Children's books writer and illustrator Jill Barklem, "whose intricate Brambly Hedge stories have delighted children for decades," died November 15, the Guardian reported. She was 66. Her books, which "tell the tales of a community of mice in the English countryside," have sold more than seven million copies.
Barklem first conceived the stories in the 1970s, and went on to publish Spring Story, Summer Story, Autumn Story and Winter Story in 1980; followed by The Secret Staircase, The High Hills, Sea Story and Poppy's Babies. In 1996, the stories were adapted for television, using the voices of actors including Jim Broadbent and June Whitfield.
Noting that the staff at Barklem's publisher, HarperCollins Children's Books, were deeply saddened by the news of her death, executive publisher Ann-Janine Murtagh said: "Her exquisite Brambly Hedge stories have enchanted children and many adult admirers across the world for more than 35 years. Jill was a lovely person with a rare talent to turn her astute observation of the English countryside into an enchanting miniature world. Her enduring stories about the mice of Brambly Hedge remain as beautiful today as when she first created them and will continue to be treasured by future generations."