GSTAAD, Switzerland - Richard McClure Scarry, whimsical American author and illustrator of popular children's books, died of a heart attack. He was 74.
Mr. Scarry's books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and have been translated into as many as 30 languages, said Patricia Murphy Scarry, his wife for more than 40 years.
"The Lowly worm was his very favorite character for all the children," she said.
Many youngsters have delighted in finding Lowly - the Tyrolean-hatted earthworm - peeking from corners of Mr. Scarry's pictures. His books were filled with gentle-looking puppies, kittens, rabbits, pigs and other creatures, sometimes driving bizarre vehicles.
The books inspired a cable TV series, and a project is under way to create videos based on the books, his wife said.
Mrs. Scarry said her husband died Saturday at a hospital near their home in Gstaad.
Mr. Scarry was born in Boston in 1919 and studied drawing at the Boston Museum School. He then served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
"He started illustrating the weekend before we were married" in 1947, said Mrs. Scarry. After drawing for other authors, he decided he wanted to write as well.
"He considered himself an educator more than anything," Mrs. Scarry said. "He thought any child could learn to read and absorb other things if they were having fun."
The characters drive vehicles often made in unlikely shapes, such as toothpaste tubes, carrots, eggs and loaves of bread.
"He was a very funny man. Very light-hearted," Mrs. Scarry said. "Wherever he was you could hear his laugh. He made headwaiters growl."
She said she married Mr. Scarry two weeks after they met at a party in New York.
She said they and their son, Richard Jr., moved to Switzerland in 1968 so they could be closer to its ski slopes.
Besides his wife and son, Mr. Scarry is survived by two granddaughters, three brothers and a sister.