Sam McBratney, author of the classic children’s book Guess How Much I Love You, has died at the age of 77.
The Belfast-born author died on September 18, his publisher Walker Books announced on Monday.
The story of two hazel hares, who try to express their affection for each other, has become a children’s classic.
The book is best known for ending with the now well-known phrase “I love you to the moon and back”.
The illustrated children’s book, first published in 1994, has been translated into more than 57 languages and has sold over 50 million copies worldwide.
A sequel to Guess How Much I Love You – titled Will You Be My Friend? – is expected to be released later this month.
‘Beautiful human being’
McBratney, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, was a teacher before becoming a full-time author.
He was the author of over 50 books, but was best known for his story about the two loving hazel hares.
Karen Lotz, Managing Director of Walker Books Group, described McBratney as “a deeply charming human being.”
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“You could recognize his voice in an instant, he was an exceptionally talented word master and always knew exactly what children would most like to hear,” Ms. Lotz said.
“Her legacy of kindness and humor will burn brightly and continue through her stories,” she added.