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 Image © Ian Falconer’s beloved creation Olivia alongside a self-portrait.

Ian Falconer, 1959 - 2023, ‘Olivia’ Children’s Book Author, Tribute

  • News
  • Posted by Anahita Tabarsi on March 09 2023

We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Ian Falconer, who died on Tuesday, March 7th in Connecticut after a short illness at the age of 63.

Ian was the author and illustrator of the award-winning “Olivia” series of children’s books, as well as a set and costume designer for the theatre and a notable illustrator for the New Yorker having contributed more than thirty covers for the prestigious publication.

He garnered great success in 2000 as the author and illustrator of the beloved “Olivia,” which was named a Caldecott Honor Book and remained on the children’s picture book best-seller list of The New York Times for 107 weeks. We had the great privilege of working with Ian, who collaborated with our Dublin team on the adaptation of “Olivia”—our very first 3D series—as an animated show for Nickelodeon in 2007.

Brown Bag Films' Co-founder and Creative Director, Darragh O'Connell, who was director on Olivia remembers the opportunity to work with Ian fondly.

“We were so lucky that Ian trusted us with his little girl Olivia on her first TV outing back in 2007. That was our first, large scale TV show and really helped us become the studio we are today. Looking back, it was a big leap of faith for Ian to believe in us but I think he sensed that true kindred spirit, and the care we had for his creation. We worked hard to make the transition from book to screen as painless as we could for him. To this day 'Olivia' stands out as a show we are all very proud of and we will remember Ian for giving us that chance.”

—Darragh O'Connell

Brown Bag Films' Director, Jean Herlihy, who worked on Olivia as Lead Animator shared her experience of collaborating with Ian on the series.

“Ian was a true genius and it was an incredible experience to collaborate with him on 'Olivia'. He had such enthusiasm for the animation process and treated the artists in Brown Bag Films with the utmost respect. Sincere condolences to Ian’s family and friends. I hope they’re comforted to know that he’s leaving behind an immortal legacy for generations to enjoy.”

—Jean Herlihy

Falconer first wrote about Olivia, a young pig drawn in black and white with only red accents, as a Christmas gift for his niece. When he was given the opportunity to pitch a children’s book to Simon & Schuster, where he was discovered while illustrating covers for the New Yorker, he wanted only to have the chance to publish Olivia. His book debut was 2000’s “Olivia,” followed by 11 other Olivia books.

Falconer won awards including the Caldecott Honor and a Children’s Choice Book Award for his work with Olivia. The book series was adapted into a TV show on Nickelodeon, inspiring several tie-in books that were not written by Falconer.

He also designed sets and costumes for stage plays including “The Santaland Diaries,” “Firebird,” and “The Nutcracker.” Falconer continued to draw beloved covers for the New Yorker.

Via Ian Falconer obituary: Olivia author dies at 63 –

Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.

Anahita Tabarsi

Anahita is Brown Bag Films' Marketing Director, Digital & Social and drinks more than five coffees a day...

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