Ian Falconer, creator of the 'Olivia' series, dies at 63 Best known as the illustrator and author of the beloved children's book series about a spry and smart young pig, Falconer was also a theatrical set and costume designer.

'Olivia' creator and stage designer Ian Falconer dies at 63

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The creator of the beloved Olivia picture book series has died. Ian Falconer was 63 years old. NPR's Chloe Veltman says the famed writer and illustrator was a man of many talents.

CHLOE VELTMAN, BYLINE: Falconer came up with his illustrated story about a spry and sassy young pig as a Christmas gift in 1996 for his then 3-year-old niece.

ANNE SCHWARTZ: This amazing character that just really jumped off the pages - I knew that kids would be able to connect with her.

VELTMAN: That's Anne Schwartz. She was Falconer's first editor at Simon & Schuster. She says Olivia's red-and-black illustrations immediately stood out.

SCHWARTZ: To see something so stark and so graphically striking was really unusual.

VELTMAN: The eight-book series Falconer went on to create has sold more than 10 million copies since 2000 and inspired an animated TV series.


JO WYATT: (As Olivia) Rule of life No. 54 - mothers know lots of things, but only grandmothers really know how to pack for a vacation.

VELTMAN: Born in 1959 in Ridgefield, Conn., Falconer grew up to be as precocious as his piggy protagonist. He illustrated 30 New Yorker magazine covers and was also in demand at some of the world's top ballet companies and opera houses as a designer of costumes and sets.


VELTMAN: Stage and screenwriter Jeff Whitty says he'll never forget the way Falconer seamlessly fused live action with video in a Paris production of the 19th century comic opera "Veronique." It was 2008. Whitty says video on stage was still new.

JEFF WHITTY: There was a big fountain upstage center, and the actor jumps into the fountain. And it goes to video, and he swims away from the audience.

VELTMAN: Whitty says Falconer showed him how to enjoy the artist's life.

WHITTY: You can enjoy the nights staying up till 4 a.m., arguing and staggering home together.

VELTMAN: Whitty says Ian Falconer was not only a great artist but also a mentor to many young hopefuls like himself.

Chloe Veltman, NPR News.

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