Children’s Books Ireland (CBI) has paid tribute to Robert Dunbar, the children’s book crtitic and editor, who passed away this week after a long illness.
“It is with great sadness that Children’s Books Ireland acknowledges the passing of our friend, patron and children’s books champion, the irreplaceable Robert Dunbar,” said CBI. “Robert was knowledgeable about many things, very wise and very, very funny – and of course enormously well-read. He was a pioneer in the study of children’s books in Ireland and to most people, he simply was children’s literature in Ireland.”
Dunbar held several roles in his time at the Children’s Literature Association of Ireland, which merged with the Irish Children’s Book Trust to become Children’s Books Ireland, including as board member and a judge on the Book of the Year Awards.
Dunbar was also a commentator on children’s literature for the Irish Times and a lecturer in the Church of Ireland College of Education.
The statement from CBI continued: “We will miss his presence at our events, his emails and his humour more than we can ever say. The staff and board of Children’s Books Ireland offer sympathy to Carole, and to their children Gráinne and Dominic, and their grandchildren. We respect their wish for privacy as they remember the long and happy years with Robert. It’s very hard for us to imagine a world without him. It must be unimaginably difficult for them.”
Authors and publishers also paid tribute to Dunbar on Twitter. Barry Cunningham, who founded Chicken House, said: “He was a great critic and a wonderful champion of books...he changed our lives”. Meanwhile, Patrick Ness tweeted: “Robert Dunbar was the loveliest man, HUGE support at the start of my career and a hell of a reviewer of kids' books in Ireland… A lovely, lovely man. I'll miss him terribly.”