the art department of Time, Inc. Inspired by the creativity and potential of the children’s books he read nightly to his three children, Paulis, Louisa, and Gary, Bernard Waber began his own career in the field. He worked on his books at night and on the weekends, while maintaining his day job. After retirement he spoke at numerous schools, libraries, and bookstores, where he took great pleasure in meeting with his readers of all ages.


Honors

In 2014, a Literary Landmark plaque dedicated to both Waber and Lyle the Crocodile was installed at the Yorktown School on East 88th Street.  Earlier that year, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art held a retrospective curated by children’s book historian Leonard Marcus. The show will travel to the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Dates for the show are August 27-November 1, 2015.


At the time of his death his publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, said that Bernard Waber’s books had sold a total of 1.75 million copies.

Bernard Waber
The House on East 88th Street
Bernard Waber
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