Children’s book author Sam McBratney dies at 77

Sam McBratney, the Irish author of the bestselling children’s book “Guess How Much I Love You,” died last week.

He was 77.

The 1994 illustrated book, about Little Nutbrown Hare, Big Nutbrown Hare and their expressions of love, has sold more than 47 million copies and has been translated into 57 languages around the world since its publication.

Its companion book, “Will You Be My Friend?,” is set to be published next week.

“Sam McBratney was a profoundly lovely human being,” Karen Lotz, group managing director of Candlewick’s parent company Walker Books Group, said in a statement Monday.

“You could recognize his voice in a moment — he was an exceptionally talented wordsmith and always knew exactly what children would enjoy hearing the most. Amazingly humble, he also was a hilarious storyteller and convivial companion.”

A former teacher from northern Ireland, McBratney pivoted to writing full-time after he retired, also publishing books including “The Lough Neah Monster” and “School Trip to the Stars.”

But “Guess How Much I Love You,” with its sweet, beautiful message of “”I love you right up to the moon — and back,” was his most famous work.

“‘Guess How Much I Love You’ is a light-hearted story for a big one and a wee one to share; you turn the pages, you read the words, you do the actions and you play the game,” McBratney wrote last year for the book’s 25th anniversary. “This evening, somewhere in the world, a mum or dad will be reading ‘Guess’ with someone special.”

McBratney is survived by his wife, Maralyn, their three children and six grandchildren.

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Tribune Wire

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