Guess How Much I Love You author Sam McBratney dies

Guess How Much I Love You author Sam McBratney dies

Sam McBratney, author of Guess How Much I Love You, has died aged 77. 

McBratney, born in Northern Ireland and a classroom teacher before he turned to writing, produced more than 50 books, and achieved international acclaim with the 1994 publication of Guess How Much I Love You (Walker), the story of the Little and Big Nutbrown Hares, illustrated by Anita Jeram, and now translated into 57 languages. 

His sequel to Guess How Much I Love You, titled Will You Be My Friend? (Walker Books), comes out this month, with a global publishing date of 29th September.

Karen Lotz, group managing director of the Walker Books Group, which includes Candlewick Press in the US, paid tribute to the author. “Sam McBratney was a profoundly lovely human being," she said. "You could recognise 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. We never had better days than when he would come down from Ireland to visit the offices in London. Our world dims with his passing, but his legacy of kindness and humour will burn bright and carry on across time and distance through his stories, which have touched the hearts of readers around the globe."

Donna Cassanova, character publisher, added: "I feel such great sorrow at the passing of my dear friend Sam, but also an immense sense of pride, and privilege, to have worked for so long with such a master of his craft. Through the years, as Guess How Much I Love You achieved great success and acclaim, Sam never failed to express his profound surprise at the power of the message within his text. The joy he felt at knowing so many people around the globe connected with the gentle celebration of unconditional love was ever palpable.

"It is also the true mark of the man that he never failed to recognise the role that Anita Jeram’s exquisite illustrations play in the success of Guess How Much I Love You. They were a literary pairing of the highest calibre. Sam faced everything in life, and death, with such great, good grace and humour. He always smiled out at the world, and I feel so lucky to have felt the warmth of his smile." 

Commenting on Will You Be My Friend?, McBratney said: “When writing about the hares, I aim to describe moments of emotional significance but with loads of humour and the lightest of touches. This story is about one of those moments. Little Nutbrown Hare’s world suddenly glows with the discovery of friendship.”