SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Eric Hill, whose effort to entertain his young son with a simple drawing of a mischievous dog named Spot blossomed into a popular series of children’s books that have sold more than 60 million copies, has died at his home in Central California. He was 86.

Adele Minchin, a spokeswoman for Hill’s publisher, Penguin Children’s Group, said he died Friday at his home in Templeton after a short illness.

Hill’s first book, “Where’s Spot?” — with its clean design, whimsical characters, and bold, bright colors — was an instant success with preschool children in 1980.

It told the gentle tale of Spot’s mother, Sally, as she searches for him around the house — but finds a hippo, a lion and other creatures along the way.

The “Spot the Dog” series was turned into a popular animation series named “Spot.” Over the run of the series, several child actors played “Spot,” most notably “Home Improvement’s” Jonathan Taylor Thomas and “The Sixth Sense” star Haley Joel Osment.

The series has been translated into more than 60 languages.

Hill is survived by his wife, Gillian; his son, Christopher; and his daughter, Jane.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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