Mr. Waber’s “warmth, energy, artfulness, elegance, and abiding respect for children were epitomized in his books,” Betsy Groban, Houghton’s senior vice president and publisher of books for young readers, said in a statement. His 33 books have sold 1.75 million copies, the publishing company said.
Mr. Waber debuted as an author in 1962 with “The House on East 88th Street,” which introduced readers to the lovable Lyle, first spotted in a bathtub in an Upper East Side brownstone.
Lyle’s story continued in“Lyle and the Birthday Party” (1966), “Lyle Finds His Mother” (1974) and other works.
“Where else but in a picture book would you find a big, green crocodile playing skip rope on the city streets or gliding over the ice at Rockefeller Center without any eyebrows being raised?” wrote New York Times children’s book editor George A. Woods in a 1965 review of “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.”
“The easy naturalness of the illustrations,” Woods continued, “make it all seem perfectly plausible.”
Mr. Waber also wrote many non-Lyle books, such as “Ira Sleeps Over” (1972), in which a boy fears he will be teased for bringing a favorite stuffed teddy bear to a friend’s house.
Mr. Waber was born in Philadelphia and was a graduate of what was then known as the Philadelphia College of Art.
Survivors include three children; a brother; and four grandchildren. His final book, “Lyle Walks the Dog” (2010), was a collaboration with his daughter Paulis.
— From wire and staff reports